Housing Resource
Category: Relocation & Area Info.

I get a lot of questions about the schools around JBLM and which ones are best to attend. Most people rank schoolsschool as one of the most important factors when it comes to buying a home in the Ft. Lewis area. Below are the links to the different school districts around the JBLM area. I also recommend checking on greatschools.org and k12.niche.com for ratings and reviews.


School Districts Off Base include:

North Thurston Public Schools (located in Lacey)

Olympia School District

Tumwater School District

Yelm Community Schools

University Place School District

Puyallup School District

Peninsula School District #401 (located in Gig Harbor)

Bethel School District (serves Spanaway and Graham)

Steilacoom Historical School District No. 1 (serves Dupont & Steilacoom)

Clover Park School District (located in Lakewood)

Tacoma Public Schools

Want a customized home search set up for you? We will manually search for homes that meet all of your criteria, including confirming what school the home is assigned to. It’s easy to set up…just email me (jen@philsharphomes.com) with your wants, needs and budget! Have questions about the schools? Send me an email or give me a call at 360-970-6913.

Anderson Island

Anderson Island

We have a lot of people ask us about living on Anderson Island and the commute to Joint Base Lewis-McChord so I thought I would write this quick post about it.  Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion.

Anderson Island is a great place to visit but I wouldn’t recommend living there if you are commuting back and forth off the island on a regular basis.  The ferry ride is only about 20 minutes (a little longer if they have to run to Ketron Island) so that’s not too bad if you wanted to do it.  Keep in mind that you do have to arrive at the dock about 20 minutes early.  From Anderson Island to Ft. Lewis can be up to 30 minutes depending on where you need to be on post.  Another issue is that there is no major store on the island, only a small store with limited supplies available.  So, there you have some of the drawbacks.

As far as life of the island, it seems great.  Nice and quiet with not too much of a population.  I have been visiting the island on and off since I was a kid and have always had a great time.  Everyone has always been very friendly (including the ferry staff).

I recently visited the island with my kids. Below are some of the photos. To see more photos of Anderson Island you can visit my Facebook page.


Have more questions on places to live around JBLM? Feel free to ask! Call Jen at 360-970-6913 or send me an email: jen@philsharphomes.com


Email to Phil about renting a a home in the JBLM area.


My husband just found out we are going to Fort Lewis last night so I began my search for info on the place. Coincidentally we are in Germany also. This will be our first REAL PCS move so I am trying to figure out all that I need to know. I am not sure we are looking into buying a home right this minute we just got all our bills paid and have a car payment but most likely in the next two years we would be interested in buying a house but like I said not sure. If you do help with rentals that would be amazing. We are particularly interested in the Lacey or Olympia areas.

Phil’s response.


Thanks for your email.  I want to be up front with you and let you know that I don’t manage rentals.  I do sell homes, and although this sounds like a sales pitch…this may be the best time to buy a home for the rest of your life!


I would certainly consider buying, and speak with a mortgage lender before making the final decision.  Right now, in the JBLM area, you can buy for considerably less than what you can rent for.  For example, a decent 1800 square foot home can be purchased with a monthly payment of about $1100, rent for the same home would be $1350-1400.  A very unique situation, that will not last.


If you do move forward with renting, I can refer you to someone who manages properties.  If you decide to buy, I can refer you to a local Mortgage lender who will counsel you on best courses of action and who can give you exact $ numbers.


Respectfully, Phil


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The amenities that Tabula Rasa offers are endless.  Enjoy the luxurious pool and spa accented
with fiber optic lighting and water features. The resort lodge offers a billiard room with large screen TV, 24 hour fitness center, large room for entertaining guests, gourmet kitchen, and coffee bar.  There is even wireless internet available.  You would have to search long and hard to find anything that compares.

Go check out Tabula Rasa today or call to set up an appointment at 360-754-6400.

Tell them that Phil Sharp Homes sent you and get $150 off your first month’s rent.


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Buyer Financing Options

Home Buyer Financing Options

If you have been getting calls or junk mail referring to the VA IRRRL program, you may be a little hestant on this great offer. This refinance program is a great way to quickly (quick as far as refinance processes go) reduce your VA Loan interest rate and save some money every month. WARNING: There are some refinance companies that may not have the best terms, or are not completely upfront about the terms. So do your homework and find a reputable lender to help explain and get the terms upfront.

Here’s a scenerio from one of Phil Sharp Homes customers: Purchased a home in 2009 with a VA loan. Researched the IRRRL program, then researched banks and lender’s for more info. Found out that there were a lot of “shady deals” with the lending companies that were sending flyers, calling on the phone, etc. The “shady deals” companies had bad reviews, poor ratings with the BBB, tried to get people locked in an ARM loan and wasn’t upfront about fees. After contacting a local, reputable bank, the terms were a VA 30 year fixed at 3.98%. The application was started over the phone, took about 15-20 minutes. Minimal paperwork, they were able to roll the closing costs back into the refinance and take care of everything via phone and email. DISCLAIMER: This was one example of a homeowner taking advantage of this program and who has been very happy with the results, however, calling a reputable lender to discuss the terms and refinance for yourself to determine if this program can work for you as each persons result may vary based on many various factors including bank and VA requirements for each individual.

Here’s Some…

Information from the VA Website http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/irrrl.asp

IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan. Also called “Streamline” or a “VA to VA.”  Except when refinancing an existing VA guaranteed adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate, it must result in a lower interest rate.  When refinancing from an existing VA ARM loan to a fixed rate, the interest rate may increase.

