Whether you’re moving for the first or the tenth time, buying a home is a big decision that requires careful thought, research, and planning – but this can be a smart choice for military families who are looking to get more value or simply more space with their next PCS.

Keep in mind these key tips to make your home buying journey smooth sailing from start to finish.

1. Understand the Real Estate Market

Staying in the know with both the national real estate trends and the local housing market of where you are looking to buy a home will set you up for home buying success. Take some time to research the city where your military family is looking to relocate to get a sense of what type of homes are available in your price range. Based on the market, you might be surprised by what you can get.

2. Think of Your New Home as an Investment

One of the advantages of buying over renting is the equity you build when owning a home. Your “equity” in your home is the difference between what you owe on your mortgage and what your home is worth.

Typically, the longer you own a home, the greater its value appreciates. When it comes time to move and sell – even after a short-term assignment – your home will not only likely be worth more, but the profits from the sale will be tax-free as capital gains. In addition to seeing your new home as an investment, military families that own a home will pay less in income taxes, meaning you’ll be keeping more of your overall income.

3. Know What You Want When Buying a Home

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy, home buyers should consider what are the most important factors for them when purchasing a new home. This can be everything from the neighborhood, community, and school system in a particular city, as well as specifics about the house itself. For example, are you prioritizing overall square footage or number of bedrooms? Is a large kitchen for hosting a big factor? Making a list of these key details will help streamline your search.

4. Work with a Knowledgeable Real Estate Agent to Buy Your Home

Working with a trusted real estate agent in the market where you are searching can make a big impact in taking some stress out of your homebuying journey – particularly an agent who is familiar with the unique needs that come with PCS moves. As experts in the home buying process, they can answer any questions that you may have and help you evaluate homes you may like, advise on schools, provide negotiation expertise, and more. A trusted real estate agent can be an invaluable resource and especially useful when military families are relocating to a new community and need some added support when making these decisions quickly.

The Realogy Military Rewards program was created to help and support military families, veterans, and active military personnel through the home buying and selling process. You’ll get connected with an expert real estate agent who is trained to work with military members, who will help you with your home buying search and answer any questions you might have. After closing on a home with a participating agent, you can earn $350 – $7,500 in cash back benefits.

5. Understand Military Incentives Available to You

There are many other financial incentives that make buying a home even easier and more rewarding for military families. Active-duty military personnel, as well as certain veterans, reservists, and National Guard members are eligible for Veterans Administration loans (VA loans), which provide military families the ability to purchase a home without a minimum down payment or private mortgage insurance.

The U.S. Government created VA loans back in 1944 to benefit soldiers returning home from World War II buy a home. VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and are made by many private lenders.

VA loans are particularly helpful for military families that may have trouble with a 20% down payment and want to benefit from no borrowing limit, no mortgage insurance, and low interest rates.

Finally, when buying a home, you’ve probably heard that you should consider getting prequalified for a mortgage. Getting prequalified at the start of your home buying journey is a quick and easy way to see how much you may be able to borrow for a mortgage.

If you are a military family interested in buying or selling a home, visit Realogy Military Rewards today and hit “Sign Up” or call 1-800-752-3642 to get started on your home buying journey today!