If you’re trying to rent your property, and you live in an area with a large military presence, you need to know about the three major websites that market themselves to military audiences: Military By Owner, AHRN, and Homes.mil. They’re all a little different, and people have various preferences, so it makes sense to understand them all. You probably want to use them all if you want your property to be seen by the largest number of people.
Military By Owner
Developed by a Marine Corps veteran and his wife, Military By Owner (MBO) provides real estate advertising services for a fee. MBO offers three advertising packages: Basic Package, HomeTour, and HomeTourPlus. The Basic Package is $14.95 and provides text-only advertising for 45 days. The HomeTour package is $49.95 and provides text advertising with up to five photos, listed for up to 90 days. The HomeTour Plus package is $79.95 and provides text advertising with up to 10 photos, listed for up to 180 days. The HomeTour Plus package also includes yard and street signage, if needed.
On MBO, the owner designates three military bases that are used for sorting purposes. When a customer searches for a house, they are required to select a specific installation, then they can include other information such as number of bedrooms. A list is returned that includes all the properties that meet those search criteria. The listing prioritizes HomeTour Plus listings. It also prioritizes the base that is listed first, which can be challenging in areas where there are several bases. For example, a house located between Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe Bay will show up differently in searches depending on whether the owner selected Pearl Harbor first or Kaneohe Bay first in the listing and what parameters the searcher is entering.
AHRN is the current version of the Automated Housing Referral Network, the old Department of Defense (DoD) website for housing referrals. In 2014, the DoD did not renew its relationship with the AHRN contractor, Runzheimer International. The company transitioned the website to a private entity. Thus far, AHRN has continued to be free for me, but one reader has reported that they were shown a fee for service.
Which One Should You Use?
MBO, AHRN, and Homes.mil are all designed to provide the same service: to provide a database of properties available for rent or sale to military families. All three allow you to search by installation, property features, location, or cost.
The primary differences between MBO, AHRN, and Homes.mil are price, traffic, and search capabilities.
- Both Homes.mil and AHRN are free, MBO charges advertising fees.
- AHRN and MBO receive about the same amount of traffic, currently about 200,000 visitors per month. Homes.mil currently receives about 45,000 visitors per month. (27 September 2016, www.trafficestimate.com)
- The effectiveness of search capabilities is subjective. I think each site’s search system has pros and cons.
Which One Should I Use?
I recommend that you use all three. In my experience, I get more responses from MBO, so I pay for its service. I get the more expensive listing in order to rank higher in their search results. Because AHRN and Homes.com are free, there’s no reason not to use both of them.
What are your experiences and thoughts about these websites? Does one work better for you than the others? Share so we all can learn!