Muhammad & Malvo made Bel Air look like a better choice than Rockville


As Lee Boyd Malvo testifys today in a Rockville courtroom against his partner in terror John Allen Muhammad, I recalled the impact the pair had on my decision to move to Bel Air back in the fall of 2002. I was trying to stay out of the snipers’ line of fire when I chose to look for a house in Bel Air that rainy autum. I was feeling vulnerable anyway with a newborn baby I was nursing in the back of the van as we visited house after house. We were moving from Delaware, close enough that we could race down I-95 to see new listings as they popped on the MLS listings. But we were dragging two children along and somehow, with Muhammad and Malvo terrorizing southern Maryland, it seemed comforting to stay north. It was still so close to 9-11 that the prospect of snipers lurking wasn’t enough to prevent me from moving to Maryland. I was still caught up in the soldiering-on zeitgeist. But Muhammad and Malvo’s horrific rampage did convince me it wasn’t necessary to wander uncertainly about Montgomery County looking for real estate signs. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the snipers, the home prices down there so close to Washington would have likely scared us away. We have family in Bel Air, and it was my aunt who found our current home listed in the local newspaper, The Aegis. The owners, who were selling it without a Realtor, listed it only in the local paper. They said they wanted to sell it to a local buyer. Luckily, we had connections. My aunt was able to look past the turquoise shutters and front door, the busy floral wallpaper that climbed up the staircase wall and the seafoam green carpet and told me that if she were buying a house, she’d want to move right in. Four years later, with Malvo testifying against his former mentor and future plans that will likely keep them both from doing anyone anymore harm, I’m still pleased with our decision. Yes, had we bought down south we would have likely seen the price we could now get for our home rise precipitously. But, in Bel Air, we gained some peace of mind along with our real estate value.