I recall when I received orders to Fort Lewis I had the same question! lol.
There are plenty of places close to Fort Lewis that will fit your price range. They range from Thurston County (Olympia, Yelm and Lacey) as well as in Pierce county such as Spanaway, Lakewood and even Tacoma.
My question to you is this...what are you wants and needs? Do you need to be within a certain distance? Do you know which side of Fort Lewis you will need access to?
As you know, the housing "crisis" has put many sellers in a situation where they need to sell. The price they are asking is not necessarily the price they will accept. For example...I just sold home to military clients where the seller was asking $425,000 initially. I was able to negotiate a sale for them at $375,000 and had their closing costs paid for. While this is not the norm, it does happen in this marketplace.
Also, there are many programs that cater to and offer relief to military and their dependents, that will make home buying more affordable and easy.
I would be happy to forward to you a list of homes in various cities that meet your criteria as well as information on a military housing benefits program that I know of. Send me an email and i will be happy to help you get started. No obligation of course.
Hope that helps!
Steve Hobson 253-332-8288
Spanaway, Lacey, Yelm and south Tacoma will generally offer the most home for the dollar. If you are moving here with the military, which is my guess, I would not rule out any location until you get here and can see them for yourself. On your first day or two looking, a good agent will introduce you to each area, showing a couple of homes that meet your criteria in each location and talk with you about the pros and cons of each. Real estate is like so many things in life; there are pluses and minuses to everything and only you can be the final judge of what will work for you and your family.
For the first ten years or so of my real estate career, I worked almost exclusively with military and corporate transferees. We'd start with a broad target and then narrow down as we refined our search criteria, after evaluating what was out there in the marketplace. You are very fortunate. Right now, inventory is high and you will have many homes to choose from and the opportunity is there for you to make a very good buy. It will be crucial, I think, for you to make a choice that has excellent resale potential, and an experienced agent can be invaluable as you work towards making that final decision. Best wishes, Shannon
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South Tacoma (Midland area) , Parkland or Spanaway are close to Ft. Lewis, and there are a number of 4 bedroom homes under $275,000. Some are new construction, too. You can look at a few of these by going to http://WWW.windermere.com, go to the bottom right corner and enter these MLS numbers: 28002623, 28000128, 28036660 and 27200917. This will give you an idea of a few homes that are currently on the market.
Considering your complete list of criteria (i.e. safe, $275k> etc) I am going to go with South Tacoma, more specifically the Wapato area. With its proximity to I-5 and completion of a new police substation at Wapato Park. I think you will find everything you are looking for in the perfect home. Also with the recent downturn in the market South Tacoma seems to have dodged the price reductions as compared to places where there have been alot of new homes constructed.
Good luck with your move.