Whether you’re about to make a move to Colorado Springs, or already live here, there are plenty of reasons that Colorado’s second-largest city may be just right for you including.
Here are some highlights of the Greater Colorado Springs area:
- Ranked #2 best place to live for 2018
- Ranked #5 best place to live in 2017
- Ranked #8 for the fittest city in the United States and home to the main U.S. Olympic Training Center
- 5 military bases nearby including the U.S. Air Force Academy
- The average commute is only 22 minutes
- Local airport with numerous direct flights
- 1 hour and 15 minutes outside of Denver and DIA (Denver International Airport)
- A crime rate that is 30% lower than the National Average
- Ample green space, numerous parks, and trails, including Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the majestic Rocky Mountains
Work, school, military assignments, a job in the city, and a desire to be near the mountains or experience a change in scenery are just a few reasons why the population of Colorado Springs is estimated to increase by 58.6% in the next thirty years, according to Colorado Division of Local Affairs.
Given the continued growth, finding a rental home can be a discouraging process. A low supply of rental homes and their propensity to be rented quickly makes the rental landscape in Colorado Springs difficult to navigate
We’ve heard countless horror stories from renters who have spent hundreds of dollars on application fees or called multiple realtors and companies with no response. These experiences have left anyone wondering if they will ever be successful in finding a home in Colorado Springs.
The good news? We are here to help! The information within this guide will prepare you for what’s ahead and help give you an edge when moving to Colorado Springs!
Understanding The Colorado Springs Housing Market
Colorado Springs has a population of approximately 549,000 and five local military bases. It doesn’t just include the city of Colorado Springs; it also includes Fountain, Monument, Falcon, and Peyton (all within El Paso County). This area’s local housing market outpaces the rest of the U.S. and is projected to be one of the top markets for growth in 2018 and years to come. It has become highly competitive, leaving homeowners and sellers in an advantageous position.
Though Colorado Springs has rapidly grown over the past few years and is projected to continue, home prices are still only 4% above the National Average.
How To Find A Rental in Colorado Springs
Timing and Rental Search Tips
If you’re planning on moving to Colorado Springs, timing your home search correctly is crucial. Because the market is so active, a rental home is typically leased before the prior tenant has moved out. What’s more, homes rent quickly—typically they’re off the market a day or two after they were listed.
We have noticed that the homes that move quickly:
- Are priced at $1800 or under
- Have 3+ bedrooms
- Have a fenced backyard
Given this information, it’s important to start your search early and frequently look for new listings. Make sure you use reputable sites to find your prospective rental.
It is inside industry knowledge that marketing companies (these are not real estate companies) like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor-dot-com, and Homes-dot-com, only have a portion of what is actually available and have dated information. However, if you are going to use one of these sites, Rentals.com is a more reliable source when it comes to rental homes. Companies and individuals that choose to advertise on this site have to pay for the services, which better ensures accurate information and a reduced chance of scams.
Another disadvantage of these “marketing company sites” is that they broker consumer inquiries (selling consumer information and inquiries) to several agents, the communication and response times can be slow, and often times completely unreliable.
In addition to being wary about the above sites, be careful when browsing on Craigslist. Numerous scam artist use this site to prey off of those who have been unsuccessful in finding a home in a legitimate way and are now desperate.
We advise that you deal directly with local, reputable property management companies. Their websites will have accurate, up-to-date information. It’s best to confirm that the companies you inquire and work with are NARPM Members (National Association of Residential Property Managers). This ensures they have a strong focus on property management and more likely to follow fair practices.
For example, our available rental home inventory is updated regularly throughout the day and we also offer a free rental home alerts, so you are notified of changes or opportunities when they happen.
Ideally, a representative from one of these reputable property management companies will connect you with a professional who will work one-on-one with you to ensure that you are getting the most updated, reliable information on the homes they offer.
Remember: You should never send or wire money before meeting in person and assure that you are working with the owner or property management company.
You’ve searched and found “the one.” Now, it’s time to apply! Make sure you have prepared your information in advance, so once you find the right fit you can apply immediately. Being prepared can give you the upper hand when competing for a rental home.
Before applying, be sure to read the property management company’s application requirements. They should be listed in a prominent place on their website and will help you determine if your income and lifestyle meet their particular requirements.
Note: If you’re not sure what your credit score is, there are many websites that will create a credit report for free!
Government-backed sites like AnnualCreditReport.com and even the individual bureaus themselves (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) normally offer at least one free credit report each year, and cheap reports after that.
