Moving every couple of years per the military lifestyle can intimidate anyone out of buying a house. Yes, it can be a gamble, but thousands of mil-families roll the dice so to speak and come out with a really good investment. We bought three homes during my husband’s military career, and we don’t regret buying any of them. At the time, they were all a great alternative to base housing or renting. Veterans and military retirees also often move their families as they relocate for a second career or to their forever home.
One of the keys to making a smart choice for your family is knowing the local market. To look at the current housing market in Hampton Roads, we turned to one of the REALTORS® “A-Graded” by our community on PCSgrades, Erin Ward, of HRVA Homes. An Army spouse herself, in addition to helping military families find homes, Erin further supports military spouses through her work with several non-profits to include: The Military Spouse Corporate Career Network and Corporate America Supports You.
Is 2018 a good time to buy?
Ward says, ” Absolutely! Even with the slight rate increase we just saw, rates are still very low and the Hampton Roads Market is a great one to start building wealth through real estate.”
Is it a buyer’s market or a seller’s market?
According to Ward, it depends. Low inventory can make it tough on buyers. “It’s a mix, buyers are still finding great deals and even receiving closing costs, however, with low inventory sellers are finding success when selling their homes that are priced right.”
Buyers should work with a Real Estate professional who is known for writing clean offers, having smooth transactions and keeps a level head throughout the process. It is important to work with a reputable agent. You can check out REALTOR® reviews from your fellow service members, veterans, and spouses at PCSgrades.com.
If you are considering selling your home, it’s important to list with a full-service REALTOR® that will take professional photos and possibly stage your home to net you more money faster.
Are homes affordable?
Depending on where you are PCSing from, you might be pleasantly surprised when house hunting in Hampton Roads. The median sale price of a home in the Newport News / Hampton Roads area is $222,000, an increase of 4% compared to last year. Ward says, “Homes prices have recovered from the housing crisis and are beginning to level out.”
Status of inventory
Inventory is relatively low in the Hampton Roads market which makes it a great time to sell. “With less competition on the market and lots of buyers, you couldn’t ask for a better time to sell,” says Ward.
Is there a lot of competition on offers?
Ward says there can be, but it’s been reasonable. “My best advice is to move quickly when you find that right home.” She adds that homes go quickly with low inventory. “Be prepared to present a solid offer.”
Availability of new construction
New construction is not always a viable option for military families who will only live in the area for two or three years. But Ward says currently there is a lot of new construction and more inventory coming all the time.
Is it easy to resell in a few years?
“Absolutely,” says Ward. Hampton Roads has the largest population of Active Duty military in the country and Ward says, “That allows for a great opportunity to resell.” The area is also a popular retirement community for many veterans.
Advice for first-time buyers
First-time home buyers should seek to work with an agent that is familiar with the area they are looking to buy in. Ward says, “Be ready to look beyond the seller’s furnishings and paint colors. Look for homes in desirable areas for your budget and ensure you have an agent that will educate you throughout the process.”
VA home buyers should connect with a military specialist that knows the ins and outs of the VA loan and what types of properties will work for their needs. Also, since military personnel usually move every two to three years, it is important the REALTOR® is up-to-date on market trends for quick resales and rentals.
Options for renters
Many military families choose to rent rather than purchase for a variety of reasons. “Apartments and condos are plentiful in Hampton Roads,” says Ward. “Depending on your budget, many have fantastic amenities.”
Lease bargaining power
“There is not often room for negotiation unless you do a multi-year lease,” says Ward. If you are renting just until you find the perfect property to buy, know how to terminate your lease. Clarify how you will get your security deposit back and what will be the process, i.e., a walk-through with the landlord to determine damage. Security deposits and pet deposits are common.
The Newport News / Hampton Roads area is often a favorite duty station for many military families. With the right professional helping, you can find an affordable, safe place to live.
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