They Say You Can’t Have it All

Thursday, May 17, 2018   /   by Megan Luther

They Say You Can’t Have it All

…but they are wrong!

You want a mountain retreat.

You want your money secured in a good investment.

You want to live/retire in a small town but be close to big-city life

You CAN have it ALL… in Grand County!  

Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, Granby and Grand Lake are not just a winter playland. Grand County living offers four-season activities…and it’s just a little over an hour away from Denver. 

With the recent development of Aspen Skiing Co and KSL Capital Partners acquiring Intrawest (the previous operators of the Winter Park Ski Resort - read more at, there has been a surge of interest in what Grand County has to offer.

Local realtor Parnell Quinn was raised in Grand County. As co-owner of The Simple Life Real Estate Company and on the City Board of Trustees for Fraser (the town adjacent and directly west of Winter Park), he’s more informed than most on the pulse of real estate in Grand County. 

“The excitement and optimism about Aspen taking over the mountain has started a surge of activity in the area, as evidenced by the amount of commercial and residential building we are experiencing,” said Quinn. “Right now the real estate inventory is low and we’re seeing an upward trend in pricing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals out there!”  

“Anyone looking to get in should start looking now…and be sure that they ask their realtor about any properties that are coming on the market and aren’t yet listed on Zillow, MLS, etc. Many times I’ll know of people thinking about selling but not quite ready to pull the trigger and list their property,making it a highly-desirable way to buy since you’re not competing to make the deal."

If you’re looking for a personal mountain retreat

Whether your passion is hitting the slopes, world-class fishing, golf or a remote, quiet get away, Grand County has just what you’re looking for. 

There are affordable single family homes, condos, townhomes and plenty of land to build on.

Your perfect property may be in the communities of Grand Elk or Rendezvous. Or maybe you’d like to be close to running water, or within walking distance of everything, then Old Town might be for you. Or, your choice might be to live right on the slope with ski in/out accessibility at places like Iron Horse. Talk to an area realtor – they know what’s available and can give you guidance on which community, neighborhood or development might best fit your needs.

If you’re looking for a good investment

Rachel Bach, Director of Partner Development at the Winter Park Lodging Company says vacation rentals are projected to hit nearly $37 billion this year. (Source: Phocuswright 2017: A Market Transformed: Private Accommodation in the U.S.) 

Bach notes, “Vacation rentals tend to offer more space and a better value over hotels/motels especially since many people prefer to travel in groups or with family members. On the Front Range, many opt for private rentals over hotels, so having a property that you can both use personally and rent makes a lot of sense.”

If the idea of renting your own property is appealing, you may consider using on-line listing sites. Pros of internet-based websites like Airbnb or VRBO include:

  • Greater profit for you: These services generally charge 7-15% to handle the booking process.
  • Ease of booking for the visitor.
  • More easily found by people who don’t know you and who may be from outside Metro Denver.
  • Visitors can see a greater variety of properties and choose what they want/need

But as good as this all sounds – you still need to consider what may be the downside of investments in rental vacation properties if you don’t use a booking firm:

  • You will need to get someone to clean and inspect the property each time it’s rented
  • You have to have someone available for problems that may arise (think about guests who get locked out or the water heater goes out)
  • You have to interact with your renters and run background checks/approve them and also get them the information they need

Don’t let these factors stop you though. Local property and vacation rental management companies can take the pain out of your gain!

Quinn points out, “Several owners that I know use nightly rental companies for those times when they knew they wouldn’t be utilizing their properties. To their surprise, they found that not only could they rent it out to skiers in the winter but that there was high demand in the summer from bikers and area festival attendees. They have a year-round income stream if they want it!” (Winter Park holds a number of events in the summer like the Blues from the Top and Switchback Festivals and is on the Ride the Rockies route - CLICK HERE for a link to the event schedule). 
Property managers can take care of everything from advertising to bookings, collecting monies and reporting taxes, to maintenance and cleaning. These management companies are usually staffed by local folks who have a long history of customers who come back year-after-year, know the area and who to call if there are problems.

The average charge for their services is 30-55% of each booking. (But, talk to your financial advisor, as these fees may be deductible.)  Remember too that local property management companies know the nuances of the market and the good ones adjust nightly rental rates on a weekly, or even daily basis, to adjust for special events and demand. This flexibility may allow for higher owner return overall. 

You will also want to check on how properties are advertised/shown. Usually there is a “rotation” so you’ll also want to confirm how they handle their first time call-in customers.

When researching companies, make sure to ask to see their historical data on similar properties, ask to talk with current owners and find out how maintenance fees and damages are handled.

Bach suggests, “Act like a guest and Google each company you are considering.  Check out their websites, guest reviews, etc.  You can find out a lot about a company by doing a little “spy work” before hiring them!”  

You’re just tired of big city living

From the time it takes you to drive from the southwest side of Denver to Aurora, you could be in Grand County! 

For those who are tired of traffic, people, noise, etc. this may be the answer! Live close…but still away from it all. 

Grand County offers that perfect mix for almost everyone. Plenty to do outdoors and that homegrown feel a close-knit community can provide.

There are plenty of restaurants to try - from the fine dining at Tabernash Tavern and Devil’s Thumb, to quirky and delicious Pepe Osaka’s Fish Tacos and Fontenot’s Seafood and Grill (think New Orleans comes to the mountains!); plus great “pies” from Hernandos and Elevation Pizza.  There are places to buy your all your provisions - choose from three grocery stores or Murdoch’s Ranch Supply for clothing, pet items and sporting goods. There are area dentists, vets, family doctors, printers, gas stations, car repair facilities, gift shops, recreational facilities…there is even a free, year-round bus that runs daily to shuttle you back and forth between Granby and Winter Park.

And, for those thinking retirement - you don’t need to worry about the traditional “small town” problems of things like medical facilities either - Granby’s Middle Park Medical Center/Hospital is a Level IV trauma center (with 12 minute access by air to Denver General, if needed!)

Grand County has everything you need…and nothing you don’t!  You truly can “have it all”!