Buying a home is a life goal for many people, as it represents one of the biggest milestones you can many. For most Americans, it’s the largest investment they will ever make. For veterans who’ve spent years traveling base to base, it can be especially sweet to find their forever home.
The home buying process may be intimidating to some – after all there’s the closing to worry about, insurance, escrow, and tons of other things that might come up. However, if you’re served in the military, it’s important to remember some of the helpful tips below.
1. Take Advantage of Veteran Loan Programs
You can take advantage of first time home buyer program for veterans. VA home loans are managed and distributed by private lenders but backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
These mortgages are great because they let homebuyers purchase a property with $0 down. Credit requirements are also considerably less strict compared to traditional mortgages – which is great for veterans who don’t have a ton of credit history. Plus, VA loans don’t require private mortgage insurance or PMI, which is an additional expense for those who can’t put down 20%.
This year (2020) has also heralded the end of VA loan limits, which allows veterans to buy higher-value properties.
2. Know Your Lending Choices
Besides VA loans, you have quite a few other options at your disposal as well when it comes to your mortgage. Here are a few other loan options you may want to consider:
- Traditional mortgages: Regular mortgages are the most common type of home loans. These loans aren’t backed by the government and require more stringent credit and financing.
- USDA loans: If you want to purchase a home in a rural park of the US, you might be able to get a loan for no money down. USDA loans let you get a mortgage in qualified areas of the country.
- FHA loans: Similar to VA loans, FHA loans allow homebuyers to purchase a home without perfect credit or a large down payment. With that said, the terms and conditions usually aren’t as ideal as a VA loan.
- Native American Direct Loans: If you’re a Native American service member, you might qualify for loan benefits specific to buying housing on federal trust lands. You might also be eligible if you have a non-servicemember Native spouse. This type of loan won’t come from a private lender, instead, it comes straight from the government.
3. Clean Up Your Credit
Before you buy a house, it’s very important to make sure your credit score is up to snuff. Although it’s true that VA loans have less strict credit requirements, your credit report will still come into play.
Think about your credit and pull your credit report far in advance of applying for a home loan. This will ensure that there’s no misinformation or outdated data hanging around your credit reports. You’re entitled to three credit reports each year, one from each credit reporting agency.
Another quick credit tip: After you’ve been approved for a loan, don’t go a shopping spree. Suddenly acquiring tons of debt in the form of new furniture or décor could be a red flag to lenders. It’s important that you do everything in your power to show that you’re a serious homebuyer, especially if it’s your first time buying a home.
4. Don’t Quit Your Job
Just like lenders will look at your bank statements and credit to determine your creditworthiness and ability to pay off a loan, they’ll also expect stable employment. When you’re buying a home, make sure to keep your employment consistent. Don’t quit a stable job – even if you have another one lined up because it can be a red flag that stops the loan processor at least delays it.
Takeaways: Buying Your First Home as a Veteran
As a veteran, you have unique offers available to you so that your dream home can become a reality. It’s important to make sure you do your research, so you understand what options are available to you.
It’s also a good idea to shore up your credit and pull your credit report before lenders do. With these tips, you’ll be getting the keys to your new property in no time at all.