Should I bother buying, or just keep renting?
It's no secret that active duty members move frequently (often every three years). In fact, despite that 64% of Americans own their home, only 34% of active duty members can say the same.
Maybe you consider purchasing a home, but then immediately find yourself envisioning your deployment forces giving you the news that it's time to pick up and head to another location again. This unpredictable lifestyle begs the question, "Should I bother buying a home or continue to rent?"
We're here to shed some light on the topic and provide some guidance. While there's no right or wrong answer, by the time you're done reading this article, you'll feel confident making the decision that's best for you.
The obvious comparison
Most military families will make the most obvious comparison: Will the cost of monthly rent be more or less than the cost of my monthly mortgage?
This is definitely a great first step - but resist the temptation to stop there. There are several other factors to consider.
In general, here are the notable advantages to each:
- Apply your BAH to rent
- You're not on the hook for major maintenance issues
- You're paying lower up-front costs
- Generally easier to move at a moment's notice
- Apply your BAH to mortgage payments
- VA loan benefits (i.e. 0% down + low interest rates)
- Make your house truly feel like home: you can paint, plant and decorate as you like
- You could make a profit
- You may get tax advantages
The single, most important question to ask yourself
Deciding whether or not to buy a property depends largely on one, major factor: Does this property have selling potential?
Not sure? Here's a great place to start.
Discover your property's selling potential by following these steps:
- Find a knowledgeable real estate agent who can tell you the average annual appreciation of houses in the area you’re looking to buy in
- Take a look at the average days on market to see how long it typically takes for homes to sell in that area
- If you find an area with a low number of days on market with a high annual appreciation, then all signs point to buy because you will make a profit when the time comes to sell.
Keep in mind: the more your house reflects what people are buying or renting in your area, the easier it will be for you to sell or find tenants.
What does that look like in our market?
Houses in South Puget Sound typically appreciate nearly 10% in a year. The market is hot and houses often don't last longer than 11 days. What does that mean for you? When it comes time to sell your home, chances are you'll make a nice profit when you sell and move again.
AVERAGE ANNUAL APPRECIATION
AVERAGE NUMBER OF DAYS ON MARKET
Other reasons that make buying here attractive
Aside from the investment potential of a property here, the lifestyle that surrounds a property in the area can't be beat. We may be biased, but if you're anything like the other military families we've worked with, you'll love it here too. Here are just a few of the reasons:
1. You'd be extremely close to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), the Department of Defense's premiere military installation on the West Coast. JBLM provides world-class support to more than 40,000 active, Guard and Reserve service members and about 14,000 civilian workers.
2. You would be located near some of the best shopping and dining in the area.
3. You would have the freedom to enjoy nature in your free time with all of the hiking trails, parks, lakes and waterfront areas there are.
In fact, a lot of families in similar situations to yours end up coming back here.
The perfect storm
As an active military member, you receive a Basic Allowance for Housing stipend that can be put toward renting a home or paying a mortgage.
Just imagine... You've decided to buy a home.
You receive word that you're being relocated.
You put your current home on the market. The value has appreciated nearly 10% and it sells within 11 days of being listed.
You then transfer your BAH to rent or buy in your new location while reaping the benefits and profiting off of your property.
Rinse and repeat when possible...
And you've made a pretty solid investment.
On one hand, buying a home can feel intimidating and financially impractical, especially with such an unpredictable lifestyle. On the other, owning and investing in real estate can help you secure your financial future.