Strategy while Active Duty Military

9 Replies

Hello, A little about myself. I am an Active Duty Coast Guardsman stationed in Seattle, WA, married, and father of four. Due to an ever changing life and never knowing where we will be living in the next two years I have found it quite difficult to confidently enter the multi family real estate market. I'd love to find a duplex to occupy, but it is definitely difficult in this area with the current market. Possibilities for owner occupied investments seem low due to our family size. I've settled on the reality, I will likely have to purchase a multi unit property out of state, probably Anchorage, AK, where I am from and will probably end up after military retirement, put 20% down and have it professionally managed. Is this wise? If I do this why not just find one somewhere else and have it managed? This approach is risky as I don't know much about the area, never will anywhere, and have to trust some management company with it all.

The other options are continue to hoard my cash and wait until we transfer and attempt to get stationed somewhere with a market more my size. Or set out and buy owner occupied single family homes at each station.


If you are going to do managed property in a location you are not living, you need to find a good market with a good turnkey provider who can find, finance, rehab, and manage properties for you. I found a good one in Houston through other investors who used them.  Talk to folks on BP about their areas, get multiple references, vet them thoroughly and see if you can get confident about one (or more).  If you can visit the target market when you are on leave and meet the turnkey provider, even better. 

@Joel W.

I totally agree with @Doug McLeod in that if you are going to buy at a distance and have it managed professionally you are best off finding a really good TK provider with PM.  I lived in Seattle area for over 20 years, but am now down in Oregon, and all my investments are with out of state TK companies, and they have gone well.  There are a lot of choices of markets, but Alaska strikes me as an expensive one, where you might have the same issues for price barriers as you do in Seattle.

I'm from Washington and lived on the Kenai Peninsula for 13 years. When this happened….

ExxonMobil Merger

Wikipedia In 1998, Exxon and Mobil signed a US$73.7 billion definitive agreement to merge and form a new company called Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest company on the planet. After shareholder and regulatory approvals, the merger was completed on November 30, 1999. It made the Anchorage real estate market boom. I moved there too, and it was expensive. There are four district areas of anchorage. I would pick an area that you like and I would also look for a garage. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford anything at that time. Then I moved to Texas. Wow. I couldn't believe the price of homes, at that time. Time is everything. Start looking for where you want to be and watch the prices. When you see a deal. Take action.

Do whatever you are more comfortable with. I life the idea of buying something wherever you are stationed (let BAH pay your mortgage), then turn it over to an agency when you leave. Lather, rinse, repeat. This allows you to do rehab you want and essentially have the government subsidize your payments. The VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember is to buy a house that the expected rents are enough to provide positive cash flow after considering the condition, maintenance costs, and especially management costs. As soon as you move, it provides you a little income.

As people here are fond of saying, "It's hard to lose money when you're making a profit."

Hi Joel. I had a few friends that were active military when they decided to invest in real estate. They didn't want to buy their own house because of their need to move, however they decided to invest in my real estate investing company for a set return every year. It has paid off for them and they have been learning with us as we grow our real estate business. Now that they are settling down outside of DC, they are able to make more educated real estate decisions and begin their real estate investing. I hope this helps!

Hi Joel.  I am active duty Navy and looking at moving in the same direction you are in real estate investing in the Columbia, SC area.  I am currently stationed in San Diego, CA.  It has been difficult for my wife and I to decide where to purchase at.  We have finally settled on buying a multifamily home in my hometown because of the cheap price of real estate.  Turnkey providers or property management companies are pretty much the only option we have.  In your research, have you found out what is a reasonable percentage to pay to these companies?  Good luck!

In my opinion I would not invest out of state for my first property. First purchase your own home of where you are stationed at, but treat it as a business. You can use your extra cash to renovate and add value. What will your niche be? Buy and Hold, Wholesale, Flip? Define that as you are in your new home. Are you thinking of using the VA loan? If you do, in two years time you have are able to rent out your first property. Have a specific goal in mind with the parameters of your numbers and an exit strategy

Joel, welcome to BP! I am also Active Duty military and even stationed overseas but I can tell you that it is definitely possible to still invest in real estate. You need to find out what your goals are? What risk level you are comfortable with (what i mean is do you want to buy a duplex and rent 1 side, do you want to buy a SFH and rent after PCSing, do you want to try a flip, do you want to purchase a buy/hold rental, etc). There are so many ways to invest in real estate and I only listed a few. Feel free to message me if you want more info.

Thank you all for the responses. I find the most difficult part of jumping into this is my lack of familiarity. My knowledge of areas in Anchorage are 10 years old, everything changes. The going rents are nothing familiar, I use rentometer, craiglsist, and the provided pro formas.  My base strategy will continue to buy single family homes where we are, and hold. I would still like to buy multi-family from afar and hold.  I am unfamiliar with the broker and management companies and do not have a built up trust. Once again thank you

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