Military Service Members: Pros and Cons of Renting versus Buying after Relocation

As an active member of the military, relocating may often become a normal part of life for you and your family.   The decision to purchase versus renting your current or next home is a not the easiest choice to make.  As with any decision, there are pros and cons to each option.  We have put together a list of some of those pros and cons to help you with your decision.

Pros of renting:

Repair and replace expensive items – One of the great things about renting versus buying is that most of the responsibility lies with your landlord or complex management company rather than with you.  You never have to worry about replacing expensive items like air conditioning units, heating units, large appliances, etc.; you also don’t have to worry about the maintenance costs associated with repairing or replacing these items.

Insurance – Although you may wish to and probably should purchase renters insurance to protect your valuables, when renting you avoid the high costs associated with homeowner’s insurance.

Lower upfront and monthly costs – The costs to rent versus buying a home is typically much less expensive.  You will usually get your security deposit back after you move out of a rental should there be no irreparable damage to the rental and everything is left clean and in its prior condition.  Your monthly costs to rent will also be less expensive in most cases.

Routine maintenance – Depending on your rental community you may save money on routine maintenance items such as cutting the grass, replacing ac filters, area cleanup, painting, etc.

Flexibility – When it’s time to move, you don’t need to worry about selling your rental which means less hassle and responsibility.

One of the great things about being a service member called to active duty, is that you are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  Under this act, you are permitted to terminate your lease at any time without penalty providing you are entering active duty or being reassigned to another location or station.  In addition, you cannot be evicted for non-payment of your rent or lease if the reasons for non-payment are related to your military service.  Your lease may even include an additional “military clause” providing you and your family with further protection from penalty should you need to terminate or break your lease.

Pros of buying your home:

More space or the possibility of more space – Depending on whether you are purchasing a house, townhome, or condominium, you will usually have more space or the possibility of creating more space by adding onto your house or changing the way your space is setup.

Privacy – When you own your home, you aren’t subject to leasing agents or landlords showing up or accessing your home whenever they see fit.  You can also install things like, privacy fences, security gates, or even buy a guard dog to keep unwanted guests from popping up at your door.

More freedom – Unless you have a homeowner’s association, you can usually decorate your home the way you choose.   And most homeowner’s associations will allow you to decorate or personalize your home however you choose within reason.

Equity – When you rent, you gain nothing when you move on.  When you purchase, you may build equity in your home depending on how long you are there or how much money you’ve invested.  If your home increases in value, you could make a profit when selling your home.

Tax breaks – You and your spouse may be eligible for specific tax breaks where you can deduct your mortgage interest and real estate taxes.

Investment – Home ownership can help you secure loans on other large purchases such as boats, automobiles, a second property, or even a business loan.

As a homeowner and active-duty service member the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows your interest rate for mortgages and other financial obligations to be limited to 6%.  Depending on your situation, you may be protected from foreclosure if you are unable to pay your mortgage due to military service.

The decision to rent or purchase a home is obviously a choice that requires consideration and planning.  As military family and experienced real estate professionals, we are here to help you by providing you with the options you need to make the best choice for your family.  Contact Military Movers Real Estate LLC. today 907-622-5000.

Military Helping Military…. Every Step of the Way!

Market Trends

Market Trends Info for Military Movers

PCS season is coming to a close. 2015 was a crazy year for sellers, and it seems word got out. This season, we saw the market even out a bit. More sellers listed their homes this year and the market saw less multiple offer situations and slightly longer days on market due to the influx in inventory.  Nevertheless, buyers are still out there and we are still here to keep you in the loop of what is going on in our market. The most recent weekly market stats as of the date of this publication are as follows:

Active to Pending Listing Statistics

Eagle River lead the market with 9.2%, followed by Palmer averaging 7.9%. Anchorage was at 7.5% and Wasilla at 4.2%. This is a broad scope and many variables are considered but the stats were calculated from the following sales data:

-Eagle River had 194 listings with 18 go under contract.

-Palmer had 126 with 10 go under contract.

-Anchorage had 848 active and 64 go under contract.

-Wasilla had 585 with 23 go under contract,.

Ever interested to keep pace with these numbers on a weekly or monthly basis? Like our Facebook Page! We post them at least twice a month.

Interest Rates

Interest Rates have maintained pretty steady at 3.25% -3.375%.  This is what is currently “par” rate with a few local lenders on a VA loan and is not indicative of any individual buyer’s loan terms. Regardless, these are still considered favorable rates. We have not seen any significant difference in rates related to the European Brexit situation that was recently announced. Many local lenders publish their rates daily on their websites should you decide to check them out! It is always important to note when referencing interest rates to pay attention to the “cost” for that rate. As many lower than average interest rates are not credit based, but more point based in what is called a “buydown” where a consumer can take a lower rate in exchange for a fee paid to the lender.

