We are on our way back from our house hunting trip in Phoenix. It's kind of been the trip from hell - not at all what we were expecting - and we're glad to be on our way home.
Sunday morning we looked at 7 houses, I think. We saw a few that we thought were decent houses, but none of them had exactly what we were looking for. We liked one on Mulberry Street quite a bit, but the master bedroom was downstairs and the kids bedrooms were all upstairs. It also had this casita thing, which was like another room, but separate from the house, so we couldn't have really used it as a guest room since you had to walk outside to get in to the house, and it didn't have a bathroom. If it had had a bathroom, it would have been a lot better, but I still didn't like the fact that the we would have been on a separate floor from our young kids. It was a nice house, but the paint was all pretty dark and it didn't let a lot of sunlight in on the main floor, so it was a little bit cave-ish. Mark really liked it, but I was never sold on it.
On Monday we looked at a BUNCH more houses. I'm not sure how many we saw, but it was between 10-15. The first one we looked at was great, except that it had the master and 2 other bedrooms upstairs and then a 3rd bedroom downstairs, and that just won't work for us. It also had solar panels that were owned outright and have the house a net electric bill of zero for the entire year, which is a HUGE savings in Phoenix were your electric bills are easily $300-400 during the summer months. We liked that house, but it just wouldn't work for us.
The second one we looked at was on Glenrosa and we LOVED that house. We walked in and it immediately felt like home. It had EVERYTHING we wanted in a house (with the exception of a gas stove and double ovens - but those were more on my dream list than anything else). It had the master bedroom and 3 other bedrooms upstairs, plus a small loft area right by the stairs that would be perfect to put a desk and also a GREAT playroom with french doors with nice blinds on them right next to the loft. So the kids could be in there playing and I could be working on the computer right outside the playroom. The playroom is actually kind of two rooms, and there is a connecting jack and jill bathroom to the playroom and what would be Abbie's room. Abbie's room had a small walk in closet and so did Ben's, which was right next door. Ben's room shared another jack and jill bathroom with the 3rd bedroom upstairs, that would eventually be baby #3's, which is right next to the master. There's a huge linen closet in the hall, and then we have a huge master suite, with dual walk-in closets, dual vanities (one even had a sitting place for me to put on my make-up) separated by a large soaking tub and a separate little room for the toilet. The shower had two shower heads and a large seat in it and the master bedroom is big enough to have a sitting area and a bedroom part. We also liked that our room was closest to the stairs, so you'd have to go by our bedroom to access any other parts of the upstairs. The downstairs of the Glenrosa house had a good sized guest room with it's own bathroom, that was away from the rest of the house, which I prefer. It had another bathroom with just a toilet off the main entry. It has a formal living room with a fireplace and lots of windows, next to a court yard area that are accessible by double doors from the hallway, next to the large family room that has large windows on both sides looking out to the courtyard and the back yard. The LARGE kitchen has beautiful granite counter tops, with a very large island and nice cabinets, and it's right next to a breakfast nook area where we could put our kitchen table. There's a walk through butlers pantry to the large dining room that our new table would look great in, and that is directly across the hallway from the court yard area. I would say the size of the family room/kitchen/breakfast nook at that house is about the same size, space wise, as our entire kitchen/dining room/living room/ both kids bedrooms and downstairs bathroom plus more at our current house. And then there's the back yard. It has an amazing covered patio with a built-in grill that we could expand on to turn in to an outdoor kitchen later on down the road if we want. We could put ceiling fans out there also and speakers since the hook ups are already there. The backyard was at least 3-4 times bigger than most of the other ones we saw, if not more, and the pool is gorgeous and deep enough on one end to dive in, but shallow enough on the other end for a "Benj area" as we were calling them. They're like little built up areas where you can put an umbrella in the pool and the water is less than a foot deep so you can lounge in the water or put babies there to splash around also. It also had a 3 car garage with one stall being separate and the perfect place for Mark's work shop. Obviously, we are in love with this house. The huge downsize is that it's listed for $315k, which is $15k over our budget and it's in a newer area so the taxes are about twice what they were in other areas. But on the flip side, there is a park literally 3 houses down, and the high rated elementary school is about a half mile away and Mark's work would be about 10 minutes away.
