“We were bidding at an auction for a lot in Missouri Heights when we were surprised; One person bought all of the entire ranch lots for five percent more than all the bidders combined.” said Ted Bristol, who with his wife Karen, own the UPS store in El Jebel.
But, there was more to come. Bristol found out later use was limited to only agriculture, not residential. The ranch, then owned by NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon, covered nearly 2000 acres. Years later, permissions were granted for residential development. Now known as the Ranch at Coulter Creek, the subdivision offers existing residences and lots for buyers.
This incident reflects the importance of buyers completing all due diligence and thoroughly researching property before closing. This includes all legal documents, survey, zoning, homeowners association finances, covenants, benefits and amenities and other codes or rules that could affect property usage.
Carbondale Attorney Timothy Whitsitt of the Whitsitt Law Office insisted “buyer beware” should be the overriding approach to real estate transactions. He describes four important areas for research: title exceptions, survey, water and mineral rights, HOA covenants and zoning.
“You want to make sure the property you are buying is exactly as described,” Whitsitt stressed.
He also recommended that all buyers hire professional inspectors to go over the property inch by inch.
Also, he noted, “While considering vacant or undeveloped land, recognize you may face huge bills if you need to bring in all utilities.”
Maria Wimmer, realtor and broker associate at Coldwell Banker Mason and Morse Real Estate, Carbondale, emphasized buyers really need to learn about the property’s water.
“You can be on a municipal tap. Each town will have its own water use regulations,” Wimmer noted, adding, “If you will be using well water, you need to determine if a private well is already on the property, if you will need to drill your own and if the location uses shared wells or community wells.”
If a water irrigation ditch system runs through the property, the new owner may only have limited or no access at all, Wimmer explained.
Lynn Kirchner, real estate broker and owner of Amoré Realty in Carbondale, explained that, in her experience, water issues are rarely a problem.
Kirchner also commented on mineral rights, “In Colorado it’s rare to own the properties mineral rights as most properties have had those rights ‘severed’ or sold long before the property is listed for sale.”
Wimmer reminded buyers that mineral rights can be a concern. According to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Division of Real Estate, whoever owns the below surface the minerals might have a right to access the property to develop those minerals. It further warns that a surface use agreement could be recorded against a property and that oil and gas activity may occur on or adjacent to the property.
Wimmer said real estate prices in the Roaring Fork Valley can shock out-of-town buyers. “I am working with a potential buyer who owns a $500,000 home in Texas considered an estate as it has swimming pools, outdoor barbecues and acreage. That amount here will not get her the same property type,” she said.
“She and I are still looking,” Winner added.
According to the Division of Real Estate at DORA, the state licenses different types of broker relationships: The seller’s agent works solely on behalf of the seller to promote their interest and acts as their advocate. The buyer’s agent performs similar duties plus provides a seller their financials and occupancy plans. The third type is transaction-broker, who assists the buyer and/or the seller throughout a real estate transaction including the closing. This agent must disclose any adverse information about the property to the buyer.
The final type of relationship is customer. This situation applies when a buyer has no relationship with the broker who could be the seller’s representative. For example, if you walked into an open house and wished to buy a home through the listing broker.
Whitsitt, Kirchner and Wimmer recommend buyers and sellers interview several realtors to figure out which one works best for them. They advised buyers to move forward cautiously and be patient and deliberate.
All agreed living in Carbondale is a goal worth pursuing.