Saturday, December 19, 2009


After a couple of years on Blogger, I made a bold decision to port my blog over to a my own Wordpress site. Please come and see me, I think you'll like the new look! The new address is:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Federal Reserve Stays the Course

While housing is slowly recovering, the Fed recognizes this is a fragile economy, and has wisely chosen not to start jacking interest rates up. These sorts of things can be just symbolic, because the price of bonds is what usually drives mortgage rates, and they will still bounce up and down based on lots of factors. Still, a 'steady as she goes' strategy seems to perfect for these times.
The weather has taken a definite turn to the mild side this week, after subzero temps last week it feels good to be in the 50's again. We'll see how Christmas week goes, but right now it looks like snow will not be in the picture, a welcome event for our driving guests. It has been nice to be able get out and walk again!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! for more photos, for more frequent updates!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Short Sales and Foreclosures, at Christmas?

There is a description by Scrooge in the Muppet Christmas Carol (my favorite Christmas movie :-) that says Christmas is "Harvest time for the money lenders". In truth, most lenders do not want to foreclose in the winter at all, let alone Christmas, and especially not this year (they own enough homes they don't want already!). It's just not good business. Nevertheless, there are those who are hopelessly behind in their payments at this point, and the lenders can't exactly let them live rent free forever either.
This morning we heard a talk by Shawn Morgan, a short sale negotiator with Wells Fargo, who gave us a some interesting tid bits to mull over. First, just as a reminder, a short sale is when the bank agrees to take less than they are owed, usually to avoid having to foreclose on the property. Very often this is without seeking the difference from the borrower, making it an attractive alternative to borrowers who might otherwise let their property be foreclosed upon, and eventually be pursued for a deficiency judgement. Pursuing a short sale is by far the best alternative for many (though not all) homeowners who are underwater and HAVE to move.
Despite their best efforts, the process at Wells Fargo is still pretty much 6-8 weeks (slipping to 10 at times) to get an answer, no matter how good everyone is doing their job. For buyers, this means patience. If you need a house in 30 days, don't even bother. On the other hand, these deals are often going at 85% of the current appraised value, which may very well be off another 20% from the peak of the market here in Colorado Springs.
Other bits and pieces included:
1. Corporations can't do short sales
2. Trusts and LLC's can only do them if the note was originally done in their name (not very often the case), so likely title will have to transfer back to the individual prior to receiving any attention from the short sale negotiator
3. Hounding and threatening that 'the buyer will walk' if they don't answer fast, doesn't get anywhere with these guys, they've got a big enough stack on their desk already to put up with the brain damage.
4. Having realistic expectations for dates and dollars, and a very thorough and complete short sale package usually gets the job done.
The Colorado Springs foreclosure rate is still running at record levels (El Paso County Foreclosure Data), but healthier buyer traffic is holding down the percentage of sales that are distressed (unofficially 22.2% last month), so maybe this problem will be less of an issue over time. We are told that nationally, there is another wave of option ARM loans resetting over the next 18 months. It remains to see how many of those we really have locally, since our market tends to be more heavily influenced by FHA and VA loans that are 30 year fixed rate loans.
It has been a wintry day today, but the sun is back out, and the snow has stopped, even though it is cold and windy. Looking forward to the 40's again by this weekend, enough of this single digit stuff. What global warming?!!!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! for more photos, for more frequent updates!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Colorado Springs Home Sales Jump BIG TIME!

Colorado Springs Home sales in November of 09 jumped 59.1% over last November! This is such good news, and the 4th month in a row of double digit increases. In fairness, last November was dismal, but even prices increased .3%, inventory of unsold homes is down, with the 'months supply' at 5.4, the 6th month in a row below the magic 6 month indicator of a 'normal' market. We in the real estate community are truly thankful for this turnaround. While all is not 100% well (the 90th percentile is still only $339,500), low interest rates and improving employment opportunities indicate a bright future for Colorado Springs. For more details, see the Colorado Springs Homes Sales Trend Data

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! for more photos, for more frequent updates!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas in Colorado Springs

The Christmas Season is in full swing in Colorado Springs. To start with, I need to dispel a misconception that Colorado Springs is THE place to come for a white Christmas. Not to be a Grinch, but we seldom have snow on the ground at Christmas in the Springs proper. To be truthful, we save MOST of our snow for the mountains to west of us, and really don't get that much all winter season. Moreover, what we do get melts off pretty fast, so even if we are lucky enough to get some good snow before Christmas, it is likely gone by Christmas Day. It may be cold (or not), but is likely brown, with some blue skies to complement the look.

Like most larger towns, we have our share of public music performances, and at least to our family, we have to attend at least one or it isn't Christmas. In past years we've seen wonderful work done at Woodmen Valley Chapel, we've done the Nutcracker ballet at the Pikes Peak Center. One year our kids chipped in on tickets for the TransSiberian Orchestra at the World Arena. New Life (our own church) has a production they do every other year called Wonderland. We will be going to that this year, although it has been scaled down a bit (one year they did it at the World Arena and it got a little 'over the top') We always love the Christmas Eve service. There are many other performances throughout the city as well, including at the Broadmoor Hotel (photo above), and Glen Eyrie Castle. For a more complete list of what is going on, check out The Gazette Music Section

Ski season 'officially' starts around Halloween most years, but it is Christmas break when most of the slopes tend to be 100% open and really ready for business. Some of the discount season pass programs black out the Christmas holidays for local passholders (it makes more room for those paying full price), but the true unlimited season passes are good over the holidays. It just a little crowded!

Hotels are not as full over the Christmas holidays as they are over Memorial Day (that is another article), so Christmas can be a good time to visit. You just have to be prepared for winter weather on some days. If there is some snow, cross country skiing tends to start up in Teller County. The Florissant Fossil Beds is a popular cross country ski destination.
It was a cold week here, with record lows overnight one night (-2 I think!), but very little snow.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! for more photos, for more frequent updates!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Thankful - In Colorado Springs or Anywhere Else

My kindergarten aged grandson had a Thanksgiving program yesterday, and one of the songs the kids sang was about having an attitude of gratitude. I for one, am somewhat prone to thinking of being thankful FOR something. Living here in Colorado Springs, working at RE/MAX Properties, the #1 real estate firm in the city, and part of the #1 real estate system in the state, country and the world, that is usually a pretty great list, so it isn't hard to some up with some good ones. Examples are as simple as the great view of Pikes Peak, or mild sunny weather in the middle of winter, or being a reasonable distance to world class skiing, and on and on. Having our extended family here gives us a lot of other things to be thankful for, such as having our grandkids over last night for a sleepover (complete with banana chocolate chip pancakes this morning!), being able to see them in their school programs, etc. But sometimes, I need to step back from all the things I'm thankful for, and remember that if none of them were available, it is still my job to keep an attitude of gratitude. I'm alive, healthy, I have a roof over my head, plenty to eat, and live in the most prosperous age of the most properous country in the history of the world. That should be MORE than enough to be thankful for, no matter what else is going on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! for more photos, for more frequent updates!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sun is Out Again

It was a cold and snowy weekend here in Colorado Springs, after hitting 70 degrees on Thursday. It didn't help that the Broncos also lost their 3rd game in a row and now share the lead in the AFC West, after leading by 3 1/2 games at one point. Thankfully, the sun is back out, the snow is melting off (we only got 3 or 4 inches in the Springs anyway), and hopefully the Broncos will get it back on track next week.
Life has it's ups and downs. One thing I enjoy about living in Colorado Springs, is that the sun always comes back out again after a storm, and some of the most beautiful sights can be right after some of the most ugly. Today is a sparkly winter wonderland, and with highs in the 50's the rest of the week. I know it won't last, so we'll enjoy it while it's here!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos! Or follow me on Twitter, @rvanwieren.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

New House Tax Credit Program Should Be Good for Colorado Springs

We've seen some nice activity in the Colorado Springs real estate market from the current First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program, but the new tax credit program should be even better. Here is a link to the IRS writeup on the new program.

