Brooke Mitchell


16515 Papago WY Colorado Springs CO 80908

Brooke Mitchell

3D Tour 16515 Papago WY Colorado Springs CO 80908

Photos do a great job of showing each room of a home, but a video does a great job of showing how the house flows. Travel room to room in this home through the virtual tour.

This Home's Great Features

Gorgeous 5-acres, backs to neighborhood equestrian trail system and adjoining "old barn" property. Extensive wood-laminate through living, dining, and main level bedrooms. Fresh paint throughout, to include kitchen cabinets. Solid surface kitchen counters & ceramic tile floors, + pantry & walk-out to 11x10 deck with pergola-style cover. Spacious 5-piece master bath includes wonderful corner tub. Huge family room for TV, gaming, exercise, etc... 1 basement bedroom has cork floor, 1 has carpet. 10x10 Patio off walk-out basement and garden areas abound, + available 220v hot tub wiring tucked under deck for privacy; bring your hot tub & enjoy Colorado evenings under the stars. Central vacuum, includes sweep-in feature at kitchen. Handicap features include widened doorways, raised dishwasher. Enjoy your piece of Colorado's rolling hills.






Sq Ft


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Lot Map

Monthly Utilities

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Lewis Palmer School District D38 Schools

This home is located in the D38 Lewis Palmer School District. Here is some additional information about the schools in this district.

Lewis Palmer School District 38
146 Jefferson St.
Monument, CO 80132
(719) 488-4700
Website –

Elementary Schools

Bear Creek Elementary
Ray E. Kilmer Elementary
Prairie Winds Elementary
Lewis Palmer Elementary
Palmer Lake Elementary
Monument Academy

Middle Schools

Lewis Palmer Middle School
Monument Academy

High Schools

Lewis Palmer High School
Palmer Ridge High School

Black Forest Market Value

This home is located in the Black Forest area of Colorado Springs. Here is some additional information about the home values in this area.

Median Sales Price for Black Forest

Black Forest Days on Market

Black Forest Sales Price to List Price Ratio

Black Forest Sales Statistics

Learn more about the Black Forest Neighborhood

Contact Us with Questions About this Home


Searching for the Right Schools!

What are the Best Schools in Colorado Springs?

As real estate professionals, we are often asked to help find the “best school” and while we cannot steer you in the direction of a certain district, school or neighborhood for a variety of reasons, the truth is the “right school” is different for every family and student. I have a friend with 6 students in different schools/districts; they did the research to find what’s best for each of their students! I’m here to help you find more information so you can make an informed decision.

Once you have selected the right school or district for your student or family, try out our Springs Homes awesome new search-by-school-district capability.

School district map

Here is a brief summary of all the local Colorado Springs area school districts, with approximate area descriptions, websites, mean SAT Scores, Median Home Price in the District and the Student Enrollment.

(Data courtesy of the MLS, and

Colorado Springs School Districts

Academy School District 20 –

Located in the north end of Colorado Springs, including a high school on the Air Force Academy, hence the name.

Median Sales Price $493,669. Student Enrollment 24,578. Mean SAT Score 1092.

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 –

Southwest Colorado Springs, west of Hwy 115.

Median Sales Price $455,000. Student Enrollment 5,148. Mean SAT Score 1153.

Colorado Springs School District 11 –

One of the oldest school districts in Colorado Springs. I’ve always mistakenly thought the largest acreage, but it is probably the highest population. It is the “central” school district, mostly downtown and areas surrounding, all the way up to Woodmen Rd.

Median Sales Price $235,000. Student Enrollment 28,332. Mean SAT Score 966.

Ellicott School District 22 –

More rural schools located east/southeast of Peyton, Colorado.

Median Sales Price $225,000. Student Enrollment 1,072. Mean SAT Score 932.

Falcon School District 49 –

Eastern Colorado Springs out toward Peyton, north of Peterson Air Force Base, east of Powers.

Median Sales Price $160,000. Student enrollment 15,478. Mean SAT Score 927.

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 –

Southern Colorado Springs to Fountain, Colorado, including schools on Fort Carson Army base in southwest Colorado Springs

Median Sales Price $237,000. Student Enrollment 8,120. Mean SAT Score 967.

Hanover School District 28 –

Rural east/southeast of Fountain, Colorado

Median Sales Price $220,000. Student Enrollment 260. Mean SAT Score 812.

Harrison School District 2 –

Southeast Colorado Springs, west of powers, East of Hwy 115 to South Academy, portions in the Widefield area

Median Sales Price $203,000. Student Enrollment 11,441. Mean SAT Score 945.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 –

Located in the Monument, Colorado and Palmer Lake, Colorado portions of Northern El Paso County.

Median Sales Price $445,000. Student Enrollment 6,207. Mean SAT Score 1129.

Manitou Springs School District 14 –

Located in Manitou Springs, west of downtown Colorado Springs.

Median Sales Price $495,000, enrollment 1,458. Mean SAT Score 1044.

