Grass Be Gone

July 11, 2016
When we decided we were ready to finish the backyard, Frank called several landscapers and contractors for quotes. We had dreams of adding a french door to the kitchen and large slider to the great room that would allow for bringing our indoor living outdoors. It was a bit more than we could chew, so we scaled back the project omitting those items for the time being. We were down to two landscape companies and decided to pull the trigger with one that would complete all work themselves. However, when it came time to signing on the dotted line they went AWOL. They would not answer or return calls and no one was available when we went in person.

Back at square one, we called out Showready Landscape. We had a quote the same day and they started a few days later. To further seal the deal, the business card had a horse on it - my mom loved horses - I couldn't help but take it as a sign that it was meant to be. It took three days to complete. They were timely, accommodating and did great work at a fair price. We were thrilled.

On day one, we also had solar panels installed to heat the pool. Adding the panels has made a huge difference already in our pool season. Jeff and the kids were swimming on St Patrick's day. I need the water temperature to be at least 85 so it took a couple more weeks for me, but I've been in the pool more times than I can count. Since June, the temp has been holding steady at 91. Sounds steamy, right? While it is warm, it feels just right when the mercury rises 110+ or maybe we're all cold water wusses at my house. Whatever the case, I love it.

Day One:







Day Two:







Completed:





Before:



After:



Much better, right? I know we don't miss the grass one bit! The fire pit is great for winding down on cooler nights with a beer (me) and cigar (him). We purchased fire glass from Amazon it was quite a bit cheaper than buying local and they offer a wide variety of colors. We chose blue to mimic the water of the pool and also to pay homage to are favorite television show. Yes, we hide our blue meth in the fire pit. We chose the pavers that were a match to the front of the house, stone surrounding the fire pit was tying into the rock and flagstone surrounding the pool, and the top was to the blend with the pavers and the retaining walls. Frank oversaw the project, I was sick as can be. Those few days were a complete blur. All things considered, I think it came together well. We still need to find a patio set to complete the look. I've been looking all summer; there is one we like, but holy moly, nice sets really do run high. Maybe, we'll snag and end of summer special?

Mi Casa

July 5, 2016
So, this has been home for nearly a year. We liked that it was pretty new, clean and roomy. From the start, we had plans to paint and change the flooring. I thought the first project we'd tackle would be the carpet in the master bathroom. Because, ew! But I am undecided on whether or not I want to remove the carpet in the bedroom too. If I do, I feel like the tile should go throughout the room since there is no door to enter the bathroom. I think I'll pull the trigger on it soon, though. We'll wait until Amy, Jeff and the kids move out before we make changes to the rest of the house. Their rooms are not pictured, nor is their bathroom, I also overlooked taking a photo of the room off the main entrance. I wanted to use it as an office, but we have it set up as a dining room instead. The project we did complete was the backyard, we removed the grass and replaced it with rocks, pavers and added a firepit. We also raised the wall to our only neighbor to maximize privacy. I'll share more about that in another post.

A Glance at the Housing Market

July 1, 2016
This time last year we were house hunting. The market was pretty strong. Plus, there was speculation that rates would be going up in fall so it sparked a bit of a frenzy. Later, this month, we'll have been in our house a year. It just occurred to me that I never shared photos, and back then, I planned to share about our experience with the market. Shortly, after moving in, my world was flipped upside down so yes, it's taken a year to get here, but I try to keep my word... Now, that a year has gone by I can cast some light on the rise and fall of the homes that were in our search.

We searched for homes with a minimum of 3 beds, 2 baths, 2 car garage, pool/hot tub and a killer backyard was a definite perk. During our two years at the apartment we had grown fond of the Silverado Ranch area and sought homes nearby. Though, we were also considering older homes in solid neighborhoods, we were open to fixer-uppers with potential, but mostly wanted something turn-key and preferred single story and fewer rooms. Additionally, we were seeking a low cost, lenient HOA or none at all.

We were pre-qualified for a mortgage before we started looking so it streamlined the shopping experience. We knew our target, but kept an open mind for homes on the high and low end... just in case. We usually knew in minutes of walking in whether it felt right for us or not. Many homes we didn't even bother seeing the second level. Homes moved quickly. There were many that had contingent offers before we could get in to see them. The first half dozen we saw were duds. It wasn't very encouraging, but things improved. We went to contract on a home in Green Valley (89074) it had multiple offers that started a bidding war. We didn't want to participate so we terminated the purchase. I thought the home would've sold for a few thousand over asking price, but when it closed it sold for $100 over. Which happened to be our initial offer. We must not have been the only ones that walked from the deal. Today, that home is estimated at $22,000 less than it sold in July 2015.

Even though apartment rentals have skyrocketed in the past year. It doesn't seem to be the trend for resale home sales. I show nearly twice as many that have values estimated less than what they sold for last summer, compared to those that have risen. Below is a list of homes with the above parameters. I'll list the zipcode. How much over/under list it sold for last summer and the delta of the current estimated value per zillow, as well as, the length of time from list to close.

The following have lost equity (choosing only one from each zipcode for simplicity sake):

89117 +15k,-25k; one month. 89141 +15k, -7k; one month. 89015 +4k,-9k; one month. 89120 +2k, -2k; one month. 89183 -24k,-3k; four months. 89141 -15k,-12k; four months. 89123 -10k, -16k; two months. 89012 -10k,-5k; one month. 89074 n/c, -22k; one month.

Only two had no change:

89147 n/c; one month. 89074 n/c; one month.

And these have gained:

89102 +5k, +39k; one month. 89183 +2k, +5k; one month. 89052 n/c, +1k; one month. 89123 -4k, +2k; two months 89052 -5k, 13k; one month. 89123 -8k, +30k; three months. 89074 -17k, +30k; four months. 89145 -20k, +19k; three months. 89117 -24k, +2k; two months. 89123 -60k +30k; five months.

The big winners seem to be those that were recently flipped or those in need of significant work. I suppose there is some truth when they say to buy the worst house on the best block. Our zipcode in Henderson has had little movement. Homes were selling for asking price last year, closing in 1-2 months, and they have held or gained up to $15,000 in equity. There are a bunch of new homes being built near us, it'll be interesting to see what that does to resale prices. But overall, it seems promising. However, I know better than most that the bubble can burst at any time. That's why when I saw this magnet, I had to have it.

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