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Team EvoAZ’s Corner

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful..Six Months in Our Eastmark Build

I can’t believe today is SIX months since we moved into our brand new home in Eastmark. We are over the moon about living here and it’s been amazing seeing our little corner complete construction! The fact that you can go outside and see neighbors chatting, kids playing and an overall sense of community is something special here in AZ. The last six months have been a great chance to reflect on some of the choices we made and think about some of the things that we wish we would have changed.

Let’s start with the good!

1) Lot Placement

We chose our specific lot because it faced the park and had no neighbors behind. Small perks that we noticed on our lot hunt were a tall wall in the back for privacy and a smooth entry driveway.  We also love that we aren’t situated near any main entrances to our part of the neighborhood so it cuts down on chances of speeding while the kids are out playing. We lucked out with having some amazing neighbors! There are kids galore in our section. The beauty of Eastmark is they have a little something for everyone such as entry level homes, move up homes, and retirement options. One of the reasons we chose our section is because A) it was in our budget and B) after working in Real Estate for a bit, I know that this price point it will attract a lot of families with younger kiddos which is perfect for our daughter.

2) Paint

We are SO happy that we decided to hire a painter to come in and paint our interior before moving in. Sure, it sounds super easy to just have the builder do it (at a premium of course), but it was 100% worth it to have Sun Valley Painting Professionals come in and do it the right way. The builder will typically use flat paint which is NOT kid friendly. We were able to choose which colors we wanted and upgraded to a Cashmere finish which is more durable if you have little ones. This saved us over $1,000 from having the builder paint and we got a more customized look.

3) Fixtures

At first we were unsure if we should pay the premium to upgrade things like our faucets, fans and lighting or just do it ourselves. I’m happy to say that I’m still in love with our fixture choices. It saved a lot of money in the long run (think interest on a 30 year loan) to go with the standard items and upgrade later.

There are so many more amazing things about this home, but let’s shift to the Bad.

The Bad

1) The backsplash (or the Granite)

One of the choices I wish we had waited on is the backsplash. We had pre-picked out that backsplash because we LOVED the brushed aluminum look and had to have it. As you can see from our sample photos, our granite turned out MUCH busier looking than the sample piece. They did warn us that styles may vary since granite is a natural stone and not manmade.

If I could go back, I would not have had the builder do the backsplash and waited to see what our countertops were going to look like. If you are doing a Quartz style where the pattern doesn’t vary as much, this doesn’t apply to you as much. We actually love how the granite turned out, but a simpler backsplash would make it look perfect!

2) Big Giant Showers

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the huge walk in shower…but, if we were able to travel back in our DeLorean, we would absolutely have had it tiled with something that doesn’t show so much dirt. The shower is so big, you almost have to walk a mile before your feet hit any kind of water. In Arizona, we don’t have clean feet unless you wear socks all day! If you can’t afford to upgrade the tile, absolutely get the grout sealed ASAP before moving in. Luckily, this is something that can be changed by hiring the right professional.

New build tip: If you are opting for a huge open shower, be sure to put add a door to the entrance of your master bath so you can close the door and steam it up before showering. I’ve heard many people say they freeze their butts off in their giant showers.

3) Sinks

I definitely still love the square sink style. The only draw back is they are very hard to keep clean! Maybe it’s a personal problem since I don’t put in much effort. Since they don’t have a normal round bowl to get that pesky toothpaste down the drain, the mess just tends to sit there. If we could do a do-over, I would go with the granite countertop upgrade and oval sink combo.

The Beautiful

This neighborhood just drops my jaw daily. Everything here is so pretty from the parks, the Bus Stop at the Visitors Center, the Pool/Splashpad, the Diner…the list goes on! We are even getting our own farm in the neighborhood where we can get fresh produce and eggs. Many people tell me they don’t want to live this far out until they actually see it in person. I sure would have wanted to be the first person in Chandler before it got huge! This area is booming and there are tons of jobs coming to Southeast Mesa along the Elliot Technology Corridor. With 5 schools choices with-in 2 miles, there is something for everyone!

To stay up to date on everything Eastmark, check out The Eastmark Experience on Facebook!

If you’re thinking of building new now or in the future, send me a message! I have my new build radar on everyday and will look out for the best neighborhood that fits your needs. We have special deals for our clients so be sure to ask about our coupons!

Happy Hump Day!

