5 Tips For Military Spouses Looking To Buy Their First Home
May 6, 2022
Being in the military brings a lot of challenges but being a military spouse has its own troubles to overcome. There’s a good chance as a military spouse that you’ll move around a lot, which can make it difficult to settle down and put down roots. The decision to buy a house is a big one, and it should not be taken lightly. If you’re a military spouse who is thinking about buying a house, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are five tips to help you throughout the home buying process.
5. Research and Prepare Your Finances
Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime and it comes with many fees and costs. Before you start looking at homes, you need to research your mortgage options and the requirements that each option has. There are minimum credit scores and down payment requirements that vary by mortgage type.
You’ll also need to factor in your debt-to-income ratio which can heavily affect if you can qualify for a mortgage. It’s recommended to lower your debt as much as possible before buying a house. If you can, change your spending habits and put any extra money you have towards paying down debt or saving for the closing costs of a home.
There will be many closing costs that will arise and are generally paid out of pocket; including costs like home inspections, appraisals, and insurance. Once you know what you can afford and what fees are associated with buying a house, you can start looking for your dream home with confidence.
4. Use a VA Loan
VA loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to Americans who are serving in the army, have served in the past, or their surviving spouses. There are requirements to be eligible for a VA loan, but if you do qualify, it’s a great option. One of the biggest benefits to using a VA loan is that they require no down payment on the house but you may still have to pay a certain amount of funding fees to the mortgage lender. VA loans also usually have a minimum 620 credit score in order to be eligible.
Another benefit to using a VA loan is that, in the event that you have to move again, you will be reimbursed with the full amount of what you borrowed originally to use on your next purchase.
In order to obtain a VA loan, you’ll have to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). A COE has specific requirements to be eligible that come from your service in the military or your spouse’s. A military spouse can apply for a COE but only if they meet certain requirements found on the website.
3. Get Pre-Approved For Loans
A mortgage pre-approval is when a lender confirms your creditworthiness and determines how much money you will be able to borrow from them. A pre-approval is not a promise of a loan, but they are generally very accurate when it comes to the borrowing amount. Getting a pre-approval early on gives you leverage in the housing market. Sellers know you are serious about buying a house and understand how much you have to work with. Pre-approvals also let you know what price range to look in when house hunting.
Applying for pre-approval is one of the first things you should do in your home buying journey. Learn more about how to apply for mortgage pre-approval here.
2. Shop Around For Lenders
VA loans are a great option for military spouses but you’re not limited to only using them. There are many other types of mortgages available and it’s important to shop around to find the best fit for you. There are other government-funded loans with different requirements like the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
FHA loans are for individuals with a low income and the USDA is for individuals with low income who are looking to buy homes in rural areas. As long as the property meets the USDA guidelines and your income falls under the program limits, you can get these loans with zero down payment.
Lastly, there are conventional loans that are not backed by the government. They tend to have higher credit score requirements and lower debt to income ratios but they offer more leniency when it comes to things like the terms of the loan.
1. Find a Good Real Estate Agent To Work With
The life of a military family is unique and with that comes unique circumstances when it comes to buying a house. Ideally, your real estate agent will have a good understanding of the military and PCSing so that they can help you find a house that fits your needs. However, a good real estate agent will also put in the time and effort to understand your situation and what you’re looking for in a home whether they know about the life of a military family or not.
When meeting with potential real estate agents, ask them questions about their experience working with military families and if they have any recommendations for lenders or other resources that might be helpful. It’s also important to inform them about your time frame for buying a house so that they can plan ahead and meet your expectations.
Need a Good Real Estate Agent? Work With a Negotiator
Finding a real estate agent to work with is easy but finding a good real estate agent to work with can be very difficult. Luckily, there is a new type of real estate agent organization that streamlines your search for a high-quality real estate agent. This group of agents is called the Negotiators.
Negotiators are handpicked from amongst the top real estate agents in the country that have all proven their ability to go above and beyond for their clients. By hiring a Negotiator, you’ll have someone on your side who has a wealth of experience, real estate expertise, and an unrivaled work ethic working to get you the best deal possible.
Contact your local Negotiator if you want to work with a great real estate agent.