Ask a Realtor column: Many factors contribute to home prices in the valley |

Ask a Realtor column: Many factors contribute to home prices in the valley

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: What constitutes a luxury home in Eagle County? I will be moving here from Arkansas with a new job and we will be selling our definitely luxury home there, but are struggling to find anything in this valley of the size and quality we have there for anywhere near the price our home will sell for.

We contacted a Realtor here and were told that a home had to be more than $1 million to be considered “luxury” and that even $1 million was way low in the ski resort areas. Is this true? Is it totally based on price? Must you spend more than $1 million to get any home of excellent quality and four or more bedrooms?

Shell Shocked

Dear Shell Shocked: I would say there is no hard and fast rule about $1 million. But I would say that it is a standard that has been talked about for some time here. There are homes in Western Eagle County that are very high quality and ample size that are less than $1 million. You might find a few in Edwards and many more in Eagle Ranch and Cotton Ranch.

It is often difficult to come from another area where prices have remained relatively stable over time to an area that has seen the prices fluctuate greatly I am guessing that your prices did not take a very large drop in the 2008 to 2012 time frame. And I am guessing the prices in your area in Arkansas have not taken a large double-digit percentage gain from 2012 until now, like we have seen in Eagle County.

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We have many factors weighing in that push our prices up in good times that do not occur many other places. We have more than 80 percent of our county land designated as public ground, either U.S. National Forest or Bureau of Land Management. This means that privately owned ground, which can be built upon, comprises less than 20 percent of our whole county.

On top of that, we have large “set backs” for building when private land has a steep ridge top, if there is a creek or river running through or a road or highway. Therefore, our land that is usable for housing becomes more and more valuable. Then you add the world-class resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, an ever-expanding air service that allow people to live here and go almost anywhere in the world with one or two stops and the ease of being on a major interstate (with some traffic issues), and you can see why more and more people want to live in our area.

Our scenery is fabulous, our recreation opportunities are outstanding, our western culture offers easy, friendly lifestyles, we have low crime, almost no pollution … I can go on and on. Add to this the building material and high labor costs here and you start to see why you are struggling to find what you want in a price range that seems acceptable to you.

My advice is, if you like the job and think you will like the area, have your Realtor help you buy the biggest and best home your money will buy here and give yourself the chance to see if you truly love living here. In the meantime, you may be riding one of the possible waves to success with your investment, while starting to live a wonderful lifestyle.

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

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