Peyton School District 23JT –

Rural district Northeast of Colorado Springs
Median Sales Price $349,000. Student Enrollment 622. Mean SAT Score 1004.

Widefield School District 3 –

South Colorado Springs, North of Fountain
Median Sales Price $249,900. Student Enrollment 9,283. Mean SAT Score 942.

Woodland Park School District Re-2 –

Located in Woodland Park, Colorado and surrounding communities, west of Colorado Springs, up Ute pass to the west

Median Sales Price $203,000. Student Enrollment 2,495. Mean SAT Score 978.

Researching Your School Choices

Within these districts are some Charter School programs that, while in the public school system, have a different operation, websites, etc.

When we enlisted our boys in public school, we visited public and charter school open house nights, investigated programs available, location, etc. There is so much importance in your child’s education, so whether you are looking for a house in a school district or trying to “choice” into a different school for your child, do a little (or a lot of) research!

Good luck with your school research. I’m here to help if it’s time to move!


Hiking the Pikes Peak Region North to South

It might seem a bit silly as the weather turns cooler to talk about hiking. However, Colorado’s 300+ days of sunshine lend to year-round hiking (and golfing for that matter)… plus if it’s too snowy, I’ll just throw on snowshoes and “hike” that way. I am certainly not an expert on all of these trails, but I will try to give a brief description or the terrain and length.

Notes: 1) for most trails dogs must be “on leash”, 2) pretty much all trails I’m discussing are powered by muscles, not motors (horses, people. bikes, etc… just no motorized vehicles).. oh, and 3) prepare to see wildlife (mostly deer, squirrels, rabbits, maybe fox.. and occasional bear, snake *yes, there are rattlesnakes here*)

Hiking North of Colorado Springs

Let’s start with my favorite (ok one of my faves) SPRUCE MOUNTAIN – just north of the El Paso / Douglas County line, north of Palmer Lake. Primary trail is a 5.6-6 mile loop. Difficult uphill, switchback trail to top, then loop around the top.

Also in Douglas County is the GREENLAND TRAIL – access off Hwy 83, 8.2-mile loop, varying difficulty, light traffic

Just into El Paso County is the PALMER LAKE RESERVOIR – moderate 4.1 miles out and back, trailhead in Palmer Lake

MOUNT HERMAN – 2.2 mile out and back, trailhead on the west side of Monument at the edge of Pike National Forest

Jump over to the east side of I-25 for FOX RUN Regional Park – with a variety of loops to make your hike longer or shorter, with several access points off Roller Coaster Rd and Stella Rd. (Dog Park available) I love this one, because it’s near my boys’ school and I can knock it off right after school drop off.

Also nearby are BLACK FOREST REGIONAL PARK 2.9-mile loop and BLACK FOREST SECTION 16’s 4-mile loop, one I do often since it’s near my house.

All along the west side of I-25 is the SANTA FE Trail – I believe it’s at least 19 miles from Palmer lake trailhead to downtown Colorado Springs. It’s out-and-back as far as you can stand to push yourself… with stops all along the way (Palmer Lake, Baptist Rd, Air Force Academy Northgate entrance, Woodmen Rd, near Criterium bike shop, Gossage Park, Monument Valley Park, etc.)

Hiking in Central Colorado Springs

Another out-and-back in town is the COTTONWOOD CREEK Trail with many paved portions from at least Austin Bluffs/Woodmen intersection to Academy Blvd just north of Dublin. Great trail for kids on bikes, with a quick stop-over to play at Cottonwood Creek Rec Center and Park.

Recognizable from all over Colorado Springs is PULPIT ROCK. (near I-25 & N. Nevada) I chuckle at this one because I know there are a couple loops, but seems friends and I always get off track here and end up scaling the side of the hill either up or down. We have been all the way to the top, and kids climbed the rocks (scary moment as a mom!). Views of Pikes Peak are particularly phenomenal from here!

GARDEN OF THE GODS has a bunch of different trails from fairly easy & mostly paved simple portions “inside the loop”, to longer options outside the driving loop. This is a great place to drive through and stop for some great photos of the red rock formations, with visitors or your friends and family. Kissing Camels is one of the most famous formations, from the Garden of the Gods Club up the hill, the camels which appear to be kissing frame Pikes Peak.

Another favorite of one of my hiking buddy’s favorites is PALMER PARK – again, multiple trail options depending on difficulty and length you desire. Also, awesome views from many spots!

One I don’t often think of is the HOMESTEAD Trail – located near Powers Blvd, it runs through neighborhoods from Old Farm to at least Constitution. Sidebar- It would be difficult to mention all of the neighborhood trails in one blog, as Colorado Springs / El Paso County has always been very intentional about creating parks, trails, open spaces all over the place. I feel like every neighborhood has a trail or several!

Back to the west side, on the edge of Pike National Forest and south of the United State Air Force Academy is BLODGETT PEAK – 3.5 miles out and back with pretty steep grade climbing the mountainside.

