Here we are, mid way through September and winding down of the summer PCS cycle.  This season some buyers turned into renters, some renters turned into buyers, while others decided to live on post.  While we often get questions about renting vs buying vs living on post, the market helped decide some families’ trajectory! 

Fall 2023 Buying Guide

Obviously, each part of the country will be different, but here are some general trends we see across the board.  Rates have gone up, prices in some places are still increasing or remaining strong, and inventory still remains an issue – which in turn has paralyzed buyers who don’t have a plan B.  This isn’t new news…but it doesn’t deter us from buying one bit…

And this is why… both of us purchased homes in 2021, at the height of the craziness (remember appraisal gaps, bidding wars, multiple offers within an hour of a listing going live).  Skeptics laughed at homebuyers, saying we were throwing money away and were outrageous for buying with such inflated prices. 

The market in their eyes was going to crash we and we all going to lose out.  Little did they know that military families don’t have a ton of options when it comes to time or housing.  We both bought along with many families in 2021 and now we have a TON of equity in our property!  IF we all took the advice of the skeptics, we would all be living on post with $0 equity and no chance of recouping rent.

Was the 2021 Purchase Risky? Yes and No.

Whenever you buy a house there is risk involved – but if you think smart, the risk softens.  When the mortgage payment doesn’t leave you eating beans and rice every night of the week, it makes sense to buy!

This leads us to today’s market.  Let’s sum up our advice in two words: be realistic!  We can’t say this enough.  Decide on a budget and ask your agent to send you current MLS listings in that range.  Get a feel for what your money can buy.  At first you may be shocked but keep an open mind.  Light fixtures, cabinet hardware, door knobs, etc can all be changed.  Painting and changing carpets are lower cost modifications that can make a house feel like home. 

We also like to tell people to take a peek at local rentals, or maybe even schedule a tour if you’re on the fence.  Rentals aren’t cheap, and we hate to break it to you but not all landlords are breaking their backs updating and repairing their property…because they don’t have to!

the pcshomegirls

A Note About Renting

Renting is not “throwing away your money” if a mortgage payment would stretch your budget too thin.  “Paying someone else’s mortgage” is not the worst thing you can do when you cannot afford the yearly HOA fees, gas, food, activities, and a night out every once in a while if you bought a house.  There is a time when renting just makes sense, and we strongly believe that agents who talk people into buying when they aren’t financially ready are a BIG part of the problem.  If you feel misguided by your agent, it’s time for a new one!

Don’t Let Rates Scare You

On the other hand, IF you’ve realized that you may have to go above BAH to rent OR buy and you have financial security, we recommend buying.  Rates don’t scare us as long as the payment at closing is one you can live with.  In our honest opinion, your mortgage payment has the potential to decrease with a future refinance whereas rent will only increase.  We strongly believe in letting your BAH work for you by building your generational wealth.  Just remember, don’t go overboard and stretch your limits.  Buy something modest that works for your family, and make manageable improvements when necessary in order to love where you live. 

Buy, Rent, What to Do Next?

If you’re stuck in the great debate of buying vs renting or paralyzed by the current market, feel free to reach out and we are happy to discuss your options!  We specialize in connecting military families with tried and true military affiliated agents across the country who have proven to us that they are NOT part of the problem 🙂  Fill out our form to be connected for your next PCS – its just one of the many free resources we provide.  

Looking for a military-friendly real estate agent in your area to buy or sell a home? Click here to fill out our Military Real Estate Questionnaire and we will help find you an agent that is a great fit or send a us a message.