Military families rarely get the luxury to choose their location and house hunting can be quite overwhelming when you are moving to a brand new place without knowing anything about the area, the schools, or even where the closest Target is located (come on, we all know this is important, too!). Today’s technology makes it even easier to search for your new home with house hunting websites that help you narrow your search.
There are always several different options available to military families when looking for housing at a new duty station: base housing, renting, or buying a home. Service members and their families have many loan options for buying a house, so if you are gearing up to take this step, you might be a little overwhelmed with the process looming ahead. We’ve gathered some helpful suggestions and resources for how and where you should start to look for a house.
How to Begin the House Hunting Process as a Military Family
The First Step to House Hunting – Talk about It
Before you even open a listings app to window shop, consider your budget and financial situation so you have the best idea of what you can actually afford. This will make the daunting task of home buying a little easier from the beginning.
Danielle Keech, military spouse and content creator for Military by Owner, shares what she’s learned about buying a home. “Just like your mandatory cup of coffee in the morning, your home is essential to your well-being, and sanity,” Keech said. “Find the right one and you’ll settle any feelings of displacement from your PCS move.”
In order to find that right one, establish your must-haves and deal-breakers before you even start looking for houses. Talk with your spouse and kids about expectations. This way you won’t be distracted by the fancy descriptions or well-designed staging areas and think you could be okay with that posh living room and overlook the lack of an entire garage.
You can also visit any open houses you might stumble upon before you start to seriously look for a home. Give yourself an accurate taste of what you want in a house by going through an actual house. Pictures can be misleading, so this way you can see what a “luxurious half bath” might actually look like.
The Second Step to House Hunting – Check Online Resources
Thankfully, homebuyers don’t have to rely on a thick book of listings to sift through in the hopes of finding the right one. Apps continue to pop up, offering everything from filtered listing searches to immediately connect you with a real estate agent. Below are a few of these resources that should be at the top of your list as you begin your own search.
8 House Hunting Websites for Military Families
Military by Owner
Geared towards military families, Military by Owner is recognized as the go-to resource for service members and their families who are buying, selling or renting homes near military installations. This retired military couple has been proven their dedication and support of the military community for almost 20 years.
Social media uses word of mouth to help homebuyers to find local listings. Connect with Facebook groups and use Facebook Marketplace to search your area for local real estate. Many spouse groups also encourage users to share homes for sale and rent to help others on the page who are looking or will be moving soon to the area. Spouse groups also can help give you information on good neighborhoods, good schools, and where you might want to consider looking for your next home.
Need to ask a question about your next duty station? Join our Daily Mom Military Facebook groups to get information from spouses just like you!
The most popular of the listings apps, Zillow features an interactive map, home value estimates, and a database of more than 100 million homes. One thing we like about Zillow is their Zestimates. These are estimates of home values calculated off of publicly available information. So you can get an idea of what your mortgage or rent payment will be like while viewing houses.
This site focuses more on the buyer to agent relationship, which is unique when it comes to home listings sites. Not only does Redfin provide information on which properties are listed by a Redfin realtor or another broker it also gives a heads up on which homes are more likely to sell fast.
Another frequently downloaded app, Trulia is popular among home buyers and renters looking for their next house by featuring recommendations, local insights, and maps providing details on the commute, reported crime, schools, and nearby businesses.
The Realtor.com website compiles much of the best real estate on the market and then allows you to refine your search with specific parameters. Once you find your home, you can contact the broker, realtor, or landlord managing the property to complete your application.
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The Homes.com platform can be more helpful for when you just want to window shop for homes and get an idea for what is available in a city or what neighborhoods might work better for your commute.
Utilize the Locals
If you simply don’t have the time to scan listing sites constantly, find a real estate agent or company in your area and ask if you can subscribe to a listing of homes from a multiple listings service (MLS). Using this, you can get automatic emails sent to you as often as every hour on the hour within the parameters you set, such as price range and location.
Unless you’re building, you’re not likely going to find a home that meets every single need and want on your list. Be prepared to settle for a few things, but the important takeaway is that you and your spouse are on the same page and are both willing to take this step together. Finding the right home sets the tone for your family, and it’ll be worth all the effort you put into the search. Enjoy your time as you look for a house!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out 5 Tips For Finding a Home at Your Next Duty Station
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