Romer: Let’s welcome our second-home owners |

Romer: Let’s welcome our second-home owners

Local real estate trends reflect that we may be experiencing a permanent trend toward digital nomads and location-neutral workers being drawn to communities such as Eagle County. As a result, the local housing market has become more challenging to the Eagle County workforce.

It is incumbent upon both the private and public sector that we maintain our focus on providing community housing to ensure our workforce and community members can succeed in Eagle County. Vail’s InDeed and Avon’s Mi Casa programs are steps in the right direction, and Eagle County and others continue to focus on providing tools and incentives for local’s housing. These efforts should be applauded, and we should continue to pursue good housing policy that incentivizes extraordinary projects to fit our unique needs.

None of that changes the fact that housing will continue to be in demand on a global and national level. August and September of 2020 sequentially broke all-time dollar volume and sales transaction records, previously set in 2005, and over 60% of transactions were from people outside of Eagle County. Our housing has seen exponential increases in median sold price and significant increases in number of closed ssales in 2020 — all during a global pandemic.

Despite the work of our local housing advocates and local governments, based on 2020 trends, the Eagle County affordable housing market has unequivocally worsened. These trends are largely due to major lifestyle shifts after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic where families are suddenly increasingly local neutral and desire to get out of crowded cities, causing a significant migration to small mountain towns with more open spaces, smaller populations and a high quality of life.

Our local economy was deeply impacted when the first positive case of COVID-19 was identified in Eagle County back in March of 2020. We have rebounded and, by most measures, have turned the corner, yet there is still work to be done.

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Tourism accounts for nearly half of all jobs in Eagle County, and although the tourism dollars have largely returned, we still have a long road ahead to full and complete economic recovery and resiliency. We have the opportunity to leverage our community brand and assets to take advantage of the remote-work trend and the quality of life in Eagle County to welcome our second-home owner community to spend more time (and money) here, thus supporting our community and our businesses. This is complementary to the need to focus on workforce housing; these efforts work hand-in-hand to support our economy.

Thirty-eight percent of local housing units are vacant vacation homes that can be occupied. By working together to invite our second-home owners to live in Eagle County, we help rebuild our economy, support our businesses, and protect our way of life. Second-home owners are financially and emotionally invested in our communities and enjoy the same property rights as full-time residents. Welcoming these property owners to “Come Here, Live Here, Stay Here” will boost local spending and help continue to revitalize and energize our economy — and our community.

Vail Valley Partnership has released an updated version of the Welcome Home Campaign toolkit, a collection of graphics and messages that invite our second-home owners to relocate to Eagle County. We encourage the local business community to use these campaigns to connect with second-home owners and help lead our community toward a new definition of sustainable, long-term economic health. This is our time to come together and send a message from our community to our second-home owners: Welcome Home.

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