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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
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First Investment in Colorado Springs Area - Military

Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Posted Mar 10 2024, 14:53

Hi Everyone,

I'm currently active duty military about to move to Colorado Springs in the next 3-6 months and I think I'm ready to make my first investment. Over the past several years I've tried to educate myself on the logistics of buying and managing a house as an investment and attempted to learn from other peoples experiences in REI. Currently:

- I'm pre-approved for $275,000 but with my credit I think I can bump that up to around $300,000

- Have $10-15,000 I can put towards a down payment or renovations

- Have access to the VA Loan

- Am saving approximately $1000 a month


Current Strategy?

I've seen a lot of people recommend buying a MFH with the VA loan and then house hack/ make improvements, or if a MFH isn't available, do the same with a SFH and then move out after a year and repeat with a new property. I initially considered looking at properties in Pueblo, directly south of Colorado Springs, since there are MFH's there that are significantly more affordable than in CS. But of course, living in Pueblo would present issues commuting to work and also, from what I've seen and read about, possesses less potential for growth, has higher crime, and will demand lower rents.

I'd love to get a MFH but they're prohibitively expensive in CS and I don't want to get over-leveraged for one, assuming I could even qualify. I've thus been primarily looking in CS for potential SFH's in the $250-325 range (ideally a 3/2), so that I can live in 1 room or basement and rent out the other 2 rooms. My concern right now is being able to cash-flow. Even with $0 down I may be able to cover the mortgage with BAH from the military but then I'm concerned about all the other costs (CAPEX, PM costs, regular maintenance, taxes, etc.). This may be doable with roommates but if I were to move out and rent it to just one tenant, I'm not sure that would be sustainable given current rents for 3/2's I've seen in the area.


An alternative I've considered is renting while in CS and buying an area with a lower cost of living in another part of the country, which of course wouldn't allow the VA loan to be used. I've also been looking at townhomes but I'm not as familiar with how they compare with a SFH in terms of appreciation and rental rates (definitely a weak spot in my education).

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions and would love to hear other perspectives on this!  

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Hamp Lee III
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Hamp Lee III
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Replied Mar 10 2024, 17:54

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?

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James Carlson
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Denver CO | Colorado Springs, CO
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James Carlson
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Denver CO | Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Mar 10 2024, 18:02

@Nick Kramer

An early welcome to Colorado Springs. I imagine you're at Carson? Not a bad place to be stationed. The physical beauty here is unmatched.

I know the idea of living mortgage-free is exciting, but it's just not doable in an area like Colorado Springs (or Denver just to the north). Maybe in Pueblo. the flip side is that one of the reasons you're not cash flowing is because home values are going up quick, so while you may not cash flow, you're likely to gain nice equity from appreciation. 

In this high-interest rate/high-price market, house-hacking is more about offsetting as much cost as you can. You should be able to get $800/room in most areas of Colorado Springs, plus or minus a hundred or two depending on exact location.

The $300k might make a legit SFH tough, unless you're open to taking on a big project. Are you open to a townhome. There are a decent number of 2br townhomes on that southeast part of town. But there are also a few 3br every once in awhile. For every extra bedroom you get, you're talking an extra $800.

Anyway, don't get bogged down by cash-flowing right off the bat. You gotta live somewhere. Might as well get paid for it. And the Springs is a strong market for future growth.

Good luck! 

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Jon Schwartz
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Jon Schwartz
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Replied Mar 10 2024, 20:43

@Nick Kramer, you should talk to @Ryan Thomson!

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Nathan Gesner
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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
ModeratorReplied Mar 11 2024, 05:29

I was stationed at Carson, 98-2000. Bought my first house for $87,000 and it's now worth $325,000. Wish I had held onto it!

  • Property Manager Wyoming (#12599)

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Brian Bohrer
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Brian Bohrer
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Mar 11 2024, 10:54

Welcome to the Springs @Nick Kramer!

I think you have a great strategy in mind and one that could definitely kick start your investment goals! I think the biggest thing you have going for you right now is that you have VA eligibility and there are a ton of homes on the market who are looking for an eligible VA buyer.

