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    Is Buying a Home During the Pandemic Smart? 4 Reasons That Might Surprise You

    Military families have long struggled with the difficult decision whether it makes sense to buy or rent a home at their next duty location. There are many factors to weigh when trying to make a housing decision, and perhaps one of the most difficult of all is the knowledge that, unless you are retiring, there will be another PCS around the corner.

    Add in the stress of trying to make the decision to rent or buy while you PCS during a pandemic, and the uncertainty can feel near crippling.   

    As military families share their PCSing experiences during COVID-19, you might be surprised to learn that it might actually be a prime time to buy a home. 

    Let’s take a look at some reasons why.

    Should You Buy a Home During the Pandemic

    Is Buying a Home During the Pandemic Smart? 4 Reasons That Might Surprise You

    1) Mortgage Interest Rates Are at Historic Lows 

    In an attempt to continue to stimulate the economy, mortgage rates have dropped to historic lows. This is excellent news for would-be homebuyers.

    Mortgage rates have dropped to historic lows.

    According to Nerdwallet, as of September 15, 2020, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.969%, the average rate for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.513%, and the average rate on the 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) was 2.996%. Rates are quoted as Annual Percentage Rate (APR). 

    If you are remotely considering buying a home at your next duty station, taking advantage of record-low mortgage rates offers several benefits, including a lower monthly mortgage payment (as opposed to higher market rates), less money spent in interest over the life of the loan, and the possibility of paying a home down faster by using a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

    Related: Should You Buy or Sell a House During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

    2) Buyer Down Payment Assistance Programs Continue to be Funded 

    Many military members anticipate using the VA Loan entitlement for a future mortgage. If you currently have a VA Loan in place for another property, it is possible to hold two active VA home loans at the same time, but using a second entitlement can get a bit tricky. 

    But a VA Loan isn’t the only path to homeownership. 

    A VA home loan isn't the only path to homeownership for military members.

    While it’s true that a conventional financing loan from a lender typically requires a downpayment of 10 to 20% (vs. the VA Loan’s 0% down payment), the good news is that homebuyer assistance programs have continued to be funded throughout the pandemic. To help maintain and promote home ownership, Housing Finance Agencies (HFA’s) operate in every state, and although each state differs a bit in which programs are offered, all HFA programs are aimed at increasing mortgage affordability and have not been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    3) The Traditional Buying/Selling Season Is Proving to Be Longer   

    Normally, summer through early fall trends show a spike in housing inventory as more homes hit the market, with military and civilian families alike desiring to complete a household move before starting a new school year. In years past, home sales and availability tend to dip as fall wears on, and sales usually slow significantly near the year-end holiday season.

    This home selling season is not like any other year.

    This year of course, is a year like no other. 

    The old adage used to be that most of the “good” housing inventory would be gone by late August or early September. However, sellers are continuing to move for a variety of reasons – including many military families that are still looking to sell their homes after experiencing a delayed PCS themselves. 

    Buyers could be positioned to find the perfect home in what would normally be considered a housing “off season.”   

    Take a look at The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Real Estate and Home Sales.

    4) If You’re Moving to a Large City, It Might Actually Be the Perfect Time to Buy 

    Suburban areas near larger cities, particularly areas that were considered COVID epicenters, are experiencing red-hot sellers’ markets, where the demand for homes has outstripped the supply. As the pandemic wore on, more than half of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas began to see its residents flee city centers to the suburbs.  

    Suburban areas near larger cities are experiencing red-hot sellers' markets.

    While this may initially sound like grim news for a military family moving to a large metro area, this population exodus could offer an ideal opportunity to snag a deal on prime real estate. It is still unknown just how the coronavirus will ultimately shape and change city landscapes, and although it may seem like it, the pandemic will not last forever.  Eventually, cities will recover, and buyers may very well find that as recovery marches on, their city real estate buys will likely appreciate quite nicely. 

    Military life has always been challenging – pandemic or not. Although it may feel near overwhelming to try and face PCS housing challenges during the COVID-19 upheaval, you can take comfort in the fact that you are surrounded by a wealth of resources at MilitaryByOwner during this unprecedented time! We are here for you! 

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    Kristi Adams


    Kristi Adams

    Kristi Adams is a proud Air Force spouse and served on active duty herself as a Space and Missile officer. She is an Associate Professor for the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and holds a Master of Real Estate Development degree from the university. She and her husband have profitably owned rental properties since 2004. When Kristi isn’t writing about real estate, she’s writing about travel and has been published in several books and national publications. Find more of her writing at Kristi Adams Media.

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