In addition to your rental history, it is advantageous to have a rental verification letter (on letterhead, with details and contact person) from your current and/or previous landlord on hand. Also, make sure they’re ready to receive (and quickly respond to) an inquiry about your rental history. It is far too common to lose out on a house and application fees simply because your previous landlord took multiple days to return the verification.
Make sure to add all application and rental fees into your moving budget. Typically, application fees are non-refundable because they are processed through a third party.
So, before you commit to an application, you may want to learn more about how your property management company processes applications. Some companies will have many more people pay the application fee than what is actually needed, while others may make you reapply for each rental option you’re interested in.
An reputable property management company will close the ability to apply when they have enough qualified applicants. They’ll also allow pre-approved applications to be used for other rental homes they manage.
For example, at Ashford Realty Group, we consider all qualified applicants received in the same business day, and then discontinue taking applications to avoid people spending money on application fees frivolously. We also allow renters to reuse an application on another property for 30 days beyond the original application date.
Note: Once you’ve been approved for a rental, it’s customary to pay first month’s rent, security deposit, and any applicable pet fees at the time of lease signing.
Difficulties Renters Face
There are a handful of situations that can make finding a rental difficult. Being a pet owner can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. Below are some things to consider if you are a pet owner:
- The number of pets: Finding a rental that allows more than 2 pets is uncommon.
- Breed: Certain dog breeds are commonly restricted due to homeowners insurance policies.
- Cost: Be sure to factor in a pet deposit, pet rent, or both.
- Documentation: Make sure your pet is registered and vaccinations are current.
Pictures: Have a few high-quality photos on hand, as some property management companies require them for their file.
Moving to Colorado Springs From Another Area
Another obstacle renters can face is attempting to secure a rental if they do not currently live in Colorado Springs. Many companies will not rent sight unseen, in an effort to protect the property owners, themselves, and the prospective tenants. Obviously, this can make securing a rental home challenging when relocating to the area. If you are planning to visit the area to view homes, make sure you are prepared to apply, sign the lease, and pay all applicable fees while you are here.
Difficulty Renewing Your Lease
One additional item that many do not take into consideration in an active and competitive market is the possibility of increased rental rates. When a lease is up, terms can be renegotiated by either party (homeowner or residing tenant). In a stale or flat real estate market, the residing tenant will look to renegotiate for a rental rate reduction, while in a hot market the homeowner will look to renegotiate for a rate increase. When going through this process, as we are currently in a hot market, be prepared for the possibility of rates being increased.
Finally, here is an important issue to keep in mind when renting: if you are renting a home, your rental agreement is a two-way contract meant to protect the rights of both parties involved. However, provided in this agreement is the owner’s right to determine whether or not they want to renew your tenancy at the end of the lease term. Normally, a lease is not renewed by a property owner because they feel the home is not being properly cared for by the current tenant or due to changes in their life.
Unexpected events happen to everyone, and your landlord may find themselves in a position (financial reasons, divorce, etc.) that requires selling the property when your lease is up. Or, for some, they may decide to take advantage of the active market and sell the home to cash out their equity.
Due to the fact that we have such a high concentration of military homeowners in the area that are relocated (PCS’d), and due to the appreciation of home values we continue to see, this is something that happens often. Some families have found themselves having to relocate 2-3 times in town within a 3-4 year period. As a result, one real consequence of this, besides a lack of stability and the cost of moving each time, could be the inability to keep children in their established neighborhood and school.
These challenges aren’t highlighted to discourage you from renting. They are to aid in knowing your options and uncovering difficulties that you may have not yet realized, in order that you can be prepared to handle them from early on!
Expanding Your Options: Buying in Colorado Springs
Renting doesn’t look like a good fit for your family, but the thought of becoming a homeowner is overwhelming! Where do you start?
Buying a home can seem intimidating and costly, but in our market, it can actually be more cost efficient, especially if you are planning to stay in the area for 2 or more years. By then, you will have built enough equity in the home to then resell or turn it into a rental property that can generate additional income for you.
Top two myths that prevent today’s renters from considering buying:
Myth 1: You need a large down payment and upfront costs.
Reality: In many cases, you may not even need a downpayment, and mortgage costs may be the same or only slightly higher than your monthly rent! There are many options out there and the right reputable lender can guide you in this area. Learn more about Colorado’s down payment and mortgage assistance programs.
Myth 2: You need excellent credit.
Reality: Most property management companies and landlords require the same credit score (or higher) than what many of today’s fixed rate home loan programs require.
Today’s rental requirements (credit, debt-to-income ratio, etc.) that most property management companies and landlords require is based on today’s lending requirements. That said, home financing obviously does not consider noncredit or nonfinancial information like pets, criminal records, etc.