Refinance Offers via Mail

Have you received those VA refinance mailers lately? Does the rate seem exceptionally low and too good to be true? At least once a month we have someone call us wishing to list their home, and when we pull their payoff it is substantially more than it should be for the length of time they have owned the home. This is because they took advantage of one of the mailers and received a lower interest rate, thus lowering their monthly payment by $100-120.00 a month, but increasing their balance by $7,000-10,000.00 on average. These refinance lenders (not all but most) roll the closing costs for this refinance into your loan balance. Think of it as buying your house and paying the closing fees all over again. But instead of paying them at closing, you are financing them into your loan balance. Thus raising your balance, decreasing your equity, and prolonging the time you must keep the home before you can sell it.  We recommend you always read the fine print carefully when considering these refinances, and consider the length of time you intend to keep the home before adding a substantial amount to your loan balance that would take on average 6.5-7 years to pay off. ($8,000 added to your balance to save $100.00 a month would take 80 months to pay yourself back)

10 things you need to know about VA Loans

VA loans come with no down payment, competitive rates, and no private mortgage insurance. The VA loan program is a great program that has allowed more than 21 million veterans and active military families to purchase homes since 1944. However, there are some restrictions and things you need to know about VA loans.

  1. VA Loans are reusable. If you lost a VA loan to foreclosure, defaulted on a VA loan in previous years, or if you currently have a VA loan, you may be able to obtain another one. And, you can use your full VA entitlement over and over again as long as you pay off the loan each time. There are instances when VA borrowers have two or more VA loans active at the same time.
  2. VA loans are only for primary residences. You cannot use a VA loan for the following:
    • Purchase a home in a foreign country
    • Business loans
    • Investment property
    • Farm land where there is no residence occupied as a home by a veteran
    • Purchase a second home
    • Vacant land
    • Co-ops
  3. Types of property eligible for VA Loans:
    • Condominiums and town-homes
    • Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes
    • Prefabricated or modular homes
    • New construction homes (with at least one-year warranty and must be VA-approved)
  4. VA Loans are not issued by the Veterans Administration – they are guaranteed by the VA for typically up to a quarter of the loan amount.
  5. You may still be eligible for a VA loan despite bankruptcy or foreclosure.
  6. You won’t need to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) because your loan is backed by the federal government.
  7. You will need to pay a mandatory VA Funding Fee. The purpose of this fee is to keep the VA program going and is required to purchase and refinance loans. The fee is typically 2 percent and can be rolled into the loan amount. If you have a service-connected disability, this fee may be waived entirely.
  8. There are co-borrower limits.
  9. VA loans don’t have a prepayment penalty. This means you can save tones of money in interest by making extra payments any time you choose.
  10. You may be eligible for a VA loan with a credit score of just 620.

If you have questions about VA loans, mortgages or need assistance with relocating or the purchase or sale of a home in Alaska, contact Military Movers at 907-622-5000.

Moving Checklist: One Week before PCS Move

With just one week to go before your PCS move, you likely have everything packed and ready to go.  And you may be a little bit excited and anxious about your move.  As the time winds down, there are a few last-minute items on our checklist to help you with your transition to your new location.

One Week Before PCS Move:

  1. Make copies of your important documents and keep them in a safe place
  2. Purchase Ziploc bags in different sizes to pack any small items you have leftover such as screws and bolts, and other times you may have thrown loosely into a small drawer like batteries, toothpicks, condiment packages, etc.
  3. Take down your surround-sound system and television(s) and pack them up.
  4. Pack up any small appliances
  5. Pack up or give away any food you don’t plan on taking with you to your new location
  6. Drain:  garden hoses, oil and gas from lawn mowers and gas operated tools
  7. Disconnect spark plugs from any motors you will be transporting
  8. Dispose of any flammable items:  cleaning fluids, acids, ammunition, paint thinners, etc.
  9. Leave out last minute cleaning supplies that will be used to clean up after everything has been packed up and ready-to-go.
  10. Backup any important information from your desktop computers onto a portable hard-drive.  This can be a flash or jump drive with adequate memory.
  11. Remove any wall accessories such as pictures, portraits, drapery rods, etc.
  12. If you have a safety deposit box, close it out.

Military Movers is dedicated to helping military families relocate, sell, and purchase real estate.  We are military families helping military families find both permanent and temporary housing.  When you need help, give us a call 907-622-5000 or contact us via email.

PCS Checklist: Three Weeks Before Move

You’re getting closer and closer to your PCS (Permanent Change of Station) Move date and you have just three weeks to go.  You probably have most of your things organized and ready to go.  Just in case, we have created a “Three Weeks before your Move” checklist to assure that you don’t forget any important details or items.

