Military moving makes it hard and sometimes scary to buy a home. A lot depends on your financial situation and where you are in your military career. The housing market where you are looking to purchase is also an important factor.
Will you be at your new duty station for at least two years? Will your spouse be able to find work? Carefully consider the pros and cons when deciding whether renting or owning is best for your family.
1. Get a Real Estate Agent you trust
All buyers, both first-time and repeat buyers, must find a knowledgeable, experienced real estate agent. Find a real estate agent you trust, one who understands your unique requirements as a military family.
The home-buying process requires you to learn a lot, in a short amount of time. Your real estate agent and lender can teach you a lot about improving your credit score and getting the best rates. It’s important for you to keep asking questions about any part of the home-buying process you don’t understand. Remember that your real estate agent and lender should both be easily accessible and respond to your messages or emails in a timely manner. If you don’t think they are communicating well, it is okay to seek out another person to work with you.
Getting pre-approved by a lender before you start your house hunt is also recommended as is pausing any new credit activity. First-time home buyers should look for a mortgage lender who offers low down payment options, charges reasonable fees, and is knowledgeable about the VA Home Loan. Know your credit score and history, compare interest rates and most importantly, get pre-approved before you start house shopping.
2. Check out the VA Home Loan
If you are interested in using your VA loan benefit, you don’t need a down payment, but you will need to set money aside to cover closing costs and a home inspection. It’s best to have $3,000-$5,000 in the bank when you start house hunting, in case the seller doesn’t agree to pay closing costs.
VA home buyers should connect with a military specialist that knows the ins and outs of the VA loan and what types of properties will work for their needs. Also, since military personnel usually move every two to three years, it is important the real estate agent is up-to-date on market trends for quick resales and rentals. That’s why PCSgrades has developed relationships with military-friendly real estate agents to help you find your next home.
3. Don’t Look for your Forever Home
Many first-time home buyers want to buy the “perfect” home, and many often end up disappointed. Additionally, some have sticker shock from the high prices in locales such as Washington D.C. or Hawaii. Instead, look for a home that can work for your needs now. Keep in mind whether you plan to rent it out when you PCS or sell. Look for homes in desirable areas and good school districts for your budget and ensure you have an agent that will educate you throughout the process.
4. Do your Research
Knowledge is power. Before you start searching ‘house for sale in Fayetteville NC’, do your local research. Our Area Guides have excellent information about the local housing market, desirable neighborhoods, and the average BAH for your next base. Additionally, have a good idea of what you can afford and prioritize your wish list. If you have small children, you might want the master bedroom close to the other bedrooms. If you have pets, a fenced in yard might be a priority. Know what you need and prioritize.
5. First time home buyer assistance
There are many factors which go into realizing your dream of owning a home. A great place to start your search for a team to provide first time home buyer assistance is PCSgrades.com where you can learn about local neighborhoods, schools, as well as find military-friendly real estate agents and mortgage lenders. All real estate agents participating in the PCSgrades Real Estate Rewards program offer a $350 to $7,500 cash back to military and veteran buyers in states where allowed by law.
Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children. Follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.