For Buyers

The Buying Process in Flow Chart Form:

The Buying Process flow chart
The home buying process may seem daunting, but if you choose to work with one of our experienced agents, we will walk you through and hold your hand every step of the way.


Mortgage Calculator:

How much can you afford? See our mortgage and loan calculator on the right sidebar.


Helpful Manitou Springs Area Maps:

More maps can be found here: http://www.manitouspringsgov.com/government/publications


Where to look: Good and Bad Areas of Town

“Which are the good areas of town, and where should I avoid?” This is a common question we hear in real estate and here’s the thing: we can’t actually answer that question for you! Realtors are restricted from telling clients which areas of town are “good” or “bad” for ethical and liability reasons, but also because it is a very subjective question.

A “good” area of town to one person may mean good schools; to another it may mean easy access to shopping; to another – mountain views; to another – low crime; to another – affordable houses; to another – diversity and character; to another – gentrification; to another – new construction, and so on. As you can see, there is no easy answer to where the “good neighborhoods” are.

What we CAN do to help you determine the best neighborhood for you is provide some online resources where you can research the particulars for yourself.

City Data Forums

An excellent resource for finding out the inside scoop on neighborhoods and communities is the City Data website forums. There are forums for almost every city and town in the United States and Canada in which you can ask local residents any questions you like (i.e. the questions Realtors can’t answer!)
» http://www.city-data.com/forum/

Local crime map

Neighborhoods with lower crime are often something people are seeking. You can use these Colorado Springs crime maps to view where and what crimes are being committed. You can also look at long-term data to see where the more frequent crime clusters appear.
» https://www.spotcrime.com/co/colorado+springs
» https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/co/colorado-springs/crime/
» https://cspd.coloradosprings.gov/content/your-neighboorhood

Colorado school district rankings

A good school district is often high on the list for people with school-aged children. But it is also important for resale value of a property as well. Here are two sites that rank school districts in Colorado.
» http://www.schooldigger.com/go/CO/districtrank.aspx
» https://k12.niche.com/rankings/public-school-districts/best-overall/s/colorado/

Natural environment risk

It is important to know the risks that the natural environment may hold. (i.e. flood zones, wildfire risk areas, landslide prone areas)

Flood maps:
» https://msc.fema.gov/portal

Landslide/geological risks:
» https://coloradosprings.gov/office-emergency-management/page/landslide-information
» http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/

Wildland urban interface fire risk:
» http://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/colorados-wildland-urban-interface/

Sex Offender Registries / Megan’s law

To see if there are sex offenders in your neighborhood (or your prospective neighborhoods), check these on-line databases:
In Colorado Springs: https://cspd.springsgov.com/so/
In El Paso County: http://shr.elpasoco.com/services/sex-offenders-search
State of Colorado: https://www.colorado.gov/apps/cdps/sor/?SOR=home.caveat

Meth labs in residential homes:

*These lists may be incomplete
National database: https://www.dea.gov/clan-lab/clan-lab.shtml
State: http://forensic-applications.com/meth/DEA_Druglab_list.pdf
City of Colorado Springs: https://cspd.coloradosprings.gov/content/meth-lab-information

*In the State of Colorado, once a meth lab in a house has been mitigated (cleaned to legal standards and certified by a licensed hygienist), they are no longer required by law to be listed on the meth lab database, or disclosed to prospective buyers. This means that you may not be able to find out if there was ever a meth lab in a home from the above listed databases. There are other options available that may help you avoid buying a meth house:
» http://www.wondermakers.com/…How%20To%20Avoid%20Buying%20A%20Meth%20House.pdf

These are just a few suggestions that we have compiled. We do not guarantee any of the information in the above websites. As a prospective buyer, it is up to you to do your due diligence. A licensed Realtor can assist and point you in the right direction.


First-Time Home Buyer? 10 Crucial Terms You Need to Know

First time home buyers have a huge learning curve. This post will be our first in a series of blog articles on critical information first time buyers should know before going into the home buying process.

