No time to remodel

The Bullocks opted for a brand-new developer house

Phoenix residents Julia and Joe Bullock started searching to buy their first home in long-established neighborhoods. They wanted space for a growing family and a room where Julia could practice yoga. "But then we realized that it would take a few years and a lot of money to redo an older house," Julia says. "We found that we could get a brand-new home with a mountain view and large rooms for the boys for the same price as a fixer-upper."

The Bullocks bought a new house in the South Mountain Village development built by KB Homes. The family is within 10 minutes of shopping, school, and work. "It was the right choice for us, because we just don't have time to remodel," Julia says. She owns Yoga Planet in Tempe, Joe has his own mortgage and real estate company, sons Jackson (8) and Malik (6) attend school, and Cameron (3) stays home with his mom.

The Bullocks' advice

Look for a community that will develop quickly. "There are 12 other new-home communities in this area," Julia says. "You can see how this one will develop and have more stores in time. That's important for resale considerations."

If you have children, choose a place where families flock. "I have great childhood memories of playing with kids in my neighborhood," Julia says. "I wanted the same kind of place for my kids. We chose a community where there were several large homes. We figured other people with kids would choose large homes."

Think beyond the builder's floor plan. The plans designated one room as a library or an office, but Julia needed a place for yoga. A few simple tweaks made it the room she craved. "We asked them not to put in the shelves, cabinets, or carpets designated for the space," Julia says. "To make it a yoga room, we selected wood floors, mirrored closet doors, a peaceful wall color, and Asian-style blinds."