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Buying a Home

Kirtland AFB Housing and Real Estate Buying a Home


Buying a home is a complex 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 expenditures 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 (Government National Mortgage Association) and (the Homebuying 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 a41 percent limit against income.

Next, research the 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 may 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, call toll free 877-322-8228, or download and complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Central Source LLC, P.O. Box 105283, Atlanta, GA 30348-5283. For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission site at

Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are 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 generally 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 in 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 ideal 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.

Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership

The Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership is dedicated to the revitalization of Albuquerque’s urban neighborhoods through the development of affordable and market-rate housing opportunities and by providing home ownership counseling and financial assistance to qualified first-time home buyers. For more information, visit or call 505-244-1614.

State Programs

New Mexico provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit and select New Mexico from the “State Info” drop-down menu.

Six weeks prior to move

  • Contact a real estate agent in the local area. Start by looking in the Advertiser Directory of this publication.
  • Obtain quotes from moving and self-service companies and gather DIY estimates. Decide on the type of move best for your circumstances.
  • Determine employer-covered expenses.

Four weeks prior to move

  • Check the preregistration procedures to enroll children in school. Get children’s transcripts, textbook list and a copy of their current school’s grading system. Ask teachers to write descriptions of each student’s achievement level, interests and any unusual courses taken.
  • Request that copies of all family members’ medical and dental records and birth certificates be sent to your new home. Don’t forget your pets’ veterinary records.
  • Notify the post office of your new address and obtain a change-of-address kit. Send change-of-address cards to friends, subscription services, creditors, alumni associations, the Department of Motor Vehicles and insurance companies.
  • Begin packing seldom-used items and dispose of unwanted items through charities — get receipts for tax purposes.
  • Contact the IRS for forms and regulations regarding tax-deductible moving expenses.
  • Transfer or arrange for insurance to cover your home, furnishings and automobile.

Three weeks prior to move

  • Arrange to have appliances, utilities, newspapers, laundry, phone and cable television disconnected. Check on deposits. Set up connections at yournew home.
  • Make travel arrangements.

Two weeks prior to move

  • Handle bills, stocks, investments and banking transfers.
  • Arrange to transport pets and plants. Some states prohibit certain plants, so research before you move.
  • Clean cupboards and plan remaining meals so you can pack what you don’t need.

One week prior to move

  • Discontinue delivery services such as the newspapers.
  • Clean and sort items in garageand attic.
  • Clean out your safety deposit box and place all valuables and documents together. If the items can’t be replaced, carry them with you.

Two days prior to move

  • Defrost and dry refrigerators and freezers.
  • Arrange for cash or traveler’s checks for trip expenses and payment to the mover upon delivery.
  • Reconcile and close checking account. Withdraw savings.
  • Conclude any financial matters relating to the lease or sale of your home.
  • Pack luggage. Set aside items you will needimmediately upon arrival — a few dishes, pots and pans, towels, soap, bedding, light bulbs, flashlights and toilet paper.
  • Leave forwarding address with new tenant or neighbor.

Moving day

  • Confirm your delivery date with your mover and provide directions to your new residence as well as primary and secondary contact numbers or email addresses.
  • Pay close attention to the mover’s paperwork. You will need to sign it upon completion of loading and then unloading at your new residence.
  • Supervise the movers to make sure your instructions are understood. Review any damage to your belongings noted by the moving foreman/supervisor.
  • Double-check your residence for forgotten items before leaving.

Move-in day

  • Clear and mark paths to all rooms to help the movers place the boxes.
  • Supervise unloading.
  • Note any damage to your boxes or furniture.
  • Review paperwork carefully to make sure all your belongings arrived.


Buying Versus Renting

Kirtland AFB_2019 Housing and Real Estate 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.

The New Mexico Department of Health’s website has a renter’s guide at

Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership

The Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership is dedicated to the revitalization of Albuquerque’s urban neighborhoods through the development of affordable and market-rate housing opportunities and by providing home ownership counseling and financial assistance to qualified first-time home buyers. For more information, visit or call 505-244-1614.

State Programs

New Mexico provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit and select New Mexico from the “State Info” drop-down menu.

Finding an Apartment


Find local apartments listed in chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, online or through referrals from family or friends. The New Mexico Department of Health’s website has a renter’s guide at

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 as though it is a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.

Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:

  • Cracks, holes or damage in 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.

In Bernalillo County

Kirtland AFB_2019 Housing and Real Estate In Bernalillo County

An unemployment rate that is one percent below the national average, a relatively short commute and reasonable housing costs make Bernalillo County an ideal place to live. In 2017, an estimated 676,773 people called Bernalillo County home, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Population density in the county was 571 people per square mile in 2010, the Census found.

Kirtland Air Force Base occupies 51,558 acres and employs approximately 20,800 people, and an estimated 1,950 active-duty personnel live off base in surrounding communities, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Market Analysis in 2013.

The 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 Realtors Association of New Mexico is a central source of local real estate information and services. Visit to find expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home.


Bernalillo County is more than 1,160 square miles in the heart of New Mexico. It is the third-smallest county in size but the largest in population.

The average elevation in the county is nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. There are about 278 sunny days per year in Bernalillo County, with about 64 days when there is measurable precipitation. The sunny days and warm temperatures make this county an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. For more information, check out the Bernalillo County website at

Communities in Bernalillo County near Kirtland Air Force Base include Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Edgewood and Tijeras.

1 Civic Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102 505-768-2000

Albuquerque sits about 5 miles northwest of Kirtland Air Force Base. The city’s 189.5 square miles are home to more than 558,545 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as the Spanish colonial outpost of Ranchos de Albuquerque. Albuquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town was also the sheep-herding center of the West. The establishment of Kirtland Air Force Base in 1939, Sandia Base in the early 1940s and Sandia National Laboratories in 1949 would make Albuquerque a key player of the Atomic Age. Meanwhile, the city continued to expand outward onto the West Mesa, reaching a population of 201,189 by 1960. In 1990, it was 384,736, and in 2007 it was 518,271. In June 2007, Albuquerque was listed as the sixth fastest-growing city in America by the U.S. Census.

Homes in the area range from well-established neighborhoods to brand-new housing developments. Median rent is $833, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,324. Mean travel time to work for those living in Albuquerque is 21.2 minutes.

1911 Historic Route 66
Edgewood, NM 87015 505-286-4518

Edgewood is a small town in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, and is the fastest-growing place in the state of New Mexico. Through annexations, its town boundaries now extend into Bernalillo and Torrance counties. Although in Santa Fe County, Edgewood is geographically closer to Albuquerque and in recent years has become a popular bedroom community for commuters. With a population of nearly 4,000, Edgewood is primarily made up of families. The town sits on 48.7 square miles and is approximately 30 miles east of Albuquerque and Kirtland Air Force Base.

Median rent in the town is $900, and median monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,373.

Rio Rancho
3200 Civic Center Circle NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87144 505-891-5000

Rio Rancho is the largest city and economic hub of Sandoval County in the state of New Mexico. A small portion of the city extends into northern Bernalillo County. The city is approximately 20 miles from Kirtland AFB.

The Rio Rancho area was originally part of the Alameda Grant, which was founded by the Spanish in 1710. By the early 20th century, much of the land grant had been sold to land investment companies. Amrep Corporation purchased 55,000 acres in 1961 and turned the land into a housing development called Rio Rancho Estates with the first families moving in the early 1960s. Most of these early residents were New Yorkers, as the developers advertised heavily in New York media. The population grew tenfold between 1970 and 1980, and the city of Rio Rancho was incorporated in 1981.

Today, Rio Rancho is the third-largest and also one of the fastest expanding cities in New Mexico. The U.S. Census estimated that in 2017, Rio Rancho had a population of 96,159. Mean travel time to work for residents of Rio Rancho is 28.4 minutes. Median rent is $1,118, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,342.

481 Highway 66
Tijeras, NM 87059 505-281-1999

Tijeras is a village in New Mexico about 15 miles east of Kirtland AFB. In October 2014, Tijeras gained national notoriety for a nearby musical road, a two-lane stretch of Route 66 with grooves in the roadway arranged to cause the sounds of “America the Beautiful” to be heard when vehicles drive on it at 45 mph.

The village of 553 residents sits on 1.2 square miles and is at the junction of Tijeras Canyon, leading to the west, toward Albuquerque, and Cedro Canyon, leading to the south, toward the Manzano Mountains. The cost of living in Tijeras is slightly higher than the state’s average, and rentals are scarce. Average rents are around $1,203 and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,361.

Planning Your Move

Kirtland AFB_2019 Housing and Real Estate 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 for information about moving resources and to learn about the allowances and responsibilities of a military-sponsored move.

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, or for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.

Pack for success:

  • Consider what you are 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.


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