No appraisal or credit underwriting package is required by VA.  You should be aware, however, that lenders may require an appraisal and credit report anyway.

A certificate of eligibility is not required.  Your lender may use our e-mail confirmation procedure for interest rate reduction refinance in lieu of a certificate of eligibility.

An IRRRL may be done with “no money out of pocket” by including all costs in the new loan or by making the new loan at an interest rate high enough to enable the lender to pay the costs.  (Remember: The interest rate on the new loan must be lower than the rate on the old loan unless you refinance an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage).

No lender is required to make you an IRRRL, however, any lender of your choice may process your application for an IRRRL.  While it might be the best place to start shopping for an IRRRL, you do not have to go to the lender you make your payments to now or to the lender from whom you originally obtained your VA Loan.

Get the APP in Android Market!

QR Code to get the PSHomes Search App from the Android Market!

Home Search goes MOBILE!   Take your home search with you with the PSHomes Search App for Android. Now available FREE in the Android Market! No Android…No Problem! Get the APP for any device.

The Phil Sharp Homes Android App is only 4.18mb with the basic functions of “Call Phil Now” and “Search Homes.” Call Phil function will prompt your phone to call Phil direct for you to get immediate access to Phil to answer questions, get a consultation, or help with your home search. The “Search Homes” function will prompt your browser to open the online mobile IDX listings database to search Washington homes for sale.

The mobile search will help you find listings and open houses near your location, search the entire database for WA homes for sale, find open houses near your location, search up to a 20 mile radius for homes from your specified address. You can also save Favorites with easy login using your Facebook, Google, Yahoo! or current online search login. You can create a unique login as well.

You can scroll 100 results at a time with no reloading. The easy input sliders make filtering easy. Get the results based on your search criteria/filtering in a list or on a map. See photo’s, share listings, get school info, see Google Map Views and more while you’re on the go.

The Phil Sharp Homes Search App is perfect for taking your home search on the road with you. The familiar interface and fast browsing results

Don't have Droid? Don't worry! Bookmark FORTLEWIS.MOBI on any portable device.

QR Code for FortLewis.mobi, get the mobile search on any portable device.

will make your home search easier and more fun!

IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANDROID, DON’T WORRY! Get the same great mobile search tool by bookmarking www.fortlewis.mobi on any portable device, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and more.  Test the mobile search online in Google Chrome browser at www.fortlewis.mobi.

Get the app, bookmark the .mobi, you’ll be home in no time! Take a peek at the app…






PSHomes Search App Home Screen

Search Homes, Call Phil. This APP is easy and just what you need to find your new home.

PSHomes Search Mobile App.

PSHomes Search for Mobile to Search Homes For Sale on the Go!

PSHomes For Mobile. Take your search on the road.

Easy, familiar interface for searching on the go.


Foreclosed Home In Olympia Wa

If you are considering purchasing a foreclosed home, it is a good idea to have some knowledge of what to expect.  The foreclosure buying process is very similar to a traditional home purchase…with a few twists.


 Keep in mind that you are dealing with a banking institution, or a trustee working for the banking institution.  These people have very specific rule books that they follow, and the rule books don’t necessarily make sense, at least on the surface…. 

  • Expect delays…if the rule book gives the banker two business days, most will take two business days.  If they take longer…well, they make the rules.
  • Don’t expect compassion…the bank is only looking at the bottom line.  They don’t care if your appraiser has a problem with the roof, if your offer is all cash, or even if you send them pictures of how ugly the house is.
  • The rules normally require that the home be marketed to the general public, as is, and that the highest and best offer for the bank be accepted.  The banker probably cannot re-negotiate the price after your inspection…even if it makes sense.  HUD, for example, just puts the property back on the market rather than negotiating anything.    

Pricing Foreclosures…the term foreclosure brings to mind infomercials about buying homes for pennies on the dollar.  There is a reason that the infomercial people are selling books, rather than out shopping for real estate.  Rule #1, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is (or it’s a short sale).     

Too good to be true?  …when shopping for homes with an average price of 225K, you find a similar home priced at 175K…don’t think it’s an accident, there is a reason which may not be apparent in the photos.     

Foreclosures are priced aggressively in order to get them sold quickly, but the bank’s don’t give them away.  If they did, the shareholders might get upset.   My experience is that foreclosures are typically priced 2-5% below retail, and that all are negotiable to a point.   

When making an offer, again remember that you are not dealing with an emotional seller.  If your offer is complicated, if you need more time to close, if the home needs repairs…the asset manager doesn’t care.   A fast closing may put your offer in a stronger position…but cash versus a loan doesn’t carry much weight.   

Inspections…Get an inspection!  The bank may not be willing to make repairs (“as is” usually means “as is”), but the inspection does give you piece of mind, and lets you know what you are working with. 

Closing:  Come closing time, keep in mind that once again, you are dealing with a banker or bank representative.  You may be willing to jump thru hoops to get signed/closed, but the seller may not be.  Be prepared to be flexible both in timing, and in other aspects of the closing.   For example there may not be a full set of keys for the home, it may not be cleaned prior to closing, and any debris that was in the home when you looked at it will probably still be there at closing. 

A large percentage of homes sold recently in Pierce and Thurston Counties are foreclosures…as many as 40%.  They can be, and often are, great deals…but you as a buyer should prepare yourself the unexpected, and take the surprises in stride…you are getting a good deal after-all, or else you wouldn’t be buying a foreclosure.