Vail Daily column: Is it time to downsize? |

Vail Daily column: Is it time to downsize?

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

My parents live in the Vail Valley in a large home, and we three adult children have been talking to them about downsizing. Our parents have their master bedroom upstairs and they also have a finished basement. They say they really don’t need their big house anymore, but then they turn around and say how great it is when we all come home together with their grandchildren, which is very seldom now. Although our parents are both in good health, we think that this is a great time for them to make their move and find something with a main floor master and not have so many stairs to contend with. Do you see this happening a lot in the valley as the Baby Boomers age but still want to stay in the area? Any words of advice to encourage them to make their move now?

Dear Adult Children,

Being from the same era as your parents, I will not have any trouble giving my opinion to you on your verbal encouragement to move, main floor masters, stairs and finding suitable smaller accommodations. I would like to ask how much you enjoy suggestions now (and in the past) from your parents about how to direct your lives, where to live and when to move? Although you believe your intentions are good, your parents seem very capable of making their own decisions and probably prefer to do so. I am sure they love and enjoy their home and their life the way it is and do not have a good enough reason to give up what pleasures them right now. As a Realtor, I have done a needs assessment with some potential sellers only to discover they actually already have exactly what they like and want.

About Main Floor Masters

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Main floor masters are now a popular request for buyers of all ages. In the past, especially on steeper terrain, it was popular to build an upstairs master suite (look at most of the homes in Beaver Creek) to be able to get the square footage desired in all of the other rooms. The convenience of the main floor master is now considered desirable and is now advertised as a selling point in homes. We have not had a lot of ranch-style homes built here, in the higher end properties, in the past.

My opinion of stairs is that they are good for you. If you don’t climb stairs, then very often as you grow older, you will not be able to without assistance at some point in your life. I remember a story about Swedish female twins that lived into their 90s. One lived in a three-story home and stayed mobile and active until she died and the other lived on one level and ended up feeble and unable to get around without a wheelchair. This may have been a fluke or a telling tale.

‘Not Too Big’

Lastly, hopefully the builders in the valley are listening to this message. We do get requests everyday for homes that have main floor masters and homes that are “not too big.” Now “not too big” is a very relative term. You mentioned that your parents home was “large.” Is that 3,000 square feet, 5,000 square feet or 7,000 square feet? The request we get for homes that are “not too large” usually are for homes that are 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. It is delightful to see new homes sprouting up all around our valley this year. Hopefully, we will be having many new homes that will give your parents choices when they are ready to consult with a knowledgeable Realtor about their plans for a change in the future. Have a great spring!

Joan Harned is an owner-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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