For starters, it isn't JUST for first timers any more. We've needed a little extra incentives for some existing homeowners, to consider a buying move (as if 5% interest rates weren't enough!). While the incentive is a little less ($6500 vs $8000), it is a good start. It also only will apply to primary residence moves, so this won't be an investor or 2nd home purchase program. And it only applies if the prior home was your primary residence for 5 of the last 8 years, thereby excluding anyone who has bought in the last several years and is ready to move on. It will also likely require many to sell before they rebuy, putting some pressure on short term rentals. But all in all, it should help a little at the higher end, because more buyers in the qualifying categories are likely to buy in the higher price ranges than 1st timers.

Some unintended side effects of the program could be:

1. Downsizing sellers could end up putting more pressure on lower priced homes, as well as adding higher priced homes to an already glutted inventory of more expensive homes. The 90th percentile in our market was only $345,000 last month, indicating some of this was probably already happening.

2. The additional buyers this may generate will have houses to sell, adding to the inventory in all price ranges.

3. Builders will see additional activity from this, however more contingent contracts will likely appear, contributing to some increases in 'spec' homes, when move up buyers are unable to sell at terms they can afford.
It is a little cooler today, only 68 (ok, I'm bragging:), but probably the last day of the year that will be that warm. Pretty nice for November, that is for sure! Today's photo is of Mt Sopris, taken from the hills above Basalt last month. Sopris is part of the Elk Mountains, and while not a 14er, presents a nice dramatic backdrop to the Roaring Fork Valley on the way to Aspen.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Colorado Springs City Election Presents Hard Choices

The results are in, and Colorado Springs voters have taken a hard line against any kind of increase, or even maintenance of city tax revenue. We are a little famous for being very anti-tax here, so in some ways this should be no surprise. However, it does present some 'interesting' decisions for the city council, seeking to balance a budget that has been hit hard by decreasing sales tax revenue. Of course, all the fun stuff gets paraded out to the chopping block first (parks and bus service for instance). Police and fire salaries, whether by headcount, furlough, or layoff tend to be next. Street maintenance is never far behind, although since they are already doing so little in that area it isn't that productive. Usually not mentioned are mayor and city council salaries (or size), wonder why? My personal hope is that the city will figure out some good creative ways to avoid cutting back things like park maintenance, we have some of THE best parks in the country!
I'm kind of glad Congress is getting serious about extending the 1st Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, both in time and scope. There is still some discussion going on, but I'll cover this when the final version passes, maybe by tomorrow? The extension of the program to some existing homeowners is particularly exciting.
We may set warm weather records 3 days this week, with another day in the 70's for today, pretty great for November! I'll take it, we had snow last week to offset it!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Colorado Springs Home Sales Jump Again!

Preliminary data indicates Colorado Springs home sales jumped 19.1% over 2008 for the month of October. While prices did not keep up (Average was down 7.2%, median down 1.1%), it does reflect the continuing improvement in our market. Factors contributing to the uptick are the continued impact of troops arriving at Ft Carson, the $8,000 First Time Home Buyers Credit (currently scheduled to expire 11/30/09), and terrific interest rates, still in 5% territory.
Today's photo was taken last week from our office, just after one of the snows we had. We've got a warm (60's) and dry forecast for the week, a welcome change from the cool and snowy October we had.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unemployment Dropping in Colorado Springs

The unemployment rate for the state of Colorado and Colorado Springs is dropping, according the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. A 7.2% unemployment figure for September is welcome news to the local area, and should help stabilize the housing market, along with everything else that has been hit by this recession. We'd rather be at 4%, but compared to 10%, 7.2% looks good!
The new Costco on North Nevada near I25 (University Village) opens later this month, making the 2nd Costco to open in the area in less than 2 years. I finally bit the bullet and joined yesterday, figuring that while Sam's Club on Woodmen is a more convenient location for me much of the time, with 2 stores that are both in major travel corridors (the other store is at Barnes and Powers), the prices and selection will make it worth it.
The sun is out again after yesterday's minor snow event. This time of year it goes back and forth between summer and winter a lot, and with 80 degrees last Sunday, we knew it was bound to go the other way at some point. Very little snow actually stayed on the ground, and it is melting as fast as the sun can find it.
Today's photo was taken Sunday up in Basalt (near Aspen, about 4 hours away), where there was still some color left on some of the trees. Early season wind storms stripped a lot of the hillsides of their aspen leaves, but the valleys of the Frying Pan and Roaring Fork Rivers were very pretty. Independence Pass was still open, but normally closes later in the month when the snow gets more serious in the high country.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Woodmoor - Easy Access, Mountain Resort-Like Atmosphere

There are places you can live in the greater Colorado Springs area that do not feel like you are near a town of 600,000, and the Woodmoor area in Monument is one of them. I listed a home this past week that is kind of an anomaly, in that it is an almost brand new home in an area that is pretty much completely built already. Woodmoor started in the 60's, but most of the homes tend to be from 90's, when our big construction boom snatched up the remaining vacant lots. Woodmoor is one of the only single family residential areas to my knowledge that has full time staff for the HOA (the Woodmoor Improvement Association), and offers a security patrol to augment the El Paso County Sheriff's Department. Dues are $209 / year. It is 1/2 to 1 acre density, with lots of trees, greenbelts running through it, and plenty of foxes, deer and squirrels for neighbors. Woodmoor is one of those places that feels like you on vacation when you are home, and yet it is very convenient for freeway and shopping access, making it popular among those who have split commutes (one going to Denver and the other to the Springs). Drive time is almost the same to the south end of Denver (30 minutes) or downtown Colorado Springs. Prices start in the mid 300's for smaller 70's built homes, but can approach a million for newer, larger, well equipped luxury homes. The home pictured was completed in 2007, and with 4200 square feet, almost all finished area, it is listed at an extremely good price for $499,900.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Sports Weekend In the Springs, Despite Dreary Weather

I am flat out glad for the sun today, after a 3 days of not seeing it! This is very rare here, as is freezing drizzle and extremely cold temperatures for this time of year. Thankfully we'll be back in the 60's and sunny this week, more normal for the season.
The Broncos are now 5-0. No one here expected them to win their first 5 games. I guess Josh McDaniels, the new coach who replaced a much beloved Mike Shanahan, and Kyle Orton, who replaced the cry baby quarterback Jay Cutler, can finally smile and relish the moment. What a great game yesterday!
Wish we could say the same for the Rockies. The pitching staff walked 3 of the 6 runners who scored, not exactly a proud moment for the team. They've got to win tonight, or their Cinderella season is over.
The slick roads were full of accidents this weekend, including a minor one when a car slid through a red light and lightly hit my wifes car. Thankfully she was not hurt, and even the car was ok. The first icy roads of the season almost always cause more trouble than the later in the season, when people have had a little practice. Ice is also more dangerous than snow, because often the road can look 'just wet', when in fact black ice is covering it. And in the fall, very few people have snow tires on their cars yet. I personally have not used snow tires for years, but many even use the studded variety for winter, making trips up to the ski areas a bit more secure. Of course sunshine is the best remedy for icy roads, and it was good to finally get some back this morning!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Winter Weather Makes Another Fall Visit in Colorado

2 days ago my grandson and I were out in the back yard enjoying a 72 degree sunny day while he played on the swing set. This morning, there is snow all over the trees, and although todays highs will allegedly reach the mid 50's, another front is coming tonight that will have us in the 20's tomorrow. We'll still get some nice weather before winter really sets in (the trees haven't even really changed that much in town here!), but it is a reminder that winter is on it's way! Glad I got the sprinklers drained before it gets here.
Speaking of tomorrow, the Rockies and the Phillies at Coors field for game 3 of their playoff series will be a cold one! Hopefully that will translate into additional home field advantage.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ski Season Starting Tomorrow???