The approval you have from your lender is based on TODAY's interest rate, if you were to find a home with an assumable loan with 3%-4% rate you would be eligible to buy a more expensive home and therefore open up your house hacking options quite a bit.  I personally purchased my most recent home with an assumable loan that has a 3.08% interest rate and it is saving me THOUSANDS every month on mortgage payments and additional principal debt paydown!   

I have a blog post on biggerpockets where you can read more about the strategy of buying a home with an assumable loan - https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/922/topics/1175338-maxi...

I would also keep in mind that many VA buyers in the area were recently bitten by the market. Many bought in 2020, 2021, and early 2022 who are now being PCS'd out of the area and have to sell a home that has dropped in value over the last 18 months. Many are left with a home that is worth less than the current mortgage. Don't let this be you!

One way to avoid this is to have a plan for when you do have to move.  By purchasing smart with an assumable loan, you will have a lower monthly payment that will have a much better chance to be covered by the rent and could also leave you enough room to pay a property manager (if you choose) to take care of the home if/when you are relocated in the future.  This would allow your home to continue building equity until you are ready to sell for a juicy profit down the road!

If you are interested in learning more about this process please do not hesitate to reach out and I would be glad to talk with you!  I am also a professional landlord and would be willing to work out a plan to assist you with the management portion of your adventure as well!

I wish you the best on this new and exciting journey and hope you have a great time here in Colorado Springs!

Take Care,

Brian Bohrer

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Robert Ellis
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Robert Ellis
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Replied Mar 12 2024, 18:50
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?


 where did you buy a 200k new build? we build them in columbus oh but I'd love to see what you got and compare 

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Max Ferguson
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
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Max Ferguson
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Mar 14 2024, 17:00
Quote from @James Carlson:

@Nick Kramer

An early welcome to Colorado Springs. I imagine you're at Carson? Not a bad place to be stationed. The physical beauty here is unmatched.

I know the idea of living mortgage-free is exciting, but it's just not doable in an area like Colorado Springs (or Denver just to the north). Maybe in Pueblo. the flip side is that one of the reasons you're not cash flowing is because home values are going up quick, so while you may not cash flow, you're likely to gain nice equity from appreciation. 

In this high-interest rate/high-price market, house-hacking is more about offsetting as much cost as you can. You should be able to get $800/room in most areas of Colorado Springs, plus or minus a hundred or two depending on exact location.

The $300k might make a legit SFH tough, unless you're open to taking on a big project. Are you open to a townhome. There are a decent number of 2br townhomes on that southeast part of town. But there are also a few 3br every once in awhile. For every extra bedroom you get, you're talking an extra $800.

Anyway, don't get bogged down by cash-flowing right off the bat. You gotta live somewhere. Might as well get paid for it. And the Springs is a strong market for future growth.

Good luck! 

 @James Carlson and @Brian Bohrer outlined fantastic information. Putting zero into the mortgage each month is going to be a tough ask, still doable with the perfect deal but most of the time you are going to have to pay in some. 

My client just closed on a 4 plex with his VA loan 3/6/23. He is saving/creating ~$30k a year over renting including maintenance/vacancy/landlord paid utilities for the property. He is still paying in $400 a month but has a place to live vs his apt at $1700 a month. With write offs and very lean number underwritten for appreciation he is still absolutely crushing it. In one year, if we execute the plan of installing a washer/dryer in each unit the cash flow will be crazy. If he does nothing with rents and keeps them below market, he will still cash flow about $1000 a month fully rented (so maybe $600 when including vacancy/maint/etc...)

Some things to note:
He did time the interest rate perfectly and put down 10%. 

Theoretically, with this same deal you would be looking at 500-600 more per month with 0% down but each situation is different. I could be way off depending on your situation and credit. But since they are 2bd, you could get a roommate and hit that sweet "living for free" range. 

VA loan limits are huge in El Paso for quad plex. My preferred lender, Zack Tarbet, can illustrate what you are able to do. 

Reach out with any q's and good luck!!!

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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
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Ryan Thomson#1 House Hacking Contributor
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Mar 20 2024, 09:18
Quote from @Jon Schwartz:

@Nick Kramer, you should talk to !

Thanks for the shout out @Jon Schwartz

@Nick Kramer I would be happy to connect. I have scaled to five house hacks in Colorado Springs myself and would be happy to walk you through how to make that happen. We can sit down and run the numbers with my House Hacking Calculator as well to show you what's possible with multifamily and other house hacking strategies in the Springs! 

