Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday's House Hunt

A lot happened on Sunday, and the Internet it really slow in uploading pictures here at the hotel, so I'm only going to share some of the more important pictures.  Otherwise, enjoy the story of our adventures.

The first house we visited had a horse paddock, breezeway and tack room, but it was way up high in the mountains.  There wasn't a whole lot of space in the house, and the distance to conveniences would mean having to store food in a freezer in the garage.  Because it was in the mountains, there were houses perched on cliffs all around it, looking down on the property.  It was okay, but not worth what they were asking, to me, and the drive in to work would be difficult in the summer months with all the tourists and locals driving up into the mountains to cool off.

The house is up on the hill to the right of the breezeway...

We weren't allowed into the second house.  No one would answer the door, and the listing agent couldn't get a hold of the homeowners, even though we had an appointment.  Apparently, it was a short sale situation where the occupants were living there for free, and giving buyers the runaround because they didn't want anyone buying the home and forcing them out.  It was too bad they wouldn't cooperate, because the outdoor space was fantastic.  There was a huge balcony over a patio facing the Superstition Mountains.

Another home went under contract this weekend, so we couldn't see it.

The next house was a Spanish Colonial corner lot directly across from a State preserve.  This was the house I expected we would buy.  The owner and listing agent were very gracious and gave us full tours of the land and house.  There was no horse setup, but we found a variety of places where we could put one in.  The house was immaculate, but a little on the older side.  It had a great balcony looking out over at the Superstition Mountains.  The owner had previously told me that people ride their horses on that State preserve all the time, however, I noticed that there was a barbed wire fence along the State preserve boundary.  I asked how people get there horses in there, and the lady changed her tune.  She said that they only ride their horses up and down the road, because people want to keep the State land pristine and horses would ruin it..  Gah!  I hate it when people lie to me.  So, that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Above is the view from the balcony looking out over all that land I can't ride on. The previous owner had to build a huge wall to block out an ugly house that was built right up against his property line in front of his view of the Superstition Mountains.

We then visited a home that lied about how much land it had, so even though the house was stunning, there was no place to put the horses.

Yet another home and guest house looked fantastic from the outside and had a huge riding arena, but it turned out that the guest house was really just a garage with furniture in it, and the house was trashed.  The riding arena wasn't even salvageable, because one side of if was bordered with a 2-foot high wall.  Seriously?  My horses could jump that in a second.  So, without me putting up a fence, I could only ride there I couldn't use it as a paddock to house the horses.

Then we went to another property in Apache Junction that I only half paid attention to.  Someone put up some metal spikes at the end of the road to prevent people from driving on it.  I jumped out of the truck and moved them.  I guess since it's a dead end road, the neighbors are sick of outsiders just wandering up there and pulling U-turns.  I've contemplated putting up blockades at the end of my own street many times, so it was good to know that everyone in this neighborhood seemed to have a consensus on maintaining their privacy.

When we knocked on the door at our appointment time, the lady who answered claimed we were an hour early.  So, someone got their wires crossed, but she let us in anyway.  She said, "Let me forewarn my step dad that you are here."

She went into the back room and one of the nastiest verbal spars broke out between the two with a lot of cussing and name calling.  We were running in circles in the foyer trying to figure out if we should run and hide or call the police or what.  Suddenly, the lady reappeared with a big smile and said she'd show us around her house, even though that's her mother's job.  We then found out that the mother was both the home owner and a real estate agent.  This house was clean as a whistle, move-in ready, and had two horse head decorations on the front of the house, but there was no horse setup.

I asked her if she could show me the property lines.  I nearly fainted.  There was 4 whole acres of unused land stretching back behind the house where I could make a horse arena.  The house next door is close, but the place is very clean, and they have a nice horse setup.  Their house points at the mountains, as opposed to the house I was interested in buying, so I wasn't too concerned about the privacy factor.  The lady showed me that horseback riders come up out of the natural wash in her back yard and used to ride between her and her neighbors house out to the City land across the street, but the neighbors didn't like the encroachment on their privacy, so they built a fence to block them.  The lady said that she doesn't mind the horseback riders, so she told them they can come through her back yard and down her driveway.

I tried explaining this to my husband over the phone.  The white fence extending from the left side of the photo is the next-door neighbor's property line while the white fence in the distance on the right side of the photo is the back of this home's property line.  This is only one small corner of the 4 acre lot.