UTE VALLEY trail is also another friend favorite, on the west side of town, off Vindicator. The most heavily trafficked portion is a 3.5-mile loop, however, you can turn off in several places to shorten or extend that. Be prepared to see lots of mountain bikes here… popular trail!

One I’ve never visited is the ROCK ISLAND Trail – 11.8 out and back from Nevada to Powers along Constitution.

Hiking in East Colorado Springs

If you trek east of Colorado Springs/Peyton several miles, a really fun place to explore is the historic CALHAN PAINT MINES – you can do out and back or a loop, plus explore the amazing rock formations created by water and limestone over hundreds of years. WOW!

Way back over to the west side in Manitou, Colorado – for those who really like to push themselves, the INCLINE is a vertical climb up the side of Pikes Peak. I have done it a handful of times, it’s tough! Most hike up it and go down Barr Trail. You can also take Barr Trail up past the top of the incline for most exploration toward the top of Pikes Peak.

Hiking on the Westside of Colorado Springs

I love to explore the west side of Pikes Peak by driving through Woodland Park, CO and hitting the CRAGS Trailhead. The views from the top are amazing!.. and there are more options to include “bouldering” the side of Pikes Peak.. maybe next time. 😉

The PIKES PEAK GREENWAY Trail will take you from downtown Colorado Springs to Fountain, CO, considerable portions paved.

The southwest side of Colorado Springs offers SO many options, I’ll try to touch on them all. First BEAR CREAK Park, trails, nature center – sports, probably the largest and most popular dog park in town, plus trails and open spaces to enjoy.

Next.. RED ROCK CANYON Open Space – Red Rock Section 16 is one I’ve done several times, also popular for mountain bikers. I know there are parts of the area I haven’t seen.

Hiking South of Colorado Springs

I am going to lump together two multi-trail spaces… STRATTON OPEN SPACE & CHEYENNE CANYON – These areas encompass so many trails it’s hard to list them all –

* Gold Camp

* Cheyenne Canyon Columbine Trail

* Mister Twister Loop

* Seven Bridges

* Mount Muscoco Trail

* 7 Falls

* Buckhorn Loop

* Silver Cascade Falls

* Mays Peak

* Garfield Trail

Some of these trails are definitely not for the faint of heart or the physically unfit; please always remember to bring water, snacks, protective gear.. especially if you are traversing a different altitude. Colorado storms can be sudden and dangerous!

To discuss and find trails I’ve never done, I used an app and web page called All Trails… check it out at home or on your phone when it’s time to hit the hills for some fresh air and physical fitness! There are so many trails I didn’t even touch on, so much Colorado to get out there an explore… enjoy!!


How to Use the El Paso County Assessor Website

Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado, located within El Paso County. I’ve recently had more opportunity to explore the user-friendly El Paso County Assessor’s website. As a Realtor in Colorado Springs, I have used this site quite a bit for real estate purposes, but there are some functions that are useful to any resident of El Paso County. Here are some of the ways that I have used the El Paso County Assessor Colorado Springs’ website recently.

Tax bills

If you have a mortgage on your home, it is likely that 99% + of the El Paso County population has an escrow account established with their lender. The lender collects 1/12th of your taxes in your escrow account with your monthly payment.  You will receive a bill at the residence (or your address if it is an investment property). The taxes are due in one payment April 30 or in two installments at the end of February and June 15. Your lender will pay this. Some ask that you send it in with your payment following receipt of the bill, just to make sure your lender received it. If you don’t carry a mortgage or have enough equity, you don’t have to carry an escrow account (determined by lender) then you need to be prepared to pay these taxes per the deadlines indicated. The Assessor’s website is handy to check the Colorado Springs Tax Assessor’s information:

  • Amount of your tax bill
  • Changes in the last few years to your tax bill
  • Verify the tax amount of a property that you are considering purchasing

Property Search

I have a past client looking to make a change. They are enjoying their beautiful new home, but looking into the future. She described to me a property that had some stigmatizing factors (condemned house, mercury spill). She was willing to invest in the land, clean up the spill, build an updated home. So she described the location to me, “it’s down at the end of the road that my house backs up to.”

  • I went to the El Paso County Assessor page and looked up her address.
  • Make sure the appropriate property is selected, verifiable by address or owner name.
  • I clicked the upper left “Parcel Map” link.
  • I clicked around the plats/parcels in the area and showed her my search until we figured out the parcel she was looking for.
  • I went to the MLS and found the property. She thought it had gone off the market, but it actually sold. It would have been a great investment, but we continue her search.

Tax Information

I had a client moving out here from their former post in Oklahoma. The house they were interested in seemed to have very low taxes indicated. We needed to find out why.

  • I placed the property address in search bar
  • Click County Treasurer Tax Information
  • The seller had occupied the house for nearly 30 years. Due to that and their age, they qualified for the state/county homestead exemption, so the tax rate they paid was half what a new home-owner would pay.

