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Ask Dave

Military Guy Only In Location For Few Years ... Buy A House?

Jonathan is in the military, and wonders if he should buy a house, given his particular situation.

QUESTION: Jonathan is going to be in Alaska with the military for the next four to eight years.  Should he buy a house there?

Find a real estate agent in that area and ask to see an MLS – multiple listing service.  That will tell you the average annual appreciation of houses in the area you’re going to buy in. 

For example, if you buy a $100,000 house that only goes up in value 2% each year for four years, you’re going to lose money after you pay closing costs to sell the house when you move again.  But if it goes up in value by 10% a year, then you’ll make some money when you sell it.

Then, you need to look for DOM – days on the market.  That will tell you how long it takes a house to sell in that area. 

If you find an area that has a low number of days on the market with high appreciation annually, then you should buy for the four to eight years.  Otherwise, you should rent.