Today was the first and only weekday we would have to explore in Prescott and Chino Valley before we dashed back to Silver. The most noticeable difference about it being a weekday was the traffic – there were traffic slow-downs all the time and all over. The area suddenly seemed very congested.
A few important things came up on Sunday that needed to be done before leaving the area, so those took precedent. The oil service light on the car had appeared and considering there was a Honda dealer in Prescott, we decided to have the oil change taken care of. Additionally, we had to establish a local bank account in order to get make our funds readily accessible.
We woke early and got back from breakfast by 7:30am. The Honda dealership was open, so we made an appointment for the car at 9:30. The banking had to fit in somewhere as well, so Brian planned to visit them at 9:00am and hopefully get out of there before the oil change. In the lag time, we prepared our delicious butter coffee (sorry hotel neighbor – that’s what you get for having the TV on all night). Brian’s Monday morning –
- 8:45 Leave for bank
- 9:00 Start account opening process
- 9:25 Leave for oil change
- 9:30 Drop car off for service
- 9:35 Walk back to bank
- 9:50 Finish bank process
- 10:50 Go back to Honda and pay
- 11:10 Arrive back at hotel
Phone calls & Utilities
The pets are like little people who don’t speak English (except for Fred). You can’t leave them unattended in the hotel room for long and you can’t leave them in the car while the oil is being changed. Thus, while Brian was literally running around Prescott, I stayed at the hotel with the pet brigade.
There are 3 big questions we have to ask about all of the properties we are considering – does it have access to city utilities; if not, how deep are the wells in the area, and does the area get cable internet. I was on the phone with people the entire time Brian was gone, trying to establish these facts about the properties.
Before leaving Chino Valley, it was important that we understand if either area has any properties with an ideal utility setup. If a property is on city sewer/water, it potentially makes things a lot simpler and changes how much we are willing to offer for it.
The challenge with investigating land is that it contains a lot of unknowns and depending on who you speak with or what you read, you can find people steering you in completely different directions. For example, we were told by a county official that a particular area is on city utilities. However, when we spoke to a well driller for an estimate, we asked about that particular area and he filled us in on the well specs for all the neighboring properties. A house for sale seems more straightforward.
Shenanigans with Chino call
When calling the town hall in Chino Valley for information about utilities, things got crazy. I gave her five addresses (all very much in Chino) and received the following five responses –
- Not serviced by Chino and we don’t know who does serve it.
- Serviced by Prescott
- Serviced by the county
- Serviced by the county
- Not clear but it appears to have a septic & well installed
- Serviced by a private company out of a nearby city
I called Prescott for #2 and was told that while they do service some areas, that address was not one of them. Okay…I called the county and asked if they provided water/sewer for #3 and #4. I was told no but that it is possible they’ve recently put in improvements (septic/well) and would I like to speak with the Environmental Dept? Okay…I gave the Envir. Dept the addresses for #3, #4 and #5 and was told that none of them have well or septic and are not serviced by the county. For #6, there was no phone number available online.
So after multiple phone calls and numerous explanations about what we were doing, all we found out was that it was likely that none of the plots we were interested in were on public utilities. It’s good to know, but not the best news.
The Silver City calls weren’t as bad but they did not turn up any helpful information either. Cable internet was not available anywhere we wanted to live.
How to be organized
Along the way, we have learned to be very organized. We have a spreadsheet with all of our facts and questions about each property. We track the basics (asking price, size, realtor, utilities, etc) as well as pros and cons. We also have google earth installed on the laptop with every property pinned and described. In each description, we include data from zillow or realtor.com as well as our own commentary after visiting the site. This allows us to have all of the information when we are in remote areas and can’t access internet.
Planning a map out this way helped us be really efficient in Prescott and Chino. We did not have the wherewithal to put everything on a map the first time through Silver. That means we re-drove a lot of streets and forgot things. Yes, you can use a smart phone but you can’t make notes on the property via zillow and the screen is tiny. Plus, it helps to have the smart phone available for following your little blue blob as it travels on the map – most areas show property outlines, so you can drive until your blob hits the desired location.
We have also tracked our expenses for everything – food, gas, lodging, misc. At first this was just for fun (I like data) but it became practical when we started to feel things were costing too much. By examining how we were averaging about halfway through the trip, we could decide in which areas to cut back. Food is a biggie, so we’re now eating mostly fast food- lots of salads and bunless burgers.
Silver City Auction
You may be wondering why we were rushing to complete things in Prescott in order to head to Silver. Hadn’t we just been there? Yes, indeed…
On our final day in Silver, we got word of a land auction taking place on November 19th. We received a list of 14 pieces of land that were to be auctioned off due to tax delinquency. We weren’t interested at first, but when we saw one with 11.6 acres with a minimum bid of $400, we knew it was worth considering. We considered not leaving Silver at all and just staying for the land auction. However, if we hadn’t gone to Chino, we might have always wondered about it.
So we drove all night to Prescott/Chino, did our land searches in 40ish hours and left again. We needed to be situated in Silver by Tuesday morning so that we could spend some time at the clerk’s office as well as double and triple check the land. More on that later…
Back to Silver
The trip back took 6 hours of driving plus a few stops for food and gas. Two nice acts of courtesy/trust happened along the way. While eating at the McDonald’s, a complete stranger from the booth next to us asked me if I would watch her stuff while she went to the bathroom. Thar has never happened to me anywhere else. People can be too suspicious so they won’t trust a stranger. OR the stranger wouldn’t trust the person asking because they’d suspect they had a bomb in their bag.
So that was nice….Additionally, we called the Motel 6 in Silver when we were still 2.5 hours out and asked if we could reserve a room. When they requested a credit card, I asked if we’d lose our room if we just waited and paid in cash. Her response – “Don’t worry about it. I’m here until 11 so I’ll put you down and we can take care of it when you arrive.” Totally nice.
It was nice to pay for 2 nights upfront…2 whole nights so no rushing to clear out in the morning before 11am. We crashed late with a big plan for Tuesday. There was a lot to get done before we knew whether or not to bid on this fantastic property.