Owning your own home remains a crucial part of the American dream, but it isn't always easy. From growing debt problems to an ever-changing real estate market, there are plenty of potential roadblocks to homeownership. For veteran and military home buyers, there are some options well worth considering.
Our REALTORS® are proud to have helped countless veterans and active servicemen and women buy homes—in many cases, their first homes. We're grateful for the opportunity to help. If you're a veteran or military homebuyer, keep these tips in mind as you start the homebuying process.
- Know Your VA Loan Options
One of the biggest advantages active military and veterans have when purchasing a home is the ability to secure a VA loan. These home loans are backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and are much more flexible than ordinary loans. In most cases, they cover 100 percent of a home's cost, require no down payment, and allow you to buy a home without having to pay for private mortgage insurance.
- Communicate With Your Lender
Veterans have a tremendous advantage when it comes to buying a home, but not everyone knows about it. Unfortunately, studies have shown that as many as one-third of all veterans don't know they can get a VA loan to buy a home. So when you go shopping for a home loan, be sure to communicate your military status to your lender and discuss all your potential benefits.
- Know Your Credit Score
VA loans aren't quite as contingent on credit scores as a traditional home loan, but it's important to understand that your credit history still matters. Most VA lenders look for a credit score of 620 or above. Obtain a copy of your credit report, and work to improve your credit score if possible before attempting to secure a loan.
- Understand Occupancy Requirements
VA loans are designed to give veterans, as well as active service members, the opportunity to buy a home intended for use as a primary residence. This applies to anything from a single-family home to a modular home or condominium, but it's not available for purchasing a vacation home or investment property. VA loans also come with occupancy requirements, which includes the expectation that you and/or your spouse will be living in the home as your primary residence within 60 days of closing.
- Be Prepared for Closing Costs
Being able to get a VA loan with no down payment is an incredible incentive when buying a house. But just because you don't need to save for a down payment doesn't mean there won't be any up-front costs. The other closing costs and fees associated with buying a home may still apply. Talk to your agent before closing to make sure you fully understand how much you'll need to pay upfront on closing day.
- Work With a VA-Savvy Agent
One of the biggest mistakes we see veterans make is not working with a real estate agent with VA loan experience. Look for an agent who understands the VA loan system and process. Your agent should be able to help you with crucial details like the VA appraisal process, property requirements, loan limits, and debt-to-income ratios.
Our team of dedicated REALTORS® has years of experience helping troops and veterans buy their first homes. If you're ready to learn more, contact us today to explore the ways we can help you become a homeowner.