Apr 09

To Buy a Home or Rent: That is the Question

It’s a fact that many folks in Briargate and Pine Creek decide not to buy a home. Aiming to save some cash, they rent instead. They may feel that it makes more sense to work on rebuilding their portfolios, put some extra cash into a rainy day fund, save for retirement, or for college — for any number of worthy goals.

These would all be prudent financial maneuvers, but only if the original assumption is correct. But today’s environment is creating a new reality. It’s one where renting may not be as much of a cost saver as most people think. 

Since it is my profession to deal in real estate for sale in Colorado Springs CO, you might think my answer to the question of whether to rent or to buy a home would be an automatic ‘buy!’ Not so. While I certainly do want to help arrange a sale whenever a Briargate buyer and seller can agree on terms, I also want all my clients to make the financial decision that is right for them and their family.  And as we enter the April selling season in Colorado Springs, I’m pleased to be able to report on a piece of information that may be surprising. It’s one that comes from the latest Trulia Spring 2012 Rent versus Buy index.

This index is a widely watched calculation derived from data in the 100 major metro markets. A Price-to-Rent ratio of 15 or less means that any buyer who plans on living in his home for at least five years would be better off to buy a home than to rent it.

Bottom line: 98% of those 100 areas currently offer a cheaper environment in which to buy a home than to rent it! To make sense of the numbers, Trulia.com looked at the asking price of national rentals and homes for sale. It also included insurance, taxes and maintenance costs in the calculation. With low interest rates making the monthly mortgage cost lower, and high rental rates bringing the rental rate higher, many would-be renters might now find themselves looking at a surprising new reality — affordable homeownership.

If you are currently considering renting or buying a home in Colorado Springs, why not sit down with me in our office to run a few numbers first?  I am happy to schedule time to discuss your needs before you sign a lease.  Today it is entirely possible that for you, owning a home will just be cheaper than you think!

Apr 09

Selling Your Home to a Relocation Buyer

Anyone moving to Colorado Springs from out of town is experiencing life near the top of the stress meter. Most homeowners who have listed their property are sensitive to their plight: after all, once they have sold their home, won’t they be facing the same situation?


Relocation buyer

A street in Flying Horse

Relocation planning has also grown more complicated over the past few years. For many prospective buyers, a slow economy and slumping housing market have narrowed their options. According to HSH.com, relocating individuals cite the depressed housing market as their Number One concern. They may be facing a difficult market as they sell their previous home, and may also have career jitters connected with their new working venue.


Briargate Home Sellers can increase their chances of a successful sale by specifically targeting the relocation market. The can offer a “move-in-ready” home: one that is prepped and ready to show any time the opportunity presents itself.


Whipping your home into shape before you show it invites the relocation-minded buyer to imagine himself or herself moved in and ready to go to work. Once they see that hour home is in excellent condition, it will go a long way toward removing one important layer of worry — fear of the kind of unknown maintenance expenses that would only become evident after moving in. Remember that unsolved ‘minor’ mechanical problems can seem ‘major’ to a prospect. Your goal is to make it easy for any potential Briargate relocation candidate to imagine an easy transition, a fast settling-in time and a worry-free living environment.


You can also reach more Relocation buyers by making your property easy to show. Relocation prospects who have to travel for area showings usually need to cram in as many as possible. The schedule is usually tight, especially when they add showing requests at the last minute. When your home is one that a relocation candidate has asked to squeeze in, resist the temptation to regard their request as inconsiderate. It’s a real opportunity to create an excellent impression of your home once they see how great it looks even though you had little time to prepare.  


If you are considering selling your local home and would like to discuss listing, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to discuss strategy.  On the other hand, if you are planning your own Briargate relocation, I have great listings and a buyer’s packet waiting for you!

Apr 09

Local Investors: New Rental Homes Index


Zillow.com is a website that is often cited for its index of home values across the nation – but its surveys and data are interesting to Briargate real estate observers, too.  Recently it launched a new rental homes index that seeks to measure rental rates throughout the country. The index weighs rental listing prices as well as tax data and homes’ sale histories.


