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5 tips for military members looking to buy in DC

The Washington, DC metro area is the home to numerous military installations, which results in thousands of members of the military and their respective families moving into and out of the area on a regular basis. As a recent article in the Washington Post pointed out, as most military members move into the area in June and July, now is the time that most begin looking for their future home.

For military members looking to purchase property in the DC area, it is important for you to consider the following:

1.    Be prepared to pay considerably more for a house than you may have paid in your current location.  While housing prices have dropped in the area over the past few years, the cost of living in this area is significantly higher than in most other areas of the country.  However, also note that you receive a higher BAH.

2.    Be prepared to sit in traffic – and lots of it!  Any person living in the area will tell you that even if you buy or rent a home within 5 miles of your duty station, that does not necessarily translate into a 5 minute commute every day!

3.    If you think you are interested in purchasing a home in the DC area, but know that you will be transferred in 3-4 years, be sure to find out what the rental market is like in the area you are looking to purchase in.  As lending guidelines tighten, it is possible that fewer people will be able to secure a mortgage, leading more to start pursuing rentals.  In addition, as the DC metro area is so accessible to multiple military bases, service members are generally some of the best rental applicants you can find.

4.    If you are looking to purchase a property and you have been overseas for at least 90 days between December 31, 2008 and May 1, 2010, the $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit still applies to you, as long as you enter into a binding contract by April 30, 2011 and settle on the property by June 30, 2011.

5.    If you are interested in taking out a VA loan, the current VA loan limit in the DC Metro area is $818,750.  However, it is important to note that the loan limit is lower in certain areas.  

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