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6 Tips for Veteran & Military Homebuyers

VA Loan Tips - Coach REALTORS

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. 

  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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. 

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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. 


Buying a House: How Do I Raise My Credit Score?

Long Island Home Buying Credit Score

Our REALTORS® get plenty of questions about credit score and how it relates to buying a house.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of being judged by their credit score. They may have had financial difficulties in the past that impacted their ability to maintain the average score.

Here's some good news: No credit score is perfect – most experts claim that attaining the highest possible score is nearly impossible. Lenders aren't actually looking for "the magic 850," either.

The other thing to know is this: Even if your credit score is lower than you'd like, you still have the chance to change it. Starting even a few months in advance can improve your credit score.

In recent years, lenders have generally relaxed their credit score requirements. Still, improving your score can result in a better loan with a lower APR. That may save you thousands of dollars.

Here's what you can do to raise your credit score:

  1. Don't Close Any Accounts
    Some people are tempted to start closing old credit accounts as soon as they begin a house hunt, but this is counterproductive. Older credit accounts demonstrate a longer account history, which can increase your score. Don't close accounts, even if they are fully paid off and unused.

  2. Don't Open Any Accounts
    Lenders will look at recent credit history to get an idea of your overall spending habits. Don't be tempted to sign up for a new credit card, open a car note, or make any other type of major buy. All your financial clout should be focused on finding and bidding on your new home.

  3. Start Saving
    Gone are the days when a 20% down payment was an absolute requirement for buying a house. Still, savings can move you into a different category in lenders' estimation. If you can drum up a 10% or even 5% down payment, it may mean paying off your mortgage loan much sooner.

  4. Set Up a Budget
    As a home buyer, you'll need a new budget sooner or later. The sooner you can set one up, the easier it will be to meet your savings goals. Sometimes, you can even use your budget to show lenders you've given due thought to the financial obligations of homeownership.

  5. Attack High-Interest Balances
    Your credit score is affected by the percentage of your total credit that's in use at any one time. You can reduce this amount the fastest by paying off balances with the highest APR. Paying off a single credit account can sometimes have an outsized effect on your ability to save.

  6. Improve Your Cash Flow
    Naturally, one of the best ways to save money is to make more money. It may be a good idea to look for opportunities to make a few extra dollars online. The sooner you get started, the further you can go, even if you only increase your income by a small amount. Just don't burn yourself out!

  7. Examine Your Credit Report
    Credit information is reported (and collected) by many different sources that can make mistakes. If you happen to have inaccurate negative information on your credit report, you can dispute it and have it removed. The official, government-mandated website to get your report is Annual Credit Report.

  8. Relax. Really!
    It's easy to overestimate the importance of credit. The fact is, your credit score is only one part of your total financial picture. If you have steady employment and income, most lenders will be more interested in where you stand now than where you were 18 months ago.

Contact us today for personalized advice to help you with your situation.

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 05/18/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 05/18/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of OneKey MLS (last updated Wed 05/18/2022 6:39:28 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Coach Realtors may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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