Jen Duncan a.k.a JD a.k.a #NewBuildNinja

[email protected]


5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Neighborhood

1) Check Crime Stats and Sex Offenders

Be sure to check the crime stats and registered sex offenders list. There’s nothing worse than moving into a neighborhood to discover that there are less desirable areas nearby. When we built our first home, we didn’t do any exploring past 2 miles from the home site and regretted it later when the crime increased in our area. We knew right then that when we decided to start a family we would need to move. Crime statistics, the sex offender registry and more can be found in the Buyer Advisory.

2) Check Upcoming Foreclosures

Most agents don’t know to do this!  If there are one or two…that’s typical and shouldn’t have too much impact. If it’s 10 or 20 then that could be something to consider when thinking about your future home value.

3) Talk With Other Moms!

Talk with other Moms or people that are familiar with the area.  Try to join the Facebook neighborhood groups and ask questions about things to do in the immediate area. You’ll want to ask about schools, parks, restaurants, etc. MOMnationAZ is a great place to start. What is better than a network of over 4,500 Moms who live all over the Valley? We all know Moms crave adult conversation away from their kids so start asking away!

Think about if you want a neighborhood that is amenity rich like Eastmark, a family favorite, or if you’d like a no frills, no HOA neighborhood where you’re free to park work vehicles and RV’s and paint your home whatever color you please.

4) Do a Drive By

Drive by day and night, weekend and weekdays. Go hang out at the park and observe the area. It may be quiet all week long, but party central on the weekends, and not the kind of party you want to go to. Also, try talking with neighbors while visiting. This will be a great indicator to get a feel for the neighborhood and help you decide if you want to live there.

Remember, you have 10 days after making an offer on a home to do your due diligence and solidify your decision. Should you decide you want to back out of a home purchase in those 10 days, you will not be out any money.

5) Consider Commute Time

During the honeymoon phase of a new house, the 45 minute drive to work might not bother you, but it eventually will once the “newness wears off”. Dobson Ranch is a great neighborhood to consider if you’re looking for a neighborhood with great amenities, but also a quick commute to Phoenix.

Remember, your Realtor cannot steer you to or away from a certain area as it is against the Code of Ethics. You can, however, give them a wants/needs list of what you’re looking for in an area and they can go to work to help you find what you’re looking for based on experience and area knowledge.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with ANY Real Estate questions!

Happy House Hunting!

Jen Duncan a.k.a. JD!

[email protected]

480-707-7554 (Text Friendly)

You Shouldn’t Build a New Home…

I met one of our new neighbors the other day, super sweet, and just moved here from Colorado. This was their first new build and they were SO excited to start their new life here. They had their final walkthrough, moved in, and then started realizing everything that was wrong with the house. It’s not their fault, they don’t know what they don’t know. Of course they relied on builder to find all the errors because they are working for you right? Well kinda…

As the seller, it’s the builder’s job to be fair, complete your home and make sure it’s up to code. They hire a ton of sub-contractors that should be doing the job right as you would assume. We’re all human though, there is bound to be an error or two. If you had looked at her home, you would think it looked great! However, they didn’t know what to look for. They were high on emotions that “OMG our house is done!” They didn’t have a #NewBuildNinja in their court.

Instead of being SO excited to move in, they are having to deal with submitting several warranty requests and having things fixed that you really don’t have time for when you’re moving to a whole new state. If I had been working with them as their buyer’s agent, I could have caught the issues throughout the process and at the blue tape walkthrough. I do not have OCD, but when I’m at a blue tape walkthrough, I turn on my OCD and generally catch just about everything before you sign and move in.

So…You Shouldn’t Build a New Home…Without Me, Your New Build Ninja! 

My goal is to save headaches, marriages, and sanity while you are in the process of building a home and moving. Yes I said save marriages. Can you imagine two people walking into a design center with totally different ideas in mind and the arguments that can come from that? You’re talking design elements that will be part of your home for a LONG time, not to mention the money. I LOVE helping clients with determining the best upgrades for their money and how they can save on their upgrades by doing some things themselves after they move in.

Here are just a few other things I can help with during your new build:

1) Helping you choose a neighborhood based on your wants, needs, and school choices

2) Scoping out the best deals and incentives

3) Help choose the best lot that will not be detrimental to your home value

4) Review the contract and make sure you’re represented

5) Check on your home at least every 2 weeks

6) Check for any floor plan errors before the concrete slab is poured

7) Attend the Design Center appointment to help with design choices and money saving tips.

8) Attend the frame orientation and blue tape walkthrough. (The blue tape walkthrough is where you tag any defects or blemishes with blue tape a week before closing to have those items fixed)

9) Review final settlement statement to ensure no pricing and fee errors

10) Attend the final walkthrough and closing! I’ll ask questions you probably didn’t think to ask!

