Saturday, April 21, 2012

How Normal People Do It

Normal Person:

Ask around to get a realtor recommendation. Call her up to chat. Make an appointment to meet her in her office, just to get to know each other. Set a date to look at houses in a week or so. Look at houses all day. See nothing. Look the following weekend. Still see nothing. Look at open houses, just for kicks, a couple of weekends in a row. Go out again with the realtor. See a house you like. Go home and talk it over with your spouse. Go back and look again.  Visit the house without the realtor, in the evening, to see how the neighborhood changes after work hours. Check out the schools. Talk to the neighbors. Look at a few more houses. Look at the house you like, one more time. Talk some more. Look some more. Talk some more. Finally put in an offer to buy the house. Don't forget that you will be there for the home inspection, in case you have any last minute questions or concerns, and of course you will both be there to sign the paperwork at the closing.

Foreign Service Person:

Fly into DC for a totally unrelated reason. Arrange to meet realtor for a half-day research session. See lots of awful, terrible overpriced houses in a whirlwind 4-hour marathon. See one house that seemed nice, if slightly over budget. Thank the realtor and fly back overseas. Tell husband you found house that seemed nice. Husband says "we should buy it." Call bank, which won't lend you money because you're overseas, unless you put a whopping TWENTY FIVE PERCENT down. Gnash your teeth. Check under Drexel Heritage couches for loose change. Come up with 25 percent - barely (though admittedly, most of the 25% was not found under couch). Wonder if house is as nice as you remember. Wonder if neighborhood is nice. Wonder if stores are nearby. Wonder if schools are decent. Wonder if that 25% should be spent elsewhere. Wonder if you'll be eating ramen noodles for the next ten years if you spend every cent on a house. Wonder if it is smart to buy a house no one else in your family has ever seen. Wonder if you'll even be posted in DC any time soon. Wonder if you can afford house when you return to DC. Wonder what time it is in DC so you can call your realtor. Consider making an offer on house, knowing you won't be there for the inspection or the closing, and indeed you might not even see the house again for several years. Will it be as nice as you remember? How many bedrooms does it have again? Will you even be able to find it when next you fly into town? Will your husband hate it? Will you hate it?  Cross your fingers and make an offer.

Sometimes, being in the Foreign Service makes things really, really complicated.


Z. Marie said... [Reply]

I'm jealous, in a way, but also oh-so-grateful I've never actually had to deal such a thing.

Becca said... [Reply]

So did they accept?

Donna said... [Reply]

Don't know yet! I'll keep you posted.

Linsey said... [Reply]

Astonishingly you are one-up on us, we bought our house sight unseen (neither of us) using a realtor we'd only talked to on the phone. It worked out, but talk about a gigantic leap of faith. Fingers crossed that all goes well for you.

Congrats, by the way, on passing your oral exam, that is both impressive and exciting.

C.C. said... [Reply]

Oh my gosh, you described the process perfectly! I feel your pain... I, too, will keep my fingers crossed that it all works out.

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Oh don't I know it. We're not FS, but just did the same thing - sight unseen (and that process of a mortgage when living overseas? PAINFUL!).

We did our "looking" via the realtor's video camera!!

Deborah said... [Reply]


Jill said... [Reply]

SO? Did you get it? Where is it? Inquiring minds wanna know if we're going to be neighbors!

Donna said... [Reply]

Finally done! They counter offered, we counter-countered, and the deed is done. Now: how to close the deal from overseas. I'll keep you guys posted...

holtzab said... [Reply]

Haha, well said! And kudos to you for going for it! We've been wanting to buy for a while but this whole FS thing makes it tricky? Do we buy in DC? Near family? In a vacation destination? We just can't decide. Ugh.

Shannon said... [Reply]

Dave is even as I type looking at DC real estate. It is his hobby. House porn. Congrats on the house. Hopefully someday that will be us.

Walking to China said... [Reply]

We just sold our house while living overseas. We had the fantasy of keeping our house, renting it and then selling at a profit so that we could buy new when we got back to the US. Bad renters, a housing market that dropped and the good advice of our real estate agent made us put our house on the market. We sold at a huge loss but we should close on the 30th. No more e-mails, no more fed-exing paperwork, no more going to the consulate for official stamps. At least the house is gone!

Please. Write your own stuff.