Ask a Realtor: Is it better to rent than to buy to maintain my prime location? (column) |

Ask a Realtor: Is it better to rent than to buy to maintain my prime location? (column)

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: I am a renter in Vail and have a great location with a very reasonable rent because I have been here so long. My landlord really likes me and has not raised my rent in years. My question is, I have enough money to buy a small condo mid-valley or a home with a yard downvalley for myself, but I am thinking that maybe I am better off staying where I am, in this great location.

I could not afford to buy the place I am renting if it did go up for sale. So, maybe I should just enjoy it and buy stocks or bonds or mutual funds or maybe income property. I still love to ski, among other outdoor activities, so location really does matter to me. Thanks for any pearls of wisdom to think about.

— Undecided

Dear Undecided: The first part of this answer is easy: It is almost always best to quit being a renter and become a homeowner. Your primary residence is the best first step to personal wealth made by most everyone who can afford to do it in America. Don't forget, your landlord could sell to someone else or, heaven forbid, he could die, and your rent could skyrocket or your place not be available to rent any more, at any price.

“You are never in control of your own destiny as a renter, and you are always making your landlord’s payments and/or setting up his retirement.”

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You are never in control of your own destiny as a renter, and you are always making your landlord's payments and/or setting up his retirement. Now, on to location and lifestyle.

You may be surprised, but many downvalley property owners also ski. If you are not ski in/ski out, then does it matter if you have to drive 15 to 30 minutes more? I know taking the bus is a great solution, but that can be done from all over the valley now, as well. You mentioned other outdoor activities. Do you know they are bike riding and golfing at the other end of the valley right now?

Life is full of tradeoffs

Life is always a series of tradeoffs, I like to say, whether it is with a personal relationship, work, investments or location for living. My best suggestion for you is to have your trusted, knowledgeable Realtor show you what you can get for your money, at numerous locations in the valley and then re-evaluate, looking at the financial, aesthetic and lifestyle possibilities of all locations.

If you conclude that you still need to be in your current fabulous location, then you can always hedge your bets. You could find a property suitable for you to live in but buy it for an investment for now and just rent it out, so someone else is making your payments, while you are making your landlord's payments. That way, if your current location sells, or the rent is substantially increased, then you will have a place to go that you can enjoy, and that will at least be partially paid for. Good luck with your decision.

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