Don’t Waste Your 2013 San Antonio BAH On Rent


Rent It Or Buy It?

Rent It Or Buy It?

Home ownership is still the American dream, but, for most military members considering buying a home, the real estate market can be overwhelming.

Also, the recent "great recession" has clouded the public's dream of home ownership. This is particularly true for service members worrying about holding a home long enough to build enough equity to overcome an unexpected housing market downturn our early PCS.

So, here’s some advice for a military member destined for a permanent change of station (PCS) to the San Antonio area.

First, don’t approach buying your primary San Antonio residence as an investment unless you intend to keep it as a rental property when you make your next move.

Here’s why.  The recent great recession wiped away the concept of owning a home as an investment.  Now, you’re advised to consider your home only as a place to live with the possibility of making some money when you sell it or convert it to an investment property.

Second, when weighing the pros and cons of home ownership, keep in mind the exceptional value of the government’s BAH contribution to satisfying your housing needs. Even after considering the risk of losing money because of economic conditions or being forced to sell early because of an early PCS, many financial advisers suggest that it’s better to use your BAH to buy a home instead of sacrificing it to a landlord.

Third, before deciding to buy instead of renting, consult with an experienced Realtor® who can refer you to the most  reputable local lender specializing in VA mortgages.  Realtors®  and VA qualified lenders are held to extremely high ethical standards in Texas. They are duty bound to give you fair and honest advice.

Fourth, consider this. Over time, the San Antonio home market has proven to be highly stable and offers some of the best home values in the nation.  With mortgage interest rates remaining close to historic lows, it’s a good time to buy.

The only slight downside for buying this spring is this.

For the time being in early 2013, the San Antonio residential market strongly favors sellers over buyers.  Consequently, it’s wise to use an experienced buyer’s agent to help you find and negotiate for the best newly constructed or resale home.   The services of your buyer,s agent are free and you’ll find your agent to be a marvelous asset during one of the most financial events of your lifetime.

If you need to know your San Antonio area BAH, go to the Department of Defense – BAH (Housing Allowance) Link on our military page.

Talk to us. We specialize in representing active and retired uniformed services home buyers.

We are the Realty Solutions Team, Realtors® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas.

Contact Stephanie Kelley at  (210 867-8743) or Randy Kelley at  (210 863-2661).

AUTHOR: Randy Kelley

Air Force Home Buyers Find San Antonio To Be A Big City

randolph_air_force_base_1_images.jpgAir Force families new to the San Antonio area are often surprised to find the city to be a sophisticated metropolis spread over 400 square miles of what was once  range land and farms. 

Yes, you can still see a horse in downtown San Antonio — pulling a tourist carriage.  And what about the fabled Texas long horn cattle herds?  You’ll have to drive quite a few miles outside of town before you see even one long horn cow – if you’re lucky.

Yes,  San Antonio is a very big city – the nation’s seventh largest to be exact.  Furthermore, the San Antonio/New Braunfels area is the nation’s 25th largest metropolitan  area.

San Antonio’s explosive growth has had  its impact on the city’s famous military bases.  Kelly Field and Brooks Air Force Base are closed.  The remaining bases reside in a unique urban environment never anticipated when they were built on open land well away from town.   Now, every local fort, camp, and base is surrounded by urban sprawl.

The good news for military newcomers is that every military installation in the San Antonio area has a large civilian community with affordable housing very close by.      

The bad news is for military home buyers hoping  to find elbow room and possibly enough land for a horse for the kids .  Although it’s still possible to find a home with land relatively close to a base, the cost will be high.  Fortunately, for the buyer willing to accept a long commute to work, there are reasonably priced homes on acreage lots in the outlying rural and semi-rural  communities surrounding San Antonio. 

If you’re on the way to San Antonio and want to live in the open spaces, contact  Randy or Stephanie Kelley, Realtors®, at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio. The Kelleys have extensive experience representing military families buying real estate in the rural areas nearest Fort Sam Houston, Randolph AFB and Lackland AFB.  Their buyer representation services are free.  Call them at (210) 863-2661 or (210) 867-8743 or visit their website at







New or Resale Home? Which is the better deal?

This home has been barely lived in, but is a resale and priced better than new.

If you are on your way to Macdill Air Force Base and are looking to buy a home, you are likely wondering if it is a better deal to buy a new or existing home. The answer is: it depends on what you are looking for. Right now there are new developments popping up everywhere and builders are offering great incentives to homebuyers. Step one is always going to be to find a good realtor who will negotiate on your behalf with selling agents and builder reps. Remember – there is no charge to you as the buyer and the other side has representation so why shouldn’t you? Here are a few points to consider when making your decision:Pros For New Construction:

  • Builder may pay closing costs
  • Realtor can negotiate upgrades
  • May have special incentives for military
  • Can be customized to suit your lifestyle
  • Shiny and new! You are the first to live here!

