Like other seasonal and tourist-driven housing markets, Vail faces significant housing challenges, specifically in regard to availability and affordability. There are about 7,200 dwelling units in the town of Vail, of which about 4,800 are categorized as vacant, unoccupied dwelling units (i.e., second homes/vacation properties). The remaining 2,400 dwelling units are occupied by Vail’s permanent population of 5,305 year-round residents.
Real estate transaction sales data collected by the town’s Housing Department demonstrates that 90 percent of sales from locally owned homes end up purchased by a second home/vacation property owner. Data further demonstrates that due to gentrification and increases in value, second homes and vacation properties are rarely, if ever, affordable for purchase by local residents. As such, local wage earners—including teachers, firefighters, health care professionals, utility workers, municipal employees, business owners, and resort workers—cannot compete financially in this housing market.
In response, the Vail Town Council and the Vail Local Housing Authority demonstrated bold leadership and collaboration on the creation and eventual implementation of the Vail InDEED program.
Vail InDEED is an innovative deed restriction purchase program aimed at protecting and preserving existing homes in the community for occupancy by local residents. Much like an agricultural conservation easement protects and preserves the continued use of a property for agricultural purposes, the Vail InDEED program protects and preserves existing homes in the community from conversion to vacation homes through the recording of a deed restriction that limits occupancy to local residents. Through this program, the Vail Local Housing Authority can use taxpayer funds to purchase deed restrictions on behalf of the Vail community. In doing so, the program positively influences affordability and availability and builds community in a uniquely different way.
The Vail Housing 2027 Strategic Plan was adopted in 2017. The plan set a lofty housing goal of acquiring 1,000 new deed restrictions by the year 2027. A number of specific actions were identified to realize the goal, with the VailInDEED program being the most impactful. Since inception, a total of 134 net new deed restrictions have been acquired by the Vail community. This is a 28 percent increase in the total number of deed-restricted homes in Vail and the single largest increase in the history of the community. As a result, an estimated 271 Vail residents have been assured of the availability and affordability of homes in the community. This has all been accomplished with no development risk to the Vail taxpayer and no opposition or NIMBYism due to increases in density, impacts to traffic, changes to neighborhood character, blocking of views, or other similar concerns often expressed by housing development opponents.