The index has some value to prospective Colorado tenants and landlords as well. Ultimately it might help identify Briargate market trends (but their data only extends back to November 2006, so more time will be needed for its usefulness to be proven). It might, though, serve as a tool for comparing markets. For example, the index showed year-over-year median rent increases in nearly 70 percent of Downtown Colorado Springs markets from January 2010 to January 2011, and it reports that rents have appreciated 3% during the same period.


Of course we all know that decisions based on data are only as good as the data itself. Unfortunately, Zillow’s track record for accuracy in its market value numbers (it calls them “Zestimates”!) is less than stellar. Although these estimates of value are thought to come within 15% of true market values more than three-quarters of the time in some metropolitan markets, if you are interested in rental homes in last quarter, you might be misled. And in many small markets, it misses the mark entirely. In some markets, the estimates are so far off base that Zillow doesn’t even attempt to quantify their accuracy.


The other disadvantage to relying on an algorithmic index like Zillow’s is that algorithms can’t replace the Briargate market knowledge that is any real estate professional’s stock in trade. The data we collect and analyze on area rental homes comes from our own knowledge…and what is more important, is put it into a context that allows Briargate tenants and landlords alike to use the information to make sound decisions.


If you are considering buying an income property, you need to know the most recent and accurate information for the local rental homes market – so I hope you won’t hesitate to call me, Eric Richards, for a consultation.  719-321-4727


Apr 07

What – Me Worry About Briargate Housing? Maybe Not!

What – Me Worry About Briargate Housing? Maybe Not!

If you happened to be among the thousand or so consumers who got a telephone call in March from Fannie Mae, and if you took the time to answer the 100+ questions they were asking, on behalf of the rest of us I’d like to say ‘thanks!’

You and your fellow survey subjects have sent a ray of light our way. You told us and Realtors like me, that you think things are finally looking up!


Briargate Housing

Foreclosure sign

According to you and your 1,000 fellow respondents, homeowners who have been considering putting up their Briargate home for sale might have reason to be more inclined to do so. On average, Americans expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months; the number of respondents who say it’s a good time to sell rose to the highest level in over a year; and a solid 65% say they would buy rather than rent their next home if they were going to move.


Just 29% said they would prefer to rent — even though 45% think home rental prices will go up. That is nearly ten times the number who think rents will fall.

Delving into personal financial expectations, only 12% think that their financial situation will worsen in the coming 12 months, representing the lowest value in over a year. Fewer believe their expenses have increased significantly in the last year; and only one in seven report that their income is lower than it was a year ago.

Briargate Housing and homeowners opinions

Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey is a window into opinions about owning and renting homes, household finances, housing and the economy, etc.  It is by far the most comprehensive measure of consumer attitudes toward the housing market; and since they keep at it every month, is a fair signal whether attitudes are beginning to turn up or down. 

Colorado Springs and Briargate attitudes tend to echo their findings, if for no other reason than Fannie Mae’s headline: “Consumer Attitudes about Personal Finances and Housing Stabilize Alongside Positive Economic News.” That may be a mouthful, but whenever you see ‘Housing’ and ‘Positive’ in the same headline, it has to make everybody a little cheerier.

If you are planning on your own Briargate property purchase or sale, why not give me, Eric Richards, a call? Unlike Fannie Mae, we won’t ask you 100 or more questions – but will be ready to answer all of yours!

Apr 07

Home Automation: The Next Big Thing?

Home Automation: The Next Big Thing?

Advanced technology has become such a prominent feature in our everyday lives it is no surprise that it’s increasingly affecting Colorado Springs home values. As “Home Automation” features grow in importance, bottom-line home values are following suit. It’s a new phenomenon, one that motivated home sellers (as well as homeowners heeding long term home values) should understand. 

