Colorado Springs Real Estate Blog

Colorado Springs real estate and homes for sale. Tips for buyers and sellers, statistics and analysis, great homes for sale and more!

Recent blog posts

Posted by on in Personal
When Clients Become Friends

I just said goodbye to Barry and Shareen.  In 2006, they moved here from Southern California and bought their Colorado Springs home.  I was their Buyer's Agent.  Today, they sold that home and moved to Durango.  It was a good closing but a tough goodbye, when I teared up as we hugged in the parking lot.

They are more than clients.  They are friends.  We have enjoyed many good times together.  They bought my daughter her first sleeping bag, a Disney princess themed one, back when she when she was three. We have water skiied at Pueblo Reservoir.  We have snow skiied at Monarch Mountain.   We have celebrated many X-Mas Eve dinners together at Musashi.  We have shared our families.  We have laughed and seen each other through difficult life struggles.

As an 18 year veteran in the real estate business, I often joke that I don't have time for any more "friends."   But the truth is friends somehow find us.  We may not set out with the intention of connecting at such a personal level, but with a special few it becomes personal at some point. 

I'm trying not to be sad.  I know that you will be happy in Durango.  You have good jobs and beautiful scenery to enjoy, and you have each other.  I will always cherish our sweet times together!  Thank you for letting me help you and for being my friends.

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5essentialtips

There are a number of reasons why you might consider becoming a landlord in Colorado Springs or anywhere in El Paso County. Maybe you’re downsizing to a smaller property, but still want to maintain your current home for income. Perhaps you’ve found a great deal on an income-producing property and are planning to use the revenue for your retirement. Or you’ve found your dream home with an attached apartment or suite that will help you defray the costs.

Whatever your motivation, here are some critical steps you need to take to minimize hassles and be financially profitable.

  1. Be realistic. Remember that you’ll still be paying the mortgage on your rental property, so you can’t count on the rental income to be pure profit. Be sure to calculate taxes (local and federal), utilities, upkeep, maintenance and insurance as part of your cash outflow. Plus you may have some lag time before you find the right tenants. If you’re relying on the rental income to purchase something in the near future, e.g. a round-the-world-cruise or new car, you may have to wait a while.

  2. Keep scrupulous records. Set up an online system such as Quickbooks or Freshbooks. This will help you keep track of all incoming and outgoing cash flow, as well as create reports that will make your tax preparation much less stressful. It’s also a good idea to maintain a file with all the paper receipts, or scan them into a device.

  3. Consult with a professional. Even if you’ve done your own taxes and accounting for years, you’ll want to meet with an accountant or tax attorney to learn the legal do’s and dont's and ensure that you are financially suited to handle the task of being a landlord.

  4. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You may not be able to find a tenant for months. Rent payments may be consistently late. Your renters may damage the property or hold loud parties. Or you may have dream tenants. Just remember, this is a business proposition, so try not to become emotionally involved.

  5. Understand your tenant’s rights as well as your rights as a landlord. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in property leasing will help prepare you to deal with any situation that may arise. Be sure to put all your expectations (date rent payment is due, additions made to the property, noise level, best time to contact you) in writing as part of your lease agreement.

At Springs Homes we specialize in Colorado Springs Property Management, we work with properties not only in Colorado Springs but anywhere in El Paso County. We not only manage properties but we can also help investors find properties that meet their needs. We are a great solution for those that want to landlords but are weary of the hassle and the liability. Our investors simply leave the hassle to us.

The preceding information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. If you are thinking of purchasing rental property in the Colorado Springs area, be sure to consult with your tax professional or tax advisor for specific information pertaining to your financial situation.

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Posted by on in Fountain Valley Neighborhood
1260 Legend Oak Drive

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Check out my newest listing!  Located on a 1/4 acre lot in the city of Fountain, this lovely 2-story home was built in 2003 and features 4 bedrooms, 4 baths and over 2,200 finished square feet!  Interior offers rich, espresso stained hardwood floors, gas fireplace, slate entryway, vaulted ceilings, updated kitchen with new cabinets, counters, sink, faucet, stainless appliances and ceramic tile floors.  Finished basement provides plenty of space for entertaining in the large rec room complete with wet bar.  This home has central air for those hot summer nights.  The large backyard is fully fenced and even includes a storage shed.  Great location...walk to nearby shopping and restaurants!