Square Footage of a Property

  • Put property address in search bar
  • At the very bottom of the property page, there is a “Residential Information” section. If you click on the square footage indicated there, it will take you to a verification page. (** Caution, the number indicated here, is normally only above grade, so do click the link to see square footage broken down by living levels.)
  • I’ve had 2 instances in the past 3 years where this information was conflicting.

1) Builder filed a building plan with for a partial basement/partial crawl space, then ended up finishing the home with a full basement. We were able to reach the original owner, who is a local Realtor as well. He even almost wanted to buy his old house back! So we had to indicate the square footage discrepancy in our square footages disclosure and why the assessor page had incorrect information.

2) Builder filed a building plan with a full basement and ended up doing a partial basement/partial crawl space finish. We discovered from the previous MLS and tax records that there was a discrepancy. We input the MLS with a partial finish, and the owner had the assessor come out and update the square footage, so any future owners/Realtors would have accurate information. It took a couple weeks, but they verified and updated the website for accuracy.

Plat Maps

We are about to host an open house for neighbors to view the progress on a newly reconstructed beautiful home in Broadmoor Heights. I needed to find a way to map the area, so we could hand deliver invites to these neighbors.

  • I put the address we are listing in the search field on the El Paso County Assessor site front page.
  • I again clicked “Parcel Map” at the upper left.
  • I printed the approximate area to which I knew we wanted to deliver.
  • I clicked house by house to make sure I had all the addresses on my printed map.

Past Home Sales

While we have access to the MLS, sometimes the information isn’t 100% accurate depending who completed the data input. Also, there are foreclosures and For Sale By Owner transactions that don’t always hit the MLS, but would be recorded sales with the county.

Property’s Legal Description

We all know our home by the address, but in the real estate world that is a “commonly known as” address, and every legally recorded document is filed against the legal description… usually Lot ___ Block___ in *Subdivision* and Filing ___ Colo Spgs. You want to verify that your documents and closing are recorded against the correct legal description. This is a huge reason why we have title companies to verify and ensure such things.

So, you can see the El Paso County Assessor’s Website is not only easy and user-friendly, but you can get so much information about a property. If you need to visit the El Paso county Assessor’s Office in person, here are the contact details and hours as well:

El Paso County Assessor’s Office Location

1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd, Suite 2300, Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Telephone: (719) 520-6600 — Fax Number: (719) 520-6635

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday – Friday
Offices closed: Saturday – Sunday

El Paso County Assessor's Site, Colorado Springs CO Assessor, El Paso County Assessor Colorado Springs


Academy School District 20 Boundary Changes

If you want to stir up some controversy, start a discussion about schools; if you really want to get people excited, start a discussion on school district boundaries. Academy School District D20 is proposing some boundary changes for the upcoming school years. One of the first things people ask is about changes to external boundaries (those bordering other districts). The answer is NO, those will not change. It would take an act of Congress or God to change those. 😉 I met with a parent volunteer on the Boundary Committee this week to try and understand details (since I couldn’t make the open house discussion nights).

Changes to District 20 Boundaries

When the bond issue passed in 2016, Academy School district 20 began contemplating new schools, and with that comes a lot of tough decisions. We all see the growth around the district! The team that worked long hours to adjust and add school boundaries is made up of board school district board members and about 25 parents who volunteer to help “redistribute” thousands to students. I can’t imagine the difficult task of understanding the growth, school-age students per household, etc.

The PROPOSED plan is spread out over the next 5 years, and I will try to lay out the details to include map links. (below).  There will be a Board vote going forward in October.

D20 School District 2018-2019 school year

1) Elementary #20 (yes, they will be renamed) – SEE MAP 1 – new school in the Southeast portion of Wolf Ranch development. Research Blvd Is in the process of being extended east to Black Forest Rd to allow for access. This connection will not be open until right when school begins for the ’18-’19 school year, as they don’t want people speeding through that zone and re-adjusting to school speed limits.

Details: This will be the neighborhood elementary for the following:

* the eastern “half” of Wolf Ranch, primarily from Wolf Lake Dr (portions go as far west as Valemount or Wolf Center) to the east to the eastern district boundary, north to Old Ranch or Wildflower Rd (again, please see maps)

* southern filings of Wolf Ranch from Research south through Cumbre Vista to Woodmen Rd

* Forestgate, Silver Ponds, eagle Wing Estates communities

* Innovation Learning Center will eventually be at this site as well.