Home automation – the inclusion of luxury technological features like temperature control, lighting control, security systems and the like – are becoming more commonplace, increasing home values in the process. A few years ago, adding such bells and whistles to an existing home would probably have been more pricey than the return would justify — but that is becoming ever less true. Think hi def flat screen TV and you’ll have a good example of the direction home automation is headed: ever-improving features for lower and lower prices.

As automated features become more widespread and their prices lower, some of them are growing increasingly simple to add. And the scope of home systems and their effect on home values can be quite varied. For some, adding an ‘automation system’ might consist of something as simple as installing remote or automatic control of a few lights. Others might make electronic security the key, choosing to install a full-fledged central system.

Where wireless home Internet networks are already in place, home values can easily be raised by the addition of remote operation. Right now that may sound like an unnecessary futuristic feature, but it may turn out that being able to control lights or heating systems from afar could substantially increase energy efficiency (along with home values).

Matthew Berman, one of the owners of New York design firm Workshop/apd, was recently quoted in the New York Times describing a “whole-home” lighting system.

“A popular feature of this kind of system is the ability to hit one button when you’re leaving your house to turn off all the lights.” As a practical matter, he also recommended keeping automated systems separately controllable, making them less complicated to operate and less subject to breakdown.

It’s important to think long-term as well as short-term — especially for anyone looking to increase home values, whether for future or immediate sale. Home automation is looking like a worthy candidate for the Next Big Thing, and buyers might be ready to gravitate toward advanced features that distinguish one Briargate seller’s home from the competition. 

Call Eric Richards if you would like to discuss how home automation might come into play when it comes to selling your Colorado Springs home.

Mar 26

More Briargate Bank-Owned Homes Headed Our Way?

More Briargate Bank-Owned Homes Headed Our Way? 

With the National Mortgage Settlement (aka ‘Robo-Settlement’) finally negotiated, major lenders are now able to re-examine their plans for dealing with the backlog of bank-owned homes. Briargate bank-owned homes may be only a tiny portion of the almost 1 million in play nationally, but are nonetheless subject to the wider phenomenon. Banks well realize that at some point, these homes have to enter the housing market. 

Bank-Owned Homes

That development is a large part of why some analysts believe that for homeowners who want to sell, now might be the time to list. In Colorado Springs as well as across the nation, their reasoning goes like this:

1. With housing prices at or near record lows, potential buyers who had been on the sidelines are seriously considering a home purchase. Many are aware that the bottom of the market may have been reached. They feel a sense of urgency to take advantage of that combined with record today’s low mortgage rates. For home sellers who have set the right price, it can mean that March is the beginning of a spring selling season filled with newly-motivated buyers.

2. The number of bank-owned homes is predicted to increase over the next few years. Lenders had put foreclosure activities on hold while negotiating the government settlement. But the coast is now clear for them to resume, with the number of bank-owned homes rising as a result. When that glut of Briargate bank-owned homes hits the market, it could end in a crowded market and prices driven back down.

3. Individual home sellers have a built-in advantage over banks because they can move a sale significantly faster. Banks are not well equipped to sell their inventory of bank-owned homes – most do not have the staff to handle listing properties or pushing the kind of energetic follow-through that gets deals done in a reasonable amount of time. Tales of frustrating delays are already widespread, and they make dealing with a homeowner and his agent all the more appealing. To some experienced buyers, the difference is worth a premium.

All these factors mean that now might just be the opportune time Briargate sellers have been waiting for.  If you have been delaying your home sale, why not call me today to schedule a complimentary home price evaluation?

Mar 26

Why “For Sale by Owner” Signs Cost A Bundle

Why “For Sale by Owner” Signs Cost A Bundle

When the time comes to list your Briargate home for sale, it can be tempting to stick one of those “for sale by owner” signs in your lawn and just try to sell it yourself. Daydream visions of trips to Europe, new Lamborghinis and stacks of gold ingots (all bought with the commission fees saved) can crowd out more realistic thoughts.

