Friday, May 24, 2013

Arizona House Tour

My husband and I have officially been Washington residents for three months now, which also means we have been renters for 3 months. I miss home ownership and for the longest time after our move I couldn't bring myself to look at pictures of our Arizona house, which we sold upon moving here.

I wanted to dedicate a blog post to our AZ house and do a picture tour because 1) I'm feeling nostaglic, 2) I never did one when we lived there because I didn't want to share the details of our house with the world wide web and 3) many people are asking why we want so badly to go back to owning a house and I think this picture tour will answer a lot of those questions. 

I bit of background first.... Arizona took one of the hardest hits with the housing market crash and because of it, first time homebuyers, like Jon and I, got really lucky. Even so, cost of living is substantially less in Phoenix than in the Seattle area. Nearly all our college friends bought houses within the first year or two of graduation, and not crappy houses, but decent starter houses. Every house in Arizona has a two car garage and brick-fenced yard, at least 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, large master bathrooms, and high ceilings (9 ft). And by every house, I mean like 90% of all houses there. House hunting in Washington has been a shock to our system, as houses here are very different and much more costly. That being said, the up side is that unlike AZ where every house is stucco, beige, and basically a cookie cutter design among all the other houses in a neighborhood, the housing style and architecture here is fun and unique and I really like that. 

Back to our AZ house - Jon and I purchased it in August 2010, a few months after we were married and about a year after our college graduations. We bought a bank-owned foreclosure in a developed master-planned neighborhood about 10 minutes from his work in a pretty decent/nice part of the West Valley. I say all this only to put our current house hunting process into perspective. We financed with the FHA program and only had to put a few thousand down for the down-payment. Since it was a foreclosure and nothing was selling in Arizona, the bank happily agreed to cover all closing costs (it's also a tax write-off for them). Without giving away too many details, we paid somewhere between $100k and $150k for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1670 sq ft house that had an office/den, open floor plan, large kitchen with island, huge master bedroom and bathroom and walk-in closet, 2 car garage, decent-sized fenced yard, hardwood floors, new paint, white-painted trim, carpet in the bedrooms, tile in the kitchen, upgraded lighting and ceiling fans, and white wood blinds. Our monthly mortgage was well below $1,000/month to give a rough estimate of what we paid. We had decent neighbors and our neighborhood had walking trails and play areas to enjoy. Check it out (most of these pictures are from our actual MLS listing):


Our house









Office/Den





Front door


Laundry Room

Master bedroom

Dual sink bathroom

master bathtub plus separate shower to the right of it
Guest room (we were starting to pack, can you tell?)

Guest bathroom

My office/workout room/the 3rd room of the house not counting the office/den

Doggy door! The thing I miss the most!!

There it is again

Tatum loved his yard, he was always very proud of it =)

Backyard with water fountain in the corner, fenced-off because of a certain puppy ;-)


We sold it 2 1/2 years after buying it

And then we moved to Seattle. We knew a similar house to our Arizona house in this area would cost us about $400-500k. No joke.  Even with a salary bump, that wasn't going to happen. What we didn't realize, was just how crazy and insane the seller-driven market was going to be. If we wanted to purchase something for $150k in the Eastside of Seattle, this is what we would be looking at:


3 bed/1 ba 1000 sq ft house that needs major work:
See more listing pictures at:
http://www.redfin.com/WA/Bothell/1617-231st-St-SW-98021/home/2654941

and


2 bed/2 ba 900 sq ft condo with $330 HOA dues
http://www.redfin.com/WA/Kirkland/12621-NE-130th-Way-98034/unit-D202/home/45489733


Fortunately, we have a larger budget than that to work with, but it's very difficult to go from what we had in Arizona to what our options are here in Washington. We know part of that is because of the location. Prime location costs big money, so we aren't complaining. West Valley of Phoenix isn't exactly prime location. There is no Burke-Gilman/Lake Sammamish trail, no Lake Washington, no downtown Kirkland, no Juanita Bay Park, no Puget Sound, and Woodinville Wineries, no Pikes Place Market, no San Juan Islands, and no University Village to enjoy. This comes at a cost. I just wish we could have the best of both worlds some day =)  

In the meantime, we are focusing on being grateful for what we have and continuing pushing forward with the house search and simultaneously with the rental house search just in case we chose that option for the next year or so. There's a huge lack of inventory right now but we won't settle on something we don't really like just because we are desperate to get into a house. So we continue to wait on the Lord and wait on a house =)   I will always, always have fond memories of our Arizona house though. 

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