Thursday, July 9, 2015

Starting Point: Choices

Choices, choices, choices.

Property Searching 101

Having made the decision that now is the time to move, we've been thoroughly researching buying a new home. We've narrowed down school districts, gone to open houses, tracked properties on Zillow, Trulia and HomeSnap. At first, we thought our criteria were pretty straight-forward. We wanted a newer house with a basement and a pool in an acceptable school district. Simple, right?

Not so much. As we looked at houses, the number of houses with pools is small, so we gradually expanded our search to include houses that did not have pools. In every case, we found ones that were acceptable, but nothing that was sweeping us off our feet. It wasn't so bad, our house wasn't quite ready to be put on the market, so we waited. And waited. And searched. And waited.

As weeks turned into months, we kept extending our timeline, waiting for something that would really give us the options that we wanted - or at least the option we wanted and the option of adding a pool. Every choice we looked at involved us settling - settling for something that we liked, but didn't really love. We loved the house we're in now when we bought it and it served our needs (and wants) for many years, but as we've grown as a family, our needs have changed and we're ready to move on. But we weren't, and aren't, ready to settle for something we don't love.

Introducing Ryan Homes

We never considered building a new house. I'm not exactly sure why, maybe the last time we looked the prices were so outrageous that it didn't even make it within the scope of possibility. Maybe we always thought building was something that other people did, just not us. I really have no idea - but we never considered it.

Then we found Ryan Homes. They're big. They have mixed reviews all over the internet. Some people love them, some people hate them. Pretty typical for most internet postings - either you love it so much you're compelled to write about or you are so upset that you choose to vent your frustrations online. Either way, they had developments in all the school districts we were looking in and seemed to be reasonable priced. So we started looking at new houses they were building around Dayton.

Ravenna @ The Vineyards in Bellbrook, Ohio

We started in Bellbrook, looking at the Vineyards. It's a nice community - small, but nice. We liked the location and learned all about lot premiums - an addition builder's added to purportedly cover increased costs of development for specific lots or larger than normal lots. We discovered the world of Ryan Homes options and upgrade. Everything is an upgrade. Quickly, our wants started expanding as we had a slew of options available to us.

We started low, looking at the Ravenna. We liked it, and thought we loved it. We loved it so much we kept adding upgrades, adding options, adding, adding, adding - you get the picture. Soon. our affordable dream was looking more like a pipe dream. The little costs of each upgrade started to pile up and become real money. We needed to start backtracking.

Bateman @ The Enclaves in Centerville, Ohio

We headed over to the Enclaves in Centerville, Ohio - another school district that has a solid reputation. We loved the community, it's smaller than some of the other Ryan Home communities - probably due to the fact that the development started as a custom home community that was only partially completed before the economic downturn destroyed the housing market. The lots seemed larger and they were only planning on building about 100 homes. We priced out the Bateman, a model that offered a bedroom with an optional private bathroom. We thought having a room with a private bedroom might help keep our daughter from destroying our guest bathroom. 

Unfortunately, by the time we'd gone thru our list of wants, we were once again forced to backtrack and start crossing options off the list. After our last experience, I actually built a spreadsheet that would us compare our choice with various option configurations (maybe I'll write more on that later). Even as we ran various configurations, we kept feeling like we were giving up more than we wanted - especially if we were building what we considered to be our "dream" home.

Milan @ Villages of Winding Creek in Springboro and Centerville, Ohio

The Villages of Winding Creek is a larger development that actually crosses the county line from Montgomery County (on the north) and stretches into Warren County. In the process, it offers a choice between two well-respected school districts - Centerville and Springboro.  We discovered the Milan here and liked the home office that was located off to the side and the second floor loft. But what really sold us on the Milan was the option to have a finished attic with a bedroom and its own bathroom. We never doubted it would be a pricey option, but when it we priced it out, the $29k option made us take several steps back.

Once again we walked back thru the options we'd selected, making the choice between what we liked, what we wanted and what we felt we needed in a new home. Quite honestly, our dilemma really was that we don't need a huge a house, but we really, really wanted some of the options that are only available in the larger houses - things like two closets in the master bedroom. (we really don't like to share), a master bath with a soaking tub AND a shower (this one isn't mine, I promise) and a second floor laundry (we are done hauling laundry between levels!). If we could have found a smaller plan that offered those features, that's probably what we'd be building.

It was at this point that we were just about to throw in the towel and leave the new home market and continue searching for an existing house. In a last ditch effort, we started going back thru all of the models that Ryan offered around us, trying to find something small enough that we wouldn't have to to break the bank but still offered most of the things we really wanted in a new house. This is when we found the Dunkirk.

Dunkirk @ Villages of Winding Creek in Springboro and Centerville, Ohio

This post is already too long, but I think we've found the floor plan that really meets all of our criteria - introducing the Dunkirk! And we can build it in the Villages of Winding Creek! We are set to price it out tomorrow, and are very hopeful that everything will fall into line!

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