This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.
The decision to buy real estate while serving in the military can be both exciting and daunting. The ever-changing lifestyle of a military family and the high frequency of moves can pose a challenge. However, it can also be a lucrative decision that sets you and your family up for success in life after the military.
For our family, who has spent 11 years in the military, this journey has been a mix of valuable experiences and unforeseen challenges. Having purchased two homes and currently acquiring another, we’ve learned some vital lessons we wish we had known beforehand. Here are our family’s tips for military personnel considering buying real estate while on active-duty service and beyond.
Understanding Your VA Loan
While there are many loan types for purchasing real estate, many military families find that a VA loan is a favorable choice in their home-buying journey. VA loans are designed to assist eligible active-duty personnel, Veterans, members of the National Guard, Reserves, and some surviving spouses with the purchase of a home.
Benefits of VA loans include lower and competitive interest rates, no private mortgage insurance, more flexible credit requirements, no down payments in some cases, and more.
Understanding VA loans is an integral part of the buying process for military members and Veterans. Do some research about the requirements of a VA loan and how it works during the buying process. For example, VA loans must be used for purchasing a primary residence for a set amount of time. If you plan to maintain a previously purchased VA loan home, make sure you know how the VA funding fee could affect your purchase price. These are things that our family learned along the way and considered when deciding whether it was better to hold on to real estate or sell and purchase another property.
For Veterans, it’s even more important to understand your VA benefits in the state you plan to call home. Having disability percentages could save you thousands in conjunction with VA loan benefits already in place. Having all the facts will help you make the best purchase decision for your unique situation and is essential to your success.
Your Real Estate team makes a difference in the purchase process
Our family’s real estate journey began with finding a real estate agent and lender who were familiar with VA loans. The best thing we did was understand that every team is not created equal. Working with a real estate agent who is familiar with VA loans and a lender who specializes in them makes all the difference in the purchase process.
This can help you receive care and consideration when purchasing your home amid stress during a PCS, ETS, or other transition. Also, someone who understands the market in your new duty station/city and helps you make great choices in shorter timelines is a very real scenario with life in the military.
Purchasing real estate while on active-duty or planning for retirement often means purchasing your home from thousands of miles away on Facetime or Zoom meetings like our family has done twice. We credit our real estate agent for making virtual appointments and facilitating everything from home-buying selections to setting up virtual closings. You will want a team that understands your needs and has your best interest at heart to maximize your VA loan benefits, as well as get you into your new home with minimal stress.
Budget for Hidden Costs
No matter the benefits of a VA loan, always expect hidden costs when purchasing any property. Buying a home involves more than just a down payment. While the VA loan itself is zero down, other costs remain, from earnest money to repairs and the costs of furnishing your new home.
We’ve purchased both a fixer-upper home and a new construction home during our time in the military. Both times, we were grateful that we set aside enough money to comfortably cover the costs of starting a new life in a new city/state.
A credit union like Navy Federal Credit Union on our side exponentially made a difference in budgeting and saving for each home venture.
We’ve used products like certificates, rewards credit cards, among others available to help save for unforeseen events. For us, it was comforting to know that 24-hour online, mobile and phone, as well as in-person services at a local branch, were available every step of the way—from the home search to closing and beyond.
Understanding your complete financial picture is crucial to avoid financial strain down the road, and having a credit union like Navy Federal as your financial partner offers peace of mind during one of the most important purchases you will ever make.
Our family’s 11-year journey in the military has taught us valuable lessons about buying real estate. From understanding VA loans to budgeting for hidden costs and choosing between fixer-uppers and new construction homes, these experiences offer a wealth of knowledge for military families considering purchasing real estate. By building up your team of real estate and financial experts, you too can navigate the real estate market with greater confidence and success. Remember, each home buying experience is unique, and being well-prepared is key to making the most of this exciting opportunity.