Brooke has been selling real estate since 2001 and enjoys serving the community. She has 2 professional designations, CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) and ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative). What that means to you is she strives to go above the required continuing education standards to provide a higher level of expertise to her clients. She has been with Springs Homes since early 2008 and loves providing stellar service for all your real estate needs! She has been in Colorado since 1988, growing up in Castle Rock and now gorgeous Colorado Springs/Black Forest area with her husband & her 2 wonderful sons. She has family in the real estate industry all along the front range and loves serving & selling in the Pikes Peak region. Her family enjoys the great Colorado outdoors (camping, dirt biking/ATVs, hiking, fishing) as well as being very involved in their church.

Home Buyer's Needs Assessment

NEEDS-ASSESSMEN_20170515-210641_1

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 back yard
  • 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, .

Continue reading
268 Hits

Buying a Home with a Pikes Peak View

IMG_3289

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 originally 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 snow fall 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 "peak-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 that it seems from the Colorado Springs area. I've hiked the Crags from this back side 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! 

Continue reading
378 Hits

PPRBD Building Permits for Home Improvement

PPRBD Building Permits for Home Improvement

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, strict rules for visiting properties, and being extremely particular. 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 8am, they will come same day. 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 on-line 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. 

My experience 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, and want to list with us without permits. We are full disclosure and told him he had to plaster 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 so worried about the time and expense of going through Regional, but would have saved a lot had he done it from the start! For more about how to pull your own or requirements, here is that website www.PPRBD.org. Happy Home Improvement!! 

The moral of the story... the 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 county is of utmost concern. 

Update of Rules

Sidenote - As of 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). 

Recent Backlog of permits waiting for approval

Oh, one more thing... because of catastrophic storms in 2016, roof permits are off the charts (something like 20,000 open currently), so we cannot get them closed before sale transactions in most cases. Trust that they are working their way down the list, be patient. 

Continue reading
809 Hits

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!!! 

Continue reading
911 Hits

Tiny Trees - Colorado Seedling Program

Tiny Trees - Colorado Seedling Program

When we first moved onto acreage, we were in the great rolling hills northeast of Colorado Springs. Our property was not treed and the only growth to speak of was weeds. Now in our second home on acreage, we looked into a seedling program offered by the state. Crazy as it is, I recall doing this when my family moved to Castle Rock, CO in 1988. We planted a huge tree line and now the trees are beautiful and tall. Well, the state of Colorado seedling program is great! Rather than me try to explain, I've copied verbatim the email we recently received. If you live on more than 2 acres you qualify to buy the inexpensive seedlings to build up tree growth on your property for a variety of reasons. 

Rose Long, Colorado State Forest Service, Woodland Park wrote us (and others) the following email: "The Colorado State Forest Service Woodland Park District is now accepting orders for the 2017 Trees for Conservation seedling tree program, with seedlings ordered now to be distributed in late April. The program enables landowners to obtain seedling trees at a nominal cost to be used for any conservation or land rehabilitation purpose, including the enhancement of tree species diversity that improves long-term forest health.

The purpose of the program is to encourage landowners to meet conservation goals, such as planting seedlings on properties with little to no vegetation, reducing erosion and enhancing wildlife habitat. The program also allows landowners to plant trees and shrubs in areas affected by wildfire or insect and disease, such as beetle-kill or mistletoe infestation.

Michael Till, a forester with the CSFS Woodland Park District, says he hopes the program will help landowners make a personal commitment to their properties through tree planting. Planting seedlings can help improve the quality of a property through such benefits as: 

  • re-establishing vegetation 
  • stabilizing soil and reducing soil erosion
  • controlling snow drifts 
  • improving species biodiversity 

When contemplating which species to plant, landowners should consider elevation, property slope/aspect and soil type. Some of the most successful species in El Paso, Teller and Park counties are caragana, ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce and piñon pine. The Woodland Park District also sells a variety of seedling survival accessories, including wind shades, tree guards, fertilizer tablets and weed barrier fabrics.

Orders made by April 4 will be available for pickup at the CSFS Woodland Park District office on April 28-29. For more information go to Seedling Tree Program , or call 719-687-2921. To obtain a up to date order form please click on the following link:http://csfs.colostate.edu/media/sites/22/2016/12/2017_CSFS_WPDS_Seedling_Tree_Order_Form_12-15-2016.pdf"

I hope you find this beneficial, especially if your property could use more trees! And if you're looking for a home on acreage, give me an email or a call

 

Continue reading
1292 Hits