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Posted by on in General News
A Falcon Food Favorite for Me

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge Chipotle fan! But when I'm meeting clients or going on listings in Falcon/Peyton, I try as frequently as possibly to stop by El Burrito Grande. I may need to run a few extra miles, but it's worth it! This "quick service" local fare is prepared by owners Lupe & Antonio Martin...and since expansion, their great employees!  My personal favorite is "moms chili verde" - pork & green chili, is so savory! Check out these fresh ingredients! ...

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They have daily lunch specials....nachos or dad's burrito with a drink for just $6.99+tax. Military discount? You bet!  Breakfast burritos.....mmmmm, yes! 

Not only that but there are now 3 locations for all my real estate travels around the city!!! 1) 7653 MacLaughlin Rd,  original location off Woodmen in Falcon, beside Safeway. 2) 3242 Centennial....up the Fillmore hill at the corner of Fillmore & Centennial....and 3) 3669 Star Ranch Rd...off the southwest corner of Nevada/Hwy 115 & Star Ranch Rd.

check out elburritogrande.net for more info! 

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Posted by on in Personal
Delicious Pumpkin Bread

In honor of fall and the holiday season upon us, I thought I'd leave the real estate talk for a moment and share with you my favorite recipe for pumpkin bread.  Yum!

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

4 ounces cream chees, softened

1/4 cup butter

1 1/4 cups white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Grease one 9x5x3 loaf pan.  In mixing bowl, combine softened cheese, butter and sugar. Cream together well.  Beat in eggs one at a time until blended. Mix in pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and walnuts.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Combine all at once with batter.  Stir just enough to moisten.  Pour into greased pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan.

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Posted by on in General News
925 Ridgebury - Fountain Gem

Wow, this has been a hot property... lots of interest, and I'm sure you'll understand why! 

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This 1 1/2 story is located on a corner lot and backing to open space, such an enjoyable location! The owners have added Brazlian cherry floors and capped of the window ledge and stair rail, plus taller base boards create a custom home feel. The master is also on the main with vaulted ceiling and attached bath. The upper level is a great loft and 3rd bedroom, plus 2nd full bath. 

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Off the main level is a deck which steps down to the huge patio, large yard and included storage shed. 

For more info, send me a message or check out the pictures & video here -- http://ridgeburyplace.com/ 

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Posted by on in Selling Your Home

firstimpressions

The saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression” has never been truer, especially when it comes to marketing Real Estate.

In the 2013 National Association of Realtors Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers, Home Buyers were asked, “What actions they took as a result of an Internet Home Search?" 75% responded that they drove by or viewed the home while 63% scheduled a walk through. This reinforces our philosophy that the Internet is the new first showing.

This survey also supports our belief that professional photographs, video and virtual tours are essential tools used to drive traffic to our listings.

Here is the complete list of results from the survey.

ACTIONS TAKEN AS A RESULT OF INTERNET HOME SEARCH
Drove by or viewed home 75%  
Walked through home viewed online 63%  
Found the agent used to search for or buy home 30%  
Requested more information 24%  
Looked for more info on mortgage and home buyers tips 13%  
Pre-qualified for a mortgage online 13%  
Contacted builder/developer 8%  
Applied for a mortgage online 8%  
Found a mortgage lender online 7%  

 

If you would like to learn more about our listing process and what we do to get Colorado Springs Home Buyer traffic to our listings, please visit our Colorado Springs Home Seller Section.

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Posted by on in General News

hazmats

 

Household Hazardous Waste is defined by the EPA as:

Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, and/or reactive ingredients. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides, that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them.

These items always seem to be an issue when it's time to move, people often leave them behind because the just don't know what to do with them. Identification and proper disposal of these items is important for several reasons, least of which are human health and safety. For example, used motor oil is insoluble, slow to degrade, and can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

Household batteries contain cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, manganese, lithium, or potassium, which are all know to be hazardous to the environment and human health.