Hard to believe as it is, the Colorado ski season will actually begin tomorrow, October 7 at Loveland Ski area, and on Friday the 9th at Arapahoe Basin. I always figure on Halloween being the logical start of the season, but with some early season cold snaps, advances in snowmaking equipment, and some early natural cover, it's like Christmas in October for those of us who love to ski.

Speaking of October sports, it is another 'Rocktober' here with the Colorado Rockies in the baseball postseason once again. We'll see how far they go this time, but it is very fun having both the Rockies and Broncos doing so well!

Who would ever have guessed the Broncos would be 4-0 with a new rookie coach, a disgruntled star receiver, and a new quarterback with a mediocre track record at best? There is a lot of football to play, but they are making it a fun season to watch so far!
Today's photo was actually taken last October at Parliament Park in Briargate

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Preliminary September Home Sales Data Look Strong for the Springs

Home sales for Colorado Springs in September were up 12.2% over last year at this time, according to preliminary figures. Prices were off 10.25% on average at $214,848, and median was down 5.0% at $189,900. On average, homes sold at 97.2% of the asking price. See the link on the menu for more details.

Fall weather changed yet again, after a weekend in the low 80's, it might hit 50 today, although the skies are clear blue and sparkly. Freeze warnings out for tonight, got to drain those sprinklers! The trees are getting quite pretty around town, although it seems different on every street. The maples and aspens seem to have got the lead so far. Todays photo was taken last year near Cripple Creek.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Maintenance Schedules Are Slightly Different In Colorado

Most areas of the country have some sort of seasonal fall maintenance, and in some regards In Colorado Springs isn't really THAT different. Generally when the nights are starting to get cold, having the furnace cleaned and serviced is a good idea almost everywhere. But here, that would also include the humidifier (cleaning and starting it back up). Most places, if there is a sprinkler system, you start watching the weather, and you have it shut off and drained or blown out before a hard frost hits, along with disconnecting outside hose bibs so they don't burst the pipes. Here, the same holds true, but we can have some pretty dry warm weather mixed in almost all winter, so many people will start up and shut down their sprinklers several times to account for weather fluctuations. Cleaning gutters is always a good idea after the leaves have made their mess. Our soil conditions fluctuate a lot, and so many people also get their lawns aerated and fertilized in the fall. Thatching is not common here, but aeration in spring and fall are.

Other maintenance items that are helpful, include checking weather stripping, covering the swamp cooler or AC compressor, and most importantly, making sure your ski equipment is handy, tuned and ready for the 1st opening day, often in October!

They say our fall color season is really a short one this year, the most recent storms must have shocked the trees. Last year was the best color season I can remember, wish I had taken more photos like the one shown, taken last year at Parliament Park in Briargate.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Weather Right on Time

It snowed yesterday here in Colorado Springs. Not just on the top of Pikes Peak, but right here in town. While that sounds pretty silly, given yesterday was the last day of summer, the fact is, it is not that unusual to get our first snow in September. What would be unusual is if stuck to the ground (it didn't), or if there was much of it (there wasn't). Still, it gets some of us excited for the change in seasons. After all, season pass sales for the ski resorts are going on, the leaves are just hinting at changing, and fall in Colorado is a favorite for many of us, myself included. While today was cool and gray, the sun will be back along with pleasant temps by the weekend. No, the photo was not from yesterday, it was our fall blizzard of '06, hit just before Halloween. That is when our first real snow usually hits. Can't wait!
This fall is kind of fun, with the Broncos at 2-0 and the Rockies looking like they will make a serious playoff run as the National League wildcard. We all remember the 'Rocktober' of 2 years ago, with a closing run of 21 out of 22 games to get into the World Series. It could happen!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Peyton Pines - Affordable Treed Acreage

Yesterday I walked some lots out in Peyton Pines, and kicked myself that I don't go out there more often. While it is a 40 minute drive from my office (pretty much due east), it is only about 30 minutes to Peterson AFB, and less to Shriever, making it a fairly doable commute for many Air Force personnel and defense contractors, or others working on the east side of town. The setting is idylic. We kicked up deer on 2 different lots we walked, and the panoramic views were serene. There is a nice mixture of pine trees and meadows, and the prices are really pretty reasonable. The 5 acre lots we saw were both under $125,000, and horses are welcome.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fountain: All America City and Gateway to Fort Carson

I listed a house this week in Fountain, and since I had not written about Fountain in a while, thought I'd dedicate a blog entry to it. Fountain is an incorporated city in it's own right, but since it is only 10- 15 minutes south of Colorado Springs and part of the metro area, we consider part of our market.
Being south of the Springs, and a somewhat lower elevation (5,500 ft), it has a slightly warmer climate. Spring comes a little earlier, fall and winter come a little later, and summer days are a few degrees hotter. Many snow storms miss Fountain altogether, although they do get some snow in the winter. It still has a pretty strong agricultural feel to it, as there are many small 'ranchettes' all around the area, with a variety of different farm animals visible from the roads. The District 8 schools are pretty well thought of, and the high school boasts a 93.5% reading proficiency score on the state CSAP tests, as well as one of the lowest dropout rates in the state.
Fountain is a very popular place for families associated with Fort Carson (military or civilian), due to the easy access to Gate 20. It is close, and offers a variety of affordable housing options, with the average price for August 2009 at $169,000. There are many new home options in Fountain area as well, making it popular for those who are looking for value in a new home.
Oh yeah, the house! Located at 11235 Falling Star and listed for $224,900, the following link has some good details on what kind of value is available. This particular house is kind of special, in that it is so new, and has such a great lot, backing to park land. MLS details on 11235 falling Star
Our weather has turned cool (60 or so) for the weekend, with gray skies and some rain expected. What a great way to kick off football season! Sunny 70's return tomorrow, but a cloudy cool day can be a nice break sometimes.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Colorado Balloon Classic Is A Great Summer Finale

Our family loves the hot air balloons. While we don't attend this great Labor Day weekend event every year, we at least try. Sometimes life - and lack of sleep - get in the way, and occasionally the weather forecast isn't favorable for the dawn launch. But when you catch it right - WOW! It is just amazing to see over 100 hot air balloons launch almost the same time. Add the incredible scenic backdrop they launch to, and it is almost magic. There are 3 days of dawn launches, plus an evening 'balloon glow', so our odds are good of catching at least something.
These shots are from last year's festival, hope we make it this year again!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Colorado Springs Home Sales Jump in August Over '08

The preliminary sales data from the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors indicates home sales in Colorado Springs for August of '09 to be up a whopping 14.5% over August of '08, while the inventory of unsold homes dropped 20.3% from 1 year ago. Prices are still on the soft side, but down only 5.4% from 1 year for the average, and only 2.5% for the median. The average home sold for 97.5% of the asking price. This is the strongest year to year gain in sales we've seen since I started tracking it several years ago. It is due to several factors, including:
1. Stronger demand from returning GI's to Ft Carson
2. The $8,000 first time Home Buyer Tax credit (which is due to expire in less than 3 months)
3. Low interest rates, still in the low 5's.
A more sobering look indicates prices and sales dropped from July, indicating that we may have seen our best sales month already this year, which follows our normal seasonal pattern.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Colorado Fishing Is Fun!

