Finding a dream home in Colorado Springs turning into a nightmare

That’s how the American dream of buying a home is supposed to work. For many people, it still does.

But in one of the tightest housing markets Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region have seen in decades, finding that dream home too often can be a nightmare. Some buyers endure a painstaking, monthslong search filled with frustration as they struggle to find a house they can afford, in a neighborhood they like and with amenities they want.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, the supply of Colorado Springs-area single-family homes listed for sale each month has dropped to levels not seen in at least the past quarter century, based on Pikes Peak Association of Realtors data. Just 1,229 homes were on the market in February — one of the lowest totals for any month in the past 20 to 25 years.

In somewhat of a turnaround, listings rose to 2,385 in July, the most for any month since September 2016. Yet, last month’s supply was still low by historical standards; July listings routinely exceed 4,000.

Too few new and existing homes on the market mean sellers of houses in more affordable price ranges — mainly $300,000 and under — routinely field multiple offers that exceed their asking prices by several thousand dollars, agents say. The market isn’t nearly as tight for pricier homes.

Harry Salzman of Salzman Real Estate Services and ERA Shields Real Estate recently received six offers on the first day he listed a client’s 995-square-foot home — smaller than some apartments — with three bedrooms, one bathroom and a two-car garage. The house sold for $218,000 — 9 percent over the asking price of $200,000, he said.

At one point last week, the supply of $300,000-and-under, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car-garage homes listed for sale in El Paso County totaled just 261, said Rick Van Wieren, a real estate agent with Re/Max Properties in Colorado Springs.

“For a metro area of 700,000, that’s not a lot to pick from,” he said.

Because there are fewer lower-cost homes on the market, buyers often compete in a mad scramble for the most desirable properties and need to be prepared to do things differently.

Or, buyers might not ask sellers to help cover their closing costs. And when a home inspection identifies problems that sellers typically would be expected to fix, buyers might look the other way.

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