Military Spouse Magazine

FEB 2019

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G O O D A D V I C E Is This a Good Place to Buy? Get inside information when assessing a housing market site unseen. By Kristi Adams, Air Force Spouse Relocating sight-unseen can feel downright overwhelming and strike fear in the hearts of the most seasoned of military families. Whether you are evaluating dream sheet locations, or have hard orders in hand, the following are key steps when evaluating a housing market sight unseen: CALL THE HOUSING OFFICE Even if your family has no intention of liv- ing on base, the housing office at your gaining installation holds three important clues for would-be buyers. Three key ques- tions to ask the housing office are: • What is the "wait-list time" to move into base housing? • Are there any new base housing units currently being built or planned? • Are there DoDEA schools on base for children, and if so, are they at capacity? HERE ARE 3 GREAT WAYS TO GET ACTIONABLE INSIDER KNOWLEDGE FROM OTHER MILITARY FAMILIES: MilitaryTownAdvisor.com is an excep- tionally user-friendly site that allows easy searches by state, base, or service branch, and offers honest reviews and detailed neighborhood recommenda- tions written by military families. GoMillie.com also offers neighbor- hood recommendations, in addition to a live-chat option, and even "Scouts" to put boots on the ground in your new location when you cannot. Search for your gaining installation's Facebook military spouse pages or groups. Many installations have very active pages, and often insider leads into the top neighborhoods where other military families have thrived. BEFORE YOU SIGN A CONTRACT! Determine if the home is governed by a Homeowner's Association (HOA). If so, ask for a copy of the HOA's Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Carefully read the CC&R for, "exclusions and restrictions for converting a home into a rental." As a military family, any number of scenarios could require an unexpected and quick relocation. Avoid a difficult situation in the future, one where you might need to rent out your home only to learn the HOA will restrict, or even forbid the conversion into a rental. Answers to these questions yield a gold mine of clues to help you assess a new mar- ket. A tight base housing market is actually a very favorable position for a military family wanting to buy in the area. Long wait lists for housing, particularly with no plans to build more units, are strong factors for both buying and future resale. Limited base housing also bodes well for keeping a home as a success- ful rental unit upon a move, especially when located in a strong school district, if on-base educations options are limited or unavailable. FIND THE HIDDEN GEMS FASTER WITH CROWDSOURCING When market signals are leaning toward buy- ing, most buyers are united in two goals: find the most desirable neighborhood with a good school district. Even for those without school- aged children, homes aligned to high-performing schools typically hold their value, command higher resale and are traditionally easier to rent out. However, real estate agents and even base housing offices cannot steer you into the "best" neighborhoods. But military families can through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing specifically with- in the military community is one of the quickest ways to narrow down your housing search, cut through the noise, and save time. It's easy, free and gives you insider tips that you can immedi- ately use to find the hidden neighborhood gems. Hit up the Internet. There are dedicated military real estate search sites that include MilitaryByOwner.com which lists homes for sale or rent by military owners, AHRN.com which lists homes for rent by military families, and Homes.mil, an official DoD website. Don't forget to determine your new housing allowance: BAH is dependent upon location and rank and you may get more or less than your current location. Before you start looking for a new house, find out how much money you'll be getting to help pay for it at defensetravel.dod. mil/site/bahCalc Assessing these considerations can help your family narrow the housing search and save you the huge headache of buying a house that doesn't make the cut when it comes time to move again. H Photo by Getty Images 30 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / FEBRUARY 2019

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