So you have PCS orders and you were thinking about buying a home… but now COVID-19 and the DoD travel restrictions are ruining all your plans. These are certainly frustrating times, but the good news is that the current limitations are temporary. People with PCS orders will eventually move. Your family will still need a house to live in at your new location. So instead of looking at this like a huge roadblock, face it as an opportunity to spend some extra time getting things in order for your move.
The home-buying process is not going to change because of coronavirus. Sure, there are some temporary delays and special procedures in place right now, but the basic steps and paperwork will remain the same.
Lucky you, this DoD stop move order just gave you some extra time to prepare for your move and get everything in order for your home loan! Getting approved for a loan can begin long before you start looking at home listings online. So this is a great time to begin the process and make sure everything is ready.
The VA Loan is a popular choice for service members and veterans because it includes many benefits that aren’t present in traditional loans. VA Loans don’t require a down payment and don’t make you pay for mortgage insurance. In some cases, a VA Loan has a lower interest rate and more assistance with closing costs than a traditional loan. If you are considering a VA Loan for your next home, here’s what you need to know.
What you can do now to get ready for a VA Loan
The first step to getting a loan is to know your numbers. Check your new BAH rate, then use online loan calculators to decide what you can spend on a house. Change the down payment, interest rates, and home value to see different possibilities for your monthly mortgage, and make sure it falls within your new BAH rate. VA Loans have limits based on your zip code, so you’ll need to figure out whether you can afford a home within the loan limits at your next location.
The next step is to choose a lender. You can get a VA Loan from many banks and mortgage companies, so you’ll want to shop around for different policies and rates. This is research you can easily do from home and the comfort of your couch, so get started on it now to feel more productive during lockdown.
To apply for a VA Loan, you will need a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) to let the lenders know that you served or are serving honorably in the military. You can apply for this now, during lockdown, to help speed the process along when you’re ready to get a loan.
Next, you’ll want to connect with a real estate agent in the area you plan to buy. This is an important relationship that you can cultivate now, before you begin looking at home. The real estate agent can give you tons of personal information about the local area to help you narrow your search. PCSgrades can help connect you with a top-rated real estate agent who specializes in military family moving needs. The right agent will look out for you and develop a contract that fits your unique situation. For example, VA Loans have an options clause that allows you to get out of the contract without penalty if it doesn’t pass inspection.
How to shop for a home when you’re stuck at home
You’ve probably heard that the most important thing about real estate is “location, location, location.” But if you’re a military family moving to a new area, the most important thing is research, research, research. There’s a lot you can learn now while you are confined at home. Gather details about the local area by talking to your real estate agent and other military families who have been stationed there. You can find trusted reviews of neighborhoods, base housing, schools, moving companies, and more on the PCSgrades website.
The next step to buying a home is the most fun: start looking at all those beautiful, glossy photos of home listings! Combine the research you have done on your own with the input from your real estate agent to narrow down an area or neighborhood. Put your number-crunching to work and find a home that fits your budget with a good price per square foot. When you find a home you love, your agent can give you a virtual video tour or help a friend check out the property for you. If all your loan paperwork is in order, you’ll be able to make an offer quickly, and your pre-approval will be attractive to the seller.
So if this is the year you planned to buy a home, don’t let COVID-19 derail your plans. You’re military, and you know how to pivot in the middle of a mission! You can begin your research and paperwork now for a smoother home buying process as soon as restrictions are lifted.
This article is sponsored by PCSgrades.