Ask a Vail Realtor: How do you work your way up to your perfect home? (column) |

Ask a Vail Realtor: How do you work your way up to your perfect home? (column)

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: I never thought I would be one of those people who rent forever. However, I have now been in the Vail Valley for five years and I find I still have not been able to find anything I like, in an area I like, for a price I can afford to pay.

I am beginning to feel a little panicky, as I see prices only continue to rise, not to mention my rent is going to have another increase this winter. What is the answer to this dilemma? I know I am not the only one feeling this crunch because my friends talk about it all the time, too. If there is a way out of this conundrum, then please point me in the right direction.

— Panicky

Dear Panicky: You and your friends are having feelings and experiences that are being felt in many places in the nation. According to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, we are in the seventh year of an up-cycle in low unemployment and rising home prices.

In this cycle of economic growth, Yun points out that renter households have increased by 20 percent and home ownership has only increased 0.3 percent nationwide. Yun says the reason for these statistics is the housing “affordability crisis” and the lack of residential new construction. Sound familiar?

Let’s stop here. Talking about the problem is not the route to the solution. There is a path I can point you toward that will get you out of your conundrum, if you are truly motivated and are willing to focus on your end goal. You will not be surprised that I first suggest you find a great (not just good) Realtor who will spend the time with you to help you find your first “foot in the door” property. This takes a mind shift by you to think of your first purchase as an “investment” and the willingness to live in a location and property that you might consider “less than perfect,” for a minimum of two years.

After two years, you can consult with your great Realtor and certified public accountant and consider selling and using the equity you have hopefully made to move up to your next purchases, getting closer to your end goal. There are a lot of variations to this formula that your Realtor can present for your own personal preference.

You are lucky to live in this valley because “less than perfect” in your mind is still pretty darn nice compared to a lot of other places in the nation. You might even discover a part of the valley that you had not discovered before, and you might learn that you can live and enjoy a slightly different environment.

Our first home in the valley was less than 500 square feet, was extremely old and barely had the basics, but we had so much fun there with all of our friends; we cherish the memories. I hope you are able to make this decision to find a new mindset so you can start your journey toward great economic rewards now and later in your life. All the best.

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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