Due to their toxic nature, items categorized as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) need to be disposed of at an appropriate facility. Fortunately, El Paso County has a Hazardous Waste disposal facility and drop of HHW items is free for El Paso County residents.

The facility is located in the Powers area at 3255 Akers Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80922. This is between Constitution Ave. and North Carefree Circle, just West of Marksheffel Road.

For a complete list of what types of waste the facility collect as well as information on hours, please visit their website Click Here

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6320 Whirlwind - Northeast Colorado Springs

This gorgeous 2-story is located in Antelope Meadows in Northeast Colorado Springs. The trees are mature and the yard is spacious. Deck off the main level kitchen / family room area steps down into back yard. 

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Vaulted ceilings create that more open feel, plus a great lay-out, this floor plan will work for just about anyone. Three bedrooms upstairs, including the master which is also vaulted with walk-in closet and great 5-pc bath. 

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The main level has vaulted living / dining, plus kitchen with pantry, stainless appliances and looks onto family room with fireplace and huge bay window to watch kids or pets in the yard. 

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Basement is fully finished with huge L-shaped Rec Room great for game table and TV area... plus the 4th bedroom and full bath. 

For the virtual tour and more details, visit http://whirlwinddrive.com/  Thanks for checking it out! 

 

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Choosing a Title Company in Colorado Springs

 

When buying or selling your Colorado Springs home you most likely do the appropriate research before choosing your real estate agent, your lender, your moving company and others. But did you know that you also have the right to choose your title company? In our previous posts we explained the importance of title insurance and how the costs are determined. So, it is critical to choose a reputable, experienced company to ensure that you have a smooth and hassle-free transaction.

Below are 9 questions you should ask when searching for a title company.

  1. Is my Money Safe? Make sure that the company has a fully staffed escrow and accounting department dedicated to protecting your funds. Ask for a written guarantee that the company does not disclose your personal information to anyone not involved in the transaction and find out if they carry fidelity coverage and errors and omission insurance.

  2. Is the Title Company Financially Stable? To make sure that the title underwriter is financially stable, check the Demotech website, which issues Financial Stability Ratings (FSRs) for title underwriters.

  3. Is the Title Company a Neutral Third Party? Some title companies are owned by lenders, real estate firms or builders which may cause a conflict of interest. Your Title Insurance company should be independent and unbiased to ensure that the transaction closes according to the terms of the contract, without any complications.

  4. Is the Rate Quoted Much Lower than What Other Companies are Charging? Below market premiums may indicate a lack of experience, subpar service or insufficient financial and accounting controls.

  5. In Addition to the Premium, are there Other Fees and Charges? Ask about fees for electronic delivery, overnight courier, cashier's check, release tracking, wire transfers and other charges that may add up to be more than the amount charged by reputable title companies. 

Make sure you have all the associated fees in writing before signing any agreement.

  6. Does the Title Company Conduct Thorough Title Searches and Report All Exceptions? Title companies are required to perform a "reasonable examination" for every transaction, which includes providing you with actual documents for any exceptions (e.g. liens, unpaid taxes). Your title company must identify, disclose and resolve all issues prior to closing.



  7. Is the Title Company Locally Owned and Operated? Beware of a title company which outsources production of the title commitment and portions of the closing process overseas. A local company will be more knowledgeable about Colorado Springs real estate laws and customs as well as the local real estate market.

  8. Are the Employees of the Title Company Licensed? In Colorado, title underwriters, agent companies and agents are licensed through the Colorado Division of Insurance. Any title company employee who provides rate information to the public must have a license. By Colorado law, sales people, title examiners and searchers must be licensed. The Division of Insurance also regulates activities and has the right to audit files, impose fines for improper actions, discipline agents and take other corrective action.

  9. Is the Title Company a Member of the American Land Title Association (ALTA)? The professional/lobbying organization for the title insurance industry is the American Land Title Association (ALTA). In 2007, ALTA launched the "The Title Industry Consumer Initiative" which details the association's strategy for improving industry oversight and educating and protecting consumers. You can learn more about the Consumer Initiative on the ALTA Web site.

