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Old 10-13-2011, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Colorado
9,734 posts, read 6,269,187 times
Reputation: 17549

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So we're yet another mil family PCSing to CoS. I (the wife) have to manage the entire move from WA with the kids, by myself, since my guy is gonna be in South Carolina in school (reclassing)...so much going through my head right now...

I have at least tried to do my homework, I have a 7th grade son who's in Orchestra & it's really important to me that he continue that in school, so I narrowed my search to neighborhoods based on middle schools with Orchestra...apparently D11 can be counted upon to offer it and Eagleview in D20 does too. But of course I have to keep my man's commute in mind, as well as plan for the possibility of money being tight if I can't find work for a while, and I don't want to live in the "hood." We're kind of middle of the road between quirky/artsy and family values (NOT religious, love artistic/alt lifestyle types, but don't want too much exposure to crime/drug issues.) So I'm feeling the West areas like Old Colorado City are for us (?)

I saw a house for sale on W. Kiowa that looks really, really cool and I'm intrigued, but we've never owned a home before and I'm scared to go there, honestly. It's one of those wild old Victorians, but stone and not siding, with decks and balconies all over, looks funky and artsy inside. You can prolly find the listing if you look. So what I want to know, impressions of that immediate area if anyone has any. Are those old houses falling apart in general? Does the area have the reputation of crumbling buildings full of drug dealers & cat hoarders? I can look at crime maps, but that only shows what the police have followed up on & I hear that their work has been restricted by budget lately. Last thing I want is to live in an area with rampant unpoliced and unreported crime going on and a crack house next door. Ya know? Would YOU let your kids say...trick or treat, or walk to school, through those streets north of the main thoroughfare through Old Col. City?

The other home I've looked at is a rental on Friendship Ln a bit north of the above...which is probably a safer bet, IF it's still on the market in mid-December when we get there. I hate renting from pro management companies though, they treat tenants like peasants or something...

I'm just freaking out, have never had to do anything this big on my own before, and I'd really appreciate any input anyone might have.

Oh, last bit: in terms of D11, I've been reading that I should avoid everything East because of crime, can't get too far North because of husband's commute to Ft. Carson, and central is...well...downtown, right? So am I right in thinking that West of 25 is my best/only option?

Thanks guys. You rock!
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:19 PM
 
20,308 posts, read 37,790,850 times
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Can you give us the street number or MLS for that house in W. Kiowa?

Usually we recommend for people to rent 6-12 months to learn the area.

Generic advice for first time homeowners might go like this:

Older houses can be a money pit, it depends on how much modernization has been done on it, especially to the wiring, plumbing, heating, cooling, windows, roofing and insulation.

We have a soil issue here called "expansive soils" which is the widespread presence of a mineral called Bentonite that expands when wet and can wreck a foundation. An old victorian should have stood the test of time by now when it comes to bentonite. Drainage from nearby lots is also worth noting as a wet basement is no fun to deal with.

No harm in looking at that home and hiring an inspector to go over it from top to bottom. This includes inspecting for meth houses which shows 3 homes on W Kiowa were meth labs in 2002.

Get the realtor to provide you the info on what the utility costs have been over the past couple of years; if the house is poorly insulated and/or drafty, high utility/heating bills can eat you alive in winter.

Take a careful look around the neighborhood. Homes on corner lots have less privacy, more traffic noise, and cost more to install / maintain a fence. Is it near any facility that generates traffic, noise and litter? Do visitors to that facility or school park on that street or in front of that property? What do the nearby homes look like; are they neatly mowed and landscaped, is there trash in the yard, does it look like an auto salvage yard, are there large barking dogs, etc.

Fountain is a great area for Army families, in school district D8, but the area you're looking at is well within commuting range. D20 is too but it is a longer drive and I'd allocate 30 minutes each way, more in snowy weather.
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Old 10-13-2011, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Colorado
9,734 posts, read 6,269,187 times
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708 W Kiowa, MLS 718968

The decks and balconies are cool...but along the lines of "is it a money pit?"...they could also be in poor condition and only an in person visual inspection will tell me that.