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Replied Mar 24 2024, 00:16
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?


200k in COS will get BRRR., and they arent seeming like great investments. My hometown is Houston, do you have any market knowledge there? I know cost of living is lower than CO, I know the class b and c areas. Having a hard time finding much of anything with cash flow, so setting my eyes on appreciation and equity.

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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:49
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?


I appreciate your insight! Unfortunately I haven't found much in that price range except for some manufactured homes. There are some new builds in the mid 200's that have some potential, but they come with a high HOA fee.

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Hamp Lee III
  • Investor
  • San Antonio, TX
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Hamp Lee III
  • Investor
  • San Antonio, TX
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:51
Quote from @Nick Kramer:
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?


I appreciate your insight! Unfortunately I haven't found much in that price range except for some manufactured homes. There are some new builds in the mid 200's that have some potential, but they come with a high HOA fee.

If the numbers still work with the HOA fee, it might be an option for you.

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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:52
Quote from @James Carlson:

@Nick Kramer

An early welcome to Colorado Springs. I imagine you're at Carson? Not a bad place to be stationed. The physical beauty here is unmatched.

I know the idea of living mortgage-free is exciting, but it's just not doable in an area like Colorado Springs (or Denver just to the north). Maybe in Pueblo. the flip side is that one of the reasons you're not cash flowing is because home values are going up quick, so while you may not cash flow, you're likely to gain nice equity from appreciation. 

In this high-interest rate/high-price market, house-hacking is more about offsetting as much cost as you can. You should be able to get $800/room in most areas of Colorado Springs, plus or minus a hundred or two depending on exact location.

The $300k might make a legit SFH tough, unless you're open to taking on a big project. Are you open to a townhome. There are a decent number of 2br townhomes on that southeast part of town. But there are also a few 3br every once in awhile. For every extra bedroom you get, you're talking an extra $800.

Anyway, don't get bogged down by cash-flowing right off the bat. You gotta live somewhere. Might as well get paid for it. And the Springs is a strong market for future growth.

Good luck! 


 James, really appreciate this. And yes I will be at Carson! I had begun to come to the conclusion that having all my costs covered wouldn't be feasible in this market so I appreciate hearing it from somewhere else. I do have to live somewhere so I'm definitely keeping my options open regarding a townhouse! 

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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:53
Quote from @Jon Schwartz:

@Nick Kramer, you should talk to @Ryan Thomson!


 Thanks Jon I appreciate the plug!

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Nick Kramer
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  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
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  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:55
Quote from @Nathan Gesner:

I was stationed at Carson, 98-2000. Bought my first house for $87,000 and it's now worth $325,000. Wish I had held onto it!


 I'll definitely try and keep a long-term mindset!

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Lawrence Briggs
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Lawrence Briggs
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Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:59

@Nick Kramer -first thank you for your service! I love investing in military towns. My properties are near Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood). My buddy Tanner Pile is in that area (https://www.biggerpockets.com/users/tannerp30) he may have some insights for you!.

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Nick Kramer
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  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 12:59
Quote from @Brian Bohrer:

Welcome to the Springs @Nick Kramer!

I think you have a great strategy in mind and one that could definitely kick start your investment goals! I think the biggest thing you have going for you right now is that you have VA eligibility and there are a ton of homes on the market who are looking for an eligible VA buyer.

The approval you have from your lender is based on TODAY's interest rate, if you were to find a home with an assumable loan with 3%-4% rate you would be eligible to buy a more expensive home and therefore open up your house hacking options quite a bit.  I personally purchased my most recent home with an assumable loan that has a 3.08% interest rate and it is saving me THOUSANDS every month on mortgage payments and additional principal debt paydown!   

I have a blog post on biggerpockets where you can read more about the strategy of buying a home with an assumable loan - https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/922/topics/1175338-maxi...

I would also keep in mind that many VA buyers in the area were recently bitten by the market. Many bought in 2020, 2021, and early 2022 who are now being PCS'd out of the area and have to sell a home that has dropped in value over the last 18 months. Many are left with a home that is worth less than the current mortgage. Don't let this be you!

