Eglin area offers variety of residential options Published Aug. 7, 2009 By 2nd Lt. Andrew Caulk Team Eglin Public Affairs EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- (This is part 1 of a 3-part series to highlight places newcomers can get information about some of the many activities around the Eglin area. From days at the beach, to what to look for when buying a house, this information aims to help people just getting to the base.) Moving to a new area can be difficult and finding a house while learning new surroundings can be a challenge. Eglin's Housing Office and Airman and Family Readiness Center provide information about the local area and offer many home buying courses. There is an assortment of towns and cities surrounding the Eglin area and each one offers a variety of activities, opportunities and recreation. Crestview and DeFuniak Springs are on the north side of the Eglin reservation with drive times ranging from 20 to 60 minutes depending on the distance from Interstate 10. Niceville and Valparaiso are closest to the East Gate while Fort Walton Beach and Shalimar are closest to the West Gate. Farther east is Bluewater Bay and Freeport. Last, there is the opportunity to live on the coast in places like Sandestin, Destin, Okaloosa Island, Mary Esther and Navarre with drive times from 30 to 60 minutes. "If you plan on renting or buying a home, the Eglin Housing office should be one of your first stops," said Kathy Lawhon, Eglin Housing Office director. "We offer help with sample leases, military clauses, rental property listing, and homes for sale by military members." In these tough economic times, they also offer help with foreclosures and the Homeowner's Assistance program, which helps you to sell a house in the case of a PCS. The Eglin Housing Office is the point of contact for on base housing and helps all military members regardless of service branch. "We currently offer base housing based on family needs now instead of rank," said Ms. Lawhon. This means that enlisted members with large families may be able to have quarters on base that can accommodate their entire family. The Housing Office also manages the Automated Housing Referral Network, which allows renters to find the currently available rental homes in the area. Military landlords can use this site to list their available property as well. If a member plans to buy and move into a house immediately after arriving at Eglin, they will need to take permissive temporary duty assignment from their previous base to search for housing. "Don't include your spouse's income if they are civilian when it comes to home financing. If they lose their jobs, you will have problems making the mortgage payments," said Jim Helms, Financial Specialist at A&FRC. "We are offering a home buyer's course on Aug 17th to teach members about home investment and foreclosure," said Mr. Helms. Some housing issues to consider when buying a house in the area are price, commute time, insurance cost, location, and then the house itself. Insurance can play a big role in deciding which house to buy. Specific concerns of this waterfront area to consider include hurricane and flood protection. Depending on the house's location, a buyer may be required to have flood insurance and the general premium is usually higher. Some areas around Eglin have older homes and this can affect insurance premiums. Newer houses built after 2002 comply with the newer Florida building codes for hurricane mitigation and can lower insurance rates significantly. Mr. Helms also suggested getting a plumbing inspection. "Get a plumbing inspection. They can snake a camera down your lines to find problems. This will save you grief later on," he said. Homebuyers can also lower insurance premiums by getting a wind mitigation inspection for their home. This inspection will tell the insurance company how your roof attaches to the house to mitigate hurricane force winds and may decrease the hurricane portion of an insurance premium by nearly half. Other housing concerns for this area are sinkhole activity, termite infestation, and mold due to the humidity. Welcome to Eglin and best of luck with finding a home!