Friday, July 19, 2013

House Hunting Overseas

You might think that with the US Supreme Court's having found the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, everything would be all hunky dory now, right?


You see, my wife and I are Virginia residents. We have been considering moving to Maryland, which has state marriage equality, for a while now. In fact, one of the first things she said to me after we heard the court's ruling was, "Okay, you can buy a house in Maryland now."

It isn't just about not wanting to continue paying taxes to a state that chooses to discriminate against us, though that is certain part of it. But it is also that the states can still do nasty things to us. Like, for example, not allowing us to make burial decisions for our legal spouse.

So we are house hunting in the Silver Springs/Takoma Park area. From half a planet away.

A friend who recently departed from post to spend a year on LWOP (leave without pay) recently did the same thing and bought a place in Colorado. Where she had never even visited. And I thought she was nuts.

And now we are doing it.

I have been searching online using MRIS Homes, looking a pictures, schools, location, etc. Then I am using google street view to "walk" the neighborhood (oh look, is that a crack house next door? I didn't see THAT in the pictures they posted! And seriously, I think some of these houses were on Curb Appeal before being listed!). Then I look at Zillow to get even more stats, including most recent sales prices of the home I am looking at, the estimated values of all the nearby homes and what recent homes there have sold for.

Once I have done all that, sometimes watch for a couple days. Homes prices well are moving in a few days. Homes that are over priced, even just a little, will often sit. And I am a bargain hunter, so I look for places where I can perhaps get it for less than asking, like in places where people have gotten no offers because they priced it poorly. And finally, I ask the realtor to take a look. She has even made walk-through videos for me.

We have already put on offer in on a place. Of course, we first had the realtor go and make a video walk through. And then we had a friend go by and walk through it again (thanks again, A!).

We are much less emotional than when we bought our first home together. We are not Property Virgins. We know how this works. We have already countered their counter offer. We know we may not get this place, and that is okay. We like it but don't love it. Nor do we need to love it. It isn't our retirement home (we will probably build that anyway). We have certain things we are looking for: a certain number of beds and baths, a yard, near the metro. It needs to be rentable when we are overseas. This property meets all of that and is cute too, but the seller is a personal representative on behalf of an estate, and for what seem like more emotional than practical reasons, isn't budging as much as I had hoped.

And even though this isn't personal, it is just an investment, I now know what my friend R felt like waiting for a response. Because it IS a big decision. Knots in your stomach don't begin to describe it. And the time difference doesn't help...sure, go ahead and try to fall asleep when the response will come in at maybe 6 pm their time, which is 1 am here.

So we shall see. We have a year before we will likely be back in the states, and we still don't know whether that will be for a tour or just for language training (blech...bidding....). A lot can happen in that time. We could buy a house. Or not. Virginia could adopt marriage equality (I really wish they would...I seriously love Northern Virginia). Or not.

In the meantime, I will try to focus on other major life decisions. Like bidding.

Blech. Think I will look at more houses.


Anonymous said...

An article in our local paper said that "most Virginians favor marriage equality" but then went on to clarify that by "most" they meant 50%, heavily women. Seriously?! Only 50%? I was a little damaged reading that. The same article said the candidate for Gov. McAuliffe only had a tiny lead over Cuchinelli - again women. you've GOT to be kidding me. If you can vote in the gov election, please do but then move to Maryland, We're fighting the good fight here but it isn't going quickly.

alex said...

Are you using Redfin too? We recently bought from overseas and found it to be leaps and bounds more accurate and useful than other sites.

Good luck!