It’s a new year, which means new goals! We all want to make our lives better and richer with professional success, health goals, and so much more. However, do you have real estate goals? There isn’t much that is constant in military life but one thing will always be there: PCS moves. With those military moves happening every few years, it can make you feel completely out of control especially when it comes to setting yourself up for your financial future. With these SMART (which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) real estate goals, you will be better prepared for your next PCS whether you decide to rent, buy to rent, buy to sell, or live on base.
How to Use S.M.A.R.T to Reach Your Real Estate Goals
S.M.A.R.T is a useful acronym to keep in mind when considering your real estate goals as a military family. Every time you PCS there will be different factors on where you decide to live and what type of accommodations you might need to make to fit in with your lifestyle, personal wellbeing, and needs. Using the S.M.A.R.T acronym you can better figure out what your real estate goals at your new location might be as well as continue to climb towards your overall real estate goals as you continue through military life.
Thinking of where you want to live can offer a little slice of liberation in an otherwise dictated military life. Here you can ask yourself what you want your lifestyle to look like. What is important to you? Is your growing family in need of a bigger house with room to grow? Are you looking for a smaller condo for city living? Some may opt for on-base housing, while others may relish in what life can offer outside the gates and in the community. When thinking about where you want to live, here is one very important thing to consider: your price point. What are you willing to spend per month? Are you willing to spend more than your allowable BAH for your desired area? Also, consider that if you are purchasing a home with the intent to rent it out afterward that your mortgage can be covered by the BAH rate of a family that may potentially want to move in there.
Real estate goals need to have measurable aspects. Once you have selected an area, your next step should be collecting valuable data in that area. Do you have a friend or friend of a friend who has already lived at the base you are PCSing to? They are your eyes and ears on the ground. They will know the areas that have high traffic, areas with the best schools, best commutes to base, and city life. Use your resources and ask all your questions. If this is your first adventure or you find yourself without a reliable resource, consider finding a real estate professional who is knowledgeable about the area and about military life.
Some areas surrounding bases will give you real estate sticker shock! A 3 bedroom/2 bath house on the west coast, for example, will be substantially more expensive than the same square footage homes on the central and southern east coast. It is important that you have realistic real estate goals and expectations for where you want your family to plan temporary roots. And be prepared, for wherever you choose, there will be sacrifices.
Homes further from installations tend to be less expensive but carry a longer commute. City living will also carry a higher price tag than rural living. This third step in the S.M.A.R.T program includes calculating realistic monthly expenditures with the new expected rent/mortgage. Does this new budget seem fair and doable? If it is over what you would like to spend, what other areas are you willing to give up or sacrifice? Is it worth it for you? And if you are purchasing a home with the intent to rent, will potential renters be willing to make the same sacrifices or fall within a similar budget?
This step asks the important question: Do these real estate goals seem worthwhile? Does this match your needs? Does it feel like the right place and time? You might be inclined, for example, to own a farm, for the first time for your family, but are unaware of the extra costs and knowledge associated with such a purchase. But if you feel so inclined to take on a new adventure, only you can make that decision. Once you have an area in mind, it is time to get your best resources in the area. Ask your friends if they know of anyone moving out of your desired neighborhood. Let your realtor know you are ready and furthermore, that you have the resources in place to jump on the opportunity should it arise, which leads me to the final step.
This is where all the other goals should come together. If the right home for your family magically appears, are you ready to make the move? Are orders in hand for your next duty station? Be careful not to jump too quickly to buy or rent unless they are. It is, of course, okay to scout an area and learn all you can.
It is also suggested that if you are prepared to buy, but can only find a home in a desirable area for rent, to rent until a home becomes available. Do you know of an impending PCS move in the future? This is most of our cases, so knowing that PCS will come every 2-4 years, backtrack and prepare by saving up in advance. Ask yourself what you can do today to prepare for that future move. What would be helpful six months leading up to a move? What about 6 weeks prior?
At MilHousing Network, we know the deal. We’re here to help make this move and all future moves better. If you need to solicit the advice of a trusted realtor, head to the MilHousing Network site to find a realtor near you that understands the military home buying and selling process.
Here’s to happy PCSing!
As a military family, you need a real estate company that understands your unique needs. At MilHousing Network we connect military families with pre-screened military real estate experts all over the country. We’re built by military spouses to help military spouses and military families PCS better. Every home sold within our network directly supports the military spouse community by creating employment opportunities for our fellow spouses. Join our Facebook group.
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