We went up to visit my son Mark this weekend. They live up in Basalt, about 15 minutes down valley from Aspen, within earshot of the Frying Pan River, and walking distance to where the Frying Pan and the Roaring Fork converge. We took a little time to fish as a part of this trip, and it was the first time in a long time I had even picked up a pole. Mostly I took pictures and just listened to the gorgeous sound of running water, but Mark and his wife, in the one hour that we were there, landed 8 fish! This stretch of water is mostly catch and release, barbless hooks, only 2 fish 14 inches or less can be kept, but what a fun little outing! Some of my clients come from places where fishing is one of their favorite hobbies, and I just thought I should let everyone know, this was really fun.

It was a hot weekend in the Springs, when we returned last night it was still 88 degrees, but thankfully we are back into the 70's for the rest of this week, so we never really were bothered by it.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Downtown Colorado Springs Always Surprises Me

I will readily admit that I do not go downtown often enough. It's my own fault, life is pretty convenient in Briargate, and despite only being 15 minutes away, I just don't go! Yesterday however, I attended a meeting downtown for the Economic Development Corporation (focused on attracting new employers to the city), and got way ahead of schedule. So I decided to visit America the Beautiful Park with my camera. It is one of the newest of the city parks, and part of a revitalization program for the downtown. Located at the confluence of Fountain Creek and Monument Creek, only 2 blocks from the center of downtown, I can't believe I never stopped here before! The Penrose Fountain (shown above) was quite amazing. There are lots of walking paths, and it was really peaceful. For more pictures from this location and from around the Springs, click here: Miscellaneous Colorado Springs Photos
The meeting was very informative, and reawakened my sense of civic duty, I think I'll be getting as involved as time allows. It is a very talented group of people from all walks of life, and they all seemed to share a common theme: they LOVE Colorado Springs!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Colorado Springs #3 Rated City for Real Estate Recovery

It is nice when Forbes magazine recognizes your town, and it is especially nice when it is for something this good! In their rating of cities poised for recovery, we made #3 on the list. Here is a link to the actual article: Forbes.Com Recovery Article . I confirms my theory, that the worst is probably over here, and the opportunities for experiencing some appreciation have begun.
I was thinking on my morning walk today (which was a little tardy), where else in the middle of August is it still 65 degrees and sunny at 11:30 in the morning? Usually it wouldn't even be THAT nice here, but often in the mountains it is, and it brings up another of my favorite things about Colorado Springs. The mix of clear cool air, and bright warm sunshine is about the most perfect combination you can ask for. Makes you want to hum that great John Denver song, Sunshine on My Shoulders (makes me happy...)

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Colorado Springs People Are Special

One of my clients who just moved here to Colorado Springs from another state made an interesting comment to me yesterday. He said something to the effect 'we are more settled here in 4 weeks than we were in our old house in 4 years'. He went on to say how well the place just seemed to 'fit'. I hear similar stories a lot, and I believe one of the big factors are the people. It was a big draw for us in moving here 18 years ago, and I believe it is still one of the big strengths today. They already had met all of their neighbors, not by going to door to door, but by simply being there when people came over to introduce themselves. We had lunch with some other clients earlier in the week, and she had just had a hip replacement. Their neighbors had all banded together to bring them meals, and they actually had to ask for a break because there was so much food brought. I know that people help each other in many places, but the fact is that in many places they don't. Here in the Springs, it's one of those places where people really do help each other, and to me, that makes the people special.

The monsoon is back up and running after a short break, the afternoon cool downs and rain are such a treat, I'll miss this summer when it is over!
Today's photo was taken in April, but I always love the view of Pikes Peak with some aspect of Garden of the Gods in it. That is the famous Kissing Camels in the foreground.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Recession Over in Colorado Springs?

The Colorado Springs Business Journal published an article last week that I really liked, indicating that the recession is finally over in Colorado Springs. (See CSBJ Article) The main source of the information was Fred Crowley, a highly respected economist at UCCS, and I believe him based on all the data I can see. But if a recession is like a surgery or a serious illness, that fact is that this is pretty analogous to the surgeon coming in and saying the patient survived, and the surgery was a success. They aren't going home anytime soon however, because after the recovery room, they will in the hospital for while, and then there is the physical therapy... We are having lunch today with a good friend who had her hip replaced in June. She is doing really well, but is still using a walker or crutches when covering any distance. I'm guessing our local economy will be limping for quite a while before we can start singing 'Happy Days are Here Again', even though the contraction is pretty much over.
We visited some of the Parade of Homes sites yesterday. I don't go every year (I see a lot of the homes with clients without the crowds anyway), but my wife really enjoys it, and I was actually most impressed with a home that was on last years parade, and was open even though not part of this year's event. The builder is Copperleaf Homes, and house is their model in Flying Horse Ranch, offered for only $1.3 million. The other one I really liked was the model entered by Colorado Custom Homes at Flying Horse. The house had a huge basement 'sports bar' with 8 or 9 televisions and a 'score crawler' on the wall! It was fun. For more information on this year's Parade, visit Colorado Springs 2009 Parade Of Home Information
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Housing Action Still on the Affordable Side in the Springs

Despite improvements in the housing figures in Colorado Springs over the last several months, there is no doubt that the action is on the affordable end. 50% of Jul 2009 sales were under $199,500, but almost 69% were under $250,000. 82.9% percent were below the FHA loan limit of $325,000, and the 90th percentile (90% below) was only $387,500.
Factors going into this are:
1. The First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit is most effective up to about $228,000, and drops off benefit-wise after that. This credit is also driving many first timers into the market, many of whom are both income and down payment constrained into more affordable homes.
2. The rental rate of housing tends to fall as prices go up, and in these difficult times is an important component for buyers deciding on value
3. The job market here is not as good for higher paying jobs right now, leading to an imbalance of supply and demand in the higher price ranges.
4. The jumbo mortgage limit and VA loan limit of $417,000 is restricting sales a bit above that amount.
5. Many of the foreclosures and short sales tend to be in the lower price ranges, and while these are falling as a percentage of the market, it is still close to 20% of sales.
What this means is that we have some exceptional values out there for buyers in the higher price ranges!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Housing Numbers Improve in Colorado Springs - Again!