Below are ten terms that are crucial to know before signing a real estate contract:

Earnest money
Earnest money is a sum put up by the buyer to show the buyer is serious about purchasing the home. It is normally held in an escrow or trust account until the time of closing but the check is cashed right away. There is no official defined amount for earnest money, but generally it runs about 1% to 2% of the purchase price. When the home purchase is complete, the earnest money is applied toward the purchase price. If the contract doesn’t go through, who will be awarded the earnest money is determined by what caused the contract to fail.

Effective date
This is the date the last party signed or initialed any changes in the sales contract. This is often the date that starts the clock on the contract’s various deadlines (e.g., that a home inspection must happen within 10 days).

Contingencies
Contingencies are requirements that must be met before a real estate deal can close. The customary ones for the buyer are: property appraisal, financing, home inspection, disclosures, homeowner’s association disclosures, title report insurance, survey or Improvement Location Certificate. The specific contingencies and deadline dates are set and agreed upon by the buyer and seller in the contract.

Due diligence
You may have heard this term before – it is very important! The sales contract’s contingencies provide the buyer a period to conduct their due diligence, which essentially means doing your homework and research. If the buyer uncovers anything negative regarding the property during this time (for example, a sex offender living next door), he/she can cancel the contract and receive a refund of his/her earnest money.

Disclosures
Home sellers normally fill out a property disclosure for buyers that states everything they know about the home during the time they’ve owned it, whether it’s good (there’s a brand-new roof) or bad (the basement leaks during heavy rains). A seller who intentionally withholds information is committing fraud, and that can lead to legal consequences. It is a buyer’s right to know certain information about the house before they purchase it. In most cases, disclosures are filled out and are available upon request before a buyer even puts in an offer so you have some idea of what you are getting into.

Inspections
A home inspection is meant to protect the buyer. A buyer has the right to hire professionals to do various inspections within a time frame that’s mutually agreed upon with the seller—typically within 7 to 14 days of an accepted offer. (Inspections may include: general home inspection, roof inspection, foundation inspection, radon testing, or well/septic inspections) After an inspection, the buyer can:

  • Accept the property in the current condition and move forward to closing.
  • Be released from the contract and have the earnest money returned.
  • Ask the seller to repair issues discovered during inspection. If the seller counters with a lower sales price or changes or rejects the repair request, the buyer has the right to terminate the contract and keep their earnest money.

Title search
A title search basically confirms that the property is owned fair and square by the seller free of any problems and can be transferred to the buyer. Occasionally, a home’s title can be compromised by long-lost heirs or liens by contractors who did work on the property but never got paid. The good news is that you will get title insurance in case long-buried issues crop up down the road.

First Right of Refusal clause
If the buyer needs to sell a home in order to finance the purchase of a new home, the seller may decide to include a “First Right of Refusal clause” which allows the seller to continue to show the house and accept back-up offers. If the original buyer can’t sell the home by a certain date, then the seller can “kick out” that buyer – or allow them to drop that contingency – and go with a new offer, rather than waiting indefinitely to close the original deal.

Appraisal
If a buyer is getting a mortgage, the lender requires an appraisal which is usually paid for by the buyer. (The buyer and seller can also negotiate who pays for this.) An appraisal is where a third party comes in and estimates the value of the house, making sure a lender’s money isn’t going toward a lemon. (If a buyer is paying all cash, an appraisal is optional.)

Closing
The closing is the final step of your real estate transaction that involves bringing together the Realtors, buyers, sellers and closer at the closing table. At the closing, the buyers and sellers will sign a ton of documents and the buyers will provide the funds to purchase the home. It’s also when you get the keys to your new home—one of the most thrilling moments in life!

(source: http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/real-estate-contract-terms-home-buyers-should-know/)


Short Term Vacation Rentals in Manitou Springs

Looking to buy a short term vacation rental in Manitou Springs? This is what you need to know.

With the increasing popularity of home vacation rental websites like VRBO and Airbnb, we have potential home buyers and investors asking what the zoning codes are in Manitou Springs – are home owners even allowed to rent out their properties on a short-term basis? Can you purchase an established VRBO?  What is the process?

The answers are a bit complicated so we will do our best to explain.

