Thursday, December 6, 2012

Arriving: Ryan Homes Washington Trace

10/21/2012 Our Visit to Ryan Homes Washington Trace


On one of the Sunday excursions with our realtor, Jodi, we had stopped by Ryan Homes at Washington Trace to have a look.   At this time, they had opened a new phase consisting of 20 lots, so our timing was almost perfect.  What caught our attention was a promotion that for $299,999 you could get the development's "House of the Month"--a Yorkshire B that was comfortably loaded on a designated lot that wasn't all that bad.  When we first heard of the promotion, we weren't too invested in the idea but the flyer of the House of the Month kept reminding us that there was value here and we could get a comfortably equipped home for a very decent price--at least compared to their competition.  With no committments and still in a "looking around" mode, we did stew on coming back for about a week.  After all, if we are to build, we are going to have to make a decision and lock in soon for timely closing in late Spring of next year.

11/06/2012 Our First Pricing Visit with Kelly

In preparation for the 6th, we called our realtor, Jodi to arrange a pricing apppointment with Kelly, the Ryan Sales Representative at Washington Trace.  As the 6th arrived, we wanted a Yorkshire B that was outfitted almost identical to the subdivision's "House of the Month".  When things came in cheaper than the target price, we thought about adding things that would make the house comfortable and options that our lifestyle wouldn't have to wait for me to build.   

One thing that slows down the pricing process is our precious little ones.  They wanted to be in the conversation and their interruptions contributed a stop/start to the process, even though Jodi and Kelly were more than gracious.   Jodi, a mother of two herself, brought out a portable DVD player and her smart phone and kept them occupied while we pored through the initial options and explored pricing.   The result was pretty good for the first round of talks and we decided that another one is due as soon as we contemplate the house features that matter to us

Ryan Homes Yorkshire Elevation D

How we arrived at pricing the Yorkshire really started at the introduction of the"Home of the Month". We looked over the floor plan and it was pretty decent and Feng Shui correct.  In addition, we now had a pricing baseline on what was considered value packed.   From there, we adjust the specifications to what we liked with a baseline in view.

The new phase of lots were actually quite good.  Out of the 20+ lots in the new phase, none of them were sloped and were relatively flat.  Since I am a pseudo believer in Feng Shui, picking out a lot tapped into some of my dabbling knowledge of Feng Shui and started with a West facing lot.  In the Chinese/Feng Shui school of thought, numerology plays a part in choosing a site.   Lot 16 had no premium price but Lot 11 did, both had auspicious numbers and we deemed them an ideal place to place a home.  We found out later that to have enough land for a three car garage, you had to get a lot with a price premium so we opted for a two car garage without the lot premium.   Practicality told us to go with Lot 16 and a two car front entry garage. 

Jodi inquired for us to see if there were existing Yorkshires, complete or incomplete that we could walk through so that we could better visualize the spacing and dimensions.   As luck would have it, all of them have closed in Dayton in Cincinnati and the only way we could see one is if an owner would be graceful enough to let us in their home for a viewing.   Kelly went right to work to see if she could accommodate this important request.

At the conclusion of the first pricing meeting, we told Kelly that we would review the pricing and come back to her with a list of additional items to price.  We were looking forward to the next round of pricing--this is where the cost of the house becomes more realistic.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Road Leading to Ryan

Our Rental: Ryan Home Halifax
So with a little fast-forward to late June.  Amy, the kids, and all of our stuff are now in Dayton and we are living in a Ryan Homes Halifax!   This is a 1700 sq ft house that really gives us a very comfortable place to live and seems just right.  Too bad that this house was a recovered forclosure and the landlords are a bunch of unresponsive a***s--else we'd think about staying here for awhile.  It's their loss not mine.  

Whereas the house was decent, we weren't too impressed by the no-fence community and the weirdness of the neighbor next door (on the left side of the pic).   On the flip side, I did like the Kettering area.  Nicely appointed but the schools did not rank high enough to be considered.   Also, the dreams of being by a super Wal-Mart quickly became all to real due to its location between beautiful Kettering and not-so-beautiful Moraine.

So, on our shopping list we were looking at Beavercreek, Centerville, and Springboro.   Oakwood was eliminated off our list due to the fact that our only choices for housing were overpriced and room was at a premium over there.   Though it had the area's best schools, it also had the highest property taxes.   I wasn't too keen on paying a premium for a house that would constantly need upkeep.

During my rental housing search this year, we came accross a township called Washington Township.  I regretted not renting there for I loved the sprawling houses with lots of land and the stately feel of the neighborhoods.  This was attached to the Centerville School District--one of the better schools in the area and best of all, no city taxes.  We will quickly find out that this omission catches up with us later in the form of other taxes!  These virtues led us to place it into consideration as the finalist of our ideal neighborhoods in the Dayton area.  

So here we are in the summer, with the family all in tow, we spent our weekends just looking around and talking to builders in Springboro, Beavercreek, and Washington Township.  We did do open houses for pre-existing homes as well.   Our plan was to acquaint ourselves with these neighborhoods and we would either contract to build in Nov/Dec for a new home or Feb/Mar for a pre-existing home.  Whatever it was, it would be better than our former living arrangement in Alexandria.

