Vail Daily column: Is this the right time for a spec home? |

Vail Daily column: Is this the right time for a spec home?

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan,

I am, or was, a builder in our valley, for many years. I got caught with a big spec home when the market dropped and it has been a slow recovery since that happened. I have built just two homes, for specific clients, in the past seven years.

I am not sure if I have totally lost my mind, but I am now thinking about building another spec home this spring/summer. I would love to hear you say I am doing the right thing, but I will listen if you tell me I am crazy and will loose my shirt … again! Thanks.

Dear Sane and Well,

I think you could be doing the perfect thing in our economic climate, depending upon, of course, location, quality and price point. Our inventory of homes is low, making it a seller’s market, and we have almost no new product.

There is something about a brand new home that always attracts many buyers. I wish we had a large inventory of new homes right now, as I think the market is ready and actually eager for new product.

To buy or Build

In the past eight or nine years, it has been much cheaper to buy an existing home than actually build one from scratch. The land prices did drop, but tap fees, architecture and engineering, materials and labor costs never dropped very much, compared to the drop the housing market took. I think it is now possible to at least come close to the prices of existing homes in the less than $1 million range and there is pent up demand if you can build and sell for less than $600,000.

If you choose to go ahead and build, then my advice is that you get together with your knowledgeable, hard working, well connected Realtor and discuss the important items to ensure a quick and profitable sale. There are basic floor plan designs that appeal to a large percentage of today’s buyers, as well as finishes and pricing strategies that are necessary to ensure your success.

Sidestep Expensive Costs

The must haves are not necessarily expensive, but they are very costly if you don’t have them and the buyers pass you by because you missed the mark. With the proper plan, your Realtor can often get your home under contract prior to completion, which would allow you to skip any time delays and expensive carrying costs.

Your Realtor might even find a buyer for the next home you can build, while selling the first one. I am excited you are working on getting back into the business. Talk to your Realtor today and we will be watching the MLS for your new home.

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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