Cons For New Construction:

  • You will have to buy window coverings
  • If in a new community, you could be living with construction in the area for a Very long time
  • Taxes for the first year are on land only and you could see a significant increase the next year
  • You may have to pay for the upgrades you want at the builder’s prices
  • Your closing costs could be higher because there are fees the builder does not pay that a seller would

Pros For Existing:

  • Seller may have already put in the upgrades you were looking for (such as a swimming pool)
  • Seller may have more incentive to negotiate price, repairs and closing costs
  • Window coverings are usually included
  • The neighborhood is likely established with mature landscaping
  • You don’t have to find temporary lodging while the home is being built

Cons for Existing:

  • Home may have blemishes (scuffed walls, stained flooring)
  • You will likely have to pay some of the closing costs and/or prepaids
  • There may be hidden defects (always do your inspections)
  • The home must appraise

Every family has different needs and wants that can be met through new or existing homes. Talk to your real estate professional for help in  identifying the right type of home for you.

San Antonio Facts For Air Force Home Buyers

homes_for_sale.jpgSan Antonio is an incredibly appealing place for active duty and retired Air Force and other uniformed services families.  It duly deserves its nickname “Military City USA.”

Recently, a client on PCS orders to Lackland Air Force Base asked some very important questions about what to expect when she starts her San Antonio home search.  She was concerned about acquiring a home loan, whether to concentrate on buying a new versus resale home, traffic delays and commute times,  community acceptance of herself and her family, and the availability of shopping and other amenities.  Here’s what I told her.

Lenders and Loans:  San Antonio is a big city (7th largest in the Nation) with an ample supply of business hungry lenders. Finding a lender is no problem for first time and repeat home buyers. Landing the loan is another issue. Underwriters are picky-picky-picky nowadays. They seem to go out of their way to deny loans. Naturally, buyers with the very best income and scores usually have no problem with obtaining their loans. On the other hand, even the smallest blemish in a buyer’s credit report or an irregular income flow pattern can be the kiss is death for getting a mortgage loan.

Clearly, as a prospective home buyer, your wisest course is to be loan qualified and know what you can afford before starting your home search. 

So, what happens if a lender disapproves your loan application.  Unless it’s clear that your credit scores, financial history, or income prevents getting a loan from anyone, the answer is to reapply with another lender.  The fact is that some lender’s standards are less rigid than others’, so give another lender a chance to grant you a loan.  Of course, the downside  to looking for another lender is having to start over with the application process.

New Home Builders vs Resellers:  San Antonio has a more than ample supply of new home builders. Historically, our market has favored new home builders over home resellers because the builders focus their products and marketing programs to be more than competitive against previously owned homes.  In the last 5 years, an offsetting trend has seen San Antonio area builders putting less available completed home inventory on the ground, indicating the builders were satisfied with marketing more to buyers who can afford the time to contract for to-be-built home.  Now, in 2013, with the improving economy in mind, it appears that philosophy has changed as more new homes are currently under construction.

The best course is to not limit your search to new homes vs resale homes.  Sample both, but, when you visit the new home developments, take an experienced realty specialist with you to hear the builders’ pitch and give you advice and assistance about the pros-and-cons of buying a new construction home.  Because up to 80% of new homes are sold to buyers represented by Realtors® , San Antonio’s home builders rely on an excellent working relationship with the local Realtor® community.

Commute time to affordable neighborhoods. Although the San Antonio metropolitan area is large and spread out, Air Force home buyers can usually find quality affordable housing within a 20 to 30 minute commute to work.   Basically, except in a few congested areas around town, our commute times and distances are nothing compared to other large metro areas.

Recreation And Shopping Amenities:  No problem.   After all, San Antonio is one of the nation’s top destination cities for tourism and readily available shopping, recreation, and dining centers go hand-and-hand with supporting our tourist’s as well as the needs of the local citizenry.

Friendliness And Newcomer Acceptance:  Again, no problem!  Cities with large military populations aren’t known to shut out newcomers. After all, San Antonio is Military City USA. So, don’t expect to find rejection as a newcomer. Everybody’s welcome!

Need anymore information?  Just let me know.   Give me a call at (210) 863-2661 or (210) 867-8743

I’m Randy Kelley offering my services as your local realty expert.

I specialize in serving active and retired Air Force and other uniformed service military members and their families currently in-or-enroute to the Joint Base San Antonio area.   I hope to have the honor to serve you.

For more information, visit my website at

Randall R. (Randy) Kelley


San Antonio Realtor ®

Residential Realty Acquisitions Director and Internet Realty Services Advisor

The San Antonio Home Quest Realty Solutions Team at

Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio

Steven Gragg, Broker

San Antonio, Texas (210) 863-2661, (210) 867-8743, (210) 482-3200 (Main Office)

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