In 2009, the Gomezes were house-hunting. (Sean McCormick/For The Washington Post)

In late 2008, newlyweds Diego and Jessalynn Gomez decided to take a big, albeit very well-calculated, risk. With no clear end in sight to the housing market freefall, they began a search for their perfect starter home. Ideally, it would be new. “I don’t want other people’s stuff and germs,” Jessalynn said.

In March 2009, the couple purchased a townhouse for around $380,000 in a new development in Gaithersburg, with the hopes of settling down and starting a family.

Having been homeowners for two years now, the Gomezes are still very happy with their decision. Property values are going up in the area and they haven’t had to make any major improvements. They also like their location, despite strangers’ negative comments about their 30-mile work commute to the District after the story appeared. “We always planned on moving out of the city and then working outside the city,” says Diego, now 32. “We didn’t want our [then] current employers to know that we were hoping to leave them.” Diego is an IT support administrator for Palantir Technologies in McLean, and Jessalynn works as a manager at Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda.

“We had a plan and we followed it,” Jessalynn, now 34, adds.

The Gomezes don’t believe they are underwater in their mortgage. Indeed, according to real estate professional Kim Pham, , the houses in the family’s neighborhood are now between $390,000-$400,000.

The Gomezes take comfort that they did their homework and structured their budget accordingly. “We figured out what we could afford. We didn’t go beyond that. We didn’t buy too much house,” Diego says. For future homeowners, the Gomezes offer practical advice: “Do your research — figure out what you want, what you need,” and avoid the naysayers. Diego says: “Had we not done it, had we decided to not buy because people were being negative, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The couple prefer owning a home over renting even though, “We don’t get to call the landlord anymore,” Diego says.

They like that they won’t need to ask anyone’s permission when they’re ready to make cosmetic improvements. “There’s a pride that comes with ownership,” Diego notes.

The Gomezes are now parents to an eight-month-old girl, and they expect to move to Rockville or Bethesda in five or 10 years. But Diego points out that the home they have now is larger “… than any house that I ever grew up in,” and, at 2,500 square feet, big enough to hold more children. “We’ve got space,” Diego says. “It’s ample house to raise a family in.”

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