Letter: Some advice for locals desperate for housing | VailDaily.com

Letter: Some advice for locals desperate for housing

I’ve read with interest in the Vail Daily about those who are desperately seeking home ownership in the valley. If you want to score a place in this hyper-competitive market, it will pay off to think a little differently.

Please let me share my home buying experience. A little over a year ago, I was gratefully living in employee housing in Vail, but, of course, I wanted a place of my own.

I had lost out on two attempts to buy a home via the town of Vail’s popular lottery system — and despite saving years for a substantial down payment, it still wasn’t enough to buy in the open market. I saw the dream of home ownership fade away. Prices were scaling upward at an unprecedented rate. 

I knew if I hadn’t taken action in a novel way, I’d be priced out of the market forever. That said, I had my heart set on a condominium in the coveted Sandstone neighborhood. I decided to compose a letter of inquiry. I hand-signed and enveloped each letter and taped every one on each door (more than 65) at this development. What did I have to lose?

To my surprise, I received three responses in 24 hours. I made an offer on one unit, negotiated a selling price with a gracious seller and his equally gracious broker, and two months later, I was a proud Vail homeowner. I still pinch myself today about how smoothly it went.

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I write this letter to encourage others to try the same method. Don’t wait for a place to come on the market — be proactive and pick a favorite home or condominium development. Write a personal letter to each of the respective owners. Tell them about yourself and what the valley means to you. Tell them what you’ve done for your communities. Be sincere and your words might resonate with someone ready to sell in an unconventional way. By doing so, you are in effect, creating your own market and leap-frogging the competition — one that may have deeper pockets than you do. 

There’s still hope in the current market to buy the home of your dreams. It just takes thinking a little differently. And don’t hesitate to take advantage of your town’s home-buying assistance programs. The town of Vail offers Vail InDEED — representing a sea change in how homes are purchased in the valley. Neighboring towns and Eagle County have their own programs. Personally, Vail InDEED helped tremendously, sending me across the finish line to home ownership in Vail, a world-class ski town and one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

Todd McDowell

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