Ask a Realtor: Is buying a vacation home better than renting one? (column) |

Ask a Realtor: Is buying a vacation home better than renting one? (column)

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: I can afford to buy a second home somewhere in the Vail Valley but cannot actually calculate out that it makes economic sense. My family of four usually comes twice in the summer and three or more times in the winter for about a week each time.

I figure with what we pay on a great rental, and what it would cost to buy something nice ($1.5 million minimum?), I could keep our normal pattern and stay easily for 35-plus years for the same amount of money it would cost to buy. I doubt I will be coming that long anyway. My wife says I am being too analytical, but I seem to be stuck on the “facts” of the situation. Can you tell her I am making perfect sense?

— Practical

Dear Practical: I think you missed a few things in the financial analysis and several things in the aesthetic analysis. First of all, you did not figure that your purchase would actually be an investment where you might easily get your money back when you sold, and there is the possibility that the value of your investment could very likely go up.

It could, of course, conceivably go down some in value, too, but not to zero, which is what you get back from renting for years. Also, if your own, you can block out your dates and then have a rental management company rent it out the times you are not using it and possibly defray all of your dues, taxes and assessments over the years.

My husband and I do that with a rental we have in a beach resort, and we have actually made money some years after all the expenses and taxes are paid. And the unit you want will not be booked when you want it, and if you choose to raise the rent, you will make more money, not pay more money.

I believe the part your wife is talking about is the warm feeling you and your family will have looking forward to returning to your very own “home.” The joy of owning property in our valley is something you will take pride in all seasons and all year long. You may very well find you come more often, at very little added expense.

Please talk to a knowledgeable Realtor who can actually run some rental numbers for you to look at, and then you can accurately determine what works for everyone in your family. Best of luck to you.

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. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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