8 Tips for Buying or Renting a Home During the Off Season

Couple buying home

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Hurray! No crazy summer PCS madness for you! Here's hoping the off-season moving months mean less competition for securing moving companies and dates. Add in a little hard earned vacation time (because off season travel is cheaper), and your PCS is bound to be better than packing up in the middle of a chaotic summer move session.

If you've never transitioned during untraditional moving months, take heart; there are plenty of benefits to take advantage of. Armed with these shopping tips, potential buyers and renters can sit back and research to their heart's content for the next perfect home with the knowledge they're on the right track to secure the best housing option.

1. Get The Word Out

This is the time to cast your research net long and wide. Put the word out that you're looking for a home and include your best guess at move in dates. So many successful house hunts begin and end by word of mouth. Military friendships made along the way often vouch for how good of a tenant you'd be or how the owner's house would be ideal for your incoming friends.

2. Create a MilitaryByOwner Account

Create an account with MilitaryByOwner to begin scouring inventory and set up custom filters for your searches. Not only will you find housing options, but you'll begin to notice trends and amenities that are sought after at your next duty station, such as typical rent or mortgage payments, pet deposits, and types of house styles.

Smart advertisers list the drive time to the base and popular shopping. They'll also mention if their home is zoned for desirable schools. You can easily cross check their statements with popular school research sites. You'll also begin recognize the pace of how quickly properties move, especially if they're pet friendly and conveniently located.

3. Join Virtual Groups that Specialize in Your New Town

Local groups both small and large will provide insider information for your next station. They often have threads geared toward real estate, not just vacancies and for sale properties, but opinions regarding commute times and the education options in the neighborhood. You'll also glean where to go for the best coffee and daycare options.

4. Research Areas Around Your Next Base

Make good use of the reviews on Military Town Advisor. There's a good chance someone has lived in and reviewed the city or base you're heading to. Military families who have been there and done that supply straight up advice about a variety of categories from off base housing to real estate agents.

5. Pick Your Favorite Neighborhood and then Choose the Second Best

Sometimes when we ask for opinions on where to live, we get an overwhelmingly popular mention naming the perfect street or neighborhood. If it's so spectacular, then everyone will want to live there and competition will be fierce or inventories will be low. And, while they are likely amazing choices for many people, there might be a reason why it isn't perfect for your family. There's no harm in having a second favorite.

6. Prioritize House Amenities

Create a list of priorities for the next house you live in and be prepared to give up one of those priorities. Everyone has different needs, so it's crucial to identify which will maximize quality of life for your family. But, it's also safe to assume the majority of buyers and renters are all looking for an updated house with the #1 rated school near their job for under BAH. Oh, and with a fence for the dog. Something will have to give.

7. Review your BAH and Take Home Pay for 2019

Dive into the BAH calculator and pick apart the differences between your current location and where you're about to move. Family living situations, promotions, years in service, and zip codes all make a big difference on how much money for housing the service member will receive. Similarly, the military is due a raise in the new year, so be aware as to how this affects your buying and saving power, whether renting or purchasing.

8. Know Your Negotiation Limits

Off season buying and renting often have the unique bonus of taking price negotiations a little further. No owner wants any empty house or double mortgage payments and do their best to avoid these situations. Their stance on purchase or rental price may soften, as might their aversion to renting to families with pets.

If some of these tips sound like they'd work for a typical moving cycle, that's true. There are some specifics that off season shoppers have to be aware of, but many of the strategies for home buying and renting are the same. PCS'ing during the fall and winter months is a great way for first timers to jump in without extra pressure, but it's also an ideal time for veteran shoppers to hone their skills for future moves.

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