One way to avoid this is to have a plan for when you do have to move.  By purchasing smart with an assumable loan, you will have a lower monthly payment that will have a much better chance to be covered by the rent and could also leave you enough room to pay a property manager (if you choose) to take care of the home if/when you are relocated in the future.  This would allow your home to continue building equity until you are ready to sell for a juicy profit down the road!

If you are interested in learning more about this process please do not hesitate to reach out and I would be glad to talk with you!  I am also a professional landlord and would be willing to work out a plan to assist you with the management portion of your adventure as well!

I wish you the best on this new and exciting journey and hope you have a great time here in Colorado Springs!

Take Care,

Brian Bohrer

Brian, thanks for this. I know how unpredictable the military can be so I definitely don't want to left with a home worth less than the current mortgage when PCS time rolls around sooner or later. I'll definitely give your post a look, I'm weak in my knowledge regarding assumable loans. I'll keep all of that in mind as I continue my search and I appreciate your availability and willingness to provide your insight!

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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 13:04
Quote from @Max Ferguson:
Quote from @James Carlson:

@Nick Kramer

An early welcome to Colorado Springs. I imagine you're at Carson? Not a bad place to be stationed. The physical beauty here is unmatched.

I know the idea of living mortgage-free is exciting, but it's just not doable in an area like Colorado Springs (or Denver just to the north). Maybe in Pueblo. the flip side is that one of the reasons you're not cash flowing is because home values are going up quick, so while you may not cash flow, you're likely to gain nice equity from appreciation. 

In this high-interest rate/high-price market, house-hacking is more about offsetting as much cost as you can. You should be able to get $800/room in most areas of Colorado Springs, plus or minus a hundred or two depending on exact location.

The $300k might make a legit SFH tough, unless you're open to taking on a big project. Are you open to a townhome. There are a decent number of 2br townhomes on that southeast part of town. But there are also a few 3br every once in awhile. For every extra bedroom you get, you're talking an extra $800.

Anyway, don't get bogged down by cash-flowing right off the bat. You gotta live somewhere. Might as well get paid for it. And the Springs is a strong market for future growth.

Good luck! 

 @James Carlson and @Brian Bohrer outlined fantastic information. Putting zero into the mortgage each month is going to be a tough ask, still doable with the perfect deal but most of the time you are going to have to pay in some. 

My client just closed on a 4 plex with his VA loan 3/6/23. He is saving/creating ~$30k a year over renting including maintenance/vacancy/landlord paid utilities for the property. He is still paying in $400 a month but has a place to live vs his apt at $1700 a month. With write offs and very lean number underwritten for appreciation he is still absolutely crushing it. In one year, if we execute the plan of installing a washer/dryer in each unit the cash flow will be crazy. If he does nothing with rents and keeps them below market, he will still cash flow about $1000 a month fully rented (so maybe $600 when including vacancy/maint/etc...)

Some things to note:
He did time the interest rate perfectly and put down 10%. 

Theoretically, with this same deal you would be looking at 500-600 more per month with 0% down but each situation is different. I could be way off depending on your situation and credit. But since they are 2bd, you could get a roommate and hit that sweet "living for free" range. 

VA loan limits are huge in El Paso for quad plex. My preferred lender, Zack Tarbet, can illustrate what you are able to do. 

Reach out with any q's and good luck!!!


 Max, wow that's crazy! I'm glad to hear that deals like that are being made. I'll for sure have to hit you up with some q's in the future.

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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
15
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 13:05
Quote from @Ryan Thomson:
Quote from @Jon Schwartz:

@Nick Kramer, you should talk to !

Thanks for the shout out @Jon Schwartz

@Nick Kramer I would be happy to connect. I have scaled to five house hacks in Colorado Springs myself and would be happy to walk you through how to make that happen. We can sit down and run the numbers with my House Hacking Calculator as well to show you what's possible with multifamily and other house hacking strategies in the Springs! 


 Ryan, thanks I'd love to connect!

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Nick Kramer
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  • West Point, NY
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Nick Kramer
  • New to Real Estate
  • West Point, NY
Replied Apr 2 2024, 13:07
Quote from @Lawrence Briggs:

@Nick Kramer -first thank you for your service! I love investing in military towns. My properties are near Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood). My buddy Tanner Pile is in that area (https://www.biggerpockets.com/users/tannerp30) he may have some insights for you!.


