I viewed 22 houses in 3 days in Arizona. Here’s what I learned

This past few days I flew all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, to check out some property there. But you live in San Francisc, you may legitimately object. The housing market in the Bay Area is so bad that even people like me, who work in tech, unless they have been at it for a very long time, have very little chance to grab a decent property even remotely close to the city.

So we’ve started looking elsewhere. 

Phoenix, AZ, is that kind of place that people rarely consider for anything other than Grand Canyon trips or retirement thanks to the weather. That makes it affordable for people that work on the West Coast and that’s what drew my attention, too. 

That being said, I set a target of 3BR/2BATH, with a 2 car garage and got in touch with my agent Matt to schedule 20+ houses over the course of 2 and a half days. We saw all but one of them and learned a ton about what I want from a house:

  1. Houses older than me are probably not a good idea, unless they have been recently and heavily renovated
  2. If the photos look meh, then the house probably is worse, especially if there has been significant effort to photoshop the pics
  3. If there are lots of lighting units in the photos and it’s day outside, then place is a dark cave
  4. 2 car garage can mean 1.5 car because of cabinets or just a very narrow garage layout
  5. Carport means driveway, usually, unless they say covered
  6. Needs work, partially renovated means old stuff still in place because they work
  7. Let your imagination run wild with the back yard usually means it’s pretty big and unkept due to that reason
  8. Recently renovated properties need to be inspected very carefully, as sometimes they get a coat of paint, often in a rush
  9. Always check for cracks, walled in former doors, water damage on ceilings and walls. Every paint splash or change has a little story worth hearing
  10. Read the CC&R of the HOA – rules that you’ll have to follow if you buy within a home owner association area; can’t get out of those unless you run for and get elected on the board
  11. If you see old wallpaper, it probably will smell bad
  12. Some people like to keep their General Electric original 1977 stoves and that’s ok. Good for them
  13. Newly renovated kitchens must be checked for alignment on the cabinets – that crooked cabinet with the crooked microwave will be very expensive to change
  14. Check the tubs in the bathrooms for wear and tear – you’ll use that in the negotiation process. A resurface can set you back $500-$600
  15. The best way to see a house is with furniture in it. Empty places feel out of proportion and a room that seems odd when empty can be turned into a very nice living space with the right furniture
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