The perfect house for you and your MilFam does exist. The one with an open floor plan, tons of counter space, hardwood floors, huge fenced-in backyard, and master suite complete with a master Jacuzzi bath and walk-in closet.
You know what we’re talking about — your dream home.
But, when your home address changes every 2-3 years and is totally reliant on the military, you can’t necessarily think about your forever home each time you make a PCS move. You need to focus on your not-so-forever home, and that means that there’s a whole other list of things to consider when purchasing real estate. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
1. Renting vs. Purchasing: Which Is Right for You?
Of course, the first thing you need to consider is whether you want to rent or buy a home. According to AAFMAA Mortgage Services, the answer is not always simple, especially if it’s your first time making this decision.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself: What’s your next career move? How long will you be at your current duty station? If you buy your new home, will you be able to sell it when you PCS again or are you willing become a long-distance landlord?
With mortgage interest rates so low, some families are opting to purchase a home rather than rent. “It could be cheaper by a few hundred dollars a month, and help you build long-term wealth,” says Kevin Crooks, AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC Branch Manager in Wilmington, NC.
2. What Are Your Must-Haves?
Think about that dream home again and all of those things that would make it a happy and welcoming place for you. Now, ask yourself: What features are non-negotiable for any home you live in?
Perhaps you have a dog and need that fenced-in yard. Or, maybe you love to cook and need a kitchen with enough space to work in. Whatever your needs and wishes are, split them up into two categories: “Must-Haves” and “Would-Be-Nice” to share with your realtor.
3. Think About Your Next Buyers
Yes, your home is technically for you, but the truth of the matter is that you also have to consider the next family who will be purchasing your home should you have to move again in a year or two.
While on active duty, consider any property you purchase as an investment and always ensure that your home is marketable in the long term. Think about generally appealing layouts and features so that you can easily rent or sell the house, should you have to.
4. Research the Market
Many areas with large military establishments are built upon the idea that the base will sustain a suitable stream of housing revenues and inventory. If you and your family are looking to purchase a home off-base, then you will definitely want to work with your real estate agent to get a good understanding for the housing market in your desired area.
Look for areas where houses hold their value and available homes do not stay on market very long. This can give you a great idea of where to purchase.
5. Use Your Network
There are approximately 690,000 American Military Spouses out there, and many of them would be happy to give you some advice! Talk to friends in your circle who purchased a home on active duty to find out what they did right and what they would do differently. Or, connect with your local SpouseLink Ambassador to get the scoop on a particular area.
6. Consider a VA Home Loan
A great option for military families looking to purchase is a VA Home Loan.
VA Home Loans are mortgage loans uniquely offered to members of the military community, including active duty, National Guard, Reserves and Veterans — and they come with some big benefits. Four of the biggest VA Home Loan benefits are:
- $0 Down Payment
- No Mortgage Insurance
- Relaxed Credit Guidelines
- Low Interest Rates
Of course, there are both pros and cons to a VA Home Loan and it may not be the best fit for your family or situation. Always consult with your mortgage lender, such as a member of the AAFMAA Mortgage Services, LLC team, to evaluate what loan types you’re eligible for so that you can determine which is right for you.
For the average American family, the decision to buy a home comes with many tough decisions and a huge financial commitment — but even more so for military families with endless unknowns; however, buying a house while on active duty can be a great investment for you. And, look at it this way, each time you move, you gain more and more experience in the marketplace, while experiencing different types of homes in various locations around the country and world. It’s an adventure many don’t get, so enjoy the ride!
More Military Family Mortgage Insights from AMS:
Solutions for Your Military Family:
Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Home Mortgages, Survivor Services, and more. Learn more about AAFMAA.