Moving up at Miller Ranch: Three households buy, sell, stay in Edwards neighborhood | VailDaily.com

Moving up at Miller Ranch: Three households buy, sell, stay in Edwards neighborhood

Completed in 2006, Miller Ranch in Edwards features 282 deed-restricted residences, including single-family homes, duplexes, row houses and condos.

EDWARDS — A dozen years after it debuted, Miller Ranch continues to make Eagle County residents' dream of home ownership come true — sometimes several times in a single day.

That happened earlier this fall when Whitney Brofos purchased a condo in the development. She bought the condo from Taylor and Dan Chavez, who in turn moved up to a Miller Ranch duplex. The sellers of that duplex were Rachael and Tommy Stroker. The Strokers were among Miller Ranch's earliest residents. But when it came time to expand into a single-family home, the Strokers still found what they wanted at Miller Ranch.

"These types of transactions within Miller Ranch by The Valley Home Store are becoming more and more common," said Kim Bell Williams, Eagle County housing director. "The age of the property, growing families and plenty of first-time home buyer loan products paired with down payment assistance from the Eagle County Loan Fund is allowing more homeowners with equity to move up, and often that is within Miller Ranch."

This summer, Miller Ranch saw a peak in the number of buyers on its master list with 132 names.

"Most are first-time buyers, but many are buyers looking to move up in this popular deed-restricted, for-sale community," Williams said. "The theme I hear most is that the homeowners of Miller Ranch are drawn to the community that has been created here by having a neighborhood of 282 primary residence owners."

Miller Ranch was completed in August 2006 and features 282 deed-restricted residences, including single-family homes, duplexes, row houses and condos. Property sales are managed through the Eagle County Housing Department.

First time buyer

Whitney Brofos sits in her two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in Miller Ranch on Nov. 8. (Chris Dillmann | Vail Daily)

Whitney Brofos, 28, grew up in the Vail Valley, and she wanted to make her home here. But as she can attest, that isn't an easy goal.

Brofos works at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and had participated, unsuccessfully, in the Vail housing lottery. Last spring, she grabbed an application from The Valley Home Store. But she hadn't yet filled it out and was taking a break from home hunting when she was internet surfing one evening. That's when she saw a Miller Ranch condo listed for sale.

"I immediately jumped out of bed and called my dad," Brofos said.

The following day, she attended an open house at the property and the actual unit lived up to its advertising. So Brofos took out that application and got to work.

The Valley Home Store application asks for information about Eagle County employment and residency with an associated point system rewarding long-time residency.

"I wanted to get every point I possibly could," Brofos said. With that goal, she eventually went to Avon Elementary School to get transcripts to back up her long-time local claim.

"I came in hot, with everything ready to go," she said. Her commitment paid off. She made one of nine offers on the property and eventually purchased her condo for $215,798.

"I got a really good deal. The timing was perfect," Brofos said.

While Miller Ranch's affordability is what first attracted Brofos, she has come to embrace the downvalley lifestyle. She describes Miller Ranch as a young professionals community, and she and her boyfriend have enjoyed exploring what Edwards has to offer.

"There are a lot of perks here with recreation and restaurants," she said.

Her experience at Miller Ranch has made Brofos a deed-restriction believer.

"Deed-restricted homes gave me an opportunity," she said. "I think a lot of people my age give up on the idea of buying a home. But it is possible. I hope people know there is an option."

Soon to be three

Two years ago, Taylor and Dan Chavez purchased the condo that Brofos now owns.

"At the time, it was just a really good deal. We didn't want to pay someone else's mortgage when we could pay our own," said Dan Chavez, a Minturn native.

The Chavezes were happily settled in the two-bedroom condo unit, but with a baby on the way, the couple kept their eyes on the Miller Ranch availability list. When they saw a three-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex pop up, they jumped.

"We are pretty fortunate to have good jobs in the community, and we have been very diligent about saving," Dan Chavez said.

They purchased the duplex for $357,000, and they look forward to raising baby Chavez at Miller Ranch.

"If you come here at Halloween, the neighborhood just speaks for itself," Dan Chavez said. The couple said they handed out almost 800 pieces of candy that night.

"This feels like a real neighborhood, and that can be hard to find," Taylor Chavez said.

"You actually see your neighbors on a daily basis here. It is just a cool community," Dan Chavez said.

Staying put

The Stroker family in front of their single-family Miller Ranch home in Edwards. Rachael, middle, says the valley needs more deed-restricted developments to keep living here viable for people. (Chris Dillmann | Vail Daily)

Rachael and Tommy Stroker were the previous owners of the Chavez duplex.

"We bought the duplex preconstruction, almost 13 years ago," Rachael Stroker said. "We were one of the original owners. There are a handful of us who have been here since the beginning. It's a great neighborhood."

Back in 2004, when the Strokers purchased the duplex, the local housing market was climbing and so were prices.

"Miller Ranch was affordable. You could get a house for your price without being a slave to your mortgage," Stroker said.

But even as a seller, Stroker remains a proponent of deed-restricted pricing. The Strokers would have made more money selling their duplex on the open market, but the family likely couldn't have afforded an Edwards residence comparable to the 2,200-square-foot, single-family home they recently purchased. The Strokers paid $533,000 for their new home, which includes a finished basement with a fourth bedroom.

"What good is the open market if you can't break into it?" Stroker said. "We could have afforded a house on the open market, but we still need to eat."

Stroker hopes to see more neighborhoods like Miller Ranch as Eagle County continues to grapple with its housing needs. As a small-business owner, Stroker sees how difficult it has become to find employees because workers, in turn, can't find places to live. "With a housing crisis comes a labor crisis, and we need a workforce to support the community," she said.

And Stroker is a strong community advocate. As a seasoned Edwards dweller, Stroker said her family enjoys being within walking distance of locals stores and restaurants, as well as parks, recreation and the river.

"I really feel Miller Ranch sets the gold standard of what makes a good neighborhood," she said.

To purchase a Miller Ranch property, prospective buyers must submit a completed application to be included on the neighborhood's master buyer list. To learn more, call 970-328-8778 or 970-328-8775 or visit http://www.valleyhomestore.org.

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