I definitely think that a.) I need my husband's best buddy who has lived in the Springs for decades to go have a look on my behalf since I'm stuck up here in Washington. b.) If he says it looks OK I should hire an inspector. Good advice to ask about the utilities. That would let me know some things about the overall state of insulation & efficiency.

Kinda was just curious if anyone had any ideas about the region. Like when we lived in Des Moines, Iowa, the North side was a notorious hood and the south and east were very working class, but getting rougher, West is where the money was and our town of Norwalk was perfect. Up here they talk about the "Tacoma aroma"...etc. Local wisdom. I do gather that near the airport is bad...and North as well as Broadmoor is the "money"...

Hubby liked Fountain too, but alas no Orchestra for my little dude in the middle schools I think...maybe I'm wrong. Will double check. Definitely staying clear of D2. A 30 min commute would make him complain though, so trying to keep it around 20 or less (in the best of weather/traffic.) Do a lot of private homeowners rent houses out by putting a sign in the yard? Not seeing that much on Craigslist that really suits our needs...LOL hate being stressed worrying about the fear of committing to something that could turn out bad versus the fear of letting an opportunity fly the coop if I don't act. :P

Thanks for the response Mike, by the way I'm originally from "Back East" in VA too! Still have family in Fredericksburg!
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Old 10-13-2011, 02:39 PM
 
20,308 posts, read 37,790,850 times
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Spent almost 30 years in Chantilly, VA. Sure don't miss that traffic or humidity.

That location is just 4-5 blocks off of I-25, bound to be highway noise if you sleep with windows open.

IIRC there's a place that serves the homeless over on Walnut, 3 blocks east, near Pikes Peak Ave, but not sure those dudes wander around much. On the good side, you are near downtown which can be pretty cool and there is a major library at Kiowa and Cascade.

Check the crime reports to see what's happening down there.

Here's the sex offender list for the city.

In the pix for that house I see a lot of outside wood that will need painting or staining every so often (work and $$$) or even total replacement if it's rotted. I see a lot of trees hanging over the roof that will drop leaves and fill the rain gutters and may portend a damp basement. The colors inside the home are dark and may not be to your liking. The hardwood floor look nice and I see a few modernizations, but it's what behind the walls that counts and get costly. Few pix of the basement or other rooms.

Here's what would make me VERY leery of that home, the realtor's page says this: "This home requires cash only due to structural concerns." To me, that is a very serious issue, structural problems can be very expensive to fix. An engineering report (not a mere home inspection) is warranted for any home with "structural concerns." As I'm not a realtor, nor in the business in any way, hopefully others with more knowledge and experience will chime in.

Lastly, beware of realtor jargon, "loads of character" usually means a home is a bit wacky, eclectic, off-beat, etc and implies it does not fit within what would be called the normal parameters of style and taste. It's a two-edged sword, it may a stunner or it may be an EEEEK of a property.
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Old 10-13-2011, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Colorado
9,734 posts, read 6,269,187 times
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Mike, you are an angel. I didn't catch the structural concerns bit at all, and that sounds very alarming indeed. "Cash only"...um, sounds like they want a buyer with...cash...like, not a mortgage. Well that would not be me. I might still call for clarification before I give up on it, but that one phrase is chock full of red flags.

Highway noise don't bug me but the homeless might. The character is what I like, those colors are weird but kind of cool. "Full of character" will never be a phrase that puts me off..."as is" however, will. Paint is easy to fix. Unusual custom homes are attractive to me. Problems with the structure though...NOT good. OK. Thanks much.

Any thoughts on 1325 Friendship Lane? Or its management? (not uh...naming names. But you'll see. They seem to be pretty prominent there. Google reviews are mixed.)