2) Redistribution at northern part of ASD20 (Discovery Canyon Campus, Antelope Trails, Da Vinci Elementary Schools) – (MAP 3) goal is to increase population at Antelope Trails Elementary and take population load off Da Vinci and Discovery Canyon Elementary Schools

* Northgate Estates and small surrounding area (just north of Northgate Rd & Voyager) – neighborhood elementary will be changed from Da Vinci Academy to Antelope Trails

2019-2020 school year – (MAP 4)

1) Middle school #8, location northern portion of Cordera. Distribution details (yes, confusing, consult maps and the district)

* take the population pressure off Challenger and Timberview Middle Schools

* neighborhood middle school for all of Cordera

* neighborhood middle school for Wolf Ranch, Cumbre Vista, Forest Gate, Eagle Wing Estates, Silver Ponds

* east, northeast of Powers, south of Old Ranch Rd

2020-2021 school year –  High School Realignment Scenario C – 1 year after opening of middle school #8 (MAP 5)

* Cordera and western Wolf Ranch to Pine Creek High School * this is a change

* Eastern Wolf Ranch, Cumbre Vista to Liberty High School 8 * this does not change neighborhood school boundary

* Rampart boundaries unchanged

2021-2022 OR 2022-2023 school year (TBD) – Elementary School #21 (MAP 6)

* location in North Creek near Pine Creek High School

* move western portion of Cordera to new elementary

* move students from south of Shoup, east of Hwy 83 to new elementary

* move students from west of Milam, west of Howells (from Edith Wolford Elementary) to new elementary

I would love to hep you understand these boundaries and changes, as it relates to selling or purchasing a home in the Academy School District 20. This is historically a strong district with high test scores and personally, expect nothing less as it continues to grow!

Academy D20 Proposed Boundary Maps


* Students transitioning within same school level will be polled and most likely be allowed to stay to keep original neighborhood school where maps otherwise indicate a change would be required. Please consult district for details.

* Opinion – I am personally excited about the growth and forethought the district has to plan for the population growth.

* This is not a final and conclusive decision, please reference the district website or call them.


Requirements to become a Realtor

With the booming real estate market, especially locally, we are seeing lots of people interested in the real estate business… friends, family, & clients. Here are the requirements to become a Realtor and what you need to know before you take the first steps towards changing your career.

It all starts with real estate school, but those of us in the business a while know there should be some sort of personality exam first. HA! It’s a very interesting and challenging business, but so much fun most of the time! Here are the requirements to become a Realtor and what you need to know before you take the first steps towards changing your career.

Real Estate School

This is the actual real first step. My schooling was 16 years ago, WHOA! So things have obviously changed, but the goal of real estate school is to provide a framework for the industry and help you learn to pass the test. Then the real education begins. 😉  My top recommendation would be a real school like Kaplan where their sole focus is the real estate industry and surrounding fields (appraisers, etc).

There are other ways to do it, I think our local community college and probably the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) have real estate classes. Classes can be taken on-line through schools all over the country.

Real Estate Test

(Dun dun DUNNN)

  • You have to pay each time
  • There is one test facility in Colorado Springs (and one in Pueblo)
  • There are two portions… State and National
  • Plan a couple hours
  • Results pretty much immediately
  • I think the majority do not pass the first time
  • Your license can transfer to different state with different levels of reciprocity (some are full transfer, some partial, some require taking their state test, some don’t transfer and you have to start over)

Hanging Your New License

Once you pass the test!.. you will soon have a Colorado Real Estate license, but now you have to figure out where to “hang” your license. During real estate school, if you went to classes at Kaplan in person, some real estate companies will come visit your class and do some light recruiting. You may also do research on your own. What do you want? … what do you need?

  • First, the state requires hanging your license under a brokerage for minimum 2 years to be supervised by a broker.
  • small or big?
  • boutique or big box?
  • company splits or desk fees?
  • personality (yes, offices carry different personalities, and like any job, it’s nice to get along with the people you work with)
  • monthly meetings
  • supporting staff
  • mentor program

Once you pass your test, to be issued a license, you have to be fingerprinted by the state of Colorado. They do a full background check.

The Costs of Being a Realtor

It is expensive to get going; there are start-up and recurring costs:

  • Real Estate School
  • PPAR/CAR/NAR (see next paragraph) – monthly/annually
  • Electronic Contract Software – monthly
  • License Renewal – every 1-3 years
  • Signage – as needed
  • Lockboxes – as needed
  • Education – multiple times annually
  • Gas/vehicle maintenance – weekly/monthly (I drive now about 25,000 miles per year)
  • Meals, expenses, client referral gifts
  • I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking of!

Join a Real Estate Board

Our local board is the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Membership here includes membership to the local board (PPAR), Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). To join the board there are required orientation and ethics classes. You will learn how to use the MLS and how to handle various situations. It would also be advised to take additional classes through PPAR or local title companies for things like contracts, electronic contract software, etc. There is so much you can learn.

Required Continuing Education

As with most licensed profession, continued education is required… a certain amount of hours per 1 and 3 year period… ethics, contracts, elective courses… all to help you become better at what you do.

The industry is constantly changing, the contracts change annually, every transaction is different because of various parties involved and every home is unique.

My best advice

  • work on a team or under a mentor for at least a year!
  • soak up everything you can from the successful agents around you
  • SAVE$$!… it can take months/years to be truly successful, and even then there are rollercoaster times as the market shifts. It may be several months before you close your first sale, and you need to still be able to pay your rent/mortgage during that time… and probably eat.