Thank you to Sara Martin of Land Title Guarantee Company for providing the above information.

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Posted by on in Personal
Which Cell Phone Provider Do I Choose?

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So I'm driving around in the car this weekend with some new buyers from out of state.  They traveled with their cell phones, naturally.  As we drive, we notice that they keep losing cell phone service.  Their signal is weak and they can't get good connections.  They do not have AT&T.

A good friend of mine who lives in the East area of Colorado Springs, near Academy Blvd. and Maizeland, is constantly dropping cell phone calls and having to redial...very frustrating!  He does not have AT&T.

I mention this becuase it DOES matter who your cell phone provider is around here.  In Colorado Springs I have found that best service is through AT&T.  I have found their rates are pretty competitive.  I rarely drop calls.  I have good coverage throughout the area.  It is important...especially when your livelihood depends on it!

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titlefees

 

In our last blog post we talked about the necessity of buying title insurance for your home purchase. Now, we want to discuss the cost of title insurance, how it is calculated and how a little legwork on your part can save you money.

The title insurance industry is unique in that regulation by the state serves as a natural check on profits. Rates by title companies are ultimately set in response to competition in the marketplace. However, if the competition does not lead to fair rates, the state steps in stating that rates cannot be “excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory”.

There are a number of things you can do to monitor the cost of your title insurance. Below are five steps you can take.

  1. Do your research. Title insurance is a two-part transaction. The first part covers the property’s history to determine if there are any unpaid loans or liens. The second part insures you against future discoveries or problems with the property. Insurance companies are allowed to set their own rates, so it pays to spend some time comparing policies to make sure you get the best possible deal. Visit Home Closing 101 to find title insurance companies in Colorado Springs who are members of the American Land Title Association.

  2. Ask about add-on fees. These may include mail and courier charges, copy fees and fees for searches and certificates. You have the right to ask a company to reduce or drop these fees.

  3. Ask about a “re issue rate.” If your home has been refinanced or sold within the last 5 years, you may qualify for discounts up to 50%.

  4. Ask about Endorsements. An endorsement is a rider attached to a Mortgage or an Owner policy to expand or limit the policy coverage. Attaching an endorsement to the policy adapts the coverage to meet the needs of the insured. Examples of common endorsements are: Condominium Endorsement, Mineral Endorsement, Encroachments on Easements, just to mention a few. By issuing an endorsement, the insurer may take on additional risk normally not covered under the policy. A premium is usually charged for issuing any endorsement.

  5. Don’t rely on a single recommendation from your real estate agent. Ask for two or three companies that he or she recommends.

For a list of title insurance companies in Colorado and their fee schedules visit DORA or Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies or Network Closing.

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2014 Housing Market at a Glance

This year the Colorado Springs housing market started off a bit slow.  From January to mid March we Realtors were all scratching our heads wondering where all the buyers were and why houses were taking longer to sell.  At at some dark point, which no one cares to admit, we even began to wonder "is it me?  is there something more I could be doing?"

But around mid March things changed back to normal.  Buyers came out to buy, and houses began to sell at their usual pace. Springtime sales gradually heated up transitioning into a typical, busy and productive Summer.

Here is how our Colorado Springs housing market fared, through the 3rd quarter of this year:

          -  Single Family Home Sales Up 1.2% over last year

          -  Average Sales Price of a Single Family Home Up 2.6% over last year; to $250,928

          -  Total Homes for Sale (active listings) Down 5.9% from last year

          -  Condo/Townhome Sales Up 5.2% over last year

          -  Average Sales Price of a Condo/Townhome Up 1.5% over last year; to $168,948

          -  Total Condos/Townhomes for Sale (active listings) Down 11.2% from last year

 

To summarize:  Home sales have increased slightly over last year. Home prices have increased slightly.  There is less inventory for sale now than there was last year at this time. And although we started off the year a bit slow, we have made a nice recovery.  Whew!  Nice to know we're still on track!

