Showing Homes "Up the Pass"

Showing Homes "Up the Pass"

To Pikes Peak Region Realtors, "up the pass" means up Ute Pass west of Manitou into Woodland Park. This beautiful little mountain town is also known as the City Above the Clouds. I got to experience the full meaning of that years ago after showing a couple Black Forest on a chilly, foggy day, we pulled up into Woodland Park, CO in the afternoon, up out of the clouds. What a pleasant moment... And viewing Pikes Peak from a whole different angle! 

Woodland Park is a great mountain town, with local shops, breweries, and more recently a Wal-mart (clearly the mark that Woodland Park has "made it" as an American town ;-) ) PLUS a modern medical facility. Including Walmart, there are 3 large-name grocery stores. Locals also know there is plenty of Mexican food options, plus the famous "Donut Mill" Restaurant... So much more than just donuts for breakfast, they make breakfast burritos and more! 

Let's get back to the showings!!.. I love showing up here particularly in the summer and fall. In the summer, it's a comfortable 5-10 degrees cooler than Colorado Springs, so on those blistering days if you had to WP and homes in the trees, a nice breeze will also help keep it cool. With these particular clients, we had a little chuckle because one owner came back home during our showing and was complaining about the 75 degree heat. The fall is nice because while the trees are primarily Ponderosa pine, the scattered aspens make for a beautiful view all around. Not everyone has a view of Pikes Peak from their deck, but most lots outside the city center will have some nice trees to make you feel oh-so-Colorado! 

The houses I showed over the past week have been in the $275-350,000 range and 1700-3300 sq ft, most with .5-1 acre. Some are updated, some carry the rustic decor of 20-30 years ago. I was very surprised at the high percentage of split-level style homes. The poor husband of this couple I showed couldn't keep them separate in his head. After 3 days and 18 showings, he was "lost". So we head back out tomorrow to see the "favorites" again, so he can remember what they're buying before they head back home before moving here. The split-level style comes mostly out of necessity, a mountain town means, most homes are built on a hillside and the tuck-under garage is fairly common.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but let me know if you or your friends/family want to move this way, I'd love to show up in Woodland Park again soon!! I often say, if we didn't daily commute to Colorado Springs, we'd strongly consider Woodland Park!! 

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5 Things to do this Weekend in Colorado Springs Jun 24-26

5 Things to do this Weekend in Colorado Springs Jun 24-26

Doug Smith, Fri Jun 24, 7pm at the Black Forest Community Center.

Admission: $5-10. The Black Rose Acoustic Society Friday Night Featured Act comes to us with a Grammy under his belt. Doug is an accomplished guitarist who has won the Winfield International Fingerstyle Guitar Competition. His original compositions are heard everywhere from NPR to TCM to Martha Stewart to Good Morning America. His playing combines folk, classical and jazz elements and has been called “a cross between Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges.” For more information: .


Fan Fest, Fri Jun 24 5-10pm on Tejon Street between Colorado and Platte.

Admission: Free. Start the International Hill Climb weekend celebration with the Red Bull Jumpers, Fire Fighter Chili Cookoff, Victory Motorcycle Stunt Team, meet the fastest qualifiers from each race class and a Beer Garden. For more information: .


Buddy Whittington & The Atomic Fireballs, Fri Jun 24, 6-8 pm, University Village

Admission: Free. Head out to the University Village Shopping Center for they Friday Evening Free Concerts. This week brings you a great mix of Blues and Country that is sure to please everyone. For more information: . 


Pickin' on the Divide, Sat June 25 9-5pm, Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Dr, Monument

Admission: $10. Head north to Monument for some bluegrass and fiddlin'. The competition runs 9-12 with bands playing 12-5. See known bands like Flying W Wranglers, WireWood Station and Grass it Up. For more information: .


Tejon Street Bike Festival and Tattoo Fest, Sun June 26, 10 am

Admission: Free  Corona Bikini Contest with $1,000 prize, bike show, live music and lots of vendors. Starting at 1pm, attention will be turned to tattoos and the ink will be flowing. Head to Cowboy's 25 N. Tejon where it is $10 per tattoo for the competition. .

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Low Property Taxes in Colorado

Low Property Taxes in Colorado

I often hear buyers comment on how low our property taxes are here in Colorado as compared to other states. I've heard that in places like New Jersey they are much higher.  But I never knew exactly how much higher. Recently I came across this article on   It's about property taxes and how much they cost in each state. The cost differences are quite shocking. This data is direct from their site:

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The Best Colorado Springs schools!

The Best Colorado Springs schools!

I was searching for my school choice blog post the other day and with website re-vamping, it's disappeared, so this important topic deserves my attention again... And yours! 

