Vail Daily column: Is building better than buying? |

Vail Daily column: Is building better than buying?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

We have been looking for what seems to be the impossible dream. We think our wants and needs for a home are very simple, but we have been unable to find exactly what we want, even though we have greatly increased our price range. So we are now considering building a home. Our search has gone on for two years and now we are very serious about getting what we want as soon as possible. Our Realtor originally told us not to build, as it would most assuredly cost us more than buying an existing home. Do you think that is true? What do you recommend?

Dear Impossible Dream,

I think you have hit upon some interesting trends in our real estate market. First, it was true that you could very often buy a home for less than it would cost to buy a lot, pay an architect, pay tap fees, hire a builder and then choose all the finishes, appliances, etc., plus do all the landscaping. This year, prices have gone up on homes but have not gone up on lots nearly as fast, in most cases. With a skilled, competent builder, it is worth looking at building again in today’s economy. Now would be an excellent time to go lot shopping if you are unable to find the home you love.

Although homeowners come to the mountains for views and solitude, there is a new trend for more urban living for the millennial generation.

Another trend is one I have been noticing for several years. We do not have much inventory that fits the needs of some of today’s buyers. For instance, baby boomers that prefer main floor living, with the master and an office and another bedroom on the main level, often search in vain in some of our high-end communities in the mountains. The terrain near the slopes often dictates multiple levels. The homes that are located in the golf course communities from Arrowhead and Singletree on west down to Eagle and Gypsum, where the valley widens and flattens some, more often have the more ranch-style home design. The next generation of new homes will take into consideration factors such as main floor living, energy efficiency, mountain contemporary styles, low maintenance and more.

The last trend I would like to mention is that although homeowners come to the mountains for views and solitude, there is a new trend for more urban living for the millennial generation. This is going to affect in-fill building in our small towns and probably help the retail business as well. I would suggest continuing to have your competent, knowledgeable Realtor inform you on what homes come on the market daily, but start looking at lots as well. Then your Realtor should be able to give you two or three builders’ names so that you can explore the costs and process of building. I wish you all the best in your search. It will be fun to see what new look we may have in the next 10 years in our all important housing market in this valley.

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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