Buying a Mountain Home in Colorado: What You Need to Know

Buying a Mountain Home in Colorado: What You Need to Know

It’s no secret that the mountains in Colorado are an amazingly beautiful place to live. But, before you start your home search here, there are a few major things you need to know. This post will go over all of the common misconceptions and/or mistakes that we see people making or asking about when they start their home search here in the mountains.


You may be surprised to see on your Zillow search that the homes here have an HOA. Before you simply shrug your shoulders and think “No biggie, I’ve dealt HOAs before,” you need to know what that might mean. The HOAs in the mountains are completely different from those on flat land. These are not going to be as strict as the HOAs you see in the city, however, there are some things that they don’t allow.
Where I live in the Meadows of Evergreen, CO the HOA does not allow us to have fencing around our properties. This allows the wildlife to come in and roam around freely. One of the perks of living in the mountains is to wake up to deer and elk in your backyard and see an array of other animals on occasion. But, if you have a dog who needs to be fenced in, or you were hoping to have horses, this is a major deal breaker. Of course, every HOA will have its own rules and regulations, which is why having a great real estate agent who knows the area is crucial to help you navigate those guidelines.

Internet Connection

The pandemic has allowed so many of us to be able to work remotely, which is amazingly freeing. It may even be why you are looking to move to Colorado in the first place. If this describes you an internet connection is going to be critical for you to be successful at your job while enjoying everything that the mountains have to offer. I Wish I could tell you that “you need to live (here) to get reliable internet and you can’t live (here)”. The reality is that it’s not that simple and it is going to be specific to each property.
Some areas in the foothills have fiber, if that’s the case, you will be golden! Other areas are going to be super finicky, and you may only be getting 3mgb second. If you aren’t a tech-savvy person, let me just tell you that your teenager will not be able to use his iPad while you are catching up on Netflix at the same time. This is #firstworldproblems, and it may not matter to everyone who is buying a home here.
If reliable internet is a must-have on your list, you need to look into what you can get before you sign the papers. What’s the best way to find this out? Ask the current homeowner and/or neighbors what they have! Most of the time, this is going to be the best option they can get, or they will at least know what you can get at this time. Sparklight fiber is in some areas of the foothills, and they are working on getting it to as many people as they can. Keep in mind, it is not always feasible if the terrain doesn’t allow it, depending on what side of the mountain you are on or how high up you are.

Building a Home or Buying a Tiny Home

If you are part of the “Tiny Home Nation”, please don’t skip this section. I have talked to so many people who think you can simply come out to the mountains, buy some land and live off it while “saving money” and living in a tiny home. This is not the simple solution that people make it out to be because there are codes that need to be met once you buy that property. Even if you are going to build a home on that land at some point in the future, you need to meet all of the codes to live on it right now.
In Jefferson County, when you buy a piece of land, you will need to put utilities on it to live there. This means digging a well, putting in septic, getting electrical lines, etc. This may not cost much in other parts of the country, but when you’re digging a well on the side of a mountain, you have no idea how deep you need to go. It could be 200 feet, 400 feet, or 1,000 feet before you hit that aquifer.
Wanting to build your dream home in the mountains? That’s amazing, and possible but it will cost you. There are uncommon expenses that come along with building in the mountains that are unlike building on flat land. If building is your dream and you don’t have a budget, then call me, because I can make this happen for you! However, about 90% of the people I talk to end up buying an existing home to renovate because of those added expenses.
Some things that may come up when you’re looking at properties to build on is, does it have water rights or mineral rights. Most of our water here in Colorado has to legally be sent down the Colorado River to California. So, if you do see water rights in that plot of land you’re looking at, that is a big ticket item, and it will come at a high dollar price.
In the mountains, it is pretty much unheard of that you will get mineral rights with property. Mineral rights in Colorado are owned by the railroad. Why? Because in the 1800s the railroad purchased that land for those mineral rights so they could mine for gold, silver, or anything profitable. So, don’t lose sleep over it. It just is the way it is, the railroad has owned it for over 200 years and it’s probably not going to change.

Buying a Property Without Seeing It

The truth of the real estate market in the mountains and foothills of Colorado is that it is an extremely fast-paced process. Especially in Evergreen, Conifer, Creek Canyon, Black Hawk, and any area in the foothills, you will see the “good” properties going on the market on a Thursday or Friday and they will be getting multiple offers over the weekend. Selecting one by Sunday or Monday. Especially if you live out of state, the reality is that you most likely won’t be able to see the house in person. I say this because I want you to be open to the idea that it is possible to find a great home without seeing it in person.
Do not worry! This is what a great real estate agent is for. We will go to these listings for you and either Facetime (if the cell service allows) or take a video of the entire property and send it to you. The photos posted online are of course going to be in the best lighting and at the perfect angle and we know that you need to be able to see every inch of a house you are going to be buying. If it has a weird smell, we will let you know!

