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Fountain, like the rest of the Pikes Peak region, is a seller’s market. 

Longtime Fountain real estate broker Jim Snare says the residential real estate market in his area is the best it’s ever been — at least for sellers.

Snare, whose mother started Snare Realty in 1946, has owned the company since he bought it from her in 1976. He’s seen booms and busts, but nothing like the present superheated market for homes.

As is the case across the Pikes Peak region, homes are selling nearly as fast as they go on the market. Interest rates are low, inventory is down, and prices are climbing. But that’s not discouraging buyers.

Just a few years ago, homes were selling for $200,000 to $270,000.

Now, “if you can find something under $300,000, it’ll be gone,” Snare said. And if it doesn’t sell right away, “you’ll have four offers and we’ll have people that say they’ll cover the gap.” That means buyers will offer to pay the difference between a lower appraisal price and list price — or even more.

The real estate market in Fountain is attracting not only sellers and prospective buyers, but also new real estate agents, Snare said. 

“The competition is getting pretty stiff,” he said. “There’s just so many hungry buyers and 3,500 real estate agents all looking at the MLS every morning.”

Buyers are different now, too.

“Years ago, 80 to 85 percent of everything I sold was to a veteran or to an active duty, so that’s a change,” he said. Of the last four sales he’s made, none was to a veteran or military buyer.

Two of Snare’s recent buyers looked to Fountain because of its slightly lower price range, but Fountain is attracting buyers’ attention for a number of other reasons.

The perception of the city has changed, said James Flowers, president of the board of directors of the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“It used to be [seen as] a little country place where nobody wants to go” — an isolated area where mainly military people lived, Flowers said.

Now, Fountain’s boosters are showing buyers and businesses that the area is a 10- to 15-minute drive from major employers like Amazon and has improved infrastructure and more amenities — but still maintains a friendly, small-town atmosphere and a historic downtown.

“We’re a very close-knit community,” Flowers said. “We kind of watch out for everybody pretty good. People are liking that — for lack of better words — Southern closeness.”

Fountain is in the process of reinventing itself, said Aleksandra Tros, owner of Homestruck Realty and broker with CO-RE Group.

“Fountain is on the list of possible areas for buyers not only because of the low inventory in our local market around Colorado Springs but also because Fountain constantly changes its image,” Tros said. “We can observe current or planned infrastructure improvements all around Fountain to keep up with the increasing traffic coming to and from new developments, and new plans for new residential and commercial sites to revitalize the area.”

CHANGING MARKET

Single-family home prices are not that much lower in Fountain than in Colorado Springs — and they’re catching up fast, said broker/agent Harry Salzman, Salzman Real Estate Services at ERA Shields Real Estate.

As in Colorado Springs, homes in Fountain are commanding prices above list. Sellers can expect bidding wars, and buyers need agents with strong negotiating skills, Salzman said. 

He points to a fellow agent who sold a property to a Fort Carson soldier in July 2017. When that military family was transferred again early this year, they listed the home for $315,000, sold it after a bidding war for $325,000 and walked away with a check for $102,000 after 3½ years of ownership.

Besides covering the appraisal gap, buyers are offering to forgo inspections and taking on the responsibility for repairs.

“If you don’t agree to do it yourself, your offer is not going to get accepted,” Salzman said. Buyers are willing to make these concessions because they are looking at affordable monthly payments rather than the total price of a home.

While the military still plays a significant role in the real estate market, local people are moving to Fountain who are employed in the area or who are willing to drive a bit farther to get to Colorado Springs, Tros said.

“You can get to the city pretty quick via Marksheffel Road,” she said. “You don’t really have to take I-25.”

Brokers also are seeing people moving in from other states, particularly Texas and California, Tros said. Some are lured here because home prices and taxes are still low compared with their home states. Others are seeking investment properties.

“There is something for everybody,” Tros said. “You have the older homes in Fountain, but you also have the new development with newer homes.”

