Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor

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July 4, 2014
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Vail Daily column: How to research your new neighborhood

Dear Joan,

My wife and I have been coming to Vail for several years now. We have finally made the decision to purchase a second home here, which might be our permanent home after retirement. The next big decision is to pick what area of the valley we want to look at to make our purchase. Now that we are thinking of maybe eventually living here, our criteria are changing some.

A small ski in/ski out condo is not as attractive as maybe a home on a golf course with a garage. Since we have only stayed a few places, what do you think is the best way to find out about the different communities in the valley before we buy?

Dear Soon-To-Be Homeowner,

Welcome to the valley! You have made a great choice to buy here, and I am glad you are giving serious thought to your location. The really good news is that it is hard to go wrong here. We have so many good areas and neighborhoods you just really need to concentrate on what your criteria are so that you can see which areas meet most of your needs (i.e. areas that have homes with garages in your price range, have access to, or homes actually on the golf course, have easy access to skiing, fishing, hiking or whatever you like to do). When you have determined your criteria, in order of importance, I suggest you take the following five steps to help you make the best, informed decision:

• Hire a buyer broker to represent you. One that has knowledge and experience in more than one area of the valley, so that they can help you compare the pros and cons of each area, based on your prioritized criteria. They can also give you valuable, up-to-date pricing on recent sales and current listings of available homes. Second party websites are often not accurate since they often do not show a new listing for three to nine days after it is available in your broker’s MLS. They also do not necessarily have up-to-date information on what is under contract.

• Search online. Find out anything and everything on the Internet about the town/area, golf course, recreational and cultural amenities available that you are interested in.

• Go talk to the local government. Ask to talk to the planners, and/or town manager at the Town Hall, or Eagle County, if it is in unincorporated Eagle County. You might be pleased at what you can find on current issues there and future plans for expansion.

• Go talk to the neighbors. If you need more information, then you can knock on doors and simply say you are thinking about moving to the neighborhood and ask if there is anything they really like about living there. Most people will tell you all you ever wanted to know.

• Go to the neighborhood facilities. Try the restaurants, recreation centers (you would be surprised what you can learn in a spin class) and local stores. Talk to the clerks, coaches, waiters, etc., and ask to talk to the owner if possible. Simply ask them how long they’ve been in this area, and what is their impression of the friendliness, amenities, recreational and cultural opportunities. Once again, people will give you their opinion, so you just may have to sort through some of them as there are Pollyannas and sourpusses that might not have objective opinions.

Enjoy your search — and as always, rely heavily on your real estate broker to help you find the information you want. We look forward to having you as a part of this beautiful community!

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Talk to the clerks, coaches, waiters, etc., and ask to talk to the owner if possible. Simply ask them how long they’ve been in this area, and what is their impression of the friendliness, amenities and recreational and cultural opportunities.

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 4, 2014 07:51PM Published Jul 4, 2014 12:03PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.