Daily Editorial: What’s really affordable in Eagle Co. | VailDaily.com

Daily Editorial: What’s really affordable in Eagle Co.

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

Everyone says it’s hard for working people buy a home in Eagle County, but what do the numbers say?

The cheapest unit at the yet-to-built West End development in Edwards is a 625-square-foot studio condo for $179,750. A local lender told us if “Joe” puts 5 percent down ” roughly $9,000 ” his mortgage payments on a 5.25 percent loan would be just under $1,300. This includes taxes, condo dues (estimated at $100 a month) and mortgage insurance.

Assuming Joe hasn’t racked up sizable student loans or credit card debt, he would have to make about $39,000 a year to qualify for this loan. With those numbers, housing would account for 40 percent of Joe’s gross income, which is a little high considering that as a general rule of thumb, no more than a third of your gross income should go towards your total housing.

Unless you want to invest in bunk beds, or you have a significant other to share the space and the mortgage with, that’s a tough payment to swing by yourself.

And even with a soul mate sharing the bills, how long do you want to live in one room, even with the love of your life?

Many first-time home buyers depend on roommates to help with the monthly costs of owning a home. With that in mind, studios and one-bedrooms don’t make particularly good candidates for affordable housing.

Maybe developers and the county should focus on building more two-bedroom units.

In the end, “affordable” is in the eye of the beholder. Developers of West End say the cost of the condos is 30 percent below market value, which is what makes Joe’s scenario even possible; at market prices he’d be laughed out of the bank.

The bottom line is West End is still not going to be affordable for everyone in the Vail Valley, and though it makes it possible for some to own a home, the number of people who camped out overnight to apply to a buy a unit in the Edwards development (which won’t open until 2009) may mean we’re still not doing enough about housing.

Caramie Schnell and Matt Zalaznick for the Editorial Board

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