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Ask a broker: Build or buy?

What is the advantage of constructing your dream home versus purchasing one?

Brooke Horan-Kates and Aaron Rabins
On Real Estate
Sitting on over 2 acres, this beautiful home site for $349,000 at 411 Pine Marten in the Summit of Cordillera is a must-see. Flat and easy to build, this home site offers tremendous views to Castle Peak and takes advantage of all-day sun, all while backing up to the Jack Nicklaus golf course.
Special to the Daily

Answer: With a serious lack of inventory, we’re seeing a lot of people elect to buy land and build their dream home. In Vail proper, lots are extremely limited. You might find a few bigger parcels for sale further west, but the majority of land that’s left here in the valley is located in Cordillera.

Aaron Rabins
Brooke Horan-Kates

The first thing a buyer needs to be aware of before they start looking at land is understanding the type of land they want to buy. With larger parcels in Eagle County, buyers have a lot more freedom to build what they want within Eagle County guidelines. If you are buying in a planned unit development, there are going to be more restrictions and an established set of rules and guidelines.

Expect to be required to submit your architectural plans to a design and review board. You may also be required to pay dues to the PUD. On the plus side, lots located within a PUD are going to be more reasonably priced and there’s quite a bit more land available in established subdivisions and planned developments. Some people who come to Eagle County have an idea of what they want to build, but when they end up in a PUD, they have to shift their expectations a bit.



Since the beginning of COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge increase in the sheer number of people wanting to buy, and the amount of money they’re willing to spend has increased. We’ve seen people who started looking at beginning of summer at one price point and eventually realize they need to spend more to get what they want because they really want to be here.

Lot 8 at 782 Granite Springs, an end of cul-de-sac location in the Summit at Cordillera’s premier neighborhood, offers 2.83 acres and enormous Gore Range views and old-growth trees for $425,000. Approved plans for a lovely home are included, as is a second conceptual design for the property.
Bjorn Bauer/ Special to the Daily

At the same time, people are getting more creative about ways to buy, whether that means going in on a place with extended family or friends or looking further out of town where they can have more space. It used to be that land sales would slow down in the winter, but not this year. Many buyers are even purchasing lots sight unseen.



It’s important to understand all that is involved with designing and building a home. Plan for the whole process to take a year to 18 months. Make sure you’re working with a reputable architect and builder.

It’s also important to have an experienced broker who can help you find the best location and know what locations may come with extra roadblocks or hurdles. An experienced broker can advise you on technical details like what type of survey you should request in an offer, who to call to obtain a soils report, whether there are water rights, etc. With the right broker and the right team, you can build your dream home.

With over a decade of real estate experience, Brooke Horan-Kates and Aaron Rabins work out of the Cordillera office of Slifer Smith & Frampton as a broker team. They specialize in Cordillera and Eagle Ranch but work and serve clients all throughout the Vail Valley. The team recently partnered up with Pam Horan-Kates, offering a combined 40+ years of real estate expertise.


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