In late October, we had enlisted the help of a very knowledgeable real estate agent named Jodi of Real Living Realty.   I had met Jodi at an open house in Springboro last March and we had stayed in touch.   I thought that her demeanor and customer service outlook would prove to be a good match in finding our future home--turns out, I was right.  

We had spent a couple of weekends with Jodi, visiting builders and looking at their wares.   After some soul searching and really asking ourselves what we really want, we decided to go with Ryan because they offered the best house and the most amenities for the money.

I had seen some bad press of Ryan Homes and that led me hesitate approaching them.  What was more, the Ryan Homes Halifax that we were living in exhibited some bad fit and finish.   We had talked to several acquaintances including Jodi about their Ryan Homes experience and they were, for the most part positive.   Based on this, we concluded that Ryan is a good builder, and if we watch them closely, they are going to be a GREAT BUILDER to us.

Because we liked Washington Township, OH, we were considering both of the Ryan Homes subdivisions at Normandy Green and Washington Trace down the road.   We eliminated Normandy Green due to the fact that they were within earshot of I-675--a possible detriment should we find ourselves selling the home one day.  We ended our search at a beautiful master-planned community called Washington Trace--still a stone's throw from work. 

This is where, our Ryan Homes story begins!


Alexandria, VA and the Dream

Alexandria, VA is a suburb of Washington DC

Back in Alexandria, VA, long before our transfer to the plains of  Southwestern Ohio, my wife Amy and I have always dreamed of having a beautiful home to raise our family.   We started our married life in a 1500+sq ft townhome in Alexandria and it was quickly outgrown with the birth of our sons, Michael in 2007 and Matthew in 2010.  As a family of 4, our townhome was quickly bursting at the seams.  With the real estate crash of 2009 and falling home prices, we were quickly underwater in  home value and weren't able to upgrade our home to a bigger one.  The equity deficit on our present home was way over $50K and upgrading to a suitable home that possessed everything we wanted would quickly result in a $500,000 mortgage---barely affordable and scary.  There was no way selling this house was economically feasible.

With the high cost of living in the Washington DC area and the stress of everyday life in this rat race, we often  wondered out loud how great it would be do have a decent job in another part of the country that had a lower cost of living, affordable real estate, and a reasonable commuting times.   "If we could have all of that, we'd jump on it", we pondered.   Maybe someone was listening, or maybe it was a prayer answered.

Someone Was Listening

My corny, but comforting mental view of our Lord and Savior.
In September, 2011, I ran into a colleague that worked in Dayton that told me that he was about to quit his job and move to another company.  After noting my attentive pause, he asked me if I was contemplating a transfer to take his old position.   Carpe Diem, I thought, and rushed home to discuss with Amy about the opportunity that lay before us.   Amy had noted my misery about living in DC all these years and quickly said yes allowing me to put my name in for the open position in Ohio.

In my company, I had been through some ups and downs, but I've always had mentors that believed in me and helped me through some of my toughest times there.   I found myself calling on them again to help me with something that would greatly impact my work life, family life, and my quality of life.   Without hesitation, they answered with resounding approval and after some interviews, I was slotted in for the new position in Ohio.  Smitty, Neal, and Caroline, you have always been there for me.  On behalf of me and my family--thank you.

On My Way

After the graceful approval, I was slotted for transfer as soon as the  replacement for my present position achieved all of his qualifications to take my place.    By January of 2012, I was cleared for takeoff and scheduled to arrive in late January to my new job in Dayton, OH.   Amy and the kids were to stay until June to tie things up in Alexandria.

Dayton, OH--Back in the Midwest!

Datyon, OH Skyline

I arrived in late January to a cold, Dayton, OH, ready to lay the groundwork to what will become our new hometown.  While here by myself, I would try and score some cheap living arrangement and spend my time searching for a rental for the family for 1 year by checking out the areas suitable for raising a family with good crime stats, shopping, and most important of all, schools.  

Work was everything that I imagined it to be.  I had a great boss, super co-workers, and the hours were consistent.   My contentment developed with a great environment, like minded team, and most of all, an easy commute.  In Dayton, traffic is never horrible--even on a bad day and I was liking it already.

I rented a room from a guy named Eric in what I found out to be in one of the not-so-best places in Dayton.  There was a plethora of boarded up houses and stories of drug related gang activity to match.  Though I was not too keen in living in such an area, Eric had a decent house and allowed me to have a short lease.  He turned out to be an exceptional roomate and very good company in the months when I was by myself.

It was during this time that I started visiting all of the areas of Dayton in order to find a good home for the family.   My first targeted area was the Oakwood area of Dayton.  The houses were old--and definitely living there was not one of my dreams--I wasn't too keen about keeping up some house that was built 50+ years ago.   As May crept closer, I did secure a lease to hold us for a year  in this area but the landlord rescinded the lease to my dismay.   I ended up finding a house in nearby Kettering which happened to have been built by Ryan Homes 10 years ago.  This was the place where we were going to hang our hat, giving us a year to get fully acquainted with Dayton and really KNOW what place was going to suit us and our family.