What are the primary concerns when purchasing property in Pagosa Springs?
Most people who come into our real estate office have some preconceived idea of what they desire in a property. Some want mountain views, big pines, privacy and perhaps even a live stream — all at a bargain price. Naturally, it is hard to find all these things in one property and there are other attributes to consider as well.
With property in the Pagosa area, some of the primary concerns are: are the roads maintained and plowed and by whom? What utilities are available? Is it in a fire protection district? Will you have to drill a well? Will you need to put in an individual septic system and what permits will you need? How far is it to town and will you want to make the trip in the winter? Does the area have covenants and are they enforced? Can a mobile home, trailer, or some eye sore move in next door? Is there an active property owners association? What special tax districts are there? What are the taxes? Does it have good southern exposure to take advantage of the winter sun? These are just some of the questions that you will want to have answered when purchasing real estate in the Pagosa area.
Every community has its real estate gotchas! At Jim Smith Realty we do our best to inform buyers of everything they need to know to make a wise decision in the local real estate market. The following article will arm you with key questions to ask, no matter which company you’re dealing with. If you choose Jim Smith Realty, you can be assured that all your questions will be answered honestly.
Basic types of real estate available in the Pagosa Springs Area.
Pagosa Lakes Resort Home or Cabin Sites
Small quarter- to half-acre parcels are located in several cluster villages in the Pagosa Lakes Resort Area. These properties usually offer all utilities including water & sewer, underground electric & phone lines. Many are located on paved streets around the golf course and Lake Pagosa; others are on gravel roads. Natural gas is available in some areas. Pagosa Lakes has strong covenants and a Property Owners Association. Average price range is $7,000 to $15,000. Golf Course, Lake Front, and other special properties range higher.
One To Ten Acre Parcels
Pagosa Lakes Resort Area Acreage Sites
Usually three to ten acres. Five-acre parcels are predominant. Located in several subdivided areas in the Pagosa Lakes Resort Area and the neighboring subdivisions of Colorado Timber Ridge and Piedra Estates. All include central water. Individual septic systems are usually necessary. Most have above ground electricity; some have underground. Phone lines are underground. Most roads are constructed and are usually gravel; some are paved. Four of these subdivided acreage areas (Meadows 1, Alpha, Colorado Timber Ridge, and Piedra Estates) are not controlled by the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association. Colorado Timber Ridge and Piedra Estates each have their own POA. All have covenants. Average price range is $50,000 to $150,000.
Other Small Acreage Subdivisions
There are a number of other subdivided areas, which offer 3-5 acre parcels. Some offer a central water system, but others will require wells. Individual septic systems are necessary. Most have electric and phone utilities available fairly close by. Most of these areas have or have had covenants, which may or may not be enforced. A few have a Property Owner’s Association. Average price range is $35,000 to $100,000.
Aspen Springs Small Cabin Sites
This is a unique area in many ways. Aspen Springs is made up of 6 units or subdivided areas. Parcels range from 1 acre to 10 acres in size with 1-2 acre parcels being predominant. Electricity is available to many of the areas. Aspen Springs has its own road maintenance district and roads are generally good. For water you will need to drill a well or use a cistern. Well water tends to contain sulfur and other minerals. If not deep enough, wells can go dry in a dry year. There are no covenants or restrictions, allowing the property owner great latitude in construction types. This can also be a disadvantage. Individual septic systems are also necessary. There are some very secluded areas in Aspen Springs. This is one of the few subdivided areas where a RV, trailer or mobile home can be parked. Average price range is $7,000 to $12,000.
Large Acreage Home Sites
There are a few areas where larger parcels can be obtained. These usually are in the neighborhood of around 35-acres. These run about $4,000 to $10,000 per acre on the average. Availability of utilities and roads vary. Well and septic systems are usually necessary. PLEASE NOTE: The reason there are almost no parcels in the 15 to 30 acre range is due to a State Law passed in 1972 which prohibits the subdividing of any real estate into parcels smaller then 35 acres unless extensive subdivision regulations are complied with.
Large Unsubdivided Tracts
A variety of large tracts are available from time to time. These have a dramatic range in size from 80 acres to several hundred or even thousand acres. They also can have a wide range in price. Typically however, they will average $4,000 to $6,000 per acre with some going for as low as $2,000 and as high as $10,000 per acre. Generally speaking, as you move higher in elevation to the north and east, the price of property increases.
Condos and Townhomes range in size from small efficiencies to large 3 or more bedroom units. They may come furnished or unfurnished. They can range in price from a low $50,000 to a high of $342,000. A few types have garages. Maintenance fees average $100 to $200+ per month. Most are located in the Pagosa Lakes Resort Area close to the golf course and the other recreational amenities. There are a number of different property owner associations.
Single Family Residential Homes
There is a fair selection of various types, sizes, and locations of nice homes in the area. Average price range is $150,000 to $425,000.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER CONSIDERATIONS?
If utilities are not readily available, the expense of obtaining them will be the responsibility of the purchaser. Be careful to understand just what utilities are and are not available, and if not available — what it will cost to obtain them. Once you have a home here, the potentially biggest utility expense is heating your home in the winter. Look for property with good southern exposure to take advantage of the winter sun, and/or an efficient heating system.
Electric power lines run throughout the county, but not all properties are serviced. It is always best to purchase property that already has electric service close by because it could be a very expensive to run the necessary lines to the property. Photovoltaic cells could be considered as an alternate energy source. La Plata Electric handles the installation of all electric lines underground. In the past, many electric lines were put above ground where acreage parcels were involved. There are credits allowed where all or part of the installation many is refunded over a period of time. The electric contractor on your new home will usually figure in the price of bringing the electric service from your lot line to the home with a total bid. Check with La Plata Electric for current policies and information.