Images of craven real estate agents, twirling their mustachios as they plot to under-price your home, may compete with more practical notions… such as the actual hassle of learning to deal in a specialized marketplace without specialized tools and resources.

Still, it is tempting. After all, in Colorado Springs “For Sale by Owner” signs cost just $8.99 at any hardware store! And how hard could it be to find out what forms you’re supposed to use to accept a good faith deposit? Or where to put the deposit so it’s in escrow (or whatever they call it)…???

For Sale by Owner Facts

The fact is, about 70% of homeowners who try to sell their homes themselves eventually hire an agent. Some of the others give up altogether — having now established a record of owning a house they didn’t sell. 

So it’s probably more practical to forget the Lamborghini, right? Well, maybe not entirely. According to the National Association of Realtors, represented sellers get higher prices for their homes than do owners of comparable homes who eventually complete a sale. Often, the difference in price is more than enough to cover the broker’s fees.

Marketing your home is only part of my job. Things really swing into gear once a prospective buyer makes an offer. That offer includes more than an offering price: it also establishes how the buyer wants to structure the deal and sets forth a timeline. It’s really difficult for a homeowner to evaluate the offer and the possible consequences of each term in the contract. As a result, it is also very difficult for the seller to negotiate the offer to his best advantage. I will make sure you understand the offer and its implications — and keep you from making a costly mistake.

How to manage a contract…

A lot happens between your acceptance of the offer and closing day. The buyer usually orders numerous inspections and, depending on the results, may request repairs. These requests often lead to further negotiations. If the buyer isn’t satisfied, your deal can fall apart. And a deal can collapse over financing and title delays. It’s a stressful, emotional time for the buyer and seller both.

From the moment you sign your listing agreement, I am legally and ethically bound to work in your best interest and to ensure that your sale is as profitable as possible.  If you’re considering selling your home, before you decide to just stick one of those BriargateFor Sale By Owner” signs in your lawn, contact me for a complimentary consultation to see how I can help you succeed!

Mar 01

New Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it?

New Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it?

New Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it?

Utility room.

Some clarification for you on “Inspections”

I should point out that EVERY house built, that includes all New Homes For Sale in Colorado Springs, in El Paso county is inspected by the Pikes Peak Regional Building department. These inspections have 7 steps. Foundation, framing, electrical, roof, HVAC, plumbing, and final. These are licensed inspectors. The VA also has all the plans submitted to them prior to a single home of this floor plan, say The Jackson” is ever built. The VA has minimum building standards and your VA appraiser will note these items are done correctly.

New Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it?

Your inspection you want done… Is done by a 100 hr course certified inspector. Not licensed. These individuals do not comment on building code. In fact they will tell you they don’t comment on building code. They merely examine your home and look for items that might be safety concerns. These safety concerns are REQUIRED to be fixed by building code that the fore mentioned LICENSED inspectors catch during their Home Inspections and FORCE the builder to do in order to grant the home with a certificate of occupancy.

I have a great deal of respect for the LICENSED inspectors as they represent the safe-ness of code mandated items of your new home. And these LICENSED inspectors do their job for FREE to you. However, certified inspectors charge you $175-$400 depending on size of home(this one will be $400). I have been on many NEW Home Inspections and the most I have seen the certified inspector catch is a light switchplate that needed to be tightened. The customer paid someone $300 for that.

Every home builder gives you a 1 year EVERYTHING’S included warranty. This warranty is always good for 1 year. The builders fix anything. I can provide you with countless references to great builders’ impeccable service record. They also give you a variable time warranty on the foundation that varies with each builder. Your foundation is covered by state and VA law. The certified home inspectors don’t tell you that.

New Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it

3 days before your loan closing, you, your family and I will walk through the home. We will turn on every light, flush every toilet, open every window, open every cabinet door, every door in the house, activate all water faucets(showers, sinks, laundry space, outside spicketts). Then we go around with the building superintendent and mark all defects with a roll of blue tape. The BUILDER FIXES EVERYTHING YOU MARK. My trained eyes are constantly watching this. Then you close the loan and get the warranty.

