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Helena, “Queen City of the Rockies”

Cradled in the foothills of the Montana Rockies, surrounded by pristine wilderness, and alive with history and culture, lies Helena “Queen City of the Rockies.” This charming, sophisticated and beautiful Victorian metropolis is both state capital of Montana and county seat for Lewis and Clark County.

At the very heart of this vibrant community lies Last Chance Gulch – Helena’s historic down town with its rich gold mining past. This area has fueled the city’s growth and given Helena a prominent place in Montana’s history. Central to Last Chance Gulch is the “Pedestrian Walking Mall,” a park-like outdoor shopping area surrounded by historic sites. Just around the corner is the new Great Northern Town Center – Helena’s newest master-planned multi-use business and residential complex.

Helena’s cultural heritage is manifested through museums, state fairs, theater and art. Its community spirit shines through in over 300 special events a year, including music festivals, parades and sports tournaments. Many local, county, state and federal agencies are located here, making employment primarily in the government sector. Helena’s economic stability is largely due to state government and small business. Unemployment in Helena is one of the lowest in the U.S.

The rugged outdoor recreation synonymous with Montana is easily accessible to Helena residents. Millions of acres of public lands surround the city, including state and national forests and wilderness areas, which are a tremendous resource for hunters, hikers, campers, backpackers, outfitters, bikers, snowmobilers, and Nordic and alpine skiers. Within a few hours of Helena are over a dozen downhill ski areas. Numerous blue ribbon trout streams, lakes and reservoirs are within easy reach, including the Missouri River which provides premium fishing, floating and whitewater rafting.

Helena boasts over 25 city parks, the largest, Mount Helena Park, is just a few minutes from downtown. There are dozens of individual and organized sports activities to participate in or observe, along with two public and one private golf course.

This unique balance of recreation and natural surroundings, cultural opportunities, and favorable business climate are just some of the reasons Helena residents have chosen this community as their home.

Licensing and Professional Real Estate organizations

DLIHorLogo

The Montana Board of Realty Regulation

The governing body for Real Estate Professionals and Property Managers in the State of Montana.

MAR

The Montana Association of Realtors

The voice for Montana real estate, and is a business and public policy advocate for its members and consumers.

Nar

The National Association of Realtors

America’s biggest trade organization and is involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate industries, including professional ethics standards.

First Time Home Buyers

Rocky Mountain Development Council: Information for First Time Home Buyers, or refresher information for those who haven’t bought in a while. These homebuyer education classes provide in-depth information on many aspects of homeownership.

First-Time Homebuyer Loans & Grant: Great info for a first time borrower.

How to Choose and Agent

The office often gets calls from homeowners interested in putting their house on the market soon quite often. The first question they ask is, “Who are your top salespeople?” While dollar volume may be one of the factors in choosing an agent, we recommend that you also think about several other issues when choosing a real estate agent that best fits you.

The February 1995 issue of Kiplinger’s magazine listed 7 factors in picking an agent correctly. Many of them ALSO APPLY TO HOME BUYERS.

  • Hire a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a broker or agent who is a member of the local Association of REALTORS®, as well as the state and national associations. While there are both good and bad REALTORS®, the fact that an agent has joined a professional association that offers continued training and holds its members to a Code of Ethics is a positive sign.
  • Seek a full-time, experienced, and busy agent. You want somebody who works 40 hours or more a week and who relies on real estate to earn a living.
  • Ask for strong credentials. Your agent should be able to show you more than a sales award. Look for someone with a broker’s license, which requires additional knowledge and training. Or, look for designations such as GRI, meaning that they are Graduates of the REALTOR® Institute. A CRS designation requires a minimum number of closed transactions, a GRI or 10 years of experience and extra hours of study.
  • Require references. The best references are from customers for whom the agent has sold houses previously. Even better are people from your neighborhood who have sold houses similar to your own. Find out all you can about what the seller liked and disliked about the agent and the entire process.
  • Look for evidence the agent does his or her homework. If you know more about your neighborhood than the agent, keep looking. An agent must not only be knowledgeable about a specific area, he or she must also be comfortable working there.
  • Ask to see a detailed marketing plan. Your agent should be able to tell you, in writing, all the things that he or she will do to sell your home, including a schedule of advertisements, open houses, brochures and other marketing techniques. Make sure there is a reasonable time table in which these things will be done.
  • Make sure the agent has good accessibility. Staying in touch via phone, in person, and by internet is important when offers start to come in on your home.
  • The Helena Multiple Listing Service also adds these considerations to the list:
  • Find the right personality “fit”. Keep in mind that your REALTOR® will be in your home often. Finding an agent with whom you feel comfortable working will greatly improve your experience.
  • Find out if the majority of the agent’s business comes from representing sellers or buyers. Some REALTORS® are great at listing and marketing properties, but do not represent buyers’ interests well. And vice versa. Some agents excel at representing buyer’s interests. Buyer’s agents should always be willing to commit in writing what duties they will perform for the client. It is recommended that prospective homebuyers obtain a signed Buyer Broker Agreement Form. Many buyer’s agents will have an ABR designation, or Accredited Buyer’s Representative, which indicates additional training taken.
  • Volume of sales is only one of many things to consider when choosing a REALTOR®. With thousands of dollars in commissions on the line, it pays to sift through the pool of agents to find one with the right fit for you.