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PCA Orders Arrived! Can I Get Out of My Lease?

PCA orders arrived photo

A PCA is a “Permanent Change of Assignment,” which means that the service member is reassigned within the same locality.  The assignment may be to another squadron on the same base, but it can also be to another duty station within a 50-mile region.  This means that servicemembers stationed at Eglin AFB can receive PCA orders to Hurlburt AFB; servicemembers at Joint Base Fort Myer Henderson Hall, VA, may be reassigned to Fort Meade, MD; and those teaching at the Air Force Academy may easily wind up at Peterson AFB, CO.  For the military, a PCA is cheerfully coded as a “low cost, no cost” move; however, for a service member who carefully selected a home with a short commute, a PCA may be a rather unwelcome change of events as quite often the new assignment will incur a far greater commute. 

Toxic Soil on Base in Hawaii

Military Housing

Driving into a neighborhood on most bases can often feel akin to driving into Pleasantville where every car is kept clean and parked neatly, lawns are well-maintained, trash cans are neatly tucked away, an American flag flies out front of each home, and well-groomed, smiling mothers push their non-colicky, sweet-tempered babies up and down the street.  For military families aboard Marine Base Kaneohe Bay, however, families have presumably been exposed to carcinogens lurking beneath the polished exterior of family housing.   

10 Tax Deductions for Military Homeowners and Tenants

Military Homeowner Tax Breaks

As we welcome in the warmer temperatures of April, reality suddenly sets in… it is tax time!  For military families that entered or exited the real estate market, there are a number of deductions that you should consider when filing your 2013 tax return. If you are a new homeowner, the good news is that you now own a piece of the American dream; bad news is you are no longer living on “EZ” Street. If you want to reap the benefits of home ownership, you must itemize your tax deductions. Great news for renters – there are useful deductions for you too!

All the Home’s a Stage

First, you make the decision to sell your home – this decision is generally made after many thoughtful, analytical, and finally, emotional, conversations. Then, you must determine whether to sell with or without a realtor’s assistance – another decision requiring careful consideration and reflective dialogue. Then, if a realtor’s assistance is deemed necessary, the choice of an agent necessitates even more significant deliberation and attention. Then, when to list, how and what to price, where to advertise….. At this point in the process, you’ve most likely maximized your spreadsheet skills, exhausted your interviewing abilities and depleted your social network’s knowledge of the listing process as well as its interest in your real estate state of affairs.

Update on Prospective Cuts to BAH

Military Budget Cuts

Sequestration cuts have placed the Pentagon leadership in a tough situation.  In efforts to save $11 billion in compensation costs over the next decade, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have put forth a series of proposals that, if enacted, would result in an immediate need for most military families to reconsider their monthly budgets.  The proposals include changes to the following systems:  Pay Raises, Tricare, Commissary, Per Diem travel costs, and the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).  While keeping in mind that these are currently only proposals for the 2015 Budget, let’s take a closer look at the prospective cuts to BAH and their implications for military families. (What Role Do BAS and BAH Compensation Play in the Budgets of Military Families?)

Soaring Flood Insurance Premiums!

Flood Insurance

A little over two years ago, a friend of mine tried to buy a home near Hurlburt Field in the panhandle of Florida. Everything went well with the progress of the sale until it came time to sort out flood insurance.  In the end, the VA rejected her loan application, stating that insufficient flood insurance coverage was available for the home.  The same thing happened with the next two homes in that area on which she put offers.  She wasn’t the only service member in recent years who dreamt of purchasing a home near their new duty station only to find out that something as seemingly innocuous as insurance prevented the buy. 

Does Force Shaping Mean You’ll Have to Move on Base?

Military Housing

Though you may escape the force reductions, force reductions will still mean changes for you; a smaller military, more specifically, could mean changes in your family’s housing situation for future assignments.  In many situations, an application for on-base housing now often means a one to two year wait for a housing assignment.  As most military families only remain on assignment for two to three years, waiting for on-base housing seems pointless, if not ridiculous.  That wait list, however, may soon either disappear or shorten.  For those who own rental properties located by military installations, read on!     

Is It Really Cheaper to Buy than Rent?

Buy vs. Rent

Keeping in mind that BAH is expressly intended for the purpose of providing a specific style of property—apartment, townhouse, or single family home—based on a service member’s rank and dependent status, in many cases it can often make more immediate financial sense for a military family to buy a home rather than rent.  As the recent recession has shown, buying with the intent of a quick sale after a two or three year assignment has not quite worked out in the best interests of many military families, making the words “immediate financial sense” key. 

What Does Snow Mean for Your Home Sale?

Snow Market

Given the commuting challenges that come with snow storms, an increased amount of snow draws a direct parallel with a decreased amount of foot traffic for home tours and open houses, resulting in a correlating decline in home sales.  Research conducted by Goldman Sachs at the end of February of this year showed that the snow index nationwide has far outstripped that of the snow level average for the past twenty years, so hopeful home sellers have had far fewer good weather opportunities than usual to attract prospective buyers in the door to make a sale.

10 Spring Maintenance Tips for Military Homeowners

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring has finally arrived – at least according to the calendar. While much of the country is still feeling the winter chill, the first official day of spring brings hope of warmer days to come. While home maintenance projects may not make the list of your favorite things, an opportunity to get out into the sun may just make it a bit more appealing. For many it has been a long hard winter, which means it has been equally hard on your home.

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