BOZEMAN — We’ve heard about it for months and months: the inventory of houses for sale in Bozeman is low. And for this young family with a baby on the way, their dream home can’t come soon enough.
“I’m just asking for someone to sell us a home. My sign says please sell me a home,” said Sean Hawksford of Bozeman. You may have seen Hawksford strolling down Main Street with a cardboard sign, asking for leads on a house for sale.
Hawksford owns a successful business and lives comfortably with his wife in a small, yet cozy 400-square foot house they rent in downtown Bozeman. The couple says they feel fortunate and privileged, but want to establish permanent roots in the community they work in and love.
“It’s been about six months, we’ve made I think 18 offers now on different properties and haven’t had one accepted yet,” said Hawksford.
“It’s been a little bit tough with them, and all of my first-time homebuyers to be honest with you,” said Jeff Bent, the Hawksfords' realtor in Bozeman.
Bent, who is the supervising broker at Obsidian Realty Group, has been working with the couple from the start. “Quite often they get qualified for a certain number and the market has been changing so quickly that what they get qualified for no longer meets what they want to buy so we have to kinda adjust their expectations at some point,” said Bent.
Hawksford says people have generally been receptive to his signs, which he says highlights a complex problem in the current state of the market. “I think the most frustrating thing about that is not that we’ve been making lowball offers or noncompetitive offers, because we can’t afford it or don’t have a high enough budget,” said Hawksford.
“We’ve had a lot of experience of getting beat just narrowly with someone who either has an entire cash offer or who has more of a down payment than we do or in a position to waive contingencies that we can’t.”
Bent says it’s all about a lack of inventory, but he’s hopeful the Hawksfords will find something soon. “If a property comes on the market, it’s going to be gone in about three days. And probably it’s going to have multiple offers on it during that three-day period,” said Bent. “So as long it’s not out of the realm of possibility priced, it’s going to get activity, and it’s probably going above asking price.”
Hawksford said he’s optimistic and hopes to have a home by the time his son is born this summer. “There’s days where it feels like we’re never gonna find a house, but we’re optimistic still and I'm confident.”