Anytime you find something after you move in, you send them an email and qualified contractors show up and repair the problem. I promise they will fix it! Their reputation is on the line.


Home Inspections in Colorado Springs, are they worth it?

Get an Inspection on a Foreclosure


If you still want to get the inspection I strongly recommend you have the certified inspector come in while you are living there in month 11 of the 12 month warranty period. A fresh set of eyes can catch a lot. The builder will come back in and fix it.


If you buy an existing home, this is where a certified inspector earns their money. I HIGHLY recommend people do this inspection then. In fact I have them sign a form stating I can not be held liable if they DO NOT get an inspection.

Just looking out for you:)

If you enjoyed this post, and you would like to see more of the New Homes for Sale in Fountain Colorado, then please contact me. Eric Richards. I am a local Real Estate Agent in Colorado Springs who can help you!

Jul 19

El Paso County Property, 40 acres and a home

Check out this great slide show a great deal!


May 04

Northgate Homes for Sale, Market Snapshot

Northgate Homes for Sale, Market Snapshot

The Northgate Homes for Sale are doing quite well as far as market activity goes.  The desirable Northside of town and the high caliber neighborhoods always attracts a lot of attention.  Close to shopping, but with larger sloping lots, a couple of high end golf courses, unique architecture, and some screaming deals make for an inviting place to shop.

Northgate Homes for Sale.

 Let’s begin to analyze the data.  The first chart is of all HOMES for sale currently, as of 5/4/2011.


Northgate Homes for Sale

All active homes for sale

Currently there are 204 Northgate Homes for Sale.

The next image is of the statistics for Single Family homes for Sale in Northgate.

Northgate Homes for Sale

All active single family homes

 The next image is of the statistics for Condos, Town Homes, and Patio Homes for Sale in Northgate.  Currently there are 13 Condo, Town Homes, and Patio homes for sale in Northgate.

Northgate Homes for Sale

All Condos Town Homes, and Patio Homes

 Now let’s move onto the sold statistics…

  • Sales data are filtered by Type of property

  • Only using solds data since 10/1/2010, just they way an appraiser would do it.

The next image is of the statistics of all HOMES that have sold.

Northgate Homes For Sale

All homes that have sold since 10/1/2010

The next image is of the statistics of all single family homes that have sold.

158 Single Family homes have sold since 10/1/2010.

Northgate Homes For Sale

All single family homes sold since 10/1/2010

The next image is of the statistics of all the Condos, Town Homes, and Patio Homes that have sold.

12 Condo, Town Homes, and Patio homes have sold since 10/1/2010.

Northgate Homes for Sale

All Condos, Town Homes, and Patio Homes that have sold

So what can take away from this data?

  • Owning a Town Home, Condo, or Patio Home in Northgate is a long term proposition.  Not necessarily a bad concept.  It is beautiful up there.

  • Town Home, Condo, or Patio Home represent less than 10% of the market activity so if the single family homes increase in price too much, your Town Home, Condo, or Patio Home will be worth much more and sell faster.

  • Single family homes certainly command a premium.  The drop in % points compared to list price is not that much.  FOr example the average list price wass $347,123.  Compare that to the actual sales price of $338,255.  About a 3% drop.  That is a nice comforting factor for any home seller.  Meaning you can almost say with certainity your home will sell for almost full value.

  • Average time on market is not long either.  That is for Single family homes.  130 Days or 4.5 months.

  • Average time on market for Town Home, Condo, or Patio Homes is much longer.  292 days is a long time to wait.

  • Finally with 204 homes on the market currently and 158 homes sold since 10/1/2010.  The market absorption rate is 26 homes per month.  At that rate all the active homes will sell in approximately 7.75 months.  Not bad for a $300,000+ neighborhood.

If you are a proud home owner of a Northgate home and would like to try selling this summer, contact me.  I am local Real Estate Agent in Colorado Springs who can help you.

Eric Richards 719-321-4727.

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