PCS season is right around the corner, and landlords and tenants are trying to find each other. The internet has drastically changed the way that people look for housing, and there are many resources that cater to military folks. I’ve used a variety of websites over the years and have had varying success with them. Thus far, we’ve always been in housing or in a house that we own, but who knows when I’ll be checking out a rental for myself online.
The big granddaddy of military-targeted real estate websites is MilitaryByOwner.com (MBO). It has tons of listings. I have used it since 2007 and have been delighted with the number of inquiries it generates. You can purchase a basic text listing for as little as $14.95, the basic listing including photos for $49.95, and the big listing with more photos for $79.95. For us, that has been an excellent investment. In the three times we’ve listed on MBO, it has generated about 25 leads for every one lead from another source. If you are house hunting, you can sort by base or zip code, as well as the usual bedrooms, baths and rent. Landlords who list on MBO are obviously willing to rent military families, which is a great way to weed out landlords who will be difficult.
The Department of Defense runs a similar, free database called the Automated Housing Referral Network. It has the ability to do a search based on BAH rates for the area, as well as the usual searches. I’ve not had a huge response from AHRN, but I have a friend that has had great success renting her house there.
In addition to the military-focused websites, there are general real estate websites. Local geographic areas might have their own, but nationwide there are three biggies: Realtor.com, zillow.com, and Craigslist. These resources can be a little sketchier, but still they can give you an excellent idea of the market for your area, and you might actually find a house there!
Realtor.com is better for renters seeking housing because it has a hefty fee for owners to list their house via a real estate agent. If you are using a property manager, this might be one of the services that is included in your contract. Zillow.com‘s rental listing option is fairly new and free. It is less great for landlords because it hasn’t yet established a name for itself as a rental resources, but the price is right.
I’m really conflicted about Craigslist. Yes, it is free, and it hits a ton of people, and I’ve even secured a tenant through it, but it seems a little scary to me.
As you can see, there are many ways to find a new house for yourself, or find a tenant for your house. Of course, word of mouth is always good, too.
If you know other resources, please share them in the comments.