Are you being PCS’d again? Have you found a new home at your new station yet? Between choosing to live in base housing, renting off base, or buying your own home you have many options to choose from. Each choice has its pros and cons and each family must decide for themselves what is best.
After weighing options, and perhaps trying out a different housing arrangement with each move, many military families decide to purchase a home of their own. Some choose homeownership to establish some sense of permanence, some are tired of cookie-cutter base or rental housing and wish to make their home their own, while others buy to build some equity for financial goals.
No matter your reasoning, if you have decided to buy a home, there are steps you can take before purchasing that will help the process run more smoothly. Taking advice and tips for home buying on things to keep in mind ensures that the home-buying process is a positive experience for you and your family.
Our team at Desert Heroes is here to help so we’ve compiled a few tips for home buying as a military family.
Are you a first-time homebuyer? If so, you have a lot to learn. Home buying is an exciting journey filled with many highs but also a lot of information that is not intuitive or easy to navigate if you haven’t walked through the home-buying process before. Educating yourself is a sure-fire way to clear up some of the confusing aspects of home-buying and to ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Many lenders, builders, and government programs offer first-time home buyer classes that outline the process of home buying. These classes not only help to educate you on the different types of mortgages and lenders but also help you evaluate and budget your finances to calculate your home affordability. Additionally, you may find some online or in-person real estate courses that help to educate you on the home-buying journey. These programs may even offer financial incentives.
A step you must take before deciding to purchase a home is assessing your finances. Not everyone can afford to buy a home the second they decide they’d like to purchase one. Buying a home is one of the most significant investments that families make and mortgage payments can be very expensive. Therefore, before falling in love with a home and signing your name on a loan, you need to be certain that you can afford it.
One trap that some homeowners fall into is determining that they can afford a home loan simply because a lender is willing to offer them one. Just because the bank says you have enough money to pay for a home in theory, does not mean you are actually ready to do so.
Before finding a home, it is wise to organize your budget and ensure you can afford life expenses along with homeownership. These may include living expenses such as groceries, gas, auto maintenance, and schooling as well as property taxes, home repairs and upkeep, insurance, and more. Having a good picture of your finances ensures that you do not encounter financial surprises and setbacks during your buying journey.
Maintain Good Credit
A must-have for home buying is a decent credit score. This is because lenders use your credit score as a metric for whether you are a safe risk to lend to, as opposed to someone who does not pay back their debts. Before deciding to buy a house, it is wise to check your credit report to ensure you do not have any delinquent payments or red flags that could affect your approval ratings with a lender. If you do find issues though, do not fret, you can take the opportunity to develop a plan to tackle your debts, settle any discrepancies, and rebuild your credit.
For military families using a VA loan to purchase a home, lenders often have a more lenient approach to credit scores. Sometimes credit score requirements are lower than with conventional loans so a low score may not hold you back from purchasing sooner.
Research Loan Options
There are several different loan options for financing a home. These include conventional loans, FHA loans, USDA loans, and for military families, VA loans. Each of these loan types has different qualifications, interest rates, down payment, and closing cost percentages. It is wise to familiarize yourself with all of your available options and weigh the pros and cons of each before making a selection.
Taking home-buying courses and speaking with a lender or experienced real estate agent before making a purchase will help you learn how to research your options and be the most prepared during your home-buying journey.
Buying a home is much more complicated than finding a home and getting the keys. There is a lot of paperwork involved. One way to ensure that your purchase goes through smoothly without running into roadblocks and complications is to get pre-approval for a loan before finding the home of your dreams. Preapproval is an official notice from a lender that you qualify for a home loan at a certain price point. Having this approval in hand notifies buyers and real estate agents that you are a serious buyer and worth entering into conversations with. It can also help things move quicker when you decide to place an offer on a home.
Find an Agent
Sometimes homebuyers decide that they’d rather not work with an agent to save money and communication hassle. But the best way to find your dream home is to work with a real estate agent who understands your needs, circumstances, and the market in your area. Of course, in this day and age, you can find home listings online. However, agents have insider information that you cannot see online such as specific requirements and seller notes, whether a home already has pending offers, and specific information about the home inspection history. Additionally, real estate agents have a direct line to selling agents and home tour information that is likely to get you into the door of each home quicker so that you can find which home is yours that much faster. Agents may also be privy to listings that are not currently online or that are coming soon, therefore you have a better likelihood of being first to make an offer than if you wait for listings to go live to the public. Working with an experienced agent can make or break your entire home-buying experience.
Make a List
Having a list in hand of your must-haves, needs, and dealbreakers for your potential home can help the home search process run smoother. If you are a go-with-the-flow person or have plenty of time to mosey through homes, then you may not need to have a detailed list. But if you are on a time crunch, or know exactly what you want, then using your list can help to save time. When buying a home, there’s nothing worse than wasting hours walking through homes that you just know won’t work for you. ‘
Making a list and discussing it with your agent before you start walkthroughs is the best way to target homes that you may like and weed out homes that are not the right fit.
Set Aside Additional Funds
When you become a homeowner, your monthly payment is not your only expense. Homeownership comes with many perks but also much more responsibility than a rental home. You no longer have a landlord to call when maintenance needs arise. You are that landlord and maintenance coordinator! Therefore, having the savings for a down payment and closing costs is not enough to buy a home, it is also wise to have additional funds set aside or earmarked for when home maintenance needs arise. This way, you are not left in a bind or shocked when your A/C or plumbing systems need repair, or when it is time to replace that outdated roof or appliances. Being prepared for additional expenses before you even purchase a home ensures that you are not caught off-guard once the home is yours.
Work With Desert Heroes Team
Buying a home does not have to be overwhelming and scary! Moving to a new city or state is enough uncertainty in itself, don’t add home uncertainty to your plate. At Desert Heroes, our team is prepared to help you through every step of the home-buying process to ensure that you have a place to live that you love.
When you work with our team, you are working with agents who understand the complexities that come with military life and who understand that your home should be your refuge and safety at the end of a long day.
Call us today with all of your home-buying questions, we can’t wait to hear from you.