Vail Daily column: Has the time to buy passed by? |

Vail Daily column: Has the time to buy passed by?

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan,

As a quasi-Millennial, I have been very content as a renter, enjoying my feeling of freedom to move anywhere, at any time. All of a sudden I realize I have now been in the valley for six years and have no desire or need to move any place else.

Like everyone says, I “came for the winters and have stayed for the summers.” I travel some, but I am always glad to get back home. Now that I am admitting that I will probably be here for the rest of my active adult life, I wish I would have bought a property instead of renting all these years but I feel my opportunity for a good deal, or even anything I can afford, has passed me by. Any suggestions?

Dear Reluctant Renter,

At least you figured out that you wanted to stay and are tired of paying rent earlier than some of the longtime locals here. We have known many people that have been here over 20 years and are still renting. As you have noticed, rents are going up dramatically as inventory goes down, and I believe there will be many more valley residents feeling that it is time, or past time, to see about owning their own home.

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As always, my first recommendation is to find knowledgeable Realtor who will help you start the process of getting pre-qualified with a lender. This is important so that you are able to determine what you can afford and you are able to move quickly when a property that fits your needs and your pocketbook comes on the market.

Notice I said “needs” and “pocketbook,” not “wants.” My point is that you need to get your foot in the door on ownership in this valley and it may be far from your dream home when you purchase your first property. Our first condo in the valley would qualify at a “tiny home” these days. It was old, in poor shape and under 500 square feet, but it was ours, and we had a ton of fun there. We nearly doubled our money when we sold it and then we had a good start to purchase the next property.

If you start this pre-qualification process and the lender you speak to says you cannot qualify yet, then find out exactly what you have to do to improve your financial status — pay off credit cards, get a more affordable vehicle, pay off any lingering debt, etc. Often, with guidance, you can get ready in six months if you are not qualified now, and you know how fast six months goes.

When you are pre-qualified for a specific loan amount, have your Realtor start to show you everything in the valley that you could afford, even if it requires a drive or bus ride to work. If you need more down payment, work with your lender and find out about Eagle County’s down payment assistance program and/or speak to your family to see about a one-time financial gift. It is my opinion that it is worth whatever effort it takes to get your foot in the door on home ownership in Eagle County. 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, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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