To be honest, your question really can't be answered here with the information available. There are pros and cons to either and depends on your individual situation. You really need to get in touch with a professional to find out what all your options are, before making your decision.
I can give you some generalities about the local market, and I think you'll see why you'll need to dig a little deeper. Your friends are right, you can rent a lot of home for the money right now. On the other hand, you can buy a lot of home for the money right now. The question is which one is right for you.
No one can predict the future and anything can happen, but some local issues you need to be aware of. Yes, there are a lot of foreclosures in the Vegas market at the moment. In spite of them, home inventory has been slowly dropping since last September. Some have sold, others have been pulled off the market to rent with the thought that the market and prices will rebound in the next year or so. They are basing that on 2 things...that there are still 5,000 - 6,000 a month moving into Las Vegas, and a potential housing shortage from the largest commercial development in local history. There is around $30 billion in construct going on just in the hospitality industry. 10's of thousands of jobs are due to come online through 2012 and all those people will need a place to live, rent or buy. MGM / Mirage as an example, has closed and bulldozed a casino property in Jean just south of the city, to make way for an employee housing development of their own.
Las Vegas also has a limited supply of land. Your Nellis Range is to the north, mountains and Lake Mead to the east, wilderness and preservation areas to the south and west. Many see those wide open spaces and don't realise that very little of that is available, and what is, controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.
Property taxes are capped in Nevada. Owner occupied at 3%, commercial / rental property is at 7%. These are items that can effect you whether you rent or buy.
Rents in a market with population growth have a higher probability to increase. That super deal on a lot of house today, may not be so super in a year or two. Even if your rent were to remain the same through your 5 years, this is what you would be looking at, using $1500 rent as an example.
60 months @ $1500 = $90,000
You don't have any ownership, maintenance, and can normally walk away at the end of your lease without any further obligations. If the savings from renting great enough for your budget, you could invest. On the down side you run the risk of any increases that could eat into your income, the home being sold, and either potentially forcing a move. Another caution here about needing to consult a professional...there have been some private owners renting homes that they know to be heading into foreclosure. Tenants losing security deposits and stuck with moving expenses and new deposits, and landlords that won't return their calls. While an agent can't prevent that from happening through the course of a lease, it is against the law for them to knowingly rent a property in default. It also gives you someone to turn to should the situation ever arise.
If you consider buying, being in the military you do have the potential to qualify for some great fixed rate financing options. Rates are fairly low now, and contrary to what some may believe, Fed rate cuts don't directly effect long term mortgage rates. Inflation plays a key role in the long term financial bond market. In a normal situation the Fed adjusts rates to keep inflation in check. At present they are using these short term rate cuts to stimulate the economy in spite of increases in inflation. 30 year fixed rates have actually risen slightly in the last 7 weeks.
So what mortgage amount are you qualified, and what would be affordable for you? At this point you really don't know what figure that would be, or what homes available in your range to suit your family's needs.
If you did chose to buy, a plus is your fixed rate mortgage payments could be locked in and property taxes capped at that 3%, and any equity should it occur. The down side, maintenance costs (possibly offset by a home warranty, if available), and increases in Home Owners Assn fees, if any. Yes, and if prices were to remain flat and you didn't build any equity during your 5 years, that would be your risk, and a choice to sell at a loss or rent the home.
You should be able to see there is no cut and dry answer until you have more information available. Not everyone, military or not, or even a housing market fits into the same 'box'. Your choice needs to be made on your personal situation and what you feel will work best for you here. I believe you need to explore all your options before making your decision, since both renting or buying have their share of possible gain or risk.
I will elaborate on my answer to you. UNLESS: you have cash for the majority of the purchase price for a home in the Las Vegas area, can afford to lose that cash (50%+-) in exchange for the "civilian lifestyle" and have no problem with, and much experience, dealing with long distance property management and, your spouse or children can also handle all aspects of this then, by all means, buy a house for the short term and live the "American Dream". Elvis is correct that, when you are absolutely ready, USAA is a great place for loans and additional....free financial advice. Their investment portfolios, insurance products and loan programs are very good.
I would not want to keep the "American Dream" from our military personnel. You deserve this more than anyone. I grew up in the military and am very proud of my Father for his service and the sacrifices he made. We did not live on base and, he did buy our home. He had 2 transfers during my childhood. Both bases were within 50 miles of each other. 22 years, 2 transfers....no moves. Before that, he had 13 transfers, 4 tours to Vietnam and having to deal with "Owning" a house during that period and disposing of it or??? . Would you, or anyone else in the military, want or need any additional stress?
Based on your information, I would still...100% recommend that , for the short period of time that you will be in the Las Veags area, that you rent "The American Dream" and stash you hard earned cash for future investment in this highly volatile market. I agree that it IS a good time to buy for the right reasons.....and for the right individuals. Telling you to buy, simply to gain popularity as a "real estate pro", is simply irresponsible and wrong.
When you are ready....DO hire a competent, responsible and experienced real estate professional and Realtor to help you make the best decision, based on your situation and future goals. Good luck and...thank you.
Thanks for your help in keeping us safe.
Vegas is a crazy place and the market is even crazier right now ... I'm not usually one for renting myself - but.!
You'll see prices drop another 10/12% in the next 5 or 6 months, and depending on the "what and where" of it - you'll probably see more than that .. and another good point is, you'll see rates drop into the low low low 5's for the 30 year fixed in the next 5 months.
Look at it this way ... 3 years ago people were paying $2,000 over MSRP for hybrid cars, now they have a $1,000 rebate and you can get one for a few hundred over invoice - thats a $3,000 swing .... who gets the better deal.?
I would rent, I would save, I would keep my eyes wide open and save even more .. and I would wait for that little hybrid house to come a knocking down the road at a time that feels good for you ....
Thanks again for your help and good luck.!
I will include the link for all interested
I would suggest that you rent first fo that you can gather all the data needed to make an "educated" decision.
Best of luck,
Even with the current economy real estate is still an awesome investment vehicle for the long term. I am speaking as a soldier who spends more than 50% of his time away from the place his mail goes. We as military personnel are trained to overcome and adapt. I noticed that previous poeple have pointed out the pitfalls and cons to buying. There are also pros to buying and I personally feel they overwhelm the cons.
The key to buying as an active duty member is to buy as an investor even though you are living in the homes. You are in a position to make money the moment you purchase the home. Don't buy because the realtor tells you a few years from now the house will be worth more. Act of present values. Also dont buy more than you can afford. There are free services on many military installations to help find out what is affordable for you if you need help. I would trust these over civilian organizations if they are available. Finally make contact with people that are going through what you are currently
So if there is a single home in your price range worth buying in the state of Nevada that meets your requirements, I believe you should find it and purchase it!
I agree with Realtor Roberta and she gave you excellent information in my opinion. You definitely want to get advice from a LOCAL realtor that is willing to help you to assess your situation. The market is not the same everywhere. For example, 200,000 here in OK will get you a brand new house about 2000 sqft. Loan rates are very low here. I'm retired military and been in this town 14 years. 4 years would be enough time to build equity here. Anyways, good luck in Vegas. My hubby and I are considering a move there ourselves! God bless!
I am Royal Air Force veteran and in my time I had the same question. Buy is the Answer, even when you are posted you can rent, even buy another property in your next domestic post and start building a Real estae portfolio. There's nothing worse that retiring and the biggest chunk of your retiremnet then go to a home.
If you need a good Realtor . Thank you for your service!!!