It’s been said that the unpredictability of military life is constant, and that also goes for the best-laid housing plans.
With renting as an attractive option for on-the-move military families, buying a home can seem like something to put off until after you’re out of the service and no longer forced to make housing decisions with very short notice.
But with advance preparation, you might be able to put yourself in a position to buy when it makes financial sense, instead of waiting until frequent, last-minute change is no longer a part of the landscape. Even renting in a hurry can be a huge source of stress.
There are things you can do to lessen the cloud of anxiety renting or buying in a hurry can cause. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Be prepared for the unpredictable. Rentals can fall through at the last moment, and sometimes the best-laid plans can leave you looking to buy a home when you didn’t expect it.
If that becomes your situation, first look at all your options. There may be other rentals available that fit your needs. But if you know you’ll be at your next duty station for a while, or if you are a veteran settling into post-military life, now may be a great time to invest in a home that will help you build wealth over time. You can access free services such as Navy Federal Credit Union’s RealtyPlus®1 program that will match you with an experienced real estate professional in your area and help you find your new home quickly.
2. Do the pre-work ahead of time. Buying a home, especially quickly, means having all the pre-decisional work done in advance. It’s not a bad idea to get pre-approved for a home loan before you start looking or if you need to pivot from your previous plan and start an unexpected home search. Pre-approval gives you information on how much home you can afford and helps narrow down the possibilities to ones you know will work for you and your budget. Keep a file of all the things you’ll need to get pre-approved for a home loan so that they are ready to go when you need them.
3. Be aware of hot real estate markets. If you know where you are moving, do an assessment of the local real estate market and find out whether buying in that area makes sense. Using a service like RealtyPlus® gives you immediate access to a local professional who can help you determine whether the area is a good place to invest, and you get cash back, based on the value of your new home, for using the service. If the market is hot, you may be better off buying, improving and selling in a short period rather than renting.
4. Use your network. Your military friends and colleagues are some of the best resources you have. Whether you’re active duty or a veteran, that network can give you the inside scoop on your upcoming location. Ask where they lived and what they liked about the area. Also investigate which neighborhoods are easy commutes to the local installation and what areas are up and coming. Even if you’re a veteran and no longer making the daily trek to base, picking a home within commuting distance to the gate could make it more attractive to other military members or veterans when you’re ready to sell.
For most people, buying a home is a once or twice in a lifetime event. But for military families and veterans, there may be multiple opportunities over the course of your career and post-military service to invest in and reap the rewards of buying a home that will build equity and strengthen your financial outlook.
Navy Federal is insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.
1. In order to fully benefit from RealtyPlus® services, you must be referred by RealtyPlus® before contracting with a real estate agent and be represented by the assigned RealtyPlus® real estate firm and agent at closing to qualify. Standard listing fees apply. Contact RealtyPlus® for terms and conditions.