More locals turn to lottos for housing |

More locals turn to lottos for housing

Edward Stoner/Vail DailyVail Commons in West Vail is made up of 53 for-sale, deed-restricted, two- and three-bedroom condos. If one of its owners decides to sell over the next year, the person at the top of the housing lottery list would have the first shot to buy it.

VAIL ” If you arrived in Vail during Reagan’s first term ” and lived and worked in town ever since ” you’d be in good position in Vail’s affordable housing lottery.

The top three people in the lottery this year have more than 126 points. You get six points for living and working in Vail for one year.

Last year, the top two people in the lottery got a shot at buying affordable homes.

There are 31 people in this year’s lotteries, more than triple the number of participants from last year. Most signed up for the one- and two-bedroom-home lottery. There’s also a lottery for three-bedroom homes.

Dick Polster, a ski-school supervisor, rents a home in Middle Creek, an affordable-housing rental complex built several years ago. But he wants his own home for himself, his wife and child, he said.

Polster moved to the valley in 1983. He’s accumulated enough points to put him in “Tier II,” which means he has between 83 and 99 points.

He’s looked at free-market homes, but he can’t afford them, he said.

“Completely out of reach,” he said.

This year through April, the average home in Vail has sold for $1.82 million, according to Land Title Guarantee Co. in Eagle.

His ideal home would have three bedrooms, he said. The 93 homes in the affordable-housing pool include one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. They are at Vail Commons above City Market, at Red Sandstone Condominiums and at North Trail Townhomes. There are also several other homes scattered around town.

Polster, who’s from Long Island, N.Y., was in the lottery two years ago. The person in front of him got a chance to buy a home, but he didn’t, he said. He’s keeping his fingers crossed for this year, he said.

“I should have a pretty good chance,” he said.

The lottery will be at 5 p.m. Thursday. A drawing will determine placements within each tier. For instance, the 10 people in Tier II will be assigned an order from one through 10.

Nina Timm, Vail’s housing coordinator, said the increase in lottery participants shows that free-markets homes are becoming more and more unattainable for local workers.

“I really think it has to do with the dramatic change in real-estate values, where people previously through they might be able to afford something in some sort of proximity, it turns out the market skyrocketed faster than anyone’s wages did,” she said.

The low turnover last year ” two affordable units were available in Vail ” is perhaps a sign that people are having a harder time making the jump from affordable housing to the free market, Timm said.

Timm said she hopes that laws recently passed by the Town Council will grow the number of homes in the affordable-housing pool.

Last spring, the town passed “inclusionary zoning” and “commercial linkage” laws that require developers to build affordable housing in conjunction with their developments.

Vail Resorts’ large Ever Vail project will be subject to those laws, and so would the planned West Vail commercial area redevelopment.

Todd Pierce of West Vail is in the top tier ” between 126 and 156 points ” along with two other people. He’s lived in Vail his entire life, since 1972.

But Pierce, a photographer, is not entirely sure that he’s even going to get a shot at buying something. With free-market prices increasing, people are holding onto the affordable homes longer, he said.

“I’m not going to be surprised if none come up for the year,” he said.

Pierce has looked at free-market homes, both in Vail and Edwards, and has found some that are in his price range ” barely.

He would try to use an affordable home in Vail as a stepping stone to buy a free-market home, he said.

He’s seen homes get more and more expensive over the last few years.

“Five or 10 years ago, young people would look at the market and say ‘That’s really expensive,'” Pierce said. “Now we look back five or 10 years and say, ‘That was dirt cheap.”

He would like to see Vail expand its affordable housing program, he said.

“If you want to keep people in Vail, and keep them working here, you need to keep them living close by,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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