About the time when we bought a house in a foreign country… Online

On Valentine’s Day, we purchased a house in New Zealand while still living in Canada. Two days before our 11th wedding anniversary, we moved into our new home.

After we had made a decision about the city in NZ in which to settle, having done some research to determine in which neighbourhood we want to live, we started browsing, on a daily basis, the local NZ real estate site. We had been researching for almost a year before spotting a house that felt perfect from the moment we first clicked on the listing. In fact, I had the same feeling 10 years prior about a charming house north-east of Toronto that quickly became our home and which we were preparing to list in preparation for our move. This particular house near Tauranga was in an ideal location for us, and only a short drive or a slightly longer walk to the beach. After a telephone call and Skype walk-through with the real-estate agent (the internet is a marvellous thing), we knew we had found our next home.

We sold our Toronto-area house on February 9th, and five days later, on a snowy Valentine’s evening, we took part in our first auction, our first real estate auction, and our first real estate auction to buy a house outside of a country where we had been living at the time. Have I mentioned that the internet can be wondrous? We were also grateful for the time difference that allowed us to take part in the auction at home, outside our regular office hours.

Prior to that experience, we were unfamiliar with real estate auctions, as well as other kiwi real estate jargon. Essentially, an auction is a clever tactic to generate a friendlier version of the bidding war and to get the seller the best value for the house. Mr. Wanderlust and I were on a long-distance call with the real estate agent, who sat in the auction room. At the same time, we watched the auction on a live website. Several other houses were sold first, each going within a matter of minutes. Houses? Hot cakes? Potato / potahto?

Our pulse quickened as we watched a now familiar photo of ‘our’ home appear on the screen. Two minutes later, we were the new owners of a house near Tauranga. We immediately phoned our parents. Repeating the phrase “We just bought a house in NZ” made the fact more palpable. My parents were incredulous.

“You bought a house, sight-unseen?”

“Not exactly,” I assured them. “We had a virtual walk-through via Skype.”

Later, when I showed them the photos, they fell almost as much in love with the house as we are. Perhaps it might be considered unusual to purchase property online, but we knew in our hearts that we had made the right decision.

Mr. Wanderlust, the Wanderlust Juniors, and I visited the house in person several days after we landed in NZ. We were pleased to find that we love our home even more after actually walking through it, finding it in excellent move-in condition. We looked forward to making it ours.

On mutual agreement with the vendors, we set our moving date to late July, and moved in two days before our 11th wedding anniversary. A house is a somewhat unconventional present, but we have always been pragmatic. We jokingly refer to it as the romantic gift to ourselves that keeps on giving. After spending three months in a sweet but very small beach house in which we sometimes – particularly on rainy days – felt all too clearly a shortage of personal space, we are enjoying every moment in our new nest.

A leap of faith feels right sometimes, particularly with a supportive partner.

In the next post, I will share with you several lessons that our family learned while living out of suitcases for three months in a small two-bedroom cottage.

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