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Old 05-13-2008, 10:53 PM
32 posts, read 108,843 times
Reputation: 12


This is my first post to this site. I want to thank everyone for posting. It has been incredibly informative, and may have saved us a ton of $$$. Long initial post, so forgive me if I tend to ramble. Want to share our experience for others and to get any advice anyone might have.

We currently live on the west edge of Phoenix, south of I-10, in a nice Centex home - but too small for our growing family of six total (wife and me, 4 kids, 2 dogs), and in need of a home office/den. We have done a ton of work to "perfect" our backyard/patio, except an eventual pool. Also, the in-laws live in Pebble Creek and we like a Church out there, so decided to find a house and move west - to Litchfield Park or Goodyear. Good schools somewhat too, and save $$$ since we are driving 20 miles to a public charter school right now - the schools close to us right now are terrible. So a couple very good reasons to move further west. Our search started about six months ago.

We found Toll Brothers in Litchfield Park. Beautiful area, nice development with a mix of home types from ultra nice on golf course to pretty basic home. We narrowed it to the Glenrosa model - a new model for them never built before. It has a massive central courtyard, with basement - 7 bedrooms total or 6 plus den, formal LR, DR, and expandable garage and patio. With the options we wanted and the incentive package, the price came to ~730k for almost 5000 sq feet. Impossible to find a basement model with this much space in the west valley. We like Maracay and a smaller version of this type of basement home too, but Toll has the nicest, largest floor plan. We were also getting an oversized lot although it is one house (empty lot) away from busy Camelback road. They reduced the lot premium from 18k to 10k as a nice gesture.

Trouble started during the final contract phase. First, the basement floorplan was never formally approved by the city, and they were revising it quickly for us. The promissory note also was a big issue to me, but only if we felt we needed out of the contract for whatever reason. A senior sales exec lady argued with me over another clause - a "protection clause" that stated if incentives went up or base price went down below the deal we were currently getting, we'd get a credit at closing. Sounds good but it would ONLY be evaluated 30 days prior to closing, at exactly 5 pm. She indicated I was "reading it wrong" and that it covered a broader time period than that, and hey, should I also have to pay more if prices go UP too!!!!!!!

THEY (not me) had offered this up as a nice incentive and I said it was a nice gesture, but basically meaningless. She got very snippy with me about it, and that got me searching the web even more.

Finally, when the construction manager failed to deliver the revised basement floor plan to us last friday, I called the salesman and said that we could not sign on Sunday without this. "Come sign all the paperwork and i'll hold it (and your check) til you see the basment plan and agree it is ok." That was the last straw. What a joke to think I'd trust someone I barely know with this much of an investment. So we backed out at the Sunday meeting. We LOVE the floorplan/layout, east facing backyard lot (less sun in the hot afternoon/evening) and location overall - 5 minutes from in-laws.

So we are back to square one. I don't think we'll go back to Toll Brudders, and possibly not any other new builder. TW Lewis and Camelot also offer basement models, but they are ultra-expensive unless you do a spec home. TW had a nice 1.1 million dollar home they said to make an offer in the 70% range, but it had massive windows facing west with lousy big sliding glass doors. Who in their right mind puts massive windows facing west in AZ? Not me - way too hot. Camelot is near a water treatment facility that is noisy and possibly stinky. (And HOA fees too high at both TW and Camelot)

We like the Palm Valley and Litchfield Park Elem schools, Millenium High School system, but Scott Libby school is a little rough, so we need to stay near downtown Litchfield Park. I prefer to stay closer to I-10 in case I end up taking a job downtown eventually (have a home office job now). We've started the re-sale search again, but feel we had better get our current home sold or rented before we do anything else these days. Just too risky. Luckily, we were very frugal with this house - 15 year loan so we have some equity from it on re-sale unless the market continues to plunge. It's a nice 4 Bedroom 3200 sq foot home, but a home just like it is foreclosed and at $65/sq foot for sale!!! We may just stay put for awhile. We are very conservative fiscally (unlike many others) and only have debt via our home and want to keep it that way. But our dream of a large home, with basement, larger lot, nice school district, near family - is fading fast.