We saw a bunch of houses after that on Monday and none of them even came anywhere close to the Glenrosa house. We basically had our #1 house picked out, and then the Mulberry house was about #5 and everything else we saw was #10+. In other words, there was a HUGE gap between our #1 house and our #2 house. We saw some nice houses and some houses that would have been great if we'd wanted to put a ton of work in to them, and some very nice houses that were 30 minutes from base, and that's just not what we wanted. We looked at about 7-8 houses up in the Surprise area and while Surprise is a nice area with decent parks, it just didn't appeal to use nearly as much as the Litchfield Park/ Goodyear area. Monday we went home knowing that the Glenrosa house was what we wanted, but we just weren't sure we could afford it because we'd talked to a lender and he gave us a quote for the monthly payment to be over $1800, which was well over our $1650 limit we had set. We were discouraged and stressed out and went to Red Lobster for dinner to discuss it all with my parents and try to figure things out.
While we were at Red Lobster, Mark was looking at CNN and saw a news flash that a pilot from Aviano had gone down in the Adriatic and we both immediately started trying to contact friends back home through email and Facebook and by the end of the meal, we had found out it was our good friend, Luc Gruenther, that had gone down. For obvious reasons we were devastated and worried sick and all of a sudden the house situation was the least of our concerns. For the rest of our trip, we were constantly checking FB and our emails for updates from friends back home, trying to figure out more information on if Luc had been found and on how his wife, Cassy, was doing. We would fall asleep looking for updates, waking up in the middle of the night and check numerous times for updates and then check first thing in the morning for updates. It was horrible.
Tuesday we went back to the Glenrosa and Mulberry houses to look at them both again, and confirmed that we did still love the Glenrosa house. We also went and saw a few more houses and tried to look at some model homes, but they weren't open. We looked at a house on Windward Ave that was a decent house and we decided that house was second on our list, but it still was ranked about #4 compared to our #1. Tuesday night we made an offer on the Glenrosa house, but as of right now (Thursday at noon) we still haven't heard anything back. We know that they're moving because of a relocation of his job, and that they've only lived in the house for a year. There were appraisers there both days we saw the house doing appraisals for the relocation company and we think that's why we haven't heard anything back from them yet because they're waiting for the appraisals to come back. We offered them $292k after looking at the comps in the area and knowing that they only paid around $296k for it when they bought it.
Wednesday we just hung out in the Arrowhead area and shopped a bit for baby showers coming up and we heard news that Luc's helmet and parachute had been found, which gave us great hope that he was still alive. About an hour after we'd received that news, I got a call from Brittney (who was watching our kids) saying that Abbie had tried to pick Ben up and dropped him face first on to the tile, which knocked both of his front teeth out. Great. So then it was the mad scramble to try to figure out what we needed to do for him and Brittney was calling the nurse line, and I was trying to get ahold of my dentist friend in Italy to see what she should do. Brittney ended up having to take him to the Pordenone Hospital because the base dentist wanted a chest x-ray to see where the missing tooth was. (Brittney found one tooth, he swallowed the other one.) They ended up not giving him x-rays because they listened to his lungs and he sounded fine. His mouth was still bleeding, but other than that and a huge lip, he was back to his normal happy self. She ended up taking him to the pediatric dentist on base on Thursday (Italy time) and they x-rayed his mouth to determine if any thing was broken or if there were any parts of the teeth left in there, and there weren't. The ped. dentist and his pediatrician also wanted a chest x-ray done just to make sure that the tooth wasn't in his lungs somewhere, and it's not. Ben was a champ laying there during the x-ray also.
Today we got up early to leave Phoenix and still hadn't heard anything about the house. Ben is doing well though, so that's a relief. However, right before we boarded this flight, we got the news that they found Luc body and that he didn't make it. We are absolutely heartbroken to have lost this amazing man in our lives, and even more heartbroken for my good friend Cassy, who is due with their first child in a few weeks. We feel so helpless being an ocean away from everything going on at home and are ready to be back to be with our kids and our friends. I'm going to call our realtor during our layover and hopefully she'll have a counter offer from the sellers by that point. Not holding my breath though...