Be sure to present me with our $500 off Closing Costs Coupon. Not only will you NOT have to pay me to help with your new build, but we’re hooking you up with an extra $500!

If you’re thinking about a new build in the future, fill out my New Build Matchmaker form and I will keep my eyes peeled for the perfect neighborhood for you!

New Build Form

-Jen Duncan a.k.a. #NewBuildNinja – [email protected] – 480-707-7554


How We Bought Our Home For ONLY $750 Down!

Time seriously flies! We’ve actually been in our house for over 3 months now and it’s been such a hot mess getting unpacked that I haven’t posted pictures! It’s been wonderful living here. This neighborhood is like a utopia and we’ve nicknamed our street Princess Row because of how many little girls we have. When I first visited this community back in early 2016 I knew it was where we wanted Munch to grow up. I just love that the kids can come knock on the door and play on a whim.

Everyone has been asking me about how we bought our new build home with such a low downpayment. I kid you not, we only put down $750 on this home as our down payment. The Home Plus Grant program gave us right around $14,250 for the rest of the down payment to total a 5% down Conventional Loan. This is a dramatic difference from our last two rentals where we had to put out $4,000-$5,000 just to move in! The awesome thing with having a mortgage too is that you don’t have to make your first payment for 30-60 days depending on your closing date! Pair that with our $500 OFF closing costs and you have your moving costs covered! Grant program info:

Here’s the deal though… we started chatting with Ryan, our Finance Ninja, about 2 years before buying. We had a few things we needed to pay down and wanted our credit in tip top shape. We originally were not going to do the Grant Program until Ryan and his rockstar advice told us to move around some debts so that Chris could qualify on his own. We can’t thank him enough. Seriously, you are missing out if you are not working with him. We had a NIGHTMARE of an experience with one of the big banks back in 2010 and working with Ryan is a breath of fresh air. He treats all of our clients like gold and is SO patient.

Do yourself a favor and if you are thinking of moving now or in the next few years, have a quick chat with him NOW. It will only benefit you to be able to boost your credit and know that when your dream home pops up, you’ll be ready!

Contact info for Ryan Gilliam


If you’re curious about the buying process, send me an email at [email protected] or find me on Facebook and I’ll hook you up with our buyer cheat sheet that goes over the process step by step. We can also meet up for coffee and I can answer all of your questions.

And if you want to start drooling at some dream homes, saving favorites, and getting a feel for neighborhoods check out our brand new MLS search at

Happy New Year!

-Jen Duncan a.k.a. #NewBuildNinja  –  480-707-7554  –  [email protected]


7 Tips to Ease Your Blue Tape Walkthrough!

Our closing date came up so fast and I never got a chance to address blue tape. This is the term used when you have your walkthrough with the builder a week before closing. There are actually a few different colors of tape depending on what needs to be fixed (drywall, baseboard touch ups, stucco, etc). We did notice a lot of things that needed attention and I’m notorious for holding up the line and backing them up to point out areas that need tape. I told one of my clients recently that I have zero OCD unless I’m at a blue tape walkthrough.

Most people would say “I don’t need a Realtor with me for blue tape”. That couldn’t be more from the truth. A lot of people have anxiety asking for cosmetic fixes and they get caught up in the excitement that they are finally almost homeowners. Also, most of the time, people have no idea what to even be looking for. It’s always a good idea to have an extra pair of eyes at your walkthrough!

Here are some of my personal tips for your Blue Tape Walkthrough:


1) Make sure you eat before. This could be a 2 hour appointment and you don’t want to be hangry and rushing through your walkthrough.

2) Get a babysitter!

3) Bring water just in case they don’t bring you any.

4) Bring some toilet paper because… You know!

5) Take photos of items you want to remember to check on at your final walkthrough.

6) Bring a list of upgrades you chose. You’ll often forget some of them and you want to make sure you get everything you paid for. It’s also a good idea to visit the home throughout the build so you can catch major issues. I do this for my clients too! In our home the builder put in the wrong baseboards!!

7) Get excited because you’re almost homeowners!!

And of course, if you’re thinking about building a new home, contact me! It doesn’t cost you anything to work with a Realtor on your new build. In fact, I have coupons that will put money back in your pocket!

Feel free to call, text, email or Facebook! I’m always happy to talk new builds.

Jen Duncan a.k.a. #NewBuildNinja


[email protected]

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