TALES FROM THE FRONTTrying to find a home when the housing supply can’t seem to keep up with demand — especially in price ranges of around $300,000 or less — can be daunting. Here’s what two Colorado Springs-area buyers found when they hit the market:
• At times, Misty Whitetree thought buying a home would never happen for her and her family.
“You kind of start to feel like you’re doing something wrong or maybe you’re just not meant to be a homeowner,” said Whitetree, of Colorado Springs. “Because we were trying.”
Whitetree said she and husband Peter Tellers wrote offers on about 10 homes over two years as they sought to buy a house for themselves and their visually impaired daughter.
Early on, Peter’s full-time job and Misty’s part-time job only qualified the couple for a home around $130,000, and Misty said they couldn’t find anything “livable” at that price. They started aiming higher after a lender agreed to count Misty’s second part-time job as income, which qualified the couple to borrow about $230,000 to go with a down payment they had saved.
Like many buyers, they followed their real estate agent’s advice and aggressively made offers above a seller’s asking price as soon as they found one they liked.
They bid $20,000 to $30,000 over asking price on some homes but lost out. On another house, Misty said, “we went $45,000 over asking and we still lost it.”
Finally, Misty said, their real estate agent, William Poburka of The Platinum Group Realtors, knew of a home in their price range — one about to be listed by Poburka’s father. Misty and Peter were able to bid on the house before it hit the market, and the sellers accepted their offer of $256,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, nearly 1,800-square-foot home on the Springs’ northeast side.
The couple finalized their purchase May 31 and moved in June 30 after agreeing to allow the seller to lease back the home for a month before moving out. They’re now in what they consider a spacious house — more than they thought they’d be able to buy and in a nice neighborhood.
“It’s turning out to be worth the struggle,” Misty said. “But it was definitely a struggle. … I know a lot of others have not been so fortunate as of yet. We consider ourselves very, very fortunate.”
• Empty nesters Jon and Cindy Hutchison wanted to downsize from their 3,400-square-foot, two-story home in the Jackson Creek area of Monument, north of Colorado Springs.
They had lived there since 2000, but their two children were grown, the finished basement was being used like a storage unit and the house had become more space than Jon and Cindy needed. The couple also had watched their parents downsize later in life when it was more difficult for them, and they decided now was the time to make their move.
The Hutchisons, who began their search last year, knew what they wanted in another home. Besides a smaller house, they wanted to stay in Jackson Creek. They also wanted main-floor living, room for entertaining and a finished basement. Jon, an Academy School District 20 music instructor, also wanted main-floor space for giving private music lessons.
By the time they were ready to move, however, the Hutchisons discovered prices in Jackson Creek had soared; some houses they liked were $75,000 to $125,000 beyond their budget, forcing them to look elsewhere.
They wound up selling their home in January of this year and moved into an apartment while they continued to search.
After seeing at least 20 homes, they found a 2,800-square-foot house in Briargate on Colorado Springs’ north side, which had three of its five bedrooms on the main floor. They bought it, but it took some time.
The owner had earlier agreed to sell the home to another buyer, but the deal fell through. When it came back on the market, the Hutchisons made an offer, but it was rejected as too low and they lost out to someone who offered more.
But that sale also fell through. When the house was put up for sale a third time, the Hutchisons tried again — offering $315,000 or $8,000 more than the asking price. That offer was accepted within hours.
The Hutchisons completed their purchase in early July and spent the next three weeks painting, recarpeting, refinishing wood floors and making other improvements before they moved in July 30.
“For a while, it’s kind of fun to look and see what’s out there and see what’s available,” Cindy said. “And after a while, when you’re just not finding what you’re needing or if you find what you’d like and it’s just too expensive, then it becomes disheartening after a while and then you just get frustrated. So, we were thankful to find the house that we did. It’s not in our ideal area, but it’s still in a great area for us.”
Rich Laden, The Gazette