Buying a home is a big decision, and especially so for military families who may be putting down roots for only a short while. For some, the choice of where to live will be dictated by the individual’s superior officer who may require on-base housing.
But what if you have the option of buying a home outside the military installation? Here are some important considerations for military homebuyers.
About 45 percent of San Antonio Realtor Erika Chapa’s business is with military clients, many of whom will need to sell in a few years. “For them, it is important that they are in a good neighborhood, but many neighborhoods near the bases tend to be heavy military,” she says. “We just need to be careful that it’s not a neighborhood with too much turnover, since having too many homes on the market could be a negative for them.”
She tries to show military families homes in neighborhoods that are near good schools, and where they won’t be competing with new construction in a few years when they are trying to sell. She also makes sure to show military buyers floorplans that are attractive to most buyers, rather than uber-custom plans that will be hard to resell. She tells military homebuyers to avoid carpeted floors, while advising them to choose neighborhoods with a pool and other amenities.
A Sense of Community
Relocating from established friends and familiar places can be stressful. Many developments near military bases recognize that challenge and go the extra mile to create a sense of community among their residents. One of those is the Embrey Mill master planned community in Stafford, Virginia. To bring its residents together, 67 percent of whom are military, the community hosts events throughout the year, like movies in the park and stargazing parties.
Military buyers also should look for amenities that bring neighbors together, like a pool, fitness center, or gathering places. For example, Embrey Mill’s community garden is tended by garden club members, and is just next door to the dog park, both great places to meet neighbors who share your passions.
Many developers and homebuilders offer special incentives for military buyers. In some communities, deployed military get free landscaping services while away. Military buyers also can qualify for interior design extras and help with closing costs. Atlantic Builders, for example, offers a $2,500 design center credit and up to $7,500 in closing costs if using its preferred lender. Always ask about any available extras for active military or veterans.
Military buyers also stand to benefit from special financing options. “Their ability to buy a home using their VA home loans is a huge advantage to military buyers, with great interest rates,” adds Chapa. “In addition, if the military buyer has greater than 30 percent disability, they are afforded tax benefits, which lower their tax rate.
“The military buyer will be able to build equity in the home while they live there,” she says, “and their housing allowance helps pay for their mortgage while they are building equity.”
What military buyers seek in a new home may not be much different from other buyers – a good floor plan, plenty of storage, quality appliances and design finishes, reputable schools and a safe neighborhood. But military buyers bring unique considerations to the home shopping experience, and at the same time can reap some unique benefits.