 

 

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We are in the process fo putting together our Q3 newsletter. When we do this, we take a comprehensive look at the Colorado Springs Real Estate market. This means comparing and contrasting a multitude of statistics, some of the outcomes make it into the report others do not. I am currently working on what I think is an interesting comparison, Number of Sales vs. Average Sales Price.

Not surprisingly, lower priced areas tended to have a higher volume of sales but as you might expect, buyers were a little discerning. In other words they looked at things like neighborhood quality, amenities, quality of schools and all of the other perameters you might expect when they chose where to buy. The table and charts below show just how and where Colorado Springs Homes Buyers decided to live:

Colorado Springs Real Estate Market Statistics
Number of Sales vs. Average Sales Price
January 1, 2014 Thru September 30, 2014 (Q1-Q3)

Area Number of Sales Average Sales Price
Fountain Valley 954 $177,024
Powers 893 $207,070
Northeast 801 $219,517
East 638 $171,812
Briargate 567 $288,275
Central 552 $188,665
Southeast 544 $132,878
Southwest 532 $310,355
Tri-Lakes 437 $376,404
Northwest 395 $293,638
Falcon North 271 $260,009
Northgate 219 $353,542
Old Colorado City 201 $180,604
West 191 $270,385
Black Forest 149 $423,762
Mark Sheffel 102 $215,074
Falcon 92 $197,275
Manitou Springs 60 $314,325
Ute Pass 36 $233,561

 

I think the chart that accompanies this data is even more interesting as it does a better job of illustrating the gaps in certain areas.

 

Colorado Springs Real Estate Statistics

If you would like to receive a copy of our Quarterly Market Report, sign up here

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Do I Need an Appraisal to Sell My House?

Sellers often ask me if they should get their home appraised before putting it on the market.  Here is my answer to that:

An appraisal is an expert estimation of the quality and price of the property. It is more detailed than the market analysis, which your Realtor will do. Typically, appraisals cost around $400.  They are a good idea if you live in an unusual market, one where home values fluctuate a lot.  Let's say you live in a neighborhood where homes range from $200,000 to $650,000.  Then an up-front appraisal is a good idea.  It will help Buyers to see the value in your home without questioning the overall market in your area. 

On the other hand, if you live in a neighborhood where most of the homes are alike, similar in age and size, then an appraisal might not be necessary for you to have done up-front.   Here, it's pretty safe to conclude that your home's value will be consistent with those around you.

Either way, once you have a contract on your home your Buyer will most likely be getting an appraisal done for the purpose of satisfying his loan.  His mortgage lender will order an appraisal prior to closing, to make sure the contract price and condition are satisfactory for the new mortgage.

Ask your Realtor what they think you should do.  A good agent will shoot straight with you and not spend your money unnecessarily!

 

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titleins

One of the questions Colorado Springs homebuyers most frequently ask us is, “Why do I need title insurance?” Title insurance is just one of the many things that appear on your home buying settlement sheet, but it’s also one of the most important.

The Colorado Springs property you are buying has probably gone through several changes of ownership over the years (unless it’s new construction). One of the necessary procedures during the home buying process is a title search.

The search must be done before any property changes owners in Colorado so that the deed can be recorded and registered to the new homeowner. The search reviews the “chain of title”—the history of everybody who has owned the property through its present owners. What title insurance does is protect you against any expected discoveries that may arise during the title search. For example, there may be unpaid real estate taxes or mortgages, outstanding liens, or errors in the legal description of the property.

Title insurance guarantees that, if any issue in the ownership records arises during the search, the insurer will either fix the problem, compensate you for any potential loss or defend you against any action that may occur as a result. Title insurance protects you against matters that have already occurred and that were not caused by any wrongdoing on your part. It gives you peace of mind knowing that once the buying transaction is complete, you are protected against any claims on your property.

There are two basic forms of title insurance: Owners and Lenders. 
Owner’s title insurance covers you as owner of the property, and the policy is generally issued for the amount you paid to purchase the property. Lender’s title insurance covers your lender’s interests in the property and is usually issued in an amount equal to the loan. In Colorado Springs, the buyer and seller may negotiate who pays for the Owner’s title insurance policy. The buyer generally pays for the Lender’s title insurance policy.

