Select an area, define your house requirements, and understand an MLS report.
Then, let’s go shopping!
Once you know the price range for which you are pre-approved, the search for your new home begins with defining your requirements. At our first and subsequent meetings, we will discuss your needs and preferences, including general areas, neighborhoods, schools, lot styles and home characteristics. Once we establish your search criteria, I will find and show you the best available homes that match your requirements. This section explains the process of determining your home requirements as well as familiarizes you with MLS reports.
Selecting an Area and Lot Style
You can always change a house, but you can’t change the area or lot. That’s why perhaps the most important aspect of your home search is selecting an area and lot style. The main search areas in Colorado Springs are described in detail in Appendix A: Area Descriptions.
If you are unfamiliar with the Pikes Peak Region, we will tour different areas within your price range to help familiarize you with them. If school districts are an important factor in your choice of area, Appendix A also lists the school districts for each area.
The style of lot significantly affects which neighborhoods will work for you. Considering that Colorado Springs is where the mountains meet the plains, every style and shape of lot is available. Do you care for a level lot with a nice area for children’s play? One that requires little to no maintenance? A large lot with tons of privacy? Woods? View? Walkout basement? Is a cul-de-sac essential, or if you had access to a park across the street, would you be willing to give up other qualities? We will discuss these options to help define your preferences prior to the home search.
Price range naturally determines some of the qualities that a lot can offer. An inexpensive neighborhood probably won’t offer a walkout lot with natural pine trees and a Pike’s Peak view, but it might offer a lot that is larger than others, or one with great landscaping already in place, or a cul-de-sac. Similarly, some lot styles won’t exist in some parts of town. In Manitou, there isn’t a piece of flat dirt anywhere. In Woodland Park and Monument, many of the lots have a mountain-home feel with mature, native Ponderosas but little to no grass. Mature landscaping is also a plus, as well as xeriscape landscaping that is designed to reduce water requirements.
Determining Your Housing Requirements
Once we have determined one or more search areas as well as your lot requirements, we can narrow the search based upon your price range and housing requirements. We will discuss your housing preferences (single family, condo, town home, patio home), floor plan preferences (1½ -story, 2-story, 3-story, bi-level, tri-level, 4-level, ranch, raised ranch), age of home (new construction, resale, vintage, Victorian, etc.), size of home (square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, size/style of garage) and other special requirements such as office space or handicapped accessibility.
Once we establish your housing requirements, I will search the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for homes that appear to match your criteria. The MLS includes all homes listed by a Realtor® in El Paso and Teller Counties. I can show you any home for sale in these counties including new homes and those sold by owner, which may or may not appear in the MLS.
Interested in New Construction?
Builders market their product through Realtors® just as sellers do. If you are interested in new construction, I will introduce you to the various builders and the areas in which they build. I will represent you as the contract is written and assist you in the process just as I do in the purchase of a resale home. The average build time is five to 12 months. Mistakes will happen, and employing me to work on your behalf in the building process will allow you to overcome some of these “hurdles” gracefully and with your interests fully intact.
It is extremely important that I be present with you at the initial visit with any builder and at as many subsequent visits as possible. Builders may deny representation if I am not present to act as your advocate in the transaction. All reputable builders build the home for the same price with an agent as without an agent. I will be paid a commission by the builder just as in the purchase of a resale home. Ethically speaking, there should be no additional cost to having your best interests represented in the transaction.
Understanding an MLS Report
Every potential property in the MLS has detailed information about the property that can be printed in a number of different formats. The key to feeling comfortable with reading an MLS report is to become familiar with the information it contains. The table on the next page explains the information contained in the first section of an MLS report. After this information, an MLS report lists data about room sizes, bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage followed by exterior amenities, interior amenities, lot information and other descriptive information.
An MLS listing describes the marketable features of a property. Keep in mind that MLS information is “deemed reliable but not guaranteed.” Mistakes do happen, and some houses will have additional marketable features that are not listed. If it is important, be sure to ask.
Information in an MLS Report:
A Active (currently for sale)
A# Active, First Right of Refusal (under contract)
UC Under Contract (often with contingencies)
P Pending (under contract pending closing)
S Sold (property has sold and is not available)
X Expired (listing expired; property may be available)
W Withdrawn (not currently on market)
WC Cancelled (listing cancelled; property may be available)
RES : Residential (Usually residential if you are buying a home)
Prop Type: Type of property (condominium, patio home, single family, townhouse, etc.)
Price: Listed price
County: ELP –El Paso County
BSA Border shadow area.
Applies to properties that are located along a boundary between two areas.
SubArea Name of subdivision in which the property is located. (Example: Chelsea Glen)
Schedule# Schedule number for county records. (example: #7326101046 )
Legal Description Legal description of the property. (example: Lot 12 University Bluffs Fil. No. 3)
Zone Zone Entity PUD Planned Unit Dev Type of zoning for the property.
School District The number and name of the school district, which is followed by the grade, middle and high schools.
(Refer to Appendix B: Area Descriptions, for more information)
BLA: Black Forest
BRI: Briargate (north and northeast of city within city limits)
CEN: Central & downtown
DIV: Divide ( west of Woodland Park)
EAS: North of downtown east to Powers Road
F/V: Fountain Valley, Security & Widefield
MAN: Manitou Springs
N/W: Northwest (Peregrine, Rockrimmon, Mtn Shadows)
NGT: Northgate (across from USAFA incl. Gleneagle)
OCC: Old Colorado City (E of Manitou, W of downtown)
PWR: Powers (E of Powers incl. Stetson Hills, Springs Ranch)
RCK: Rock Creek (SW of town, N of Ft. Carson)
S/E: Southeast (S of Pikes Peak, E to Powers)
S/W: Southwest (W of I-25, S of Bear Creek Park)
TRI: Tri-Lakes (N of city incl. Monument & Palmer Lake)
UTE: Ute Pass (Cascade, Green Mtn. Falls, Chipita Park)
WES: West end (S of Garden of the Gods, W of I-25)
WPK: Woodland Park (20 min. W of Manitou)
Understanding MLS History Codes
In addition to MLS reports, I often provide my clients with the MLS history of each potential property. An MLS history report includes all data recorded for the property in the MLS database, such as when it was listed for sale, when the price changed, when it was sold, or when it was withdrawn from the market. For your reference, the codes that you might see in an MLS history report are listed below.
Code What It Means Code What It Means
ACT Active PCH Price Change
PND Pending PHO Photo added to listing
SLD Sold CCC Commission Change
CAN Withdrawn Cancelled TOC Terms Offered Change
RGT 1st Right of Refusal EAC Electronic Advertising Change
EXT Extended PPC Photographer Photo Change
EXP Expired LEA Leased
BOM Back On Market CHG Any other type of change
Keeping Track of What You’ve Seen
By the time we find your home, you will be able to wallpaper a room with MLS print-outs, sales histories and ERA Shields folders. Funny, but true. What to do with all this data so you can keep track of what you’ve seen? That depends upon your style. Some buyers nickname homes (“Coca-Cola House”), others stick to the street name (“Ponderosa Pine”), while others go by sequence (“the second one”). Whatever your style, I recommend you take notes. My digital camera is also available should you need to take pictures.
We’ll work together to narrow your choices on an ongoing basis. I will search for properties that meet your requirements on a daily basis. If you wish, I can send you daily notifications of homes that have debuted on the market, reduced their price or have sold.
I encourage you to be candid with me so that I can better serve you through this search process. I want to know your needs and concerns. If something doesn’t feel right or if you feel that we’re not on the right track, please tell me…immediately. Then we can move forward. I will always respect your feelings and concerns.