HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Buying your first home is supposed to be an exciting time. For Sarah Houck, its been anything but. She and her husband, an airman and Joint Base Langley Eustis, transferred from Germany earlier this year.
"We looked at so many houses early on and were like this is the one, and then oh, never mind," Houck says.
The couple made offers on several homes over a two month period, all to be outbid, out negotiated or told they were already too late. And they are not alone.
"A lot of people are trying to find houses and houses are going extremely fast."
Military clients keep Steven Hargrow busy. As the lead broker at SLH Real Estate in Chesapeake, he helps service members and their families relocate to Hampton Roads, a tough order when his clients are thousands of miles away, not able to tour the homes themselves.
"That is probably the one of the biggest difficulties when you're helping someone who's not here," Hargrow tells News 3 anchor Blaine Stewart. "It's kind of hard to fall in love with a picture," he adds.
Especially when homes sell so fast, leaving even fewer for families to choose from. But, it's not just the short housing stock causing problems for military families. It also costs more to live here. The median price of a home in Virginia Beach now tops $330,000. The median rent has risen to $1,581 per month.
There is some financial help. Service members, who don't live in government housing, just got a boost in their pay. This year, the military's basic housing allowance went up 5.1 percent, a substantial increase from 2021. For example, an E-4 with dependents in Norfolk now gets $1,712 a month in housing assistance. The Department of Defense has a tool that helps service members calculate how much help they'll get.
There are also private military housing providers across the area that offer discounted rents, as well as government housing options, but wait lists can often be months long there. Whether service members are renting or buying, Steven Hargrow with SLH Real Estate says you'll want a good agent in your corner.
"I cannot point out enough representation, get the right person for the job," he adds.
Back on the Peninsula, Sara Houck and her husband are happy their house hunt is finally over. The couple got the keys to their new place Wednesday afternoon.