September 8th, 2020

If you’ve been thinking about getting into the Bozeman Real Estate market – now is the time! Here are the answers to some common questions when considering real estate.

What is the first step of the home buying process?

The first step in the home buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage by a lender. They will give you a pre-approval letter that will be submitted with an offer.  Getting pre-approved will help you determine how much you can borrow and help you find a home within your budget.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the first step of the home buying process. Getting a pre-approval letter from a lender get the ball rolling in the right direction.

How long does it take to buy a home in Bozeman?

Once you go under contract, it usually takes about 5-6 weeks.  If you are paying cash and don’t have to jump through any hoops for a loan, it can be even quicker.  Bozeman is a hot market and the demand for appraisals and home inspections are high.  Lenders are also busy with refi’s, all of which may slow down the process a bit.

Is Bozeman a Sellers Market? What does that mean?

Bozeman homes are in high demand but we have low inventory which drives up prices. This is what is called a seller’s market. Here are some of the drivers of demand:

  • Economic factors – the local labor market heats up, bringing an inflow of new residents and pushing up home prices before more inventory can be built.
  • Interest rates trending downward – improves home affordability, creating more buyer interest, particularly for first time home buyers who can afford bigger homes as the cost of money goes lower.
  • A short-term spike in interest rates – may compel “on the fence” buyers to make a purchase if they believe the upward trend will continue. Buyers want to make a move before their purchasing power (the amount they can borrow) gets eroded.
  • Low inventory – fewer homes on the market because of a lack of new construction. Prices for existing homes may go up because there are fewer units available.

What is a buyer’s market?

A buyer’s market is characterized by declining home prices and reduced demand. Several factors may affect long-term and short-term buyer demand, like: Economic disruption – a big employer shuts down operations, laying off their workforce.

  • Interest rates trending higher – the amount of money the people can borrow to buy a home is reduced because the cost of money is higher, thus reducing the total number of potential buyers in the market. Home prices drop to meet the level of demand and buyers find better deals.
  • Short-term drop in interest rates – can give borrowers a temporary edge with more purchasing power before home prices can react to the recent interest rate changes.
  • High inventory – a new subdivision and can create downward pressure on prices of older homes nearby, particularly if they lack highly desirable features (modern appliances, etc.)
  • Natural disasters – a recent earthquake or flooding can tank property values in the neighborhood where those disruptions occurred.

What is earnest money?

Earnest money is usually about 1%-2% of the purchase price and is paid shortly after going under contract. It demonstrates to the seller that the buyer is serious. Earnest money will be deposited in a trust or escrow account at the title company. When the deal is closing, the earnest money will be applied to the down payment or closing costs of the buyer. Generally, if the contract falls apart, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer.  It’s important to have an experienced agent help you understand the contract and how to protect yourself and your earnest money deposit.

How much do I pay an agent when I buy a home?

Real Estate agents are essentially paid by the Seller. When a listing broker represents a seller, they charge the seller for marketing and advertising their home.  Agents who represent the buyer (called a Buyer’s agent) are paid by the listing broker for bringing a buyer for that home.

Do I have to put 20% down?

For many years, conventional loans required a 20% down payment, however, some newer conventional loan programs are available with just 3% down. With these types of loans, the buyer will have to pay for PMI (private mortgage insurance).

There are several first-time home buyer programs that don’t require big down payments. There are programs that allow you to only put 3 – 5% down on a home. The FHA loan requires 3.5% down. There are also some programs that allow down payment contributions from family members in the form of a gift.

VA and USDA loans can be made with 0% down but you must qualify for these.  VA loans are only made to former or current military servicemembers. USDA loans are only available to low to-middle income buyers in USDA-eligible rural areas.

How long can the seller take to respond to my offer?

As your agent is writing up the offer, you will be able to write in a response time – it’s usually at least 24 hours.

Should I have a home inspection?

Yes! Home inspections are required for some loans such as FHA or VA. For other mortgage programs or if you’re paying in cash, inspections are not required. We always suggest having the home inspected to make sure there aren’t any defects that aren’t easily seen. If it’s in your contract, you can negotiate inspection items during the inspection phase. Even if you don’t negotiate inspection items, it’s a good idea to know what shape the house is in before you buy!

Do I need to do a final walk-through?

Walk throughs aren’t required but if you’re in town and can go, we highly recommend it. They allow you to make sure nothing has changed since your last showing. If you had repairs made during the inspection phase, this is a good time to make sure they have been completed.

For more information on other real estate terms, check out our blog post!

What our clients are saying:

Jody is amazing. She knows the market and was able to advise us on all our many concerns. We so appreciated how responsive she was; within minutes of submitting an online request for realtor contact on a house, she had called us. All our communications with her were like that; we never had to wait long to hear back from her. She was patient and always willing to sit down and meet with us. When we found the house we wanted, she worked tirelessly to secure it for us, and she was extremely patient with us. She was easy to communicate with, understand, and a pleasure to work with – I highly recommend Jody!


Jody is FANTASTIC!! We were first time home buyers and she was with us ever step of the way! She never made us feel silly for being new to the process. She definitely knows the area, always kept us up to date on new listings and was just a delight to work with. I would have absolutely zero hesitation recommending her to anyone. Thanks for all the hard-work Jody! We love our house!


My wife and I used Jody Savage for the sale of our home in Gallatin Gateway, MT. Jody was exceptional in all phases of our sale. We had multiple offers over asking price and sold our home in two days! Jody uses up to date modern marketing, was extremely professional and knowledgeable regarding our market and addressing our needs. She was great to work with and very responsive to any questions we had. Jody is the best in the business and we highly recommend her services!


Jody Savage is knowledgeable, trustworthy and tireless. I purchased a property this spring (2017) near Bozeman; Jody represented me as well as the seller in the transaction. Jody led me through the entire process because this was the first property I had ever purchased. HOA complications and other details made the purchase more difficult. Jody undertook a boat-load of legwork to make the transaction go smoothly. I hope to work with Jody again.


Jody was awesome to work with. We were new to the area and she was helpful and knowledgeable about not only the housing market, but schools, and lenders. She worked with my work schedule for showings. Jody also stayed late to write an offer to meet our schedule. I would recommend Jody to anyone needing a realtor.