For the 2nd month in a row, housing sales in Colorado Springs are up over last year. The July preliminary numbers show sales up a huge 6.8% over last July. While prices are still down from last year, they have increased every month since January, and continued that trend in July, with the average up to $231,457 and the median up to $199,500. That is a jump in prices of 16.5% since January! The 1st Time Homebuyer Tax Credit is starting to do some good here, along of course with some positive news on the job front locally, including new troop arrivals at Ft Carson and the new call center jobs on the west side. Is the recession over? Not sure about that, but it's sure getting better! Details are available from the Sales Trends link on the blog menu.
No that photo was not taken today, it was about a month ago, but reminds me of how the long the Peak held it's snow this year. It is, alas, bare of any snow now for about a month or so, until the fall starts.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Colorado Springs Does It Again - Another Number 1 Place to Live!

Colorado Springs gets lots of the awards for being one of the best places to live. The latest is from Outside Magazine, the Facebook share link is: Outside Magazine Best Places to Live Article
I love it when we win one of these, not because we don't already know about such things, but because it gets the word out, and when you make a living selling real estate like I do, every little bit helps!
Today is one of those great cool summer days, with lots of rain the forecast, but a very sunny, breezy beautiful morning for walking, or about anything else you could ever want to do outside!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summertime: Lots to Do In Colorado Springs!

My wife is accusing me of becoming a Facebook junky, and she's probably right. One of the things I noticed however, since signing up, is how many different things there are to do around Colorado Springs that people find. Here are some examples that I've seen or heard about people doing in the past week or so (many on Facebook!):
Attend a Rockies baseball game in Denver (they are in 2nd place in the NL West at the moment)
See the AAA SkySox locally instead
Water World waterslides in Denver
Elitches Theme and Water Park in Denver
Hiking in these gorgeous mountains
Fishing in our beautiful clear mountain streams or lakes
Boating and water skiing down in Pueblo at Pueblo Reservoir
Attend a music or food festival in one of the mountain towns
Attend a music or food festival here in the Springs
White water rafting on Arkansas River
Go to Cripple Creek to sightsee or gamble
Mountain Biking
Go the movies
Swimming at a community pool
Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

Ok, I know you can do some of these anywhere. The point is, there are lots of things to do here in the summer! There are of course plenty of other things to do, our tourist attractions include things like Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Royal Gorge, 7 Falls, Cave of the Winds, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, Focus on the Family, and on it goes.
Missing from the list? Surfing.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Colorado Springs Weather is Hard on Roofs

We are in the rainy season here, but rain season is also hail season, and hail is the main reason roofs get replaced in Colorado Springs. It has always been somewhat rare to see a 20 year roof here, because somewhere along the way, they get replaced due to hail damage. More roofs are being replaced lately because of a change in roofing technology. 'T Lock' composition roofs were the norm for many years. However, the shingles are no longer available, so we are starting to see even minor wind damage result in full roof replacement. This can be an expensive surprise in the middle of the sale process, as most insurance companies don't want to simply 'give' you a new roof. They are doing 'prorations' for age to reduce their payouts, resulting in the seller being responsible for their regular deductible, as well the 'depreciation' of the roof due to age. Part of the normal home inspection process is to have the roof checked, and we are regularly asking sellers to have the roof certified to ensure the buyer is not going to get stuck with an expensive problem.
The new roofs are typically the 30 or 40 year 'architectural grade' composition shingles. They are generally more hail and wind resistant and look a bit nicer. As a result, we hope to see more 20 year old roofs in the future, barring some major hail storms!
This week we have very typical Colorado Springs summer weather in store, with highs in the 80s', lows in the 50's, and a chance of thunderstorms almost every day.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Questions Still Coming Up

I've gotten a few questions just in the last week again about the 1st Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, and thought I'd address them here. Note: This post is corrected as of 8-26-09.
This program was put in place to stimulate the housing market by giving qualified 1st time home buyers a financial incentive to buy something now (as if incredible interest rates and low prices weren't already reason enough!). The IRS has a pretty good web site information center on this at,,id=205416,00.html, but let me give you the 'Readers Digest' version.
1. The credit is 10% of the purchase, up to $8,000 ($4,000 for married filing separately). It is a credit, not a deduction, and it is refunded to you even if you did not owe any taxes.
2. It can be taken against your 2008 OR 2009 taxes, so if you already filed 2008, you can file an amended return to get it back.
3. To qualify, you can't have owned a home in the prior 3 years, and it is phased out in the higher income brackets.
4. It is a GREAT deal. Since FHA financing only requires 3.5% down, it effectively means the IRS is making your down payment on an FHA deal all the way to a $228,000 purchase, which is right at the average sale price in Colorado Springs.
5. It only applies to purchases between April 8, 2008 and December 1 2009. This means that even if you bought your house last year, before the economy really tanked, you are still eligible, and if you have not bought yet, you have until 12/1 to close.
6. You have to file a tax return and complete a required tax form in order to get this, it is NOT an automatic. If you've previously filed your 2008 return, you can amend the return to receive this as refund.
Hope this helps! Not a first time home buyer? Not a problem, pass this information along to someone who might be! Questions? Call Rick Van Wieren at 888-568-6784 or 719-590-4768 or email
This blog posting is being made at, and is also being seen on a test basis at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Colorado In the Summer - My Kind of Place

This weekend my wife Holly and I took a little time off on Sunday (sorry pastor!) and went up to the mountains to get a 'mountain fix'. We look up at the mountains all the time, but it really takes some effort sometimes to just drop everything for a day and enjoy them! We went to 11 Mile Canyon, a National Forest area just about an hour from our house, and sat next to the roaring river (South Platte) for a while soaking in the sun, the cool breeze, and powerful sounds of rushing water. It was great! We took the scenic loop back around through Cripple Creek and made a small donation to the gaming industry (Cripple Creek is a gambling town), and then headed back to the Springs in time for dinner. We just missed a big thunderstorm I guess, and I don't think we ever even saw 80 degrees the whole time we were out, though it was scheduled to be a hot day in town. One of the great things about living in Colorado Springs that I love, is that we can drive to snow in the winter, but not have to live in it too much, and in the summer, that we can drive quickly to the cool breezes of the mountains and be away from it all, but still have all the conveniences of city living.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wild Weather is Part of the Fun in Colorado Springs

Yesterday I was showing property in Black Forest when we came across a stretch of road that was all white from a hail storm that had just passed through. When we got to the house, we just had to get a couple of shots for posterity. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, got up to maybe 83 degrees, but afternoon thunderstorms are always capable of changing things up for a while, and it was 59 degrees on my car thermometer right after the hail fell!
To be prepared for our variable weather, it is usually good to have jacket of some sort along, no matter how warm the day, as a 'just in case'. When I show property, we usually kick our shoes off if it has rained or if the house has very clean floors, so bringing shoes that are easy to put on and off is a good idea when you come out for a house hunting trip. Staying hydrated, even on days with above average humidity is also a good idea, we try to remember to grab a bottle of water for everyone before we head out as well!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

June '09 Colorado Springs Home Sales Looking Better

While the data is still preliminary, it looks like in June of 2009 we actually posted a year to year gain in home sales since last June of '08! Sales were up .7%, and while prices are still soft (down 12.2% for the average), the ratio of selling price to the list price has firmed up to 97.52%, indicating sellers are being pretty realistic in their pricing and not coming down as much in the negotiation. This may also be partially attributed to a smaller percentage of 'distressed' properties, these made up only 21.2% of June sales after peaking at 36.8% of January '09 sales.
Into the numbers? The following link provides more details and some graphs:
Colorado Springs Home Sales Data
It is another beautiful day in paradise here, with blue skies, cool morning temps (it was still in the 50's at 7), and a forecast high of 90, the hottest we've seen yet this year!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Colorado Springs Gets Some Good Employment News

It has been a while since we had any sizable civilian job announcements in the Springs. While growth at Ft Carson is very welcome and needed, it is the civilian sector that generally provides the best stability and long term growth prospects. Yesterday it was announced that Affiliated Computer Services is opening an operation here with 600 new employees, the largest single new civilian job announcement in ages. The Gazette is reporting that they will move into the Verizon campus at the end of Garden of the Gods road, on the west side, and hiring immediately. They will be ramping up to full staffing by the end of August. While these will not be the highest paying positions in town, jobs have been a little scarce lately, and this will be a nice little 'picker upper' on the economic front.