New homes are being built south and east of Fountain with easy access to Interstate 25, Colorado Springs, military bases, Colorado Springs Airport and Peak Innovation Park, Tros points out. Current and proposed developments include:

•Powell Homes’ El Dorado Village, featuring 2.5-acre lots, near Mesa Ridge, Fountain Valley and Fort Carson

•Challenger Homes’ Ventana, located off Old Pueblo Road and Hidden Prairie Parkway, with planned amenities such as a community pool, parks and neighborhood trails

•HPHR Properties’ Corvallis, a 275-acre site at Fontaine Boulevard and Marksheffel Road that will include both commercial and mixed-density residential development

•New single-family homes at Lorson Ranch East, built by Aspen View Homes, Saint Aubyn Homes and Century Communities; and the Glen and Creekside at Lorson Ranch, built by Aspen View Homes and D.R. Horton

•Townhomes in Carriage Meadows South at Lorson Ranch, built by Carriage Meadows Townhomes

WHAT FOUNTAIN OFFERS

Local businesses are offering residents new services and reasons to avoid having to travel to Colorado Springs for leisure and recreational activities, Tros said.

“Local sites with a personal touch like Peaks N Pines Brewing Company or The Last Drop Coffee Shop & Café also add a new flair to the city,” she said. “Another interesting local initiative is Fountain Community Theater.”

Everyone is looking forward to Fountain’s annual Fall Festival and Parade, which had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic but is going to return this year. The chamber is planning this event, which brings the Fountain Valley’s 42,000 residents and 3,000 businesses together for a family-friendly celebration on Labor Day.

While some of Fountain’s growth is spilling over from Colorado Springs, the chamber and the city’s economic development department are actively recruiting new businesses that will employ new residents, Flowers said.

“The city has had conversations with major and minor food and beverage and commerce companies to come in,” he said. “If you look at the end of [Highway] 85-87 down by Security-Widefield, there used to be a plaza and bowling alley there. That area has been cleaned up and it’s going to become another commercial area. Right behind there, there’s going to be a new apartment building with 400-plus apartments.”

The city has improved infrastructure and roads around the Marksheffel and downtown areas.

“We’re preparing for when Amazon hits the ground, that we have locations available for their employees to reside” and get to work, Flowers said.

“We’re actually rebranding the resources we have available,” Flowers said. “We’re in a partnership with the [Pikes Peak] Small Business Development Center and other chambers and working closer together to make sure that businesses know that they have support here. We also have a great partnership with the city so that, when businesses are interested in moving in, the chamber can be a go-between and a warm handshake.”

Flowers finds that businesses and new residents are interested in the community’s values.

He cites the “we take care of our own” environment in Fountain by pointing out that Care and Share recently opened up a new food bank in February on Iowa Avenue called Sunny Side Market | Food for All.

“We ask the question, ‘what are some of the values that you would like to see if you were to come and set up an office in the downtown area?’” he said.

Flowers said he has been talking to businesses in Colorado Springs, asking them why they aren’t doing business in the Fountain Valley and pointing out that the community south of the Springs has the customers and clients they want.

He’s been successful in increasing interest with personal introductions to those prospective customers, he said.

“I believe that hands-on approach and just asking those questions is something that people are lacking,” Flowers said. “Nowadays, I’m trying to bring it back.”

So there’s a lot for local real estate agents to sell in the Fountain Valley, Tros said.

“Fountain in the past was a more forgotten part of the area,” she said. “Now everybody has it on the radar. The city has a bright future due to its growing population and brand new commercial offers that follow and at the same time stimulate the growth.”

Single-family homes: Colorado Springs vs. Fountain, March 2021

Colorado Springs:

Sold listings: 938

Median sales price: $406,600

Year-over-year increase: 16.2%

Average sales price: $469,177

Year-over-year increase: 19.8%

Percent of list price received: 103.4%

Days on market: 12

Inventory of homes for sale: 370

*Month’s supply of inventory: 0.4

Fountain:

Sold listings: 52

Median sales price: $362,000

Year-over-year increase: 14.2%

Average sales price: $372,939

Year-over-year increase: 17.0%

Percent of list price received: 105.0%

Days on market: 6

Inventory of homes for sale: 17

*Month’s supply of inventory: 0.2

*Fraction of month it would take to sell all homes on market

Source: Pikes Peak Multiple Listing Service, courtesy of Harry Salzman

Reporter

Jeanne Davant is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. She worked for daily newspapers in D.C., North Carolina and Colorado, and has taught journalism and creative writing. She joined the Business Journal in 2017.