 Lawrence, thanks I appreciate the plug we'll have to get connected!

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Replied Apr 3 2024, 07:38
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:
Quote from @Nick Kramer:
Quote from @Hamp Lee III:

I’m active duty Air Force and ran into the same issue at my last base. I wanted a MFH, but they were not in good areas. I settled on a new build under $200K. It cashflows nicely now, mind you with a great interest rate in 2019.

What type of home can you get at or a little below $200K?


I appreciate your insight! Unfortunately I haven't found much in that price range except for some manufactured homes. There are some new builds in the mid 200's that have some potential, but they come with a high HOA fee.

If the numbers still work with the HOA fee, it might be an option for you.
HOA is scary. It may work for a bit but what if it increases. Anyway I’m in midst of a buy now with HOA and to say HOA has been my biggest thing. 

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Lawrence Briggs
Pro Member
  • Investor
  • Austin, TX
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Lawrence Briggs
Pro Member
  • Investor
  • Austin, TX
Replied Apr 3 2024, 13:45
Quote from @Nick Kramer:
Quote from @Lawrence Briggs:

@Nick Kramer -first thank you for your service! I love investing in military towns. My properties are near Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood). My buddy Tanner Pile is in that area (https://www.biggerpockets.com/users/tannerp30) he may have some insights for you!.


 Lawrence, thanks I appreciate the plug we'll have to get connected!

 @Nick Kramer you’re welcome! @Tanner Pile

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Justin Rowe
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Justin Rowe
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Replied Apr 6 2024, 20:18

Welcome to Springs Nick... I purchased my first property (condo) in Colorado Springs in 2005 just north of Peterson AFB where that was my first station after graduating - similar to your current situation.  I held on to the condo since then and still rent it out today.  Long term rental, but lots of lessons learned.  Happy to talk if you're interested.

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Brian Bohrer
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
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Brian Bohrer
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Colorado Springs, CO
Replied Apr 8 2024, 10:22
Quote from @Nick Kramer:
Quote from @Brian Bohrer:

Welcome to the Springs @Nick Kramer!

I think you have a great strategy in mind and one that could definitely kick start your investment goals! I think the biggest thing you have going for you right now is that you have VA eligibility and there are a ton of homes on the market who are looking for an eligible VA buyer.

The approval you have from your lender is based on TODAY's interest rate, if you were to find a home with an assumable loan with 3%-4% rate you would be eligible to buy a more expensive home and therefore open up your house hacking options quite a bit.  I personally purchased my most recent home with an assumable loan that has a 3.08% interest rate and it is saving me THOUSANDS every month on mortgage payments and additional principal debt paydown!   

I have a blog post on biggerpockets where you can read more about the strategy of buying a home with an assumable loan - https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/922/topics/1175338-maxi...

I would also keep in mind that many VA buyers in the area were recently bitten by the market. Many bought in 2020, 2021, and early 2022 who are now being PCS'd out of the area and have to sell a home that has dropped in value over the last 18 months. Many are left with a home that is worth less than the current mortgage. Don't let this be you!

One way to avoid this is to have a plan for when you do have to move.  By purchasing smart with an assumable loan, you will have a lower monthly payment that will have a much better chance to be covered by the rent and could also leave you enough room to pay a property manager (if you choose) to take care of the home if/when you are relocated in the future.  This would allow your home to continue building equity until you are ready to sell for a juicy profit down the road!

If you are interested in learning more about this process please do not hesitate to reach out and I would be glad to talk with you!  I am also a professional landlord and would be willing to work out a plan to assist you with the management portion of your adventure as well!

I wish you the best on this new and exciting journey and hope you have a great time here in Colorado Springs!

Take Care,

Brian Bohrer

Brian, thanks for this. I know how unpredictable the military can be so I definitely don't want to left with a home worth less than the current mortgage when PCS time rolls around sooner or later. I'll definitely give your post a look, I'm weak in my knowledge regarding assumable loans. I'll keep all of that in mind as I continue my search and I appreciate your availability and willingness to provide your insight!

 My pleasure to assist Nick!  If you ever have any questions or need any advice about the process of assuming a loan I would be glad to help!  Thank you for the upvote!