So the title is a bit of a set-up, because well, we can't tell you which schools are "the best". It's against NAR ethics regarding steering and it's just not in your best interest for us to choose what your child needs. It takes time and effort, but part of your house hunting job if it's an important factor for you, is to find which schools are the best for your kid(s). The truth is, test scores and location can provide you with a lot of feedback, but school visits and "choice" meetings will help you best understand the school and if it will fit your child. 

First, What is Choice?:  Colorado Springs and the greater surrounding Pikes Peak areas participate in school of choice options. You can obviously go to your neighborhood school, within which every house in Colorado Springs has boundaries and designated schools. You can opt or choice into a school that isn't your neighborhood school... Or even into another district if it seems appropriate. 

How do I "choice" into another school or district?: Every district is a little bit different. I will try to provide a list of the individual school districts in the Pikes Peak region which we service below. Most provide the opportunity with a choice window in January to register your child(ren) with the desired school and district. Many charter schools in the area provide a "wait list" option, which many put their kids on shortly after birth, in case it ends up being the best choice for their child(ren)when the time comes. 

A couple Stories: 

1) When I was in high school (yes, many, many moons ago), my older sister and I had great success in our high school. Our younger sister, however, was not seeing the same success. I think the same teachers we had even gave her the benefit of the doubt, but a combination of family and friend choices weren't giving her a successful result. So our mom's moved to Denver and a school adjustment was just what was needed. 

2) I've heard of parents opting students out of "the best" school district for special needs or accelerated programs and "less desirable" districts, because it was what their student needed. Sometimes sports even play a factor. 

3) Our personal story includes putting our boys on the wait list for a charter school shortly after birth. They were hundreds down the list, but we left them on anyway. We then visited a couple other schools as our oldest approached kindergarten and felt led to his school. We went to choice meetings / open house house nights at several and some things didn't' make sense for our family at the charter option. Many of our friends go to that school and it did feel like the right choice for all of them. 

All of this said, we feel strongly that the parents and kids need to make school decisions based on their needs, plans, goals, etc. There are way too many factors for us to decide for you! Here are a list of school districts in the area and their websites to hopefully help you on your path:

Lewis Palmer District 38 (Monument/Palmer Lake area)
Academy School District 20 (north Colorado Springs)
Falcon School District 49 (east, northeast Colorado Springs)
Colorado Springs District 11 (Colorado Springs city and surrounding area)
Manitou District 14 (west of Colorado Springs, Manitou)
Harrison District 2 (south Colorado Springs)
Widefield District 3 (south of Colorado Springs)
Fountain-Fort Carson District 8 (south of Colorado Springs & on Ft. Carson)
Woodland Park District RE-2 (west, up Ute Pass)
Peyton School District (east of Colorado Springs/Falcon)
Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 


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Why Doing a Final Walk Through is Crucial

When buying a home, you have the option of doing a final walk through to verify condition before you close. Some buyers want to waive this right, especially if the home they are buying is vacant. They figure the house probably looks the same as it did when they initially saw it and there is no reason to look again.  WRONG!

Here is my favorite story about a final walk through I did which ended up saving my buyers $26,000 in repairs:

It was the morning of closing. My out of state buyer was not in town for his closing. He would be signing everything through the mail, which we refer to as a mail-out closing. I offered to do a final walk through of the property on his behalf. The property had been vacant for six days. The sellers had moved out and the house was now empty. 

I opened the front door and could hear the faint sound of water running. I followed the sound into the kitchen, where I noticed a small pool of water underneath the refrigerator. I quickly grabbed some paper towels and attempted to mop up the "puddle." I soon discovered the entire wood floor was saturated with water and warping as a result. The warping continued throughout the kitchen and into the dining room. The adjoining carpet in the living room was also soaked. Then it dawned on me...there is a finished basement. If the water has permeated the main level, it has probably leaked down to the basement level, too.  

So, I rolled up my pants and proceeded downstairs to the basement level. I opened the door to the most horrifying scene, about an inch of standing water on the carpet. Water was pouring through the ceiling. It was even running out of the light fixtures. The sheetrock ceiling was so wet it had broken off in large pieces, leaving the above floor joists exposed. I made my way to the mechanical room, and when I opened that door there was a good inch or more of standing water all around the furnace and water heater. I quickly waded through it and managed to turn off every water supply and valve I could find. At least the water would stop running now.

I then proceeded to call my buyer and tell him the news. He could not close that day. For if he did, then he would own not only the house but all the present damage as well.

It turned out the source of the leak was the small water line to the refrigerator's ice maker. It had burst after the sellers vacated and had been pouring water into the house for days. Contractor bids for repair work came in at $26,000. Fortunately, the sellers covered the costs. And four weeks later the house was restored, and we were able to close after all.

But the lesson here is obvious. Always do a final walk through when buying a home. And if you, the buyer, are not able to do it in person have your agent do one on your behalf. It could end up saving you so much money!

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