We are having a wonderful summer here in Colorado, with our traditional cool nights, sunny mornings, and late afternoon /evening thunderstorms. Today will another beautiful day for a morning walk. The wildflowers are blooming and it is really beautiful.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monument / Tri Lakes Area Offers Lifestyle and Convenience

Just 10 miles north of Colorado Springs (as measured from Chapel Hills), lies a small community called Monument. Many also also refer to the general area as Tri Lakes, named for the 3 lakes of Palmer Lake, Monument Lake, and Lake Woodmoor. None of these are large bodies of water, but it sounds good! This area is at a little higher elevation than the Springs (Monument Hill is around 7400 ft), and also tends to have a little cooler, wetter weather, but offers a lot of lifestyle amenities. Prices for town homes start under $200,000, but there are homes for well over $1,000,000 as well. The average list price of single family homes for sale in the Tri Lakes area as of 6-29-09 is $559,563, although there are 154 homes below $400,000.
To start with, being smaller (15,000 residents for the general area?), it tends to have a lot more laid back feel. It is a popular area for families whose jobs are split between Denver and Colorado Springs, being only 40 minutes from Denver, and 20 minutes to downtown Colorado Springs. Airline pilots and frequent travellers find it convenient for Denver International Airport.
The lots tend to be larger and more treed, with neighborhoods like Woodmoor, Kings Deer, and Bent Tree. The Forest View and other neighborhoods west of I25 tend to have lots of wildlife, including bears, deer, mountain lions, among others. Foxes and deer are very common east of I25. More affordable neighborhoods such as Jackson Creek and Santa Fe Trails make this area accessible to more than just the wealthy.
There has been a lot of commercial development in the last several years, bringing a Super Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, and lots of restaurants, including a Chili's and a Texas Road House, among some other smaller fast food places.
The school district for the Tri Lakes area is Lewis Palmer, District 38. They have a brand new high school, and the test scores are for D38 schools are always near the top of the range for the Colorado Springs area.
Recreationally, access to the Pike National Forest via Mt Herman Rd and Rampart Range Road opens up a universe of hiking trails and other outdoor possibilities. Fox Run Regional Park marks the south end of the area, with some of the nicest views in the region. The New Santa Fe Trail is a north - south trail that is part of a huge network of hiking and biking trails, and runs through the center of Monument up to Palmer Lake in the north, and the Pikes Peak Greenway and the Air Force Academy in the south. The new Monument YMCA and the Colorado Sports Center ice rink offer another genre of recreational possibilities.
Today's photo is of a new listing I have in the Santa Fe Trails / Peak View Ridge area for only $249,500. Click the following link to see more details on this great 4 bed 3 bath home! 17205 Snowwood

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Living Well In Woodmen Hills

I sold another house in the Woodmen Hills area this week. This is becoming a new favorite for some of my Colorado Springs home buyers for a number of reasons.

1. The cost of the homes is very reasonable. We still see some pretty nice homes, and some even new homes, for under $250,000. Spend more, get even nicer!

2. The lots sizes are big (most are 1/2 acre, some are 1 acre, some sections are smaller, but generally not less than 7500 sf)

3. The area amenities have expanded (the Super Walmart helps!), and access to the Powers shopping corridor is really good

4. It is pretty convenient to some of our larger employers, particularly Shriever AFB, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs Airport area businesses, Penrose Hospital, and even Briargate and Northgate

5. The lifestyle issues are a big plus, with 2 recreation centers (including one with an outdoor pool) and a really nice golf course in the area (Antler Creek). There are also great walking paths.

6. Woodmen Road, the main artery back to the Springs, has finally been widened, and it is a breeze to get to town, not to mention the ongoing entertainment of the antelope herds make the drive pleasant.

7. It is 'friendlier' for parking things like trailers and RV's

8. There are more ranch style (single level) homes out here than in many other areas of town.

One of the biggest arguments I get against Woodmen Hills is the HOA dues of $148 per month. What is often overlooked however is that this includes $87 of water and sewer charges, which would normally be separate utilities billing in most areas, and also includes access to the recreation centers. Considering a family YMCA membership is $80/month, the dues start looking more like a bargain! The other complaint before people see it, is that they think it is too far out. It is actually only a 15 -20 drive from the Chapel Hills Mall, and only 10 minutes from Woodmen and Powers, not too bad!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Air Conditioning Not Prevalent in Colorado Springs Homes

I've written about this one before, but in honor of the hottest day of the year so (yesterday) and the warm forecast this week (high 80's), I thought I'd talk about it again.

Many of our residents come from other places. In particular, those coming from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Virginia and California (to name a few) tend to ask that air conditioning be a 'must have' on their lists of homes for sale that they look at. The problem is, in Colorado Springs, it doesn't get used that often, and so many people who have homes built don't tend to have it installed. To double check on the current percentage with central, I ran a quick search, and as of today, only 30.5% of the single family homes for sale in Colorado Springs have central air conditioning.

Why doesn't central air get used that often? To start with, the warm weather season is a little short. As of today (June 23), we have not had a single day above 90, only 1 above 85. Secondly, our nights are very cool. Even this morning it was 58 degrees at 6:30, and the projected high is 88. Thirdly, our afternoon thunderstorms tend to cool things off in the afternoon and evening, and while they don't always do the job, more often than not, they take the temperature down 20 degrees as they roll through. Lastly, our humidity is low, so even a pretty warm day is a lot more bearable. After visiting Michigan last week when it was very humid, even though it wasn't hot by Michigan summer standards, it had me sweating pretty good!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Begins in the Springs

Fathers Day happened to also mark the beginning of summer, and not just on the calendar. Yesterday was also the warmest day I can remember so far, with temps in the low 80's. It was a fine day for showing property! After spending most of last week in Michigan visiting family, it was really nice to be home and see the clear blue sky and the mountains, and feel the cooler, crisper morning air.

I had 2 sets of clients to work with before our Fathers Day celebration. With lots of homes for sale in Colorado Springs, normally it is easy to find lots of homes to show, but in some categories that is less true than others. The narrower the criteria, the fewer the homes as well, so adding things like larger lot sizes, higher bedroom count etc usually makes the list pretty manageable. Taking out short sales (they are taking so long to get answers on) can make the list very short!