Three Weeks Before PCS Move:

  1. Contact your mover and reconfirm your pickup and delivery dates.
  2. Notify your credit card companies of your new or temporary address if you have not already done so.
  3. Submit and confirm your change-of-address with USPS (United States Postal Service)
  4. Don’t forget to clean out any storage areas – especially those out-of-sight areas such as attics, crawl spaces or basements.
  5. Contact your military pay office to recertify Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ) to have them sign off on your PCS.
  6. Cancel any local deliveries such as newspapers.
  7. If you or any of your family members or pets are on any type of medication, be sure to renew your prescriptions or get any refills you may need during your transition.
  8. Take care of dry cleaning any clothing, dry cleaning or drapes if you are taking them with you.
  9. Notify any financial advisors, stock brokers, or investment counselors of your new or temporary address.
  10. Reconfirm your moving dates if you are using the PPSO (Personal Property Shipping Office)
  11. Begin cleaning up your current residence.
  12. This is very important:  If you are taking advantage of “military weight allowances”, separate your books, papers and equipment as these items will be weighed and listed separately on your shipping inventory.  If you have hired professional movers or packers, let them know to separate these items as your “professional items” so that their weight will not be included in your weight allowance.
  13. If you have loaned anything out to local friends or family members, now would be the time to reclaim those items – sometimes it takes a long time to get things back.
  14. Plan out what you’re going to eat for the next three weeks considering the food you have left in your cabinets and refrigerator.
  15. Pay up and close out all of your utility company accounts and provide them with a new address so that they can send you any deposits owed back to you.
  16. If changing banks, clean out the contents of your safe-deposit box and put them in a safe box until you reach your new location.

Military Movers is dedicated to helping military families relocate, sell, and purchase real estate.  We also help military families find temporary housing.  When you need help, give us a call 907-622-5000

PCS Checklist: Two Months Before Move

As the date of your PCS move gets closer you want to make sure you have taken care of all the details leading up to your move. If you are at the “three months before your move” stage, check out our previous article for that PCS checklist. We are now ready to help define the tasks you need to complete two months before your move.

Two Months Before PCS Move:

  1. If you or your family members have jobs, you will want to notify your current employer that you will be relocating and request a referral letter or letters. They will also want to update their resumes and begin their job search in the new location.
  2. Make sure all maintenance and repairs on your vehicles are taken care of.
  3. Make sure you have proof of insurance and you know where that proof is in case you need to present it.
  4. Find out what the requirements are for a new driver’s license and registration by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles at your new location.
  5. Contact your insurance company about home and automobile insurance and find out if you are able to insure your high-value items before moving them.
  6. Check out the schedules and enrollment requirements for schools at your new location if you have school-aged children.
  7. If you have preschool aged children, begin checking out preschool and/or day care options at your new location.
  8. Now would be a good time to visit your military base finance center if you need assistance with organizing your finances.
  9. Organize as much as you can and dispose of or sell any items you don’t need. Some great ideas for selling items online include Craigslist, Fiverr, and eBay.
  10. Pet owners, make sure your pets vaccinations are up to date.
  11. If you are going to purchase a new home, you definitely want to begin the process as soon as possible. Contact Military Movers Real Estate at (907) 622-5000 for help with all your military moving needs.
  12. If you need to ship your vehicle and are using your base transportation office, notify them all the necessary information, including the estimated shipping weight.
  13. Check the expiration dates on any credit or debit cards you plan on using during your move. If necessary, call and order new cards.

Use this PCS checklist to help you remember all the details. Military Movers Real Estate LLC is here to help military families with PCS moves, TLF assistance, CDC recommendations and everything related to relocating, or the sale or purchase of real estate in Anchorage, Alaska.

PCS Move Checklist: Three Months Before Move

Moving of any kind requires planning. Military Movers has put together a checklist to help you with the process and details to make your PCS move easier and more efficient: Our PCS Move Checklists covers all the details you need including everything from packing to getting setup in your new location depending on what phase of the process you’re in.

Three Months Before PCS Move:

  1. Determine whether you prefer a Personally Procured Moved or you’d like the government to assist you with your move.
  2. Starting saving for moving expenses that are non-reimbursable.
  3. Notify your landlord that you may be moving, but do not provide him/her with an exact date.
  4. If you have a vehicle(s) that need to be shipped, begin making those arrangements.
  5. Make an appointment for a counseling session at your base transportation office, if you are an active service member.
  6. Get appraisals for collections or antiques, and create an inventory of valuable items – you may even want to take pictures or videos of these items to document their current condition.
  7. Make a list of whom to notify of your move and forwarding address.
  8. Transfer club and organization memberships where possible.
  9. Begin keeping track of all your tax-deductible moving expenses including the costs associated with pre-move house hunting.
  10. Organize all of your personal records: insurance papers, warranties, birth certificates, etc.
  11. If you still have stickers on your furniture or other items from previous moves, remove them.
  12. Sort through and give away or sell any clothes or other items you no longer want or need.
  13. Take care of all necessary dental, medical and optical appointments.
  14. Have a Power of Attorney or LOA (letter of authorization) drawn up for unforeseen circumstances
  15. If you have children, discuss the move with them so they will be ready and more comfortable with relocating.
  16. If you have an infant or toddler, start planning for special moving needs.

