For civilians and military members alike, the decision to buy a home is a huge financial decision. It’s the largest monetary commitment most of us will ever make in our lives.

The advantages to owning your own home are many. You don’t have to ask a landlord for permission to perform basic repairs. Upgrades and modifications can turn a fixer-upper into the property of your dreams. With enough land, a one-house parcel can become a multi-generational family homestead.

If you’re active duty, a home off-base gets you out of the barracks or military housing which, let’s be honest, doesn’t have the greatest reputation.

Stories of terrible conditions: bad water, mold, unexpected fees, and many others abound across the services. While some locations manage their housing better than others, it’s a rare situation where you’ll find better quarters than those you pay for and maintain yourself.

Additionally, you lose all of your BAH (basic allowance for housing) when living on post, regardless of the home’s square footage, so owning a place of your own is a great move toward building a solid financial situation.

Ready to start looking for the property of your dreams? Step one is to understand just how much house you can afford.

NFCU has great loan rates available to veterans and active-duty service members alike. In addition to low rates, using a VA loan means you can forgo a large down payment, which increases the inventory of houses you have access to.

If not using a VA loan, you may have to provide up to 20% of the total home price, which can be a very large chunk of change. When shopping for loan rates, you’ll also need to have a solid understanding of your credit score. Simply put, the higher your score, the more likely you are to receive a favorable loan rate, since the likelihood of you staying up to date on your payments is high.

If your credit score isn’t the greatest, no worries. Navy Federal has plenty of tips for getting that number back into a competitive range. While a few points one way or another may not seem like much, over the lifetime of a fixed-rate 30-year loan, that could mean the difference in tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Once you’re satisfied with your credit score, it’s time to get pre-approved for a loan so you have a good idea of what your total budget is. Then it’s on to the fun part: finding the perfect property for your needs!

Navy Federal Credit Union understands the process of buying a home can be daunting. Where to even begin? Most home buyers don’t have the time (or energy) to take up the challenge of scouring the market themselves, but with the over-saturation of agents in the real estate industry, finding someone who understands your needs, is responsive, trustworthy, and hard-working can be just as difficult. That’s why we created the RealtyPlus program1 for our members.

Simply enroll online with a few easy steps, and soon you’ll have access to review the profiles of all our certified real estate agents to find the one that’s just right for you and your home-buying needs.

You’ll also be assigned a RealtyPlus Coordinator who will assist with agent coordination and ensure you’re involved every step of the way and provide peace of mind, knowing that everything is being handled in the most efficient and timely way possible.

Once you and your agent have found the property and are ready to put in an offer, ask your NFCU loan officer about our Special Freedom Lock2. A lot can happen between then and finally closing on the house. That’s why we give you the ability to keep your approved loan rate for up to 60 days. No rush. No hassle.

If the market changes and interest rates drop to a more favorable amount, even better, and you’ll have the option to relock at the lower rate with no additional cost to you! We’re so confident in our amazing loan offers, that if you find a better rate through another lender, we’ll match it or pay you $1,000.

If that wasn’t reason enough to jump on board, once you’ve closed on your home using a RealtyPlus agent, you can get up to $9,000 cash back3, based on the total value of the property purchased. That’s money immediately available for repairs, updates, or a new set of living room furniture to replace the couch your dog destroyed last year.

So, if you’ve been hesitant about buying a home, don’t let stories about fluctuating interest rates scare you off. Navy Federal Credit Union is the one-stop shop for home purchasing, giving you the loan, agent, and personal attention you deserve. After all, when making such a big purchase, why settle for anything less than the best?

This article was sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union

1 In order to fully benefit from RealtyPlus services, you must be referred by RealtyPlus before contracting with a real estate agent and be represented by the assigned RealtyPlus real estate firm and agent at closing to qualify. Standard listing fees apply. Contact RealtyPlus for terms and conditions.

2 Special Freedom Lock is available for new applications on purchase and refinance loans at no additional fee for a 60-day lock. You must request the Special Freedom Lock option during the initial lock request. You may request a lower rate no more than two times, with a maximum cumulative interest rate reduction of 0.50%. You must monitor rates to decide when to exercise the option to lower the rate. All requests for a lower rate must occur at least seven (7) calendar days before closing.

3 The cash-back bonus is offered in most states and is available for individual sales and purchases of property; offer limited to one cash-back bonus per property with no limit on the amount of times you may use the program. In some states, a gift card or commission credit at closing may be provided in lieu of the cash-back bonus. The program is not available in IA or outside the U.S. Cash-back bonus is not available in AK or OK. In KS and TN, a gift card with preloaded points that are ready for spending at specified retail establishments after closing will be issued. State regulations in KS limit the dollar amounts and the type of incentive. In MS, NJ, and OR, a commission reduction may be available at closing. Please check with the program coordinator for details. This is not a solicitation if you are already represented by a real estate broker. The cash-back bonus is only available with the purchase or sale of your home through the use of a program-referred and -approved real estate agent. The size of your cash back award depends on the value of the property you are buying or selling. Obtaining the full $9,000 cash back award requires transacting in a property valued at $3 million or greater. To calculate the size of your potential cash back, please visit the RealtyPlus website: All real estate transactions are negotiable. Contact RealtyPlus for terms and conditions. Standard listing fees apply. The program award is not available in certain transactions with restricted agent commissions (including many new construction, For Sale by Owner, or For Sale by iBuyer transactions). Your assigned agent can help you identify any transactions where the award would not be available. This program is offered, in part, by Realogy Lead Management Services, Inc. d/b/a Realogy Leads Group (RLG). RLG may receive a co-operative brokerage fee as a result of a referral to the real estate companies listed above. Program terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Additional terms, conditions, and restrictions apply.