Saturday, March 27, 2010

Future Muñoz homesite

I’ve had my eye on this neighborhood called Fern Meadow in Stevenson for over a year now and recently a parcel there became available. We put in an offer and it was accepted. It’s about a mile up the hill from town in an area of newer homes, with private newly paved roads, private wells & septic systems (just out of city limits), CC&Rs to avoid too much hillbilly (haha) action, but not overly restrictive, and it’s relatively flat for this area. It’s Stevenson, so of course there are rolling hills, huge rocks, and the entire area rests on a massive clay shelf in ancient and gulp, recent, slide zones. All properties in Skamania County in fact, must have a Geo Tech test to make sure your property will not be sliding down onto your neighbors in the near future. A massive earthquake would be devastating I’m sure, but there are no major fault lines right in Stevenson. The main issue is just that it’s the Columbia Gorge and every bit of the Gorge has moved and slid about at some point in history because of the Columbia River, glacial action in the past, and the fact that there is a lot of clay in the ground.
At the county planning office, Teddy (county planner) showed us a huge map of the entire gorge, which shows all of the slides over time. It’s extremely interesting to see how they were formed and how they all overlap each other. There is currently an active slide above Fern Meadow (the Maple slide) but it’s headed down the hill on the other side of us directly towards the LDS church, which will be swept away at some point in the next 100 years if they can’t stop that one (don’t know how they could), but it’s also sliding from the bottom, which is the Piper Slide; the lower part of the same slide across the street down the hill from the church. One family’s home (a block from the church) is currently sliding down the hill and the county built them a brand new home directly across the street from our new property, so clearly where we are buying is in a relatively safe area and not expected to slide any time soon. Kinda crazy though, eh? You can see all of this on Google Earth if you want to check it out. Just type in Stevenson, WA and zoom in. It’s hard for me to tell exactly what I’m looking at sometimes, but it is interesting.
Soooo, on to the property, now that we’ve had our geography lesson. lol!
It’s 3 acres, with a well, driveway, cleared homesite, Geo Tech tested, Kanaka Creek goes right through the property with a little waterfall, tons of native vegetation and wildlife (4 deer ran past us last time we were there), and it’s QUIET. Yippy! It’s in Stevenson, so of course it is partially sloped, but nothing major and there are plenty of flat spots. The slide thing might freak some people out, but after looking at several other properties that looked they were literally hanging on for dear life to the side of the gorge, this one looks wonderful.
It was kind of dark when I took the pictures, but I think you can see somewhat; the first one is the waterfall (my favorite feature on the lot!), next is the driveway (built in 2004, so overgrown a bit), and last is the view from the front of the property with the home across the street. The homesite is in the back and is mostly private. Look at all of those brambles! I know 2 boys who are going to be gearing up with machetes and going to work. :-)

Looking for that perfect land

We've been looking for a place to call (permanent) home for almost 2 years now and finally put in an offer that was accepted! We've done a lot of research and our dream has been to find land that we can garden, have a few chickens, build tree houses and forts, and basically just run wild and enjoy nature right at home. I have researched cordwood and cob building, even living in a yurt, but we always keep our options open and even living in a fairly conventional home is fine, as long as we have some land to get creative on.
We have looked at dozens of bare land lots, as well as fixer uppers (even in Portland)and several nice homes on 1/2 acre+ lots, and put in one formal offer on a cute cottage on 1/2 an acre across the street from the library, which was a wonderful location right in town, but our offer wasn’t accepted, even $20k OVER asking price in this market?!? Which tells you something about Stevenson real estate; it’s just not suffering as much as other parts of the county. We are very grateful that our offer wasn’t accepted however, as we were totally doing the Tevya thing; “On one hand…., on the other hand…” lol.
The arguments:
Pros: It was cute as a button, 1950’s Cape Cod, all wood, we knew the previous owner (he died there last summer), he created beautiful gardens, all mature, nice landscaped creek, walk to everywhere in Stevenson, BUT…
Cons: busy corner (this was a huge one for us, as it’s one of the busiest corners in town and we felt a LOT of trepidation about it), part of the lot is steeply sloped, tiny kitchen and dining room, and there would be a few older house issues (they all have some!).
Soooo, after that disappointment, we set out determined to buy land and have a new home built on it. We have looked at LOTS of properties over the past 2 years, as far north as La Center, WA (not counting the sneak peaks at Mat-Su land!), east to Goldendale, WA, as far south as Estacada, OR, and west as far as Banks, OR. Phew! We’ve looked at so many Columbia Gorge properties; I was offered a job by Mal & Seitz Real Estate to be an agent – no joke! They are across the river in Cascade Locks and I went looking at properties over there with an agent named Ginger. We talked so much and I shared with her so many different loan options & building/developing ideas that I really impressed her and she said whenever I want to take the exam, they’ll save a desk for me. She even called me later to assure me that she was serious. :-) I love educating people on their professions – lol! At least Ginger appreciated it and I may even take her up it, I would enjoy working with her some more and I am looking at future career options. I’ve also had to educate my loan officer over at USDA rural, but that’s another story which hasn’t been nearly so enjoyable and has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress. I am going to make this a single blog post and talk about the new property in it’s own post, up next! :-)