Peoria is too far away, as is Verrado. South Goodyear has some beautiful homes, but I don't think the schools are that great per greatschools.net. Any advice appreciated. Or let me know if I was too harsh on Toll Brothers. I don't remember half of these contract issues with Centex, although amazingly we only put down $500 to get construction started with them. Oh and Toll indicated that the typically build time is about a year, although their contract states up to 2 years, with several caveats even for that. Amazing for how much $$$ you give up and may not have a house for 2 years!!!

Thanks again for all the posts, esp. those regarding reputable builders.

Good evening, RK
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Old 05-14-2008, 01:31 AM
19 posts, read 62,175 times
Reputation: 15
Default Toll

I didn't read your whole message ....too long. BUT - run from Toll as fast as you can. We have one of the large 6000+ sf homes with a basement in another development. Their base prices are decent. When you add all the things you want plan to add 50-100% !!! I am serious on this. The basement may only be $80-$100K - but then you'll need lights (Toll provides almost no lights - including on the bathroom mirrors!), you'll add fan outlets, you'll upgrade carpet. It goes on and on. We paid $1700 for a freakin' vegetable sink! They reframed our house 3 times, put the fireplace int he wrong room - so added one without a chimney on the last minute. We wound up with $30K extra in lighting alone! NOTHING is included. They purposely keep their salepeople stupid so they can't answer your questions. If you want a Toll home buy one that is already built. In our neighborhood many of us still have check list items never completed at the walk though and we're going on 4 years!!!!! I would NEVER buy a Toll home again. If you do - put in the base on everything and rip it out later and put in what you want. Hold our $250K for these upgrades - you'll still save 50% on what Toll will charge you! DO not use thier pool, landscaper ot other outside contractors. They mark up everything and Toll makes money off this too...... Are you getting my drift here?????
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Old 05-14-2008, 02:38 AM
20 posts, read 86,434 times
Reputation: 17
I'd check some of the TW Lewis houses up in Estrella, if you haven't looked up here you should as it sounds exactly the area and type of house you and your family would like.
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:13 PM
Location: Goodyear, Arizona
942 posts, read 2,520,264 times
Reputation: 432
We have some friends moving to Goodyear and I was out with our realtor recently looking at houses for them. We looked at the neighborhood where Toll Bros is building in Litchfield and one of the houses we looked at had a basement and was quite large. It appeared to be barely lived-in and was a foreclosure. It was quite nice, but I don't know if it is still on the market. It had a nice courtyard with an outdoor fireplace. You might consider looking at some of the existing homes in that neighborhood since the prices seem to be quite lower. We live in Palm Valley and like it, but I believe homes with basements are uncommon. There are some former models on Sells St. (I think) that had basements. They were never lived in and are currently being sold.
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:01 AM
32 posts, read 108,843 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks everyone for the responses. Much appreciated.
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:58 PM
148 posts, read 848,132 times
Reputation: 72
I am assuming that you want to build new but if you are willing to look into resale homes then there are fulton basement homes in Wigwam creek (dysart, south of camelback) that are a great deal. We have one of these same homes up in Fletcher Heights and love the basement. WE have the same size family as you but with another one on the way and our 4000 sq. foot basement home is great. My brother and sister in law live in Avondale and told me about some other Fulton's with basements but I am not exactly sure where they are. I know they are very new although maybe not being built anymore and I think around Litchfield and McDowell or Thomas. They were being built during the boom and so I think they are being sold for a steal of a deal now because couples got in over their heads. We have been happy with our Fulton basement home and Fulton is a much more affordable builder than Toll Brothers, TW Lewis and Camelot which are all luxury builders.

Hope that helps.
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