Sales at Miller Ranch in Edwards on the rise | VailDaily.com
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Sales at Miller Ranch in Edwards on the rise

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
A quiet Miller Ranch neighborhood street is seen during the summer. Local leaders say that another affordable housing project such as Miller Ranch won't be possible without some unconventional ideas and intergovernmental cooperation.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

Closings in Miller Ranch by year

2006: 21

2007-2010: Between 25 and 29 per year

2011: 12

2013: 32

2014: 24

2015: 15 to date

Source: Valley Home Store

EDWARDS — During the past few years in Edwards’ Miller Ranch, home sales were rare. Homes in the deed-restricted neighborhood sat on the market for a couple of years at a time, or in the case of last fall, there were no homes for sale at all — that is, until now.

This spring, listings and sales have boomed in Miller Ranch. There have been 15 sales so far this year, with that number expected to reach at least 20 in the next few weeks. Kim Williams of the Valley Home Store, which manages sales in the neighborhood, said she wouldn’t be surprised to see 30 transactions by the end of the summer, which would make 2015 among the biggest years for sales. Further, the number of interested buyers has skyrocketed, with 108 potential buyers in line for a home in early May. It has turned into such a seller’s market that homes will get three full-priced offers sight unseen within a day of listing,

The market roller coaster



As with the rest of the real estate economy, things haven’t always been headed upward. When the affordable housing project first went for sale in the mid-2000s, locals were clamoring to purchase, so much so that there was a lottery and points system, with preference given to people who lived and worked in the area and fell into a certain income range, among other factors.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, many homes went for sale, and a number of people were able to purchase homes in the neighborhood for very low prices. In general, homes were sold with one buyer and one seller, without much need for a waiting list.



Then, beginning in 2011, Miller Ranch saw a huge dip in buyers.

“There were so many options in the open market, and many people didn’t want a deed-restricted place,” Williams said. “In the last four years, I used to say that I couldn’t have given houses away.”

However, beginning in summer 2014, more buyers began to show interest, although listings took awhile to catch up. Suddenly this spring, a number of Miller Ranch condos went on the market, matched by even more buyers.



“This time of year is the locals market, after the ski season. I knew it was coming, but it surprises me how fast we got here. It just happened overnight this spring. Suddenly buyers had to scramble and act quickly,” Williams said.

Prices are starting to climb up, too, although there is still a wide range of sale prices available. Appreciation values are capped at 3 to 6 percent per year based on the wage index in Miller Ranch.

“It’s the sign of a moving market, which is good for the sellers,” Williams added.

Growing families

The flurry of activity also means that many buyers, especially families looking for duplexes or single-family homes, have been turned away. The biggest chunk of Miller Ranch homes are condos, and those are the majority of what is on the market right now, said Williams.

Luke and Elisha Wegner, who have owned a condo in Miller Ranch for two and a half years, were looking for a bigger home to accommodate their growing family. With a 1-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and a dog, the 750-square-foot condo was getting cramped.

They put in a full-priced offer for a Miller Ranch duplex that was right in their price range, but they were among six other full offers. As per Miller Ranch regulations, the sale then went to a lottery, meaning the points system then was taken into consideration. The Wegners were third in the lottery, and their condo neighbors, also a growing family, ended up winning the bid for the duplex.

PICK AND CHOOSE

In the end, the Wegners ended up buying an open-market townhome in Eagle. As for their Miller Ranch condo, it was under contract for the asking price two days after being listed.

“We would have loved to stay, but on the other hand, I am thankful to be out of deed restriction,” said Elisha Wegner, who says that moving away from the neighborhood is bittersweet. “We’re moving to a place that’s more than double the square footage with an attached garage. We’re not getting a yard, which is a bummer, but I feel like you have to pick and choose what you can have in this valley.”

That situation is a common one as families are growing, Williams said.

“A lot of the potential buyers are only interested in the bigger homes. The problem is there are only about 64 single-family homes, and those already have the families in them that are growing, so there’s not a lot of turnover,” she said, adding that it’s something to take into consideration for future affordable housing projects. “If we do a Miller Ranch again, we’ll focus on that. We’re watching families grow, but where do they go from here?”

‘STEPPING STONE’

The advantage of the situation is that many Miller Ranch families who were unable to buy a bigger place in the neighborhood are now finding homes in the open market. Williams called owning a deed-restricted home a “stepping stone” for locals, something that Elisha Wegner said she agrees with.

“Miller Ranch allowed us to get our foot in the door for owning a place,” she said. “I don’t think we would have been able to afford what we bought otherwise.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.


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