Military family starting to invest in real estate

11 Replies

Hi everyone,

My husband is an active duty Naval officer and I am a full time risk management analyst at a financial institution. We are in the middle of relocating to Portsmouth, NH. My husband will be there in a week while I will be there at the end of April. For the last 2 months, I have been listening to BPs, Active Duty Passive Income, Real Estate Rookie in addition to reading real estate blogs, personal finance books, real estate books to submerge myself into real estate investing while my husband was on a short deployment. After he came back a couple of weeks ago, we have been actively searching for a 3 br/2ba homes (looking to house hack) and an investment property (found a couple of Multi-family homes in the area). We are planning to use the VA on our primary residence and potentially a conventional loan (unless there are other options to consider) for the investment property given that we have enough down payment & extra cash reserves to cover additional expenses. Our timeline is very tight on our primary residence because we are going to rent a month to month furnished apartment/house during the transition period while our furniture & belongings are in storage. Here's our plan of actions for this week: 1. reach out to a few realtors on BPs, ADPI, etc who have experience in real estate investing to represent us in the buying process. 2. apply for pre-approvals from various banks (big & small) 3. once we find a few realtors who understand our goals, we will set up viewing appointments 4. use the Real Estate property calculator on BPs to determine if the purchase is a good deal or not. We understand that the market is extremely competitive at the moment, so we would appreciate any advice and suggestions. Thank you!

@Athena Cave

That's awesome you took the time for self-development while your husband was deployed. My wife spent her time paying off my loans that she affectionately calls the [email protected]#$ loan. 

That being said, your plan is sound. I would focus on one strategy, which is the VA loan. Given the market you will be moving to, the VA loan allows you to purchase up to a four-plex. It also gives you tremendous flexibility by allowing you to hold the property for up to 15 years without paying capital gains taxes. 

Good like! 



@Athena Cave Congrats on taking the initial steps on your real estate journey, and thanks for sharing your journey on this forum. You'll find there are lots of fellow military members who invest in real estate while active duty (like @Joshua McMillion and myself). I love that you and your husband already have an action plan for the week. Keep that up!

Have you and your husband already had a discussion about your "why"? I think it's important to have a very clear vision of where you want to be 5-10 years from now and why you want to be there. Real estate investing (like life) has its ups and downs and it will be easier to make it through the tough times if you have a strong "why". 

You'll want to find a ROCKSTAR real estate agent who is very familiar with VA loans. Don't just go with the first person someone recommends to you. Get at least three referrals from every agent you interview. Ideally, the people they refer to you will be in a similar situation as you and your husband. The same goes for the lender. You want a ROCKSTAR lender who is a pro at VA loans. Interview them, get referrals, and follow up with the referrals!

Keep us updated on your journey and let me know if you have any questions! Best of luck.

@Douglas Spence Thanks for your response! Thanks for raising a good point about understanding our "why" before diving into action. I went though a webinar offered by BPs last month and thought about my "why" and my short term to mid term plan when my husband was out to sea and I briefly talked about why we should start our real estate investing journey via emails (not even sure if he has ever gotten them). So I'll definitely have a discussion on this with my husband this week. Understanding the "why" remains me of running a marathon (both my husband and I are marathon runners) Without a strong foundation physically and mentally, the race can become extremely unpleasant. Thanks for the great tip on getting a ROCKSTAR agent and a ROCKSTAR lender, will keep you posted! 

Hi Athena! My husband is an active duty Army Officer and we PCSed to the Portsmouth, NH area about a year ago. We had wanted to buy a a multi family property but since we were on such a tight timeline we ended up buying a home that had an in-law apartment for additional income. I am a local realtor and would love to connect and learn more about your family and goals! 

@Athena Cave

One thing to be mindful of would be applying for two loans at once. There will be a period between sales agreement and closing and during that time lenders usually take a look and see if anything has been added to your credit. You could get pre approved for two loans but I wouldn’t spend the other one until your first one closes. You shouldn’t buy a car or anything major during that time.

If you want a good deal I would not use an agent to buy your investment property. I'm an agent myself so don't worry it's not a knock on them. No matter the condition MLS is always going to be market value.

Buy an absentee owner multi family list in a couple zip codes where you want your investment property to be. Hand write a simple letter to them saying you came across their absentee property and you’re extremely interested in purchasing it yourself. When people call you back just shoot it straight, tell them you’re a military family who just moved to the area, looking for a long term investment and already approved for the loan. Use an attorney to close it, sell them that they can sell it with no commission.

Good luck, you may even find one turn key.

Hi @Athena Cave . Thanks (to you and your husband) for serving our country! I love the idea of using a VA loan. Have you considered renting your primary home and focusing your debt on your investment property? Have you considered house-hacking in (say) a 4-plex? You may also want to get the Chris Prefontaine book Real Estate on Your Terms to learn about the "Subject-To" strategy, etc.  Good Luck!  

@Timothy Frazier Thank you for your tips! Good point! We are going to work on our primary residence first and then work on the investment property. I would love to take a drive around town to look for absentee properties once I get there at the end of April and see what I can find especially some For Sale By Owner properties since the closing cost gets very expensive!

@Paul Moore Thanks for your tips! I have thought about house-hacking my primary home and yes I have thought about house-hacking in a 4-plex as well. It depends on what I can find in this competitive market at this point. I'll add this book to my reading list, appreciate your recommendation!