Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Road to Verrado - Part 2

So ... we weren't going to be building our dream home in Verrado. We just left it at that.

We didn't make any plans for a new house, and decided to just renew our lease when it expires in early 2010.

Then, in May we got an e-mail announcing a new builder in Verrado - Monterey Homes. We were intrigued, as all but one builder in Verrado had pulled out. And we didn't like any of the homes the other builder offered.

We visited Monterey's new model home that weekend, and really liked it. But still had no plans to build any time soon.

In the meantime, I had signed up to receive e-mail notifications of homes that went up for sale in Verrado. So that went on for a few weeks ... and I typically ignored the e-mails.

But one day ... it happened. The gorgeous, highly-upgraded, across from a park in the "main street" area of Verrado model home for the house we originally wanted to build was FOR SALE! I knew this home well ... I'd been to it countless times. And it was available!

I contacted the realtor who had been sending me the listings ... I contacted a mortgage broker and got us pre-qualified ... and within a couple of days, we made an offer. The house was drawing a lot of attention, and so there were multiple bids. Within a couple of days, we were told to make our "highest and best offer." So we upped our offer as much as we could ... and waited.

We knew it was a long shot ... and Jonathan proclaimed that when the deal didn't work out, we were NOT house hunting. I agreed, and we waited.

Long-story-short: we were outbid and the dream to own that gorgeous house ended. As did our house search ... or so we thought.

From that point on, we paid closer attention to those e-mails coming in that announced new listings in Verrado. They were all "short sales" and foreclosures at amazingly low prices. So low, in fact, that as soon as they came on the market, people were submitting bids - sight unseen! A home very similar to the model home we wanted came on the market ... but there were immediate bids on it, so we didn't bother.

Twice, we braved 100+ degree temps to look at a few houses. Nothing really made us want to submit an offer, and besides ... we just couldn't keep up with the rush of offers.

An example of what kind of deals are in Verrado right now: We visited on small home, about 1,900 square feet. Nothing at all special about this home - even the back yard was minuscule. Back in 2004 when it was built, the house sold for $414,000. When it went on the market as a short sale a few weeks ago, it was listed at just $161,000 (and the previous homeowners took out ALL the doorknobs, the thermostat, the stove, microwave and the garbage disposal). We didn't really care for the house, and didn't even consider bidding on it. But ... wow ... that is a $253,000 price difference in a matter of just a few years!

So, after seeing a few homes in our price range in Verrado, we decided our best option all the way around was to just build a new house. And the builder was offering some amazing incentives:

1. 6% cash back at closing if we used their preferred lender (which covers nearly all of our closing costs, and lots of upgrades!)

2. A free washer and dryer (wooohooooo! That's what I'm talkin' about!)

3. 1/2 off the lot premium (and we picked a fabulous corner lot across from a park, and with mountain views!).

4. A $50 gas card (which came in very handy today!)

And let's not forget that interest rates are still very low!

Honestly, the only downside is that we don't qualify for that $8,000 tax credit that is currently being offered to "first time home buyers." To qualify, you can't have owned a house in the past three years. And we have.

So we signed the contract on 7/11 and construction will likely start in the next couple of weeks! Currently, we expect the house to be finished in November some time (the longer the process takes, the better, as our lease in the house we're in runs through January 31).

Stay tuned! :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Crib

Okay, the crib isn't shrinking - Christian is growing! I peeked into his room to check on him, and found his legs sticking out like this. What a kid!

For now, we have no immediate plans to transition him to a "big boy bed." He's still a lil' guy and needs to confines of the crib. And so do we. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Road to Verrado - Part 1

The road to Verrado is called "Verrado Way." No, really. When you're driving on I-10, you get off on "Verrado Way" to drive into Verrado.

But, that is not the "road to Verrado" I'm referring to. I'm referring to our journey to buy a house in Verrado.

As I previously mentioned, my dream of Verrado started in 2003. The actual road to Verrado started just about a year ago when we signed a 1.5 year lease at our current house. The plan was to spend a year recovering from such a quick move to Arizona (because, wow! It was a lot of work!), and six months to build a home.

We found a builder we liked and a home we loved. We weren't in a rush to build ... we had just moved and were content where we were. But when I visited the model home (yet once again) in April, I was told the builder was ceasing operations - the economy and crashing real estate market in the Phoenix area were to blame. I was crushed! She told us of two options 1) Buy a resale home at a later day (this particular model was, after all, the most popular home in Verrado) 2) Buy the pricey spec home they still had available.

Option 1 was a possibility - sometime in the future. Option 2 wasn't an option. We weren't ready to buy a home, and weren't ready to pay the price they wanted.

So we gave up the dream. And it hurt. But, we recalled how blessed we are to have actually sold our house in Santa Fe last year rather quickly ... and how blessed we were to be renting a house rather than: 1) Owning a home in the Phoenix area which had lost most of it's value and 2) losing a house due to foreclosure, as so many people in our community had been (as you may have heard, the Phoenix-area real estate market crashed HARD ... one of the hardest crashes in the country).

We considered ourselves blessed and content ... and just moved on with our life. In the meantime, we paid off all my credit cards, which is an AMAZING feeling ... I highly recommend doing it yourself. And I highly recommend you read Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover." Seriously ... go out and buy it or check it out at your local library - and READ IT!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of "The Road to Verrado." :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Haboob Season!

Yep, you heard me right - it's HABOOB SEASON?

"What's a 'haboob'"?

Thanks for asking!

"Haboob" is the Middle Eastern Term for a sandstorm. We've had three haboobs in the past three days. Happily, we were home during each of them and not out driving somewhere.

"Why not call it a 'sandstorm'?" Well, I could ... but I think saying "habbob" is way more fun. Don't you agree? :)

Check out Friday's haboob. I only wish I'd noticed it just a few moments earlier, so I could get a series of pictures of the haboob coming over the mountain: