Housing & Real Estate
On-base living has never been easier or more comfortable. Fairchild AFB Homes (210 E. Bong St., Building 2190) offers spacious; contemporary; move-in ready; two-, three- and four-bedroom homes in a community where you and your family will be surrounded by support from other military members and their families.
The community offers features such as central heating and air conditioning and energy-efficient appliances. Professionally managed by Balfour Beatty Communities, an on-site maintenance team is available to resolve problems 24/7. And your family is invited to take part in the award-winning LifeWorks program, which provides residents of all ages with a variety of fun, educational and rewarding free events throughout the year and where you’ll have the opportunity to foster friendships that will last a lifetime.
There are no deposit or application fees. Most utilities are included, and you won’t experience any wait at-the-gate. Call the Fairchild AFB Home team (509-244-6500) for a tour today. For more information, visit www.fairchildafbhomes.com.
An outdoor lover’s paradise, Spokane County offers beautiful scenic views and numerous recreational opportunities to its residents. From the bustling, metropolitan city of Spokane to the small-town feel of the charming city of Cheney, Spokane County’s communities are diverse.
Situated east of the Cascade Range and on the western slope of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains next to the Idaho-Washington state line, Spokane County contains 1,756 square miles. It is one of the oldest counties, created in 1858 and organized in 1860, only six years after the creation of the Washington Territory. Spokane County was annexed by Stevens County in 1864 and re-created in 1879. It is named after the Spokane tribe, which has inhabited northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana for many centuries.
Spokane County is part of the Spokane-Spokane Valley Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also part of the greater Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Combined Statistical Area that includes nearby Kootenai County, Idaho.
The lowest point in the county is the Spokane River behind Long Lake Dam (boundary of Stevens County) at 1,538 feet. The highest point is the summit of Mount Spokane at 5,883 feet. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound, including hiking, camping, fishing and boating and golf.
In 2016, an estimated 499,072 people called the county home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Spokane County’s communities give newcomers plenty of choices when selecting a home.
Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s home options. The Spokane Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services. Visit www.spokanerealtor.com to find expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home.
Communities in Spokane County near Fairchild Air Force Base include Airway Heights, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, Spokane and Spokane Valley.
A fast-growing city just 6 miles from Spokane, Airway Heights holds onto its small-town charm. The city has numerous recreational programs and community events, including the annual Airway Heights Festival, which features live entertainment, a car show and watermelon races.
Airway Heights’ land area is 5.6 square miles, and with a population of 6,672, it averages 1,086 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is about 19 minutes. Median rent is $785, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,304.
The city’s parks and recreation department serves residents with after-school programs, summer camps and senior programs. The city has four parks that offer sports fields, picnic areas, playgrounds and paved paths.
Lying just 17 miles southwest of Spokane, Cheney has a family-friendly, small-town atmosphere. Many recreational opportunities are available, along with annual events such as Cheney Rodeo Days. The city is also home to two historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cheney’s land area is 4.3 square miles, and with a population of 12,237, it averages 2,482 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is about 20 minutes. Median rent is $731, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,175.
The parks and recreation department boasts nine parks, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and five soccer fields. There is also a 3.5-mile paved trail immediately adjacent to Cheney, which is ideal for in-line skating, bicycling and walking.
About 20 minutes from downtown Spokane, Liberty Lake is a family-friendly and business-friendly community. Recreational activities abound, with nearby mountains, lakes, rivers, parks and trails.
Liberty Lake’s land area is about 6 square miles, and with a population of 9,209, it averages 1,237 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is 21 minutes. Median rent is $921, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,640.
The city owns and operates two parks, with four additional parks located within the city limits. There are more than 25 miles of multiuse trails, three golf courses and public access to the Spokane River.
Named for the lake’s once high-mineral content that was believed to have healing powers, Medical Lake is south of Fairchild Air Force Base. The city has a small-town atmosphere but a variety of recreational opportunities with scenic lakes, abundant wildlife and a comprehensive trail system.
Medical Lake’s land area is 3.4 square miles, and with a population of 4,952, it averages 1,487 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is 18 minutes. Median rent is $636, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,319.
The city has five parks and the Medical Lake trail system, which has 4 miles of paved trails. Waterfront Park is on the south end of Medical Lake and offers a sand beach and large picnic areas.
Spokane, the second-largest city in Washington and the seat of Spokane County, serves as a shopping, entertainment and medical hub in the heart of the Inland Northwest. While the city’s metropolitan area offers plenty of modern amenities, the city is also an outdoor lover’s paradise with skiing, whitewater rafting, camping areas, hiking trails and lakes all readily available.
