Thursday, January 7, 2010

My paper was printed in the Waxahachie Daily Light!!

I wrote a paper about the turn around of my new neighborhood.  It was printed and they have a writer for the paper that is going to do a follow up article on how the neighborhood has survived the fraud, squatters & recession to continue to move forward as a great neighborhood to live in!  They will be highlight several families and taking pictures of the improvements.  LOVE it!

This is a copy of my article, happy reading.

Happily Ever After….

By Teresa Harvey

That is what every new home owner hopes for. However, just a year ago that dream seemed far, far, away for homeowners in Honeysuckle Estates, an upscale neighborhood, located in the town of Midlothian just a few short miles from Waxahachie.

The neighborhood was riddled with fear, fraud and terms like squatters. There were approximately 17 homes for sale mostly due to foreclosure as of January 2009. Realtors would steer their clients to more “desirable” neighborhoods. This is what our family found when house hunting a year ago.

We were visiting friends here in Midlothian and were looking for a new home and not finding a lot of options, in our town or in our price range, when my friend said we should take a look online to see what might be available in Midlothian. It was a Sunday afternoon and immediately our search, for a new home, led us to several really nice large homes on anything from a regular interior city lot to really nice size lots of ½ - 1 acre. The prices were a little less but not much less than our town until one popped up that was way below the other listings and was listed as “new” on 1+ acres with 4800 sq. ft. WOW. I thought it was a typo, but took a chance and called the realtor. The realtor answered and said she couldn’t show me a property out “there” but I could call the office. Strange. We found a realtor who agreed to show us the home but wanted to show us 3 others first. I loaded up the kids, my hubby and our friends and took off for location number 1. We liked the 3 homes we were shown but the lots were smaller or the prices were over double of the home we were holding out for. So, the realtor finally said, “You really don’t want that neighborhood. Look, I have to tell you it’s had problems.” I assured him I didn’t scare easily and was looking for a diamond in the rough.

Our first drive into Honeysuckle Estates was on a cloudy cold January day approaching dusk. Looking like we had found the local version of a ghost town rather than a residential neighborhood, we drove into the driveway of the home on the listing. After a few calls to find the right code for the lockbox we made our way inside. Amazing! It wasn’t finished but there were beautiful hardwood floors, granite countertops, custom wood cabinets and SPACE! The home was just under 4800 sq. ft. with 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, a game room, a media room complete with a Texas size lot of just over an acre. The price was dirt cheap for anywhere. I felt sorry for the builder but was intrigued by the possibilities. As we walked around we noticed home after home for sale. We immediately decided we wanted to see them all. The next day after taking my children to school I drove the hour drive that would become an almost daily trip out to Honeysuckle Estates from our current home to see what was there. I found homes in all states of disrepair, completion or vandalism. It didn’t add up. I was told the builder had financing problems and the homes had been foreclosed on. A little web search of the area and neighborhood led to more details. It seems the prestigious neighborhood, which started off with a bang of families looking for that true dream home or investing in their retirement home, became a nightmare as mortgage fraud and an almost unheard of term for today “squatters” took over. A neighborhood with custom upscale finishes and elite living had been hijacked!

By the time I started exploring the possibilities there were no more squatters but the evidence of their presence was everywhere in the homes that were left behind. Our family decided we would gamble on the amazing deal and bid on a home. We didn’t get the first home we bid on but won the 2nd. Foreclosures are not always a quick method of buying. It took us from March 1st until June 5th to finalize our closing and take possession of our “new” home. We took possession of a home that was missing a cook top, had a busted water heater, was lacking caulking on all the windows, had a hole in at least one wall of every single room, leaky roof, missing insulation and a big dirt & rock back yard! Rolling up our sleeves we got busy turning the negatives to positive and making this our home. Those first few weeks were busy but almost eerie as no one was ever outside! Finally more and more of the foreclosed or for sale homes sold. By mid July we were down to about 5 houses left on the market. People were starting to come outside. Children could be seen playing, sprinklers were running, and flowers were popping up from the stingy rock with hope and beauty. Hope. That is the feeling people started to share in our tiny little neighborhood. We started meeting neighbors. A group of neighbors started sharing stories about fencing cost, where to buy sod, who was a good pediatrician. I started a Yahoo Group for neighbors to have a central place to get information and share ideas. We had our first block party on Halloween. It was a BIG success. 23 families from our neighborhood of 46 homes showed up. Kids had a blast decorating pumpkins, showing off costumes, participating in the cake walk, fishing game, pumpkin toss & hayride. Adults mingled, talked, corralled kids, and laughed at the kids playing. Speaking to a few of the “pioneer” families we learned of the long road they had endured to reach this moment of hope. Many of the first home owners may still be a little upside down on their investment but things are definitely moving in the right direction for Honeysuckle Estates! As of September all our homes are sold. Fences are going up, yards are sporting beautiful landscape, several new pools have been carved out of the rock, beautiful new doors have replaced the builder specials, and everywhere you look you see families working hard to turn these houses into homes and creating their version of “Happily ever after”.

1 comment:

Randomly TJ said...

Hello, anonymous...I'm not sure what you were leaving me. The link did not pull anything up. If you'd like to post a different link I'll try again. :)