Definition: A short-term rental is any property that is rented out for periods of under 30 days at a time. The rental must be occupied by renters for a minimum or 21 days per year in order to keep their status as a short-term rental.

History: In 2015, there was a moratorium passed that stopped the City of Manitou Springs from accepting any new applications for conditional-use permits to run short-term rentals (this included Bed & Breakfasts).

The moratorium provided the city time to figure out how short-term rentals should be regulated. Before the moratorium, it was estimated that about 40% of short-term rental home owners in Manitou were doing so illegally and without permitting.

Solution: In response, a new chapter was added to the Manitou Springs Municipal Code (Title 18.89) in the spring of 2016. This new regulation requires that “minor conditional use permits” be obtained by the owner of any property intended to be operated as a vacation rental. The owner of the property must also obtain a business license from the City of Manitou Springs prior to listing the property as a vacation rental.

Details: The City will only grant permits if certain conditions are met including the following:

The maximum number of vacation rentals shall not exceed 2% of the City’s residential structures based on the most recent numbers from the Colorado State Demography Office at the beginning of each calendar year. Currently that 2% number is around 56 properties.

Vacation rentals in Manitou Springs shall be separated by a minimum of 500 foot radius measured from each of the property’s corners.

There are a number of additional criteria; in fact there is a checklist of procedures that a property owner must complete and agree to for the application. For more detailed information, you can view the City of Manitou Springs Vacation Rental Packet at: http://www.manitouspringsgov.com/library/documents/general/planning/Vacation_Rental_Packet.pdf

You can also check the online map to see the existing 500′ radius zones in Manitou:

» http://www.manitouspringsgov.com/library/images/POST/2017-01-19_Vacation_Rentals_Radial_Buffer_Map.pdf

Purchasing question:

If an investor or home buyer wanted to purchase an existing short-term rental would all the permits and licenses be transferred to the new owner upon closing of the sale, or would the buyer need to start the process over?

The answer: it depends. Some permits run with the land and some do not. This means some permits are transferrable and some are not. All NEWLY permitted homes will run with the land and be transferable. Some, but not all, of the grandfathered-in permits are transferable.

Another option: the potential buyer can put an offer in on a home contingent on the approval of getting the short-term license and the “go-ahead” from the city. Meaning, if the city doesn’t say “yes” to a short-term rental, the buyer could decide to not purchase the property and back out of the contract without penalty.

For more information on how to do this, contact one of Manitou Springs Real Estate’s qualified agents to assist and guide you through the process.


Septic Tank Information

Rural Buyers: what you need to know about septic tanks
Are you looking to buy a house located in El Paso County that has a septic system?  For sellers, it’s important to know that the rules changed in 2015 so the experience you had when you bought your home may be different from when you go to sell it. For buyers, there is plenty to learn about life on a septic vs. a sewer but you also need to know how it affects the buying process of the property.

Here is some need-to-know information for buyers and sellers about how to properly transfer title on a property with a septic system (OWTS):

The property needs an “Acceptance Document” or a “Conditional Acceptance Document” from El Paso County Public Health Department in order to transfer title at closing.

The property must be inspected by an El Paso County Public Health certified OWTS inspector which can be found on the county website: http://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/services/site-wastewater-treatment-systems

» Who orders and pays for the inspection is negotiable.

» The cost starts at around $250.00 for an inspection but varies by company and location.

» The inspection company will need a copy of the site plan and permit which is typically accessible through the El Paso County Assessor’s website.

After the company inspects the property the company has 3 business days to submit the report to the county.
The agent or seller will then need to go online to apply for an Acceptance Document which costs $65.00. The county then has 5 business days to issue an Acceptance Document.

If the septic tank has a deficiency the owner MUST fix the problem within 90 days even if the contract falls through (sooner if it’s an imminent health problem).

» The Public Health Department will issue a conditional acceptance document, provided that the purchaser of the property, or the assigned agent, agrees to obtain a permit and complete all necessary repairs to the OWTS within 90 days of occupancy of the structure.

The Acceptance Document is valid for 6 months or closing date, whichever is soonest. (It’s also possible to get a one-time extension for 6 months.)

It may sound daunting but you can contact any of our experienced agents to guide you through the process.