Smart Growth v. Past Growing Trends

The housing market we see emerging around us more and more is full of life and energy, but when you look deeper, it still bears the faded scars of the market collapse—and it seems consumers are learning from them.

People are actively choosing to control the real estate market. This is an emerging trend never seen before. People and their values are beginning to trump the allure of best deal mentality and this is driving force for the market.

Not visa versa (where the market prices i.e. cheapest supplies are controlling population movement). This break from longstanding traditional norms is the conclusion the report titled “Reset: Assessing Future Housing Markets in the Rocky Mountains” reached. The report took a sampling of housing starts, multiple listing services, and surveys from six communities around the Rockies—Bozeman included—and found, in all the markets studied, there was a strong desire for growth, but not just growth itself as has been seen in the past with trends of urban sprawl. Instead, this idea of ‘smart growth’ has really taken root. 

Just What Is Smart Growth:

Smart growth is a logical reaction to the fact that mortgage meltdowns are a catalyst to great economic recessions (spurred on by under regulation of finance and reckless risk-taking). This realization has deeper meaning in its relation to community development and traditional city growth patterns. The divergence between city centers and the suburban fringe allowed the suburban elements to fall into the mortgage hole first and pull the city centers with them as they fell. Since that initial fall, the recovery has seen a structural paradigm changing shift—we are now seeing the reverse of what happened in the 1950’s.  (

The buzz phrases of Generation Y and Baby Boomers are still very real and active agents in shifting the market’s landscape, but these two demographics of people are both undergoing dramatic life changes directly connected to their housing situations. “Our communities are changing and what people want out of life is changing” (Randy Carpenter director of the Northern Rockies program of the Sonoran Institute). This is the great convergence of needs. Baby Boomers are seeking to be near medical centers and other conveniences and Generation Y is just reaching into the market only able to afford the most utilitarian of homes, apartments and condos. The big home with a big lot is, although not gone by any means, a fading trend. 

A mass exodus of what is being declared the ‘exburbs’ and a strong revival of city center is the soon to be norm nationally. Bozeman, Montana data reveals we are certainly now immune to this. In the past 11 months, the urban center we have here (near the Emerson Cultural Center, Galligator, and Sourdough Trail) represents the bulk of remodels and renovations totaling nearly $2 million of spending. Over that same time span, $23 million went into communal living spaces such as condos, townhouses and duplexes.


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