This checklist will help you get started with the beginning stages of your PCS Move. Military Movers also helps military families move, relocate, locate and obtain temporary and permanent housing in and around Alaska. Contact us today!

Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Professional

Just As Important As Selecting The Right House, The Right Real Estate Professional Can Make All The Difference In Your Investment. Are you Looking for a Real Estate Professional? Here are some things you need to ask when finding a potential Real Estate Professional. After all, it’s a HUGE investment. Shouldn’t you have the best person working for you?
1. Are you a broker or salesperson? -Brokers typically have more experience, and have tested beyond the scope of salespersons. They have completed more education, passed much harder state and national exams, typically had more field experience, and are held to a higher standard of professionalism and responsibility.

2. Are you new or seasoned? -Having a new Real Estate Professional can be dangerous. This is not a business where people just wake up one morning and decide to sell real estate. This is a huge investment and your Real Estate Professional should truly know EXACTLY what they are doing. This only comes with experience. Just having a license does not mean you know how to sell real estate. They should be able to answer your questions before you even ask them.

3. Are you FULL TIME or PART TIME? Real Estate has no 9-5. Houses sell at midnight, weekends, holidays, etc. Your Real Estate Professional needs to be available 365 24/7 to ensure your transaction closes.

4. How many houses have you sold? Just because you have been doing real estate 2-3 years doesn’t mean you have been “doing” real estate 2-3 years. It means you have had a license. True experience comes from transactions actually closed, not length of time as an Real Estate Professional.

5. Have you taken any education in Mortgage? Just as important as house buying itself. A knowledgeable Real Estate Professional/broker will know the ins and outs of most loan programs. This is vital to your pocketbook. A good broker can save you THOUSANDS of dollars by simply being educated. You would be amazed at how clueless alot of Real Estate Professionals are with the TRUE ins and outs of the process. ASK THIS QUESTION.

6. Do you have references? If you can’t get at least 15 references….move on. This can satisfy both experiences and client satisfaction. Military Life Already Presents Unique Challenges. Making the Right Decision When It Comes to Investing In A Home When You Know You Will Move In 3-4 Years Is More Critical Than Ever. I AM HERE TO HELP YOU! TONS OF REFERENCES on my website under Testimonials www.lindseybergeron.com It’s YOUR investment. You deserve the best.

Questions To Ask A Potential Real Estate Professional

Are you Looking for a Real Estate Professional? Here are some things you need to ask when finding a potential Real Estate Professional. After all, it’s a big investment. Shouldn’t you have the best person working for you?

1. Are you a broker or salesperson?

-Brokers typically have more experience, and have tested beyond the scope of salespersons. They have completed more education, passed much harder state and national exams, typically had more field experience, and are held to a higher standard of professionalism.

2. Are you new or seasoned?

-Having a new Real Estate Professional can be dangerous. This is not a business where people just wake up one morning and decide to sell real estate. This is a huge investment and your Real Estate Professional should truly know exactly what they are doing. This only comes with experience. Just having a license does not mean you know how to sell real estate.

3. Are you FULL TIME or PART TIME?

Real Estate has no 9-5. Houses sell at midnight, weekends, holidays, etc. Your Real Estate Professional needs to be available 365 24/7 to ensure your transaction closes.

4. How many houses have you sold?

Just because you have been doing real estate 2-3 years doesn’t mean you have been “doing” real estate 2-3 years. It means you have had a license. True experience comes from transactions actually closed, not length of time as an Real Estate Professional.

5. Have you taken any education in Mortgage?

Just as important as house buying itself. A knowledgeable Real Estate Professional/broker will know the ins and outs of most loan programs. This is vital to your pocketbook. A good broker can save you THOUSANDS of dollars by simply being educated. You would be amazed at how clueless alot of Real Estate Professionals are with the TRUE ins and outs of the process. ASK THIS QUESTION.

6. Do you have references?

If you can’t get at least 15 references….move on. This can satisfy both experiences and client satisfaction.

 

It’s YOUR investment. You deserve the best.

Winter Wrap Up

Wow it was a busy 2012! So busy I never had time to blog. Silly me. Well anyway, now that the holidays are over one would think the market would slow down. Due to historic low rates, buyers are everywhere and so far the inventory in Eagle River just cannot hang. There simply are not enough homes to accommodate the buyers. Builders can’t get new homes up fast enough. At this rate, we will be in trouble come the March PCS season. If you are thinking about selling, now is definitely the time. This winter has been one of the busiest I have seen. Keep checking back for more JBER housing market updates.