If you have a friend who is a Realtor in Colorado Springs, take them to lunch or coffee and “pick their brain”. I have done this with several people in the past few years. I love helping people, so I want to talk them through if it’s a good choice. Everyone thinks it’s so easy right now because it’s busy, but in 16+ years, this is the hardest market I think I’ve worked! If you are interested, jump in with both feet and prepare to be challenged, frustrated, encouraged, let-down, built-up, and grow!  If you already have your license check out our mentorship program. It is a good option to get off on a good foot once you have your license.


Home Buyer’s Needs Assessment

It seems in this “transitional community” we live in, with military, job growth, etc. we frequently do needs assessment over the phone or on-line… only planning showings once the buyers arrive and we hit the ground running.

What is a needs assessment for a home buyer? and where do we start?

Recently I had a buyer who lives here in town already and wanted to have coffee and chat before actually starting their home search. So we planned a Saturday morning meeting and here is what we talked about.

How are you going to finance your home?

We started with financing because while it is so fun to be looking at houses starting on-line, it can be disappointing and time wasted if you’re not in the right target price range. There are a variety of mortgage calculators available on-line, but your best bet is to ask us for one of our awesome local lenders to start the mortgage discussion! I put buyers in the capable hands of a couple different awesome local lenders, if you are in need of one, .

There are two components to the loan approval… what you can spend… and what you want to spend. (okay, there’s much more than that, but this is an important part of the decision.)

I tell clients ALL the time that my husband and I never take advantage of the full mortgage amount we are approved for. We prefer to save a little for home improvement, emergencies, travel, camping, and generally enjoying life not being strapped to our house and mortgage.

So, I have the buyer thinking about the financing… and then we start talking about their wants and needs.

What do you need in a home?

The basics start with:

  • number of bedrooms/baths
  • number of garage spaces/carport/etc
  • total square footage
  • main level bedroom for elderly/disabled
  • area, location, neighborhood, schools

These items are generally decided based on the size of family, whether their growing or downsizing, etc. Based on price, buyers may include other wants into their needs.

The location is often determined by job expectations and then driven by price and availability of homes nearby. I will say that Colorado Springs and the surrounding area is generally extremely easy to commute. The most challenging commute is the bottleneck at Monument, as the market has driven people out of the Denver market and into the Pikes Peak Region; however many of those still commute north to the Denver metro area daily!

Now, there are other criteria for most people, but they tend to be more in the “wants” category. I’m perfectly capable of running up and downstairs 100 times a day for my kids, my upstairs home office, etc… but we still strongly prefer a main level master.

What do you want in a home?

  • basement… finished basement
  • deck/patio/sunroom
  • house age
  • wood burning or gas fireplace
  • gas range (actually difficult to find here in our average price range)
  • mountain views (see my previous blog for more on that one)
  • vaulted ceilings
  • large / fenced backyard
  • backing to open space/golf course
  • treed property
  • privacy from neighbors
  • acreage
  • Upgrades (granite, hardwoods, custom, etc.. and consider location ahead of these items that can be added/changed)
  • natural water… I chuckle a little when people want to have a creek running through or back to a lake. There is just very little water in our area. There are several small lakes in the “Tri-lakes” area (Monument, Palmer, Woodmoor and now Forest Lakes). There is water/creek running through the Ute Pass area and on the northwest side of town south of the Air Force Academy… plus creeks in Cottonwood area and Fountain.

Location, location, location… it will always be the case, the one thing you cannot change, location! It’s extremely expensive and not always cost effective to add onto a home, so size is probably the next most important factor.

What about buying a home that has good resale?

Resale is also a very important factor when buying. If you know you’ll be transitioning out of the community in 3-5 years for military, job, family, etc, you might have to stave off your desire to have the most expensive and unique home in your neighborhood. Often in these cases, the basic home in the popular neighborhood that is well kept will help tremendously with resale.

What do you give up?

Compromise – When you cannot line up the age, size, style, area, the budget for your home, it’s time to start talking about which criteria you’re willing to compromise… “I’ll accept an older home in this area”, or “I’ll go farther from work for the house I want”. In this high-demand market, buyers are making more sacrifices and learning what it means to compromise.

Finding the right home to buy

We take all of these factors into account with the buyer and set them up with a search. “Garbage-in-garbage-out” can be a bit of a challenge… for example, if a buyer wants wood floors & you select “wood” as a requirement in the MLS flooring field, but a listing agent forgot to check that box, a house that might work for the buyer won’t actually show up on their search. It’s best to keep the MLS search basic and use pictures, descriptions, & virtual tours to decide if it’s worth a personal showing.

Writing this makes me realize how much I love this process. After 16+ years, I’m still not tired of looking for and finding “the one” for buyers! It’s fun to be presented with a unique challenge and find the solution… no doubt every buyer that I work with has a unique set of wants/needs, it’s so cool! If you are ready for a Home Buyer Needs Assessment, .

