The funny disease.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Greedy and Colorblind

I have a kind of embarrassing confession to make. Sweetface and I have been looking for a house since July and toured over 50 homes. We found two houses that we liked. The first and only house we fell in love with was arranged so that it was too difficult (perhaps impossible) to install an exhaust vent in the kitchen. Because Sweetface likes to smoke us out of the house with various adventures in cooking on a regular basis, the ability to install such an exhaust is a must. The second house we were not in love with, but could live in, so we asked for comparisons on the price the afternoon of the day we saw it. It was gone the next day. Gone, like the short time we planned to stay in this wonderful, luxury apartment.

A month ago the housing market in East Valley was hotter than molten cheese. But I’m perfectly willing to admit that we’re being picky. This house is going to cost us far more than we anticipated when we moved out here. For the price we are paying we will probably have to live in this house a little longer than we would have to make it worthwhile. And we will not have the money to make any significant changes to any house we buy: unless we want a 1960’s-electrical-nightmare tinderbox, or a house in a flood zone. I say: no thank you.

(I know that Readers outside of the Southwest are going, “Flood zone, what’s the likelihood of being hit by that? Your average annual rainfall is 2 inches for Pete’s sake!” While I’m pretty certain that we wouldn’t see anything anywhere near as devastating as the Katrina floods, there is still a high risk of flooding here. It’s not the amount of rain so much as the lack of absorption by the crispy-crunchy ground. Hence what little water there is, runs in torrents through low-lying channels called washes that could sweep a herd of elephants downstream, and gathers in puddles that could swallow Hummers. In a matter of minutes we have instant lakes. And that is your nature lesson for the day. If you need more proof that floods are a real risk here, call an insurance agent. Flood policies on Homeowner’s Insurance are still separate and expensive here.)

It’s still a seller’s market. Take the case of the 3 bedroom 2 bath that’s in an okay location, but not that close to Phoenix proper. They are asking $270,000. They paid $149,000 in 2003. According to numbers I pulled from the special section on Valley Home Values in the AZ Republic this Sunday, the owners/agent think that house has increased in value by about 20% more than other houses in the 85225 Zip Code. Can you say moneygrubber? I knew you could.

The house is pretty average in both quality and how well it is maintained. The fixtures in said house are pretty standard and the few upgrades there are aren't that special. There is attractive tile in the living room and kitchen, and hallway, but everywhere else is pretty much mauve carpet. I suppose they might also be proud of their Frankenpaint. There is a red on gold faux finish in the kitchen—yes, it's as lovely as it sounds. The living room wall is split pea soup green and there is a cut out, where you can see the kitchen paint. Red and green are usually complimentary—look at Christmas, the homeowners managed to find a red and green that clash. One of the walls in the guest bathroom is black. The other walls are dark green. All of the other rooms have various unrelated paint colors. (One of them is actually Buy Me Brown, though.) Anyone who moves in there will have to paint so they won't get dizzy.



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