Check the Access

When you see a property that has been on the market for longer than that and seems too good to be true… it probably is! We get calls from clients saying “Hey, this house online looks amazing, it is within our budget, and oh gosh the views are insane!” That is because it is most likely at the tip top of the mountain and the access to that house is going to be limited. Which is fine for some people, but for those that are looking for more of a suburban-mountain lifestyle.
Knowing the accessibility to the property can be tricky without seeing the property in person, or having someone who knows the area help you. Some of these roads in the winter can be impossible to travel on without owning a tractor or some large piece of equipment to move the snow. Depending on the side of the mountain it’s on, the snow may melt easily from the sun, or it may be an ice skating rink for months.
While we are on the subject of road conditions in the mountains if your dream is to live in the mountains of Colorado, do not own a 2-wheel drive vehicle. You will get stuck. You won’t make it home. Your neighbors will probably get sick of coming to your rescue and pulling you out. Just something to be aware of, you will need all-wheel drive capabilities to live here.

Drugs in the Mountains

No, I am not talking about marijuana (which is legal in the state of Colorado), I am talking about meth. Drug use around the country is a serious problem and those problems are not immune to the beauty of the mountains. If you were going to use illegal drugs, doing them in a secluded house in the mountains is probably an ideal spot, right? So, be aware that if the house you are looking at buying was a rental property or a VRBO listing, you will want to have a meth inspection done.
You don’t know who was in that house or what went on there and those chemicals are toxic. Even if the seller seems legit, they might not know what happened there either. To be safe, just tell your home inspector you want it checked out!
If the home you are wanting to buy does test positive for methamphetamine, the home inspector will have to report that to the county and that house is now deemed a “meth house”. Normally, what has to happen after discovering meth in the home, is that it has to be taken down to the studs. All of the drywall will need to be removed and replaced. If you’re the person buying the home, this isn’t as big of a deal as it is when you are the person who is trying to sell it and didn’t know about it. When the home is a log home without a drywall barrier to remove, if the wood has been permeated with those chemicals, the entire house will need to be torn down. Very sad to see but it does happen.


If you are planning to finance your mountain home, you need to be aware of what a lender is going to allow you to purchase. When you see this beautiful little summer cabin that has been on Zillow for a while, be suspicious as to why it’s still available. Log structures in the mountains are seen by lenders as hazardous and they won’t give you the money to buy it. I don’t want to break your “I want to live in a log cabin in the mountains dream”. I’m simply here to give you the facts.
Other things you want to look for if a home has been on the market for a while is “Does it have all of the life safety items?” What are life safety items? Utilities, things like electricity, a well for water, a septic tank. Some of these cottages that were built in the 50s were intended to only be a summer cabin. Although they are still available to purchase, they will need to be bought with an all-cash offer as you won’t find a lender willing to invest in them.


In addition to figuring out how you are going to pay for your new mountain dream home, you will now also need to find someone to insure this dream. When a home or cottage has been lived in by the same people or owned by a single family for generations, likely, they have not been keeping up to date on some of the safety codes.
There is a proper tree clearance that you have to maintain around your property for the insurance company not to consider your dwelling as vulnerable. The insurance company will likely do an aerial satellite view to determine if tree removal is necessary. If they see too many trees or trees too close to the home, they will make you have them removed before agreeing to provide coverage. This can be tedious and expensive.

No Air Conditioning

Now I know this may sound crazy to you, especially if you are from Texas, California, or Florida. I hear clients tell me all the time “I won’t make it without A/C!” I’m here to tell you that you will survive here without air conditioning. Commonly, mountain homes don’t have an air conditioning unit and that’s because you don’t need it!
You simply open the windows and let that cool mountain breeze cool off your home. You’ll be fine and you won’t melt. It is rare to find a home that has an air conditioner, but not impossible. You can certainly add one if it is a high priority, however, that can be costly.

Looking for Acreage

I’m not certain why, but one of the most common phrases I hear from people is “I’m looking for a home in the mountains and I want it on 5 acres of land.” Why 5 acres?! I get it, you’re moving out here to be secluded from people and you want to feel like you’re no longer in the city. Trust me when I tell you this is more than achievable on 1 acre of land, with far less upkeep.
There are some amazing 0.5-acre lots that back up to beautiful hiking trails. No one will ever live or build behind you, there’s no one right beside you. It is going to feel like you have 5 acres of privacy without having to pay for a 5-acre price tag. If privacy is what you are looking for, it is achievable without the “acreage.”

Moving to the Mountains of Colorado

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you’re ready to move to the foothills of Colorado, check out our blog Pros and Cons of Living in Evergreen, CO. Ready to take the plunge and start house hunting today? Reach out to our team of experts today and we will help you fulfill your mountain living dreams in Colorado! Get started here.

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