Here I'm standing about in the middle of the back yard looking back at the house.  This gives you an idea of how much space there is.  The neighbors to the right are somewhat close, but they built there house like a fortress and have a beautiful horse setup.  I saw no evidence of junk or motorized vehicle hobbies.  I asked the lady if she had any problems with neighbors, and she only said that these people have three Saint Bernards with deep woofs that scare her occasionally.  Here's a better view of the distance between this house and the closest neighbor...

The very back of the property has a pretty deep and wide natural wash, and the yard is greener than most, so the owners seem to have protected the house from flooding by stepping up the back yard with stone wall sections of rock and grass.  I was originally thinking I could fence this off and use it as a dog yard, but then I realized that would block our view of the mountains, because this house has a covered patio and porch, but no balcony like the house that bordered State land. So, we'll have to create a dog yard off the side of the house.

I walked across the street and found a small opening in the fence specifically for hikers and horses!  You can ride for miles on this unused city land.  By the sign that they posted, it appears that the city is intentionally leaving it as a trail preserve.

If I wasn't totally sold on the house, I was when we turned the corner and ran into a bunch of horseback riders who had just come off that land.  They said there were so many places to ride around there and you could go for miles until you get lost.  Seeing them felt like a fortuitous sign that I was in the right location.

So, today I have to talk with a banker and see if we can even afford the house.  Unfortunately, the owner raised the price by $50,000 during a time when everyone else is lowering their prices.


Linda said...

It's nice to see what's out there. Sounds like you really want the last one. Hope it works out for you!! And I hope you like those neighbors. Is there any way you could go by and meet them to make sure?

Venom said...

I'm so excited for you, I hope all goes well and that this is your new home.

Tina said...

I'm so sad. Apache Junction is awesome place and this last house seems like a dream. Maybe if you put in a offer, the owner will drop the price by $50k.

Dreaming said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. It sounds like a perfect place.
About close neighbors: we miss the neighbors we used to have. We were on a cul-de-sac. Everyone had 5 or 6 acres, but the land was out in back and the houses were relatively close together. The people were great. We all helped each other. Had coffee together. Had occasional, impromptu 'have a beer' night, together. We really felt like we were extended family. In our new location the houses are far apart. One can't walk from one house to another. It's nice for privacy, but we do miss the fun of getting together. So... having houses nearby, but still having the land, may not necessarily be a bad thing!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I like Apache Junction and the Superstition Mountains are a pretty site to view from your own property. This house seems perfect for you. I would do as Linda suggested and meet the neighbors first. Just to be sure you can get along with them. You don't want to have the same situation you're in now. I'd also think about offering 50k less like Tina suggested, they can only say no. Hope it works out for you the house is lovely and the view is spectacular.

Jeni said...

I would still put in a offer at what you can afford if it's near their asking price. You never know what will happen.

Mikey said...

Looks good! That's the kind of place you want to ride in, very open, easy to get to. Beautiful house! Hope you get it, fingers crossed for you!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Just because they raised the price, I wouldn't budge on the offering price. Those gates are common at a lot of the state park areas.

The white house with the red tile roof, they probably don't know there are gates like this down the road. People are riding on the state land and will use the roads to get to the gates. Pop over and off you go. Yes the miles of trails within can be endless. Bicycles also use these trails so be warned if your horse is not used to cyclists. Many of them are friendly and aware of horses having bike issues.

Also AJ has an arena that if you are a member, you can use the facility any time. They have a lot of events so not much of a problem anyways, but it is an option.

Any in QC that caught your eye or was it just AJ?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cut-N-Jump - Nothing in QC. All the houses were on noisy roads and the traffic was bad. Smog too. AJ is kind of back country, and because the roads are such a maze with a lot of dead ends, there's much less traffic. I desperately need quiet.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I like it! Lots of options there...and the open space right across the street! I also like the home next door, even though they are a bit close together. They have walls around their patio and most of their windows face away from the other house which shows that they value privacy. I also like that they proudly display the American flag. That's an auspicious sign!

But the horse heads on the front of the house are weird...they are neckless! Nothing like your beautiful long necked Arabian's for sure. lol!

I hope this one works out if it is a home you have fallen in love with.

Crossing fingers!


lilyrose said...

I live in AJ and it's pretty nice here. VERY quiet. We have 2&1/2 acres and the neighbors never bother us. Most people out where I live(base of the Superstitions) either have horses like me, or expect their neighbors to have them. I'm lucky that no one seems to mind my braying mini-donk! :)

Also, there are miles and miles of trails here. It really is a great place to live.

achieve1dream said...

Oh wow!! I hope you can get that last house. I love it!!