The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Before and After

Alternate Title: Why You Don’t Want to Be My Friend

Houses In Dobson Ranch I’ve Lived In: 4

How Disappointed My Mother Was That I Bought a House Across Town On a Scale of 1 to 10: 35

How Often She Reminds Me Of This: Every Time I See Her (Twice)

I’m a Dobson Ranch brat. You know Dobson Ranch, right? Of course you do, everyone does. It’s practically the OC of Arizona. It’s the DR. All the cool people live there and it’s where all the good parties happen. You’re no one unless you live in the DR. McDowell Mountain Ranch? Troon? Las Sendas? Pshaw. PSHAW, I say! Dobson Ranch is where it’s at, fool.

Or maybe it’s just a nice late 1970s, early 1980s master planned community in the South West corner of Mesa. I lived there more than half of my existence on this planet and roughly 50% of the people I know were born there, lived there at one time, or live there currently. What can I say; I’m a little bit of a Townie.

So when a client emailed me yesterday requesting a showing of a house in the DR, not only did I know exactly where the house was just from looking at the picture of the exterior, it was actually two houses down from some of my best friends, The Merrills. I was psyched. I work the entire East Valley, so it isn’t super often that I get to show in a neighborhood I know this well.

This house was a short sale that had just lost its buyer. I met my client, his wife and his sister and her husband at the property at 6:30pm. They were underwhelmed as soon as we walked in the door. The listing and pictures has boasted a remodeled kitchen and a gorgeous pool and spa in the back yard, but had left out the baggy shag carpet, water damage in the ceiling and the massive clinging vine that had once stretched across the entire back wall, until it stopped clinging and now lay decaying on the ground. Plus, it turned out the only thing that had ever been updated about this house was the kitchen. Everything else was clearly done by an interior designer in 1980 who really relished her own, individual, extra special style. Take for instance the tiny, narrow master bath. It was done in an over the top glam style with dual chandeliers over the plastic gold sinks and a decaying tiled sunken jetted tub that you wouldn’t bathe in unless you were suicidal and hoping to catch E-coli. It was like a moldy closet that Marie Antoinette had thrown up in and then closed up 10 years ago. And then we found the pump for the tub jets in the master closet. Like a small pool pump in the master closet.

It was weird. <-Understatement. The house was obviously a ‘no’ for my clients. They are open to the idea of some small renovations if the property is priced well, but they have a baby on the way and are looking for something considerably more move-in ready than this. In fact, the husband said to me, “No one will ever buy this, right? Who is going to want this house?” That’s where I had to stop my client. I can understand why he might think that, because the house really did need a lot of work. Additionally, in just a cosmetic sense, it had a paint job that hurt my soul by both shades and technique in one of the bedrooms. We are talking bubblegum pink, Pistachio green and a sickly sweet lavender smeared together with edges overlapping. It was vomit-inducing (it should be noted that I have a weak stomach when pastels are involved). However, this house was definitely still a steal. It was priced at $207K, almost 2400 square feet and in a really special part of the DR called Westport Bay. Sure, it needed a total gut-job and probably $100K to get it really looking nice, but this exclusive little circle of houses it sits on includes an amazing group of houses owned by a fabulous set of people. Most of the owners in there are original and some of the properties are up to 6,000 square feet (which is insane for when they were built in the early 1980s). “It is definitely a ‘before’ house,” I explained to my client, “But you should see the ‘afters’ in this neighborhood. In fact, I’m going to show you one, come on,” and marched the entire group two doors down and knocked on my friends’ front door. (I need to pause here for a second and explain that occasionally I get a little excited and don’t stop to realize details like, it’s dinner time, my clients don’t probably really care THAT much about Dobson Ranch architecture and history, I had not at all warned my friends that I was going to bring 4 strangers traipsing through their house while they were making tacos for their daughters, oh and um, I’m a spaz.) My friends, Todd and Debbie are lovely, friendly people, and because of this, they let us come in and admire the amazing work they have done on their house (while they tried not to burn their taco shells and feed their sweet girls). They bought the house back in 2002 and have spent the last eight years going room by room completely renovating every last bit of it. The biggest work was done in the last year. They removed a huge brick fireplace that broke the main room into an entryway and living room, and took out all of the walls dividing the kitchen, dining room and family room so that it is one huge open great room. Then they totally redid the kitchen with gorgeous granite and stainless steel and put in French doors. It’s utterly amazing and modern looking. I know they wish they had a little bit more square footage for bedrooms and the like, but it’s a property they will never leave. It’s just so stunning now and on the water and they love their neighbors. They could never replicate the things they love about it this most. It’s not anything close to just a house, it’s their home. I’m not sure I really correctly conveyed to my clients everything I was trying to because about midway through the traipsing I realize what a dope I was being and ushered everyone out and on their way. But my point was this: there’s a reason the phrase ‘Location, Location, Location’ is always associated with real estate. Almost everything else you can change, but the location is often what makes the remodel worth it.

3 Responses to Before and After

  1. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. (I know–gross, right?) We met at a concert, so our first “date” involved my mom driving me to his house and his parents supervising us. When my mom and I realized he lived in Dobson Ranch, we were quite impressed. So fancy! The neighborhood has perhaps aged less well than we may have expected. But all this is just to say that I have a soft spot for your old ‘hood. :)

  2. Tell your mom she really is fortunate because my daughter moved across the COUNTRY!!! :-( I can hear the fond memories in your writing and that warms my heart.

  3. I know what you mean about showing a house in an excellent neighborhood and the buyers not seeing the after. I personally have one client that wants it all: perfect house, move in condition, and at a discounted price. But I have to admit that when I was buying I wanted it all. Really, like how often do people male a home buying decision? If I am going to make a move that affects me the next 10 to 30 years, I better make sure I can grow into it. I am curious. What did the buyers do or buy?

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