In Phoenix, a Classics Professor Goes on a Home-Buying Odyssey. Which One Did She Choose? – The New York Times

The Hunt for …
The Hunt

For her first home purchase, an associate professor at Arizona State hoped to find something for less than $400,000, with a little history to it.
Sing, o Muse, of the home-buying odyssey of Sarah Bolmarcich, a classics teacher looking to buy her first home with no mortgage in the sun-baked valleys around Phoenix.
At least, that’s how Homer might have started the story.
Dr. Bolmarcich, an associate teaching professor at Arizona State University, studied in Athens as a Fulbright scholar and built a career studying ancient Greek statecraft. She started looking for a house in January after the rent on her suburban Phoenix apartment soared 30 percent, to $1,800 a month. She had two requirements: The house had to cost less than $400,000, so she could use her savings and an inheritance to pay cash for it. And it had to have a certain amount of age.
“I was really interested in a historic house,” she said. “I teach Latin and ancient Greek. To me, Phoenix is shockingly new.”
Dr. Bolmarcich, 50, grew up in Philadelphia and studied the Peloponnese, so she would chuckle at the sight of a historic plaque commemorating a church in the city of Tempe, near the Arizona State campus, that was built in 1901. The median year of a house built in Phoenix is 1983.
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A friend connected her with Sarah Jean Richetto, an agent with Re/Max Fine Properties, and they started looking around Chandler, a city outside Phoenix where Dr. Bolmarcich had lived for a decade. The homes she saw were spacious, and close to her friends and favorite restaurants and coffee shops. But many of the houses in the Phoenix metropolitan area — in Chandler and other suburbs, including Gilbert and Ahwatukee Foothills — were built in the 1980s or later. If she wanted an older home, she realized that she would have to look in central Phoenix, a 25-mile drive from Chandler and a longer commute to the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.
“I’d kept saying to Sarah, ‘Don’t let me look at any historic houses,’” Dr. Bolmarcich said. “Phoenix is too far off my path.”
But the pull of 1940s homes in the city’s older neighborhoods was too strong. Dr. Bolmacich is single, and didn’t need big closets, lots of bedrooms, a pool or even a second bathroom. But she had to have some vintage style.
“She ended up being true to her style and just saying, ‘I’m OK to drive 15 minutes to have lunch with a girlfriend,’” Ms. Richetto said.
Among her options:
No. 1
Little Castle With Screened Porch
Built in 1930, this two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 831-square-foot house in the Villa Verde Historic District of Phoenix resembled a turreted castle from outside, but felt like a light-filled cottage inside. It had original doorknobs and fixtures, as well as an updated kitchen that looked onto a screened back porch and a lovely yard with a garden. The property was just down the street from the Arizona State Fairgrounds, with its massive parking lot and arena. The asking price was $399,000, with reduced annual taxes of $350 because of its historic designation.
No. 2
Territorial Style With New Kitchen
This two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 916-square-foot territorial-style home in the North Garfield Historic District of Phoenix was built in 1916, and wasn’t quite as nice as it appeared in the listing photos. It had a covered front porch, a renovated kitchen and bathroom, and a new HVAC system. The backyard was paved in stone and studded with cactus, and there was a detached studio with an additional bathroom but no air-conditioning. The house sat near an empty lot and an abandoned building. The asking price was $380,000, with $1,659 in annual taxes.
No. 3
Brick House With Bonus Room
Built in 1948, this two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 1,405-square-foot brick ranch house was in a nice neighborhood and had an expansive (although not especially bright) living-and-dining room anchored by a potbelly stove. The kitchen was dated, and a pair of French doors led to a bonus room that looked onto a grassy backyard with mature trees. There was a covered carport, but no garage, as well as a storage shed with water and electricity. The asking price was $375,000, with $1,288 in annual taxes.
Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:
Which Would You Choose?
Little Castle With Screened Porch
Territorial Style With New Kitchen
Brick House With Bonus Room
Which Did She Buy?
Little Castle With Screened Porch
Territorial Style With New Kitchen
Brick House With Bonus Room


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