When you moved to your duty station, you bought a house. You painted your kitchen the color of your youngest child‚Äôs eyes. You laugh, recalling the time when your husband tried to fix the sink and only succeeded in flooding the kitchen. You lovingly stroke the pencil lines on the wall that marked, not only the heights of your kids as they grew, but the incredible journey you embarked on at your current duty station. The memories are sweet and you went through just enough stress to make you appreciate what it took to get here. You managed to make another house a home. The best part of it all is that it is yours.
The question you are now facing is what do you do when you have to move?
Buying a home is one of the most thrilling experiences any family can have. The promise of a bright future, the possibility of creating unforgettable memories and security are just a few things that warm the hearts of those taking the plunge into home ownership. There are challenges, however, when it comes to purchasing a home as a military family. The biggest issue to tackle is what to do with your home when you have to PCS.
Some choose to sell and buy again when they get to where they are going. A few may have the means and resources within their finances to maintain their homes.
The third option to consider can be one of the best or the riskiest: take on renters.
Before you determine if renting is an option for you, you should find out how much your home is worth and how much you can realistically get for rent.
While asking your neighbors and friends is a good place to start, a professional appraisal is the best approach (you’ll need it again for tax calculations.) You can also seek written statements from a handful of Realtors, but keep in mind they may not all agree on the value of your land and home. After you have figured out how much your home is worth and have a general idea how much you can ask in rent, calculate your total annual costs on the property. Then, subtract that from your projected rental income and what remains will be the annual profit. If it looks like you might come out ahead by $100-200, renting may be a sound choice.
Benefits to renting out a home include:
- The creation of income. While BAH paid the mortgage when the home was bought, moving means maintaining a house at your new destination and still fulfilling the financial obligation you accepted at the old place. In the best of situations, your renters’ payment will cover the mortgage, taxes, insurance and hopefully you’ll even have a little bit left after paying a property manager’s fee. Additionally, time spent looking for a good real estate agent or property manager will be time well-spent! They can help you through the whole process.
- You may qualify for a tax cut.
- Another possible benefit to renting your home out is having someone there to keep an eye on things. Homes that are left unattended have a tendency to have problems. Things like vandalism, maintenance issues and Mother Nature can take their toll on a lonely house.
There are certainly potential disadvantages to renting out too.
- You do not necessarily know if tenants will take good care of your property or pay the rent on time. It is a good idea to perform lawful background and credit checks on those who may be living in your home.
- Being an out of town landlord can be a tedious job. Also, if you determine a tenant isn’t for you, you should look into renters laws, as they differ by state. In most states, evicting a bad tenant can actually a difficult and time-consuming legal process.
- Additionally, you will not always have access to resources if there is an emergency with the property and this could cost you dearly. Many landlords carry some sort of home warranty on their property for this reason. Property management businesses can help you make these decisions and handle emergencies – especially when you’ll be out of the area.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when facing the choice of renting out your home. It is important to do some research and decide what the best route to go might be.
Need help organizing your move? Download the free Ultimate PCS Guide.
Decide to sell your home? Post a free listing on SargesList.
DeAnna Majors, contributed to this article. She is an Army spouse, parent, student, employee and writer. She has been married to the military since 2009, and since then has lived in Georgia, North Carolina, Germany and Virginia. She will be graduating later this year with a B.A. in History and a Minor in Sociology. She currently works in Colonial Williamsburg.