Coming soon: How are the rates for title insurance calculated and how much will it cost?

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Posted by on in East Neighborhood
5135 Mayweed Court

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This listing is personal for me.  I sold the house to these sellers back in 2006.  Over the years they have become more than clients.  They are friends.  Their home is lovely.  It sits on a 1/3 acre lot at the end of a cul-de-sac and is tastefully landscaped including auto sprinklers.   The home features 5 bedrooms, 3 baths and over 2,100 total square feet.  It includes rich hardwood floors, new vinyl windows, updated kitchen with hickory cabinets and ceramic tile counters, air conditioning, covered rear deck, a workshop, storage shed and even a new roof!  And this home is just one block from the neighborhood park! 

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Monument, Colorado is a small town located in the Tri-Lakes Region of northern part of El Paso County, approximately 15 miles north of Colorado Springs and 50 miles south of Denver.

The area was first settled in the 1860s. Its settlers came primarily from Iowa and Germany. Monument first became a town in 1870 when Henry Limbach purchased 160 acres and registered as a town with the Colorado land office of the department of the interior.

In the early days monument was actually called Henry's station after Henry Limbach. When the Rio Grande railroad was built in 1871, the name was changed by Limbach and the railroad to Monument. This name was chosen because of the large monument rock situated at the base of Mount Herman. This rock can clearly be seen from the town.

monument rock

The town of Monument has not forgotten its founder Henry Limbach, there is a park at the center of town bearing his name, Limbach Park.

limbach park

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Posted by on in Central Neighborhood
212 S. Garo Ave.

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Check out my new listing!  This all brick rancher is located in an established neighborhood and features 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and over 1,800 finished square feet!  Includes front and rear yard landscaping, auto sprinkler, oversized concrete patio, formal living room with wood fireplace insert and brick hearth, formal dining room, original wood floors underneath carpet, finished basement with huge family room and separate bedroom with private bath!  Great location...walk to nearby shopping!  This home is obviously in need of some updating, but it has great bones!

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Buying a Colorado Springs area house for $250,000

I saw this funny comic on one of the real estate groups I follow on social media. Lots of people were getting some chuckles from it, but it got me thinking. I am fairly certain the average sale price in the greater Colorado Springs area is around $244,000. Can you find the house this couple in the comic is looking for in Colorado Springs....? 

So I went on a hunt for "close to downtown" (I chose what I thought would be 30 minutes or less) houses with 4+ bedrooms, good size lots (.2+ acres) and safe neighborhood (now that could be up for negotiation, but I think in general this is a VERY safe city overall and people should investigate crime if concerned... sexual offenders, violent crimes, etc... weren't not immune to crime, but it's really a great city!).  And here is what I found.... 

currently available - 76

under contract - 82

sold in the past 6 months - 262

Inventory generally starts slowing down here August (school starts) through about February.... so summer months will provide more inventory. While we have a cost of living higher than many parts of the south and midwest, it's nice to know it's pretty reasonable to live here. 

So, here's a little summary of what that $250,000 will cost you monthly... with 3.5% down (FHA minimum), borrowing $241,250 at a 4.166% interest rate and estimated tax, insurance, and mortgage insurance in your payment, you're looking at $1737/month payment. If you are VA and put nothing down, you'd be borrowing $257,875 because you rolled in your VA funding fee) looking at a $1556/month payment. Obviously all of those payments will be lower the more you are able to put down. 

Want to be close to downtown... like walking distance...? Well, that is a little tougher to find, plus you're looking at older homes (be prepared for a bit more maintenance). There is nothing with 4 bedrooms, 2 houses with 3 bedrooms are under contract withing walking distance of downtown. NOW.... add in the Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City areas, plus remove the .2 acre lot requirement and there are 37 houses. 

Okay, I know that was a lot, but there are many things we can do to help tailor a search in the MLS... especially when those large national sites are sometimes out-of-date. Let us know how we can help in your home search! I know from experience this summer, the nice ones under $250,000 disappear quickly or have competing offers.... it's a good price range! 

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