By Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications
Will this be the year you stop renting and decide to purchase a home in San Antonio? It is truly one of the largest purchases you will ever make and buying a house when you know the military could move you at any time can be a gamble. But thousands of military families roll the dice each year and come out with an excellent investment. Purchasing, given the right circumstances, can be a great alternative to base housing or renting.
Real Estate San Antonio
One of the keys to making a smart choice for your family is knowing the local real estate market. Many service members stationed at Randolph AFB, Lackland AFB, or Fort Sam Houston choose to purchase when stationed here. This is an area many plan to return to following active duty service. The great variety of things to do in San Antonio, the relatively mild weather, and a reasonable cost of living are all draws to staying in the area.
IS NOW A GOOD TIME TO BUY?
Our PCSgrades ‘A-Graded’ Realtors agree now is a good time to buy. “Rates are still low. Although they are going up, they’re still lower now and will only continue to go upward, maximizing your buying potential now,” says Meghan Pelley, a veteran of the Illinois Air National Guard and a PCSgrades ‘A-Graded Realtor.
IT A BUYER’S MARKET OR A SELLER’S MARKET?
Pelley says despite the San Antonio real estate market showing signs of cooling off a bit during the last quarter of 2018, “It is still a seller’s market.” She adds desirable homes in good condition, in great neighborhoods, will always be in high demand. She recommends sellers talk to their agent before making any changes to the property prior to selling. “He or she may be able to save you money with preferred trades, vendors, alternative recommendations and trends in the market place.” Your realtor can also make sure you don’t overprice your home as you put it on the market.
PCSgrades A-Graded Realtor Judy Golddick suggests preparing your home to go on the market with having professional pictures taken. She says set “a decent, fair price and it should sell.”
STATUS OF INVENTORY
Military families often search for ‘move in ready’ homes as time is of the essence during a PCS. Currently, there is a short supply of “move in ready”, affordable housing in the San Antonio and surrounding areas. Pelley says homes in luxury price brackets are currently seeing more supply than they did during the first three quarters of 2018.
Golddick says with inventory low, it is a great time to list if you are on the fence about doing so. She recommends contacting a local realtor to see if you have enough equity sell.
AFFORDABLE HOMES – MEDIAN SALE PRICES
The median sale price for the San Antonio area is $264,000. Prices are predicted to rise a bit, approximately 2.5%, during 2019. Golddick says, “Many builders are now marketing homes in a more moderate price point making homeownership more available to the masses.”
What is the Competition Like?
Both of our realtor experts agree there is a bit of competition on move-in ready inventory priced under $250,000. Golddick says, “There are many approved buyers in the San Antonio real estate market and we are seeing multiple offers on the moderately priced homes.”
Pelley adds higher priced homes are not quite as competitive. “We are seeing fewer multiple offer situations on homes [priced] over $250,000 and slightly longer days on the market.”
Options for Renters moving to San Antonio
The median rent price in San Antonio is about $1250 a month for a single-family residence which is up more than 8% over last year. For military families moving to the area for two years or less, a rental might be the best housing option.
Lease Bargaining Power
Occupancy rates for leases are still strong, so there is not a lot of lease bargaining power says Pelley. She adds renters are more likely to see incentives such as free rent for a month or two, free parking spaces or waived amenities fees with apartment rentals rather than condos, town homes or single family detached rentals.
AVAILABILITY OF NEW CONSTRUCTION
Downtown San Antonio features mostly historical or vintage type housing but there is limited new construction available. Pelley says the availability of new construction really depends on the location. “There are also great incentives from new home builders.”
Advice for First-Time Buyers
There are many programs that offer down payment assistance and even grants for first time buyers, so it is recommended they find an experienced realtor. Golddick says, “Buyers do not pay the Realtor fees in Texas. It is best to have someone on your side.” She adds buyers using the VA home loan should make sure both their realtor and mortgage lender have great knowledge of this type of financing. “You need an expert.”
It is also recommended first-time buyers get pre-approved with a solid mortgage lender. A PCSgrades ‘A-Graded’ Mortgage Lender can help you with the pre-approval process. Pelley also recommends having your down payment and closing costs saved up. “Talk to your mortgage provider first for an accurate road map on how best to get from point A to point B.” Getting pre-approved lets you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home and increases your negotiating power with sellers.
Is It Easy To Resell in a few years?
The San Antonio real estate market is expected to remain strong and balanced throughout the coming year. Pelley says, “Rates could have an impact on home pricing, but it’s a little soon to say how that will unfold over 2019.”
Being assigned to one of the military bases in San Antonio for a two or three-year tour can be an exciting assignment for many. With the right Realtor helping you, you can find an affordable, safe place to live.
“It’s a wonderful time to invest in your future. Trust in your team to get the job done for you. There’s nothing like owning your own home!”
Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel, and their two children. Follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.Carla Olivo