Central (city) water and sewer is provided in many subdivided areas of the county and city through the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWS). A central water system can be a big benefit. Other areas rely on wells. You will normally need five acres or more to receive a well permit. Exceptions are made, especially in the Aspen Springs Area because it was subdivided before the stricter regulations went into effect. When drilling a well be aware of the fact that you may or may not hit good water. Sulfur is a real problem in some areas. Remember, dry years can result in dry wells — especially on shallow wells.
Pagosa Area Water and Sewer (PAWS) Fees
There are several different fees associated with water and sewer services through the Pagosa Area Water and Sewer District (PAWS). See the side bar for details. Knowing which fees apply to your property is important. You can find this out by calling PAWS at (970)731-2691.
The San Juan River Village (aka San Juan River Resort) has its own water and sewer system. The tap fee for water and sewer is $6,000. Water and sewer availability for vacant land is $33 per month. With a home, it is $65 per month. Rates may change. Please call San Juan River Village Metro at (970)264-4218 for more current information.
Central sewer is usually not available on properties larger than 3 acres. An individual septic system is required on these properties, the cost of which can range from a low of $3,500 up to $25,000 or more with the predominate average being $3,500 to $5,000. The occurrence of rocky ground or shallow bedrock is the usual causes of more expensive systems. The San Juan Basin Health Department(SJBHD) has authority over septic systems and a permit must be obtained. All systems must meet their standards. If you are concerned, check with the SJBHD as to your ability to construct a septic system before you purchase.
Kinder-Morgan provides natural gas service in the county where applicable. Most areas do not have natural gas available. Local propane companies offer services all over the county as an alternative to natural gas.
Century Telephone Company of Colorado provides land line phone service. Phone lines are run through the county but all properties are not currently serviced. If phone lines are not visible, check with the phone company as to availability. Phone lines are usually buried underground. DSL is offered in many areas through Centurytel. Cell phone service is available locally through Alltel and Verizon currently offered through Radio Shack.
Roads are always a concern. A paved road is a luxury. Most roads are gravel. The county maintains some and others are the responsibility of the developer or the property owners association. Maintenance of some roads is in contention. Check with the County or the property Owners association to find out status. A county roads committee is trying to develop a long-range plan to improve all the roads in the county.
Building and Zoning
Each subdivision has its own covenants and restrictions. Be sure to get a copy and read them before you purchase. The county abides by the UBC and approval of plans and inspections are required.
Vacant lots are taxed at about 3 times the rate as a lot with a residential dwelling. Be assured your taxes are not going to skyrocket if you build a home on your present lot. However, taxes do vary somewhat from year to year. In Archuleta County, they are based on which special districts the property is in. Each special district (school, water, sewer, fire, hospital, etc.) assesses a mill levy. The combined mill levy is multiplied by the assessed value of the property to determine the tax bill for the property. The assessed value of a property is a percentage of the market value determined by the Assessor. The assessed value of vacant land is 29% of the market value. The assessed value of a residence is 7.96 % of the market value. The result is the tax amount. Taxes are paid in arrears. Taxes, which are paid in early 2003, are for the tax year of 2002.
Property Owners Association Dues
Some areas have property owners’ dues. An example is Pagosa Lakes. The current dues of approximately $140.00 per year cover costs such as lake maintenance, clubhouses, legal fees, salaries, etc. All property owners in the Pagosa Lakes Resort Area are members of the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association (PLPOA) except Pagosa Meadow Unit 1 and Pagosa Alpha Section where property owners have the choice to join or not. Some areas may have a special assessment for a particular purpose. Some condo associations levy an assessment for maintenance needs from time to time. It is usually money well spent, but just be aware of the possibility of assessments.
Fairfield Recreation Fee
Fairfield Communities Inc. sold several hundred properties with a special “Recreation Fee” attached. The fee is currently $180 per year. There are some recreational discounts available to owners of such property. Be sure you know if the property in which you’re interested has such an assessment attached to it.
What Is Pagosa Springs Like?
We have approximately 1500 students in our local public schools. The elementary school offers kindergarten through 4th grades. The Intermediate School holds 5th and 6th grades. Junior High is made up of 7th and 8th grades. High School has around 500 students and a new building. There are also several private schools and home schooling is becoming more popular. Please see the education articles in this magazine for more information.
We are extremely proud of our fine library, the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library, which is the result of a united community effort. Everyone rolled up their sleeves to make this project happen. Lenore Bright is the Librarian.
We presently have 3 doctors, plus visiting specialists, 2 nurse practitioners, 4 dentists and 8 chiropractors. Well-equipped and well-trained Emergency Medical Technicians help fill the gap. Our closest hospital is in Durango, about one hour away. Helicopter service is available for emergencies. We have completed a new medical facility, which will be the first stage of a hospital project.
The fire district situation has been extremely positive and shows what can be done with cooperation between the town and county. Fire protection is expanding, but there are still areas that do not have fire protection. Make sure you ask. It will affect insurance rates. Also, look into a security system for your home, because some insurance companies may require that you have one installed, especially more expensive homes.
What is the economic outlook?
With rising taxes, crime, and pollution, more and more families and retirees are leaving the cities and are looking for a better and less hectic life style. Many are fleeing to rural mountain communities. Some are even moving their investments in the stock market to mountain property because Colorado mountain property has greatly increased in value over the past 10 years. It has outpaced the stock market hands down. Real estate and construction of single-family homes will lead the job market along with a prosperous tourist year here in Pagosa Springs.
Don’t wait to buy. Most any mountain property will almost assuredly cost more next year. The buzzword for this decade will be will be true quality of life and not the fast pace that is found on the coasts and in the big cities. Pagosa Springs offers a great deal towards a real quality of life experience. Welcome to Pagosa Country. We hope you love it as much as we do.