Homebuying Tips for Military Families

Among the many changes that joining the military brings, a frequent change in location is sometimes part of the territory. For families, moving often can make it difficult to feel settled in a home, or to even make the commitment associated with homebuying.

But if you’ve made the decision to buy a home, you deserve to feel confident in your choice. These tips can help!

Consider the likelihood of selling.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, because of the risk of deployment, you may not be in your new house for long. While some families will stay in a house for over thirty years, this prospect isn’t as likely for active military members.

While searching for a house, look for points that can influence selling price down the line. Is the house in a good school district? Are there modern appliances? Are there any structural issues? These are all qualifications you would want to look at anyway, but are particularly important if you’ll eventually need to sell.

Get familiar with the neighborhood.

If you will be away from your family for long periods of time, you’ll want to make sure the neighborhood is warm and welcoming, and a place that the rest of your family will feel supported by while you’re gone.

Looking for a home near base could be beneficial in that there will probably be other military families nearby that you will be able to relate to and rely on. Some communities even offer special resources through programs like Joining Community Forces, which brings local businesses and services together in support of military families.

Use your resources.

There are a number of special resources available to military families interested in buying a home. VA loans, while not always feasible, can be extremely beneficial when used properly. A real estate agent familiar with the system can help military homebuyers work through the VA’s requirements process.

You will have to work with a VA appraiser, and not all homes meet the VA loan requirements, but it is absolutely worth it to look into and understand the resources available to you as a service member.

Ask around.

This is especially important if this will be your first homebuying experience, but it’s always beneficial to talk to families who have been through the process before. If you know of anyone who has bought a home previously, using a VA loan or other type of military assistance, ask them about their experience. What did they do right? What do they wish they did different?

Previous homebuyers can be a wealth of knowledge and guide you through your own journey, helping you avoid pitfalls and make decisions that will benefit you greatly down the road.

Don’t Make These Common Home Buying Mistakes

When you are looking to buy a home, there isn’t wiggle room to forget or overlook any part of the process. Here are a few common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Create a Budget
Make sure before even beginning the home buying process, you are aware of how much you are able to spend, how much you plan on saving, and your credit score. You never want to put yourself in a position where you are unable to spend what you thought you could. Set a budget for yourself and have a goal for saving.

Underestimating costs
Think beyond the down payment. There are going to be a lot of different factors you will need to take into account when it comes to saving—if something in the home needs repair, if you plan on painting, if you have any extra fees based on location. These are questions to think about, and come up with a reasonable solution, too, so you don’t have to panic about it later.

What you need vs. what you want
Make a list of what you must have as a part of your future home and what’s more of a “want.” You won’t always be able to hit every aspect on your list of wants, but make sure things that are not flexible once you buy, like location, are things you are satisfied with. If you want a deck and your home lacks one, that’s always something you can add on in the future.

What’s the neighborhood like
Its super important to take your lifestyle into account when it comes to the atmosphere in your neighborhood. Do you walk your dog? Does the neighborhood have sidewalks? Dog friendly parks nearby? Do you tend to enjoy rural or suburban areas more? Don’t settle in an area that you are not comfortable with.

Honesty with your agent
Sometimes it’s hard to lay everything out about your personal life in terms of needs and financial stability—which is why it important to be honest with your agent. Don’t try and overestimate your budget, speak up if you don’t like something, and don’t settle. This is one of the most important decisions of your life. If you are not completely honest, you are going to struggle or have to deal with the consequences somewhere down the road.

Going in without backup
Agents exist for a reason– they have access and experience in buying homes that you probably do not. You are more likely than not going to be extremely stressed–which can lead to rash decisions. Let an agent give you peace of mind, walk you through each step of the home buying process, and make your life a lot easier.