The city of Spokane’s land area is about 60 square miles, and with a population of about 216,000, it averages 3,526 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is 20 minutes. Median rent is $747, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,250.
Residents can enjoy numerous city parks, such as the Riverfront Park and the Gaiser Conservatory, and the Spokane River Centennial Trail.
Spokane Valley is to the east of the city of Spokane. The city prides itself on quality neighborhoods and schools, friendly people and natural surroundings.
Spokane Valley’s land area is 38 square miles, and with a population of 96,340, it averages 2,376 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is 19 minutes. Median rent is $793, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,271.
The city’s parks and recreation department provides more than 180 acres of parks and open areas, three city pools, a senior center and an event center. Parks include multiple trailheads to the Centennial Trail and Mirabeau Point Park, which boasts a 40-foot waterfall, meadows, a playground and a splash pad.
Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or the nation, preparation and organization make all the difference.
For military moves, visit www.move.mil for information about moving resources and to learn about the allowances and responsibilities of a military-sponsored move.
Decide whether or not to make your move a do-it-yourself operation.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it at your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes as possible from professional movers, as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs for each type of move, factoring in the stress and physical exertion involved. Ask any company you are interested in for references and use them to inquire about reliability and customer service.
Regardless of which method you choose, the first step should be to inventory your personal belongings. The list, with photographs of any valuables, will be important for both insurance purposes and to help keep you organized during transit.
Plan for one full day to pack each room — though the kitchen and garage may take longer. Make a rough estimate of your packing schedule and then add 50 percent more time. It always takes longer than predicted to pack. Toss or donate unused items to lighten your load. Visit www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.
Pack for success:
- Consider what you’re packing and control box weight. Books should go in small boxes while bedding can easily fill a larger box.
- Wrap fragile items with cardboard dividers, tissue paper or air bubble wrapping.
- Use bright colors when wrapping small items, so they don’t get thrown out accidentally.
- Use crumpled paper or newspaper to line the top and bottom of boxes.
- Tape a copy of your inventory list to boxes to identify what’s inside and where it should go.
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term financial and emotional commitment with various pluses and minuses. Advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits. Disadvantages include upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property values.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is a loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with proper notice.
To determine your best choice, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Finding an Apartment
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history. Dress to make a good impression and treat the meeting like a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.
Before you sign a lease, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks, holes or damage to the floor, walls or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water, leaky fixtures or water damage.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.
“Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington State” by the Northwest Justice Project can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/y7lqqzpw.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is a complicated process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenses from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Home Buying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation and discuss your options with a lending professional. Lenders are diverse today, and not all homebuyers obtain their mortgage loans through their banks and credit unions. For example, you may choose to work with an internet lender, a mortgage broker, a homebuilder or a real estate agency lender. To determine which lender is best for you, get recommendations from friends and family members and check credentials as well as Better Business Bureau ratings.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it would be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
To order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and complete and submit the request form online.
Home Loan Application
To complete a home loan application you’ll need: photo IDs (such as a driver’s license); Social Security numbers; residence addresses for the past two years with landlord contact information if you rented; names and addresses of your employers for the past two years; your current gross monthly income; recent financial institution statements with names, addresses, account numbers and balances on all checking, savings, CDs, money market, bonds and mutual funds accounts; recent financial institution statements with names, addresses, account numbers, balances and monthly payments on all open loans (including student loans) and credit cards; addresses and loan information of all other real estate owned; estimated value of furniture and personal property; W2s for the past two years and current paycheck stubs; copies of all divorce decrees, child support documents or any other court proceedings that affect your financial status; verification of any child support payments; and evidence of any retirement or pension benefits. VA or military forms include DD 214 (veteran), Form 22 (National Guard), DD 1747, Off-base Housing Authority (active duty) and Certificate of Eligibility (active duty).
For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan is invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins.
First, determine your home preferences. Does a single-family house, condo, town house or duplex best fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your perfect home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your homebuying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Washington provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit http://portal.hud.gov and select “Washington” from the “State Info” drop-down menu.
Washington Housing Programs
The Washington Homeownership Resource Center is dedicated to educating and empowering current and future homeowners in Washington. WHRC has a website, hotline and portal where you will find resources for first-time homebuyers, current homeowners and homeowners who may be facing foreclosure. The center directs prospective homeowners to free first-time homebuyer education classes and connects homebuyers to down payment assistance programs. Visit www.homeownership-wa.org for more information about this free service.