THANKS!
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Old 10-13-2011, 03:51 PM
 
727 posts, read 1,135,011 times
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Some additional info courtesy of Zillow.com. Kiowa house was listed for sale 2/28/2009 for $230K. Price was lowered 3/26/2009 to $210. House sold in 2009 for $204K. Listed on 9/28/2011 for $175K. Looks like they just lowered the price. Might want to find out the story about why it's being sold so soon after a purchase in an already down market. From the stats above, it looks to be pretty well priced, even including the market right now. But agree with Mike in that there are a lot of things with that house that make it look like it could cost you quite a bit of money. The exterior looks like it needs staining right now. Unless you personally like hanging off a 30' ladder, that's going to cost. I'd also pay attention to the roof. My guess is that it's OLD. On-line pics of the interior look pretty. It looks like the owners have made some upgrades, but they don't look like they were done all that recently (my guess is from the kitchen pics, mid-70's to mid-80's). Also agree that if there are structural problems, that could get real expensive, real fast, and you'll never recoup the cost when you resell. Follow Mike advice, do not pass go until you have a structural engineering report. Do not trust a home inspection for that. From Zillow, it does not appear that this house is priced under the market for that neighborhood, so you don't have much room for appreciation, assuming the market ever recovers.

Agree it looks like a funky, artsy fartsy cool house, and if that's what you're looking for, Old Colorado City is the right area. Just be very careful. Those houses in that area are quite old and even the best of them require a lot of maintenance. As a first time prospective homeowner, you don't want to be caught in a money pit. It happened to us one time. Bought an historic home in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Fantastic location. Near all the action. We didn't have much extra money, but we got it for a good price and figured it would be relatively easy and inexpensive cosmetic renovation. It turned out to need a lot more than we expected and we simply couldn't afford it. Finished the cosmetic part, and sold it before it ruined us. Don't mean to scare you off, but whenever you buy a older house with needs, or potentially needs, be prepared. My personal rule of thumb: If you think it'll cost X to fix, triple it, and you'll probably be close to what the actual cost will be, unless of course, you're really handy and can do the work yourself.
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:16 PM
 
20,308 posts, read 37,790,850 times
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I was downtown tonight and drove by. IMO it's a money pit.

It's on a steep lot with a lot of stairs from the street. There's a hill behind it that will drain water down onto this property. There are so many trees around it that it would worry me and the clearances to the adjacent homes are very tight. The wooden stockade fence is leaning in various directions and in need of paint, not sure it's worth painting. Adjacent homes run the gamut of styles and all have several cars in the driveway.

Here's the local assessor page on that house which it says was built in 1899. I can only imagine the state of the art 112 years ago for foundations and I wonder if they even had electricity in those days.
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Last edited by Mike from back east; 10-14-2011 at 07:36 AM..
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:13 PM
 
Location: Canon City, Colorado
1,331 posts, read 4,414,224 times
Reputation: 675
Mike...you are the best for doing a drive by!!! How nice!!!
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Old 10-15-2011, 10:19 AM
 
Location: 80904 West siiiiiide!
2,864 posts, read 7,096,377 times
Reputation: 1543
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
I was downtown tonight and drove by. IMO it's a money pit.

It's on a steep lot with a lot of stairs from the street. There's a hill behind it that will drain water down onto this property. There are so many trees around it that it would worry me and the clearances to the adjacent homes are very tight. The wooden stockade fence is leaning in various directions and in need of paint, not sure it's worth painting. Adjacent homes run the gamut of styles and all have several cars in the driveway.

Here's the local assessor page on that house which it says was built in 1899. I can only imagine the state of the art 112 years ago for foundations and I wonder if they even had electricity in those days.
I did the same thing, and yea, I would stay FAR away form that house. It's just plain ugly as well.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Canon City, Colorado
1,331 posts, read 4,414,224 times
Reputation: 675
You are awesome too Ryan!! Very nice guys you are!!
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