There are an array of fixed interest rate lending options that offer financing opportunities with a credit score of 620 (and in some cases as low as 600). However, keep in mind, the higher the credit score, the better the financing opportunities.
Active Duty and Prior Military
Veterans and military members have the unique option to turn their first home into a rental property and still get a VA loan for their next home! Find a reputable lender who knows the “in’s and out’s” of VA loans, therefore you can take every advantage of that invaluable benefit you’ve earned.
This story shows just how impactful a VA loan can be:
“We moved to Colorado with the Army—such a beautiful place to live. We purchased a home with our VA loan after 2 years of living in Fountain. Ashford Realty Group guided us every step of the way with the buying process. After 1 year we received orders to Ft. Drum, NY. We were unsure whether to sell or rent our house, Ashford helped us through the renting process. Ashford found great renters to rent our home and took care of every detail. Before leaving CO, we needed to purchase another home in NY with a second VA loan. Ashford guided us by educating us on being able to own two homes with our VA loan. We were able to rent our home in CO and purchased a home in NY. After renting our home in CO for one year we decided to sell. Ashford realty group listed our home and it sold in less than one month for a profit. I would recommend Ashford Realty Group for buying, selling or renting! They are knowledgeable in every aspect! Thank you for everything Ashford!”
– Robert Nichols
If you’re in the military and not quite ready to purchase a home, on-post housing is another option. Here are the websites and phone numbers for on-post housing in the area.
- Air Force Academy: (844) 211-2666
- Peterson Air Force Base: (719) 556-4777
- Fort Carson: 855-652-4425
- Schriever Air Force Base: (719) 567-2884
- Cheyenne Mountain: no on-post housing
Though on-post housing is conveniently located and helps you avoid a commute, it can leave you feeling like you never leave work. When you live on-post, you also can’t build the equity you would if you purchased a home. Waitlists, as well, can be weeks or months long, so make sure to explore all your options to determine what’s best for you and your family.
Recap of Home Search Process
To recap, these are the things you should consider when preparing to move to Colorado Springs:
Determine Your Requirements
Ask yourself what qualities in a house would cause it to be a deal breaker, and set a realistic budget (upfront costs and monthly budget) to help narrow down your options. – We are happy to help you with this!
- Do you have time to shop around and be overly picky or do you have time constraints?
- What is your monthly budget for housing?
- Do you have specific areas, neighborhoods or school districts you need?
- Are you moving with pets?
- If you own a dog, have you checked local properties’ breed restrictions?
- Know your credit score, budget, and move-in date before you search. If your credit score is 600+ and your budget is at least $1,200, you should be able to find a rental in Colorado Springs.
- Explore all of your options before committing to renting or buying.
- Allow at least one week’s time to find a rental property. Be ready to sign the lease, pay first month’s rent, deposit, etc. upon lease signing. Allow 4 weeks to buy a house, if that is a consideration.
- Talk to a reputable Realtor about your options—remember, you are in charge. The right Realtors are there to work towards your goals.
- Understand today’s requirements for renting or buying, especially the minimum credit scores required.
Home Search Tips
- Never wire someone money for a down payment or deposit without seeing the home in person.
- Work one-on-one with a real person whenever you can.
- For buyers, use a Realtor to save you money and stress – They cost you nothing (or shouldn’t at least).
- Research nearby schools.
- Budget more for your first month, to include all possible fees.
- Don’t be held back by not knowing—talk to a Realtor about your options (renting and buying).
- Check for all programs and discounts you may apply for, such as a first-time home buyer loans or a VA home loan.
Now that you know more about the market and the area, are you ready to start your home search? Though a competitive market may seem intimidating, if you have 600 credit score and a budget of $1400 or more, you will have more options than you think!
Talk with a qualified Realtor to determine what options you have. Of course, whether or not you exercise those options is strictly up to you. Again it is free and can be the difference between finding or not finding a home.
There is no bias at Ashford Realty Group- we love working with great tenants and clients regarding homes for rent and working with potential homebuyers when considering homes for sale. We’ll also keep your requirements in mind and reach out to you about new listings before they are even posted!
If you have any more questions about the Colorado Springs real estate scene, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Note: We elected to not address apartments in this guide since apartment living encompasses a different lifestyle and a much different group of considerations. This information was directed to those that feel apartment living is not conducive to their lifestyle and want to focus strictly on homes.
Resources: Colorado Division of Local Affairs State Demography Office | Energy Resource Center | Realtor.com | Rent Cafe | U.S. Census Bureau | U.S. Energy Information Administration | Zip Atlas | Trulia