More Information:

Home Buyer Needs Assessment


Buying a Home with a Pikes Peak View

People come to the Colorado Springs area from all over the country… the world for that matter. They move here primarily because of our military and technology companies, but also just for the sheer beauty and reasonable cost of living. The Pikes Peak region is a popular place. One of the first things people ask for (especially from the midwest or south) is for a Pikes Peak view! “America’s mountain” sometimes feels like she’s right on top of our beautiful city! Since the angle and view of Pikes Peak can vary so much, it can be a big factor in determining where you should buy a house.

I frequently tell incoming clients that there is a trade-off between the view versus the feeling of living in the mountains. Once you get pretty far west, it’s actually more difficult to see Pikes Peak because the other mountains stand in the way. So, I just wanted to give you a little perspective on our beautiful mountain from various angles. As you look through them, I’m sure you can hear “for purple mountain majesty, above the fruited plains..” playing in your head. Katherine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful lyrics, inspired by Pikes Peak, actually originated as a poem called “Pikes Peak”; later it was put to music with Samuel A. Ward of Grace Episcopal Church in NJ.

This beauty was taken from eastern El Paso County in the Calhan/Peyton area as I headed back into town after showing houses. As you can see, Pikes Peak looks like a lone, towering peak from this distance, the rest of the mountain range hardly discernable. Note the cows and wide open spaces… if you’re looking for this type of land and view, maybe this is the area for you!

Head just a bit further west into Colorado Springs. This shot it taken from the Briargate area. Obviously, a recent snowfall helps define the lines on the mountains, but it’s also just a little more clear the closer you are.

This one is on the way up Ute Pass. This might be the type of “peek-a-boo view” you might expect if you land in a home on the west side of town (west side is pretty much west of I-25, our major interstate… but the further west the better for most with this preference).

Not sure I will call this saving the best for last, but I have a strong opinion on the beauty in Woodland Park… our mountain town, just 20-30 minutes “up the pass” west of Colorado Springs. The perspective on Pikes Peak is completely different. The mountain is far deeper than it seems from the Colorado Springs area. I’ve hiked the Crags from this backside and you can see to the west for miles.

Needless to say, , the weather, the friendliness, and so much more… but Pikes Peak is probably our most notable landmark, with Garden of the Gods, the United States Air Force Academy and the Broadmoor hotel as other major draws to the area. I’m not sure if this helps you make a decision about where you will end up buying a home, but in any case, I’m sure you’ll love the area and our mountains almost as much as I do!


PPRBD Building Permits for Home Improvement

**Updated Dec 2017**

With just about any home improvement in El Paso and Teller counties, homeowners are required to pull a permit with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) in Colorado Springs… anything from basement finishes, decks, electrical/plumbing updates, water heaters, furnaces, adding outbuildings… the list goes on! Their website is relatively user-friendly.

What we know about PPRBD

They often get a bad rap for high fees, very structured property visit guidelines, and being extremely particular. If we keep in mind that these codes exist to keep us safe, then hopefully we can all have a great attitude about the process. The codes do change almost annually, and they have a lot to keep up with. If you request a visit on building inspection, as long as you request by 8 am, they will come the same day. (see hours listed in chart below)

As you can imagine there are hundreds of thousands of homes here, and they do everything they can to remain organized. The rules are all posted online and homeowners can pull their own permits, general contractor not required, but all the same rules apply. I do not think their fees are really all that high.

Why you might contact PPRBD for a permit

If you are doing any number of projects on your home, you might need to contact them. Here are some of the most common reasons, but there are probably hundreds:

  • building a home (yes the owner can do this themselves, all the same requirements apply)
  • finishing a basement (owner can be the general contractor or contractor can, all the same permit fees & rules apply)
  • adding a utility service to a property
  • moving electrical, gas, water service (new plumbing location for any fixtures or electrical hook-ups)
  • adding electrical, gas, water service (i.e. hot tub, new laundry hook-up location, new fireplace, etc)
  • moving or adding mechanical systems (i.e. central air, water heater, etc.)
  • structural changes (i.e. moving/removing a supporting wall, changing a door or window location, etc.)
  • replacing any mechanical system (furnace, water heater, humidifier, central air)
  • decks attached to the home
  • adding buildings to a property (have to meet PPRBD requirements, as well as any pertinent HOA, covenants, set-backs, county building code, etc.)
  • adding a ceiling fan

For any of the above services, inviting PPRBD into your home means they will likely also check your smoke and CO detectors, so make sure those are up-to-date.

