There’s nothing like owning your own home. For those who have served in the military, becoming a first-time home buyer can be all the more special. Heres what you need to know before buying a house as a veteran.
With the help of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and their programs, going through the home-buying process is made more straightforward. Yet even with this support, getting to the last stage of the process and signing the final contract can take some time.
To make sure your home search ends up as easy as possible, we’re sharing five rules that will help guide you through your home search, VA loan application, and closing.
Rule #1: Work With A Real Estate Agent Who Knows VA Loans
Having a real estate agent who understands the VA home loan process is essential to securing your VA loan and buying a house as a veteran.
That’s because the Veterans Affairs department has specific criteria for their home loan properties. In addition to criteria for the kinds of properties that will and won’t qualify, there are also VA loan limits, expected debt-to-income ratios, and more.
If your real estate agent isn’t comfortable with these criteria, or simply doesn’t have much experience with VA loans, you might end up making offers on homes you can’t get approved for.
For help, you can ask a veteran for a referral or reach out to Team Alpha Charlie, a Veteran-owned and operated real estate agency, for guidance.
Rule #2: Communicate With The Lender
Did you know that nearly ⅓ of home-buying veterans aren’t aware of their home mortgage benefit?
Unfortunately, it’s true. Those benefits include the ability to buy with a 0% down payment when using a VA loan. For veterans who have spent years of their lives serving the country, this can help them get a jumpstart on their home-buying process – without waiting for years to save.
Other VA loan benefits include low-interest rate mortgages, relaxed credit eligibility requirements, and no need for mortgage insurance.
The only trick? Making sure your lender knows you’re a veteran! Though a real estate agent may ask you in the course of your conversations, it’s also helpful to bring up your service member status, too.
Rule #3: Don’t Forget About Upfront Costs
While VA loans and their benefits can be a boon to service members, there are still costs to consider when buying a house as a veteran.
Non-negotiable costs include home appraisals, inspections, and the like. While these costs might pale in comparison to a down payment (which you may be able to avoid), being aware of the costs will help you be prepared to handle them.
Rule #4: Treat Your Home Like An Investment
Many of us were raised to believe that renting was always a better option over the short term. For active duty military and veterans who think relocation or moving might be in the cards, renting can seem smarter.
However, when you treat your home like the investment property it is, you end up securing a stabler future.
That starts with how you search and what you search for. Finding a home in the 1,500-2,000 sq. ft. range in a popular area gives you a good chance at either reselling or renting if you have to move.
If you end up not wanting to rent it out, you can always transfer the loan to another veteran or sell it to a nonmilitary homebuyer.
Finally, VA home loan benefits don’t apply to just one property. You can keep your first as rental property then apply for a VA loan for a new home.
Each of these options can give you more financial freedom over the long-term when it comes to buying a house as a veteran.
Rule #5: Wait To Make Other Big Purchases
Buying a house as a veteran is exciting, and moving in can be even more so because it means you get to make the fun decisions that make the house a home.
From furniture to appliances, there’s a lot of tempting purchases to make, but it’s better to wait – especially if you’re looking for financing.
When you wait until your home has closed, you’ll be sure your loan is on track and you won’t hit any snags.
Work With Team Alpha Charlie For Help Buying A House As A Veteran
Do you have questions about buying a house as a veteran? Want to make sure your first home-buying process goes as smoothly as possible?
At Team Alpha Charlie, our staff has a mix of veterans and civilians ready to help answer your questions – and get you set up in your new home. Head here to ask us any questions you may have.