The snow is starting to melt pretty good on Pike's Peak, I'm guessing it will disappear with the forecast every day this week close to 90!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pikes Peak View Isn't the Only One in Colorado Springs

Many of our newcomers ask for their house to back to the mountains, and you have probably noticed from prior photos that I've posted, that there is a lot to see when you do. Today however I thought I'd talk about facing the mountains instead of backing to them. There are always advantages and disadvantages, but this afternoon's sky reminded me of a big advantage to back to the east, not the west. It's the Colorado sky. Don't get me wrong, I love the mountain view, but in the summer, when the thunderstorms are starting to kick a little, watching them drift off to the east, and put up a fireworks show you can see 100 miles away, is just spellbinding. This shot I just took, around 4:30 or so, and shows off just a little of the view of the sun on clouds on the back side of a thunderstorm.
Another advantage to backing to the east is the afternoon sun. When we get into a warmer pattern (it was low 70's again today, perfect!), the late afternoon sun can really bake you on your back deck if you back to the west. Turning it around gives you a nice shady outdoor area for afternoon and evenings. Moreover, it creates some warmth in the morning, so after a night in the 50's, it can be a pleasant place to have an outdoor cup of coffee in the morning.
Obviously the direction the house faces is only one element of selecting a house. The fact is, that only about 25% of our homes will back to the west, no matter how much we'd like it to be otherwise!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unique Areas Make Colorado Springs Real Estate Fun

Today I showed some patio homes in the Pine Cliff area, which is on the southern edge of the Northwest MLS area, near the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. This was a very unique little neighborhood, about 5 years old so, with some of the nicest views and private settings you could ask for, and under $400k. I've always enjoyed this area because I usually see deer when I show up there, although that was not the case today. While my clients elected this was not for them, I thought I would mention the area in case anyone else was interested. The homes we viewed are at this link: Pine Cliff Patio Homes , see what you think!
The weather was pretty overcast and cool today. The old adage, 'we get 300 days of sun, the other 65 are when your out of town guests come' held true, my clients had company from Arizona, where they said it has been pretty unbearably hot, they were enjoying the 55 degree cloudy weather.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday in the Springs

Sundays are a bit different for Realtors than they are for some people, but I thought I'd share a bit about my Sunday, just for grins.

It started out sunny, crystal clear, cool, and a little breezy. I set some showings before church, and then attended the early service at New Life, where I got to see my daughter-in-law and granddaughter, in addition to the service. My first showing was in the Monument area, where I was to meet the client, but I discovered due to re-paving, I25 was a mess, so I took the back way, Highway 83. There was a herd of antelope grazing near the road along one stretch, and then I ran into (not literally) a bicycle tour of hundred of bikes (a new twist on the Sunday driver thing!). Anyway, I eventually got there, where I took this photo of Lake Woodmoor at the complex where we were looking, while I was waiting for the clients. It was a very nice town home with good square footage for under $300k, though not quite for them. This is about as close to being waterfront as we have in Springs!
We then drove to the west side to see some more property, near Garden of the Gods, but nothing really worked for them, so we scheduled another round for tomorrow morning. I dashed home and had a quick bite of lunch, and then we were off to a going away party for a friend of ours (and client) who was leaving Holly's school (The Classical Academy), and then to graduation party for one of her first crop of kindergartners from the school. It was kind of ironic that we had gotten to know both families virtually on the same day, the year the school opened 12 years ago. By the time we left the first party it was starting to rain (yes, that is typical, sunshine early, followed by afternoon thunderstorms), and was a lot cooler, so we were glad the 2nd event was an indoor affair.
While it wasn't earthshaking, it was a pretty busy day, and we got to renew some old friendships. Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday?
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! Visit me on Facebook to see even more photos!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Colorado Springs Parks Are Pretty Special

I had breakfast with a client and old friend this morning, and when we were done, I thought I'd stop by one of the many city parks we have to take some wildflower photos. I am around the High Chaparral Open Space a lot (I do a fair amount of work in the Old Farm and Northeast areas of town), but I very seldom have a chance to just get out and enjoy it, so today it happened.
This park was funded with a special tax we have had for acquiring open space and keeping it from getting turned into subdivisions, parking lots or storage units, and I am SO glad it was! Part of General Palmer's philosophy when he founded the city of Colorado Springs was that we would have lots of park land, and it is true to this day. While a complete list and photo tour of them is not practical here, once in a while I think it is good to remember the great park heritage we have here! Click here for some more photos of the High Chaparral Open Space with it's views and wildflowers on my Facebook site.
The cool wet weather of the last few days has been replaced with the normal summer pattern of sunny cool mornings, and afternoon thunderstorms. Perfect for keeping things green and still enjoying the outdoors!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Low Cost of Living Puts Colorado Springs in a Good Place

The news this morning in Colorado Springs (The Gazette reported it) says the latest cost of living survey put us 8.1% below the national average, not a bad place to be. It's a pretty great place without being low cost, don't get me wrong, but a low cost of living coupled with a good quality of life makes a GREAT combination!
The caveat on the quality of life has to be the weather for the last 2 days. Fog, drizzle, cold, it reminds me of Michigan! I know, that is harsh, and like the saying goes, if you don't like the weather, wait an hour, it will change. Of course it also goes, if you do the like the weather, wait an hour, and it will change anyway :-) It is scheduled to warm up later today, and get back to the sunny 70's for the rest of the week, so I can handle a cold day or 2.
I'm still getting the hang of this Facebook thing, but I do have a bunch of photos posted now (not all tagged or anything, but a start!), so if you want to visit the Facebook site, see the link on the bottom right of this page, or click here!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cold Gray Day In Colorado Springs

I could not believe my eyes when I checked my car thermometer on the way back from a listing appointment in Monument this afternoon. 41 degrees! Fahrenheit! While it has undoubtedly been colder than that before in June, I sure don't remember it.

I finally bit the bullet, and signed up for Facebook yesterday. I have a ways to go to finish getting things set up appropriately. I'm sure many of you who are reading this are old pros with Facebook, so feel free to send me your pointers. It seems like a good place to put things that are more personal and not related to Colorado Springs living or real estate than this blog, but still very sharable. Click here to access it, and sign up to be one of my first friends on this social networking site. While you are at it, check out some of my photo albums I've started building. Today's photo is from our South Africa trip last month, there is a pretty good batch now online at the Facebook site, both from South Africa and from around the Springs.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Colorado Springs Real Estate Market Improved in May

Preliminary sales figures for the month of May show that Colorado Springs home sales improved, almost matching last years sales, down less than 1%. Prices firmed up as well, with the average (mean) jumping over 5% since April, and down only 12.2% from last May. The 'sale price to list price ratio' also jumped to 97.4%, closer to it's long term average. These are welcome statistics to those of us in the business, it has been a long time coming. We've still got a long way to go, but this is a real step in the right direction.
Today's photo of wildflowers was taken Saturday morning, a block from our house in Briargate. Perhaps not the best example, it still gives you a little idea of what I mean when I talk about the wildflowers blooming.
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Colorado Springs Wildlife Doing Well

It isn't every day that I see wildlife when I am out showing Colorado Springs homes to prospective buyers, although it is reasonably often. It is more seldom when we see deer on the east side of town (they are more prevalent on the west side). But these photos from yesterday (May 30 2009) were once in a lifetime for me. The house we were looking at was in a very established east side neighborhood, near Barnes and Powers. Apparently this mama deer decided because the lot was large and the house was vacant, it was a good safe place to deliver her twins. I think they were less than an hour old when we came across them in the first picture, still wet and unable to stand for more than a few seconds. Normally I am pretty good at spotting wildlife, but in this case it was the buyer who saw them first. Thankfully I had the camera along! We came back later for a 2nd look at the house, and you can see how much progress they had already made. This sort of thing is just one of the intangibles that come with Colorado Springs real estate, and makes my job fun!