My personal experiences with Regional

  • We had the unfortunate issue last summer of having to terminate an agreement with a contractor mid-bathroom-remodel. It was extremely stressful. So 4 permits had been pulled – general building, heating, plumbing and electrical. And we were in a skeleton of the bathroom we had envisioned. As we approached new contractors to assist us, we realized much of the work was finalized and could be moved into our name. The contractor that helped us finish also helped us with PPRBD. My husband is really handy and did the work himself with the assistance of a contractor that worked on our kitchen. The plumber had fortunately been paid from beginning to end of the project. When my husband called them, we were stressed, but they were very helpful getting him to the right person with the answers. They voided permits and re-opened them in our name so we could conclude the project. Our electrician had skipped town, taking advantage of several customers, fortunately not us!
  • I also had a client do a bunch of work himself, wanting to list his home with Springs Homes without appropriate permits. We are all about honesty and told him he must openly disclose the details of the non-permitted work all over the MLS listing, get professional plumber and electrician to sign off on the work, and even demolish some of the work done. He was concerned about the time and expense of going through Regional, but he would have saved time & money had he done it from the start! For more about how to pull your own or requirements, here is that website Happy (and safe) Home Improvement!!

The moral of the story (this blog) is that while our local Building Department is a big machine, they have been very helpful in many cases and even friendly. I’m sure it’s a stressful job, and I strongly believe the safety of the homes in our counties is of utmost concern. I have learned so much from the inspectors visiting our home over the years!

Update of Rules

As I mentioned, there are changes annually, here are just a few I know of, again, I’m sure there are hundreds I don’t know:

  • Effective July 2011 Carbon Monoxide detectors are REQUIRED! We cannot sell homes without them. If you open any permit, expect the inspectors to check that your CO detectors are up to code (1 within 15 feet of every sleeping area/bedroom).
  • There are new requirements for arc-fault outlets & switches.
  • When you replace a water heater, the subsequent gas line requires replacement as well. (Many people try to replace water heater by just buying a new one and popping it in the spot where the old one was… easy peasy… well, not so much because you still need a permit.)

Backlog of permits waiting for approval

Occasionally there is a backlog of inspections, for instance, the fires of 2012 & 2013 and the catastrophic hail storm in July 2016 caused a variety of back-ups. If there is a home trying to close on the resale market, it’s possible during these backlog events that permits cannot be closed before closing happens. It might behoove homeowners and buyers to get a written letter from contractors guaranteeing work will be complete/corrected if there are any hang-ups in the permit process.

PPRBD Office Hours

Lobby hours are 7:30AM – 4:15PM MDT M-F

Inspectors (Office Hours)7:30AM – 8:30AM719-327-2880
Plan Review9:00AM – 11:45AM & 1:00PM – 3:45PM719-327-2885
Permits7:30AM – 4:15PM719-327-2883
Licensing7:30AM – 12:00PM & 1:00PM – 4:15PM719-327-2887
Enumerations/ Floodplain9:00AM – 11:45AM & 1:00PM – 3:45PM719-327-2960

Pikes Peak Regional Building, www pprbd org

Notary Guidelines

International Notary Guidelines

Notary Guidelines

I’m certainly not going to pretend to be an expert on all things regarding legal notary services around the globe. It only came to my attention a few years ago that it might not be as easy to process real estate paperwork everywhere as it is here! 

In the United States of America, many legal documents need to be notarized. For most of us, in our industry, that means every title closer you know can do this for you, and they perform all of our closings. Most title closers are a public notary and provide notary services. If you live in another state and are closing on a property here, sometimes that means walking into your local bank or just finding a local notary service in your area to certify your signature on your legal documents.

Notary Services Abroad

Well, such is not the case around the globe. I had a client moving from a civilian job with the USA working in Saudia Arabia. As they began the search, they of course came here to look at homes. With electronic software, the contract, inspection, amendments, etc. were fairly easy to execute halfway around the world. But when it came to closing time, we discovered they had to have docs sent to them, then notarized and returned. Easy-peasy, right? Nope! First of all, the title companies here require an American notary. So they had to find one… at the US Embassy… and pay $50/page to have it notarized. The title company was so helpful and kept to a minimum the actual documents that needed notary. It was complicated, but accomplished.

Second example, I took a recent continuing education class in which the instructor shared an example of a client that lived in Australia and was selling a property in Colorado. Well, in Australia, to get something notarized you have to go before a judge. Wow, that’s complicated!! So the Colorado seller, living in Australia came to the US at some point during their transaction (not Colorado) to visit family. The title company sent documents to them while in the USA, so they could find a US notary and remove some complications! 

I have a client now, living in Prague, getting ready to sell their property here in Colorado Springs. I asked her to get started in the process of what it takes to notarize documents there, so we would be ready when the time comes. Their home here will of course sell in probably less than a week and close in under 2 months. If they are stateside at any time in the next 3 months, we’ll certainly try to get any possible documents to them, especially if we are already under contract.

The internet and social media has shrunk the world in many ways. Legal services such as notarizing documents might be easy here, but much more complicated in other countries. Sometimes we need to be reminded how easy we have it… what a great country this is!!! 


Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Real Estate

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703 N. Tejon St. Suite E
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

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There is nothing average about Springs Homes. Everything we do crackles with intention and intensity, because we believe that strategy always wins when employed by confident, knowledgeable and trustworthy agents.

We list and sell homes across the entire Pikes Peak region. Additionally, Springs Homes offers property management services. We work with a select few home builders in order to provide our clients with new construction options as well as resale opportunities.

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