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Days Like These are What Makes Colorado Springs So Popular

Since our wet Memorial Day weekend, we have had close to perfect weather here in the Springs. Glorious sunny warm days (around 80 again today), cool nights, a thunderstorm here and there in the afternoon, wildflowers blooming, even the snow is still on Pikes Peak!
I've been a little busy to write this week, as we've been getting my wife packed out of her classroom, showing properties, inspections, what have you. Not to mention I'm still moving kind of slow after being sick. While it is still not as busy as in some past years, the pace has quickened a little, especially in light of interest rates starting to go back up. In addition, short sales are making a lot of unproductive work out of this business. I previously wrote about one that finally gave up after 3 months and found another house. Many short sale buyers just give up after the lenders (who we taxpayers just gave hundreds of billions of dollars to) sit on their offers for months. For anyone who wants a house in the normal 30-60 day time frame, short sales are just not an option, and a big waste of time. Foreclosures will continue to be a problem until the banks get their acts together on this issue. In the mean time, it severely constrains the homes you can show for some buyers, and makes them feel cheated when a house comes up that looks great, only to find out they are a short sale. While only 9% of the 5079 homes in our MLS are indicated to be in any kind of distress, the actual percentage in many segments is significantly higher, and overall these are under reported, largely due to agents not wanting to restrict showings on their listings.
Interest rates jumped late this week, all the way to 5.25% That doesn't sound like much, but when you consider it was 4.75%, that is a big jump. While we all hope it will go back down, all this government borrowing isn't helping mortgage rates, and oil prices jumping again isn't going to help consumer confidence much either.
I'm off to show some more homes today. Being such a nice day, I'd guess we might even sell one!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wet Weekend Marked Memorial Day 2009 in Colorado Springs

I'd say we are finally drying out from all the rain this weekend, but it just wouldn't be true. May has been a funny month this year, with wet cool weather on the weekends, and drier, sunnier weather during the week. It rained a lot yesterday, but they say today will be wetter still. Fortunately, drier weather is forecast for graduation day on Wednesday at the Academy, so all is not lost.

The wet has everything very green, and wildflowers are starting to bloom as well. I'll get some fresh photos when the sun comes back out and time allows. Summer is such a great time of year in Colorado, and a little rain notwithstanding, it is such a great time to be out of doors taking in the fresh air, enjoying the majestic mountains and the natural beauty around us.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Kicks Off the Summer in the Springs

Like the rest of the country, Memorial Day weekend tends to signal the beginning of summer in Colorado Springs. The grass is now green, the leaves are on the trees, time to get together with friends and family and celebrate! That will hopefully be easier on Monday than today, as a cold front came through and dropped the temperature into 50's and 60's from the 80's yesterday! It was cool and rainy today, good for the grass and flowers to be sure.

Next week is Air Force Academy graduation, and VP Joe Biden will be speaking. The Thunderbirds always put on a good show for this, and we get a preview of the show as they practice in the days leading up to the graduation, especially in the Briargate and Northgate areas that sit immediately across I25 from Falcon Stadium, where the flyover and graduation occur. Today's picture was taken last spring of the Chapel and surrounding areas as seen from Briargate.

May is also the kickoff of allergy season, at least for me. My allergies are usually a lot better here than they were in prior places I have lived (Michigan and California), but in May I can get it pretty good sometimes, and this year has been extra bad for a couple of weeks. It usually passes fairly quickly, but the doctor thinks I picked up some kind of bronchitis along with them this year, so I have been sick for a few days this week (I hate it when that happens!). Hopefully I'll be good as new shortly.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wildlife Still Thrives in Colorado Springs City Limits

This past week I had a couple of vivid reminders that wildlife is very abundant inside the city limits of Colorado Springs. Friday I took this picture while I was waiting for some clients, to show them a house. It was on the west side, but probably less than a mile from the heart of downtown. I spooked her buddies while trying to get this photo, there were a half dozen or so grazing together. Yesterday it was really foggy, and I was heading out to Falcon to pick up a client, when a couple of pronghorn came up to fence along Woodmen road in such a way I was afraid they were going to jump right in front of my car!
Wildlife tends to do well here for several reasons. To the west of the city, we back up to the Pike National Forest and the Air Force Academy, so there is an incredible amount of unspoiled land very near. Within the city, we have a lot of open space and parkland, so there is plenty of area for wildlife to live, even if the National Forest or Air Force Academy (which is like a big national park in it's own right) are not a factor. Also, we have a fair number of creek beds that traverse the area, making it easy for wildlife to move around, in many cases without ever hardly crossing a road.
When we decided to come to live in Colorado Springs, one factor was that we wanted to be "where the wild things still grow', and it is nice almost 20 years later to see that they still do!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Blue Sky Day in Colorado Springs

It got warm here yesterday, in the low 80's, but today will be a little more normal, around 70, and not a cloud in the sky at the moment. I like the spring. The flowers and trees are blooming, the grass is turning green, the birds are singing, it's like nature is 'all happy' out there. We even had a fox in our back yard this weekend. Given that we have 6 foot privacy fencing, it was a little surprising when he jumped over it (or maybe crawled is a better word, he did not clear it in a single bound!). Our lawn even got it's first mowing of the season. Today's photo was actually taken last May in our back yard, but you get the idea.

Spring is also when a lot of out of town visitors begin to show up. Air Force Academy graduation is just around the corner, and then there is a rush of weddings before the new graduates get shipped out to their assignments. But many people like to come because Colorado Springs is a great place for a summer vacation. There are lots of things to see and do, the weather (especially in the mornings) is very pleasant, it's affordable, and there aren't a lot of places quite like it. And it is exceptionally pretty, with our mountain views that dominate the horizon from almost every angle.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Access to the Eastern Plains Gets Much Better

Yesterday I drove out to Woodmen Hills in Falcon for an inspection on a new home, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the new widened portion of Woodmen Road was finally open. The drive out was quick, smooth, and pleasant. The pronghorns were out in force, and while this photo is not from yesterday, it gives an idea of what you see almost every day when you drive from the northeastern section of Colorado Springs to Falcon and Peyton, or visa versa. This new section of 4 lane road will significantly improve access for residents of Falcon, Banning Lewis Ranch, Forest Meadows, Black Forest and other eastern communities here.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

April 2009 Housing Numbers Improve For Colorado Springs

As of today, May 6 2009, the Colorado Springs home sales statistics are not yet final for April, but preliminary results show sales only 8.3% behind last April, the smallest year to year decline we seen in some time. Prices were still soft at a mean of $210,141, down 12.3% on average, driven by a stubborn presence of foreclosure and short sale properties. These 'distressed' properties still comprised at least 26.3% of sales for April, and while that is the lowest percentage since last September, the average price for these transactions is very low. There is a permanent link on this blog on right side called Colorado Springs Home Sales Data Trends that you can click on for more details.
This is article #301 on this blog. When I started writing it, I wasn't sure how often I could write. Given that there is always SOMETHING going on in Colorado Springs, I guess I should not have been worried! Today we will see temperatures approaching 80 degrees, and the leaves are out on almost every tree, so Spring has finally sprung. Today's photo was actually taken last May in Monument Valley Park.

Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784!