Buying a home presents a few extra challenges for active-duty servicemen and women, but it also offers some unique advantages—the opportunity to build equity while using a tax-free Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), for example. Armed with a little information, your military home buyer can enjoy an experience not much different from the average homebuyer’s.
Here’s what you can do to help:
Find out how far from base your clients would like to live.
For some military families, the distance from base isn’t just a work commute. It may be their drive to school/childcare, the grocery store (base commissary), shopping mall (base exchange), recreational facilities and social circles. For others, a little distance from military life might be welcome. Your clients’ preference—plus other considerations like a civilian spouse’s commute or proximity to a particular non-base school—will affect which areas of town you should focus on.
Be flexible and accommodating.
If your military home buyer is undergoing a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) from out of town, they may be dealing with tight timelines and tight budgets, limited opportunity for house hunting and limited area knowledge. Try to give them as much relevant information as possible online and, if they’re able to schedule a visit to scout ahead, be ready to pack in as many showings as you can.
- A wish list worksheet, like the one in our First-time Homebuyer Guide, may help you and your client get on the same page quickly.
- If your client is comfortable with the idea, use social media tools like Pinterest as a way to further pin down their needs and wants. Your clients can use the site to find images that represent the features and design styles they’re looking for, then create “boards” where they can save and curate those images. Take a look at our Pinterest boards for examples and share them with your buyers as a source of inspiration.
- Your clients will need to provide some documentation when applying for a mortgage (and not just for VA loans). Check out the Military Borrower’s Checklist in our free Military Homebuyer Guide and share this helpful resource with your clients.
Don’t overlook new construction.
Clients who need to make a quick move don’t necessarily have to settle for resale. In fact, getting into a brand-new inventory home may even be faster in a competitive market. There are no bidding wars, no prior-occupant delays, little chance you’ll have problems passing VA/FHA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) and, if the builder has an affiliate mortgage lender, the buying process may be even more streamlined.
Learn to spot and dispel VA home loan myths.
From “VA loans take so much longer to close!” (they don’t) to “I’ve already used up my VA loan” (you can’t) there are a lot of misconceptions about the VA loan benefit. Worse, some eligible buyers may not even know about the program.
It’s usually best to leave the mortgage advice to the loan officers, but if your military client isn’t considering a VA loan, you may want to politely investigate why. Advantages like $0 down payments, limited closing costs, no mortgage insurance requirements and low interest rates could completely change their homebuying budget and timeline.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of great VA loan information you can explore here.
For more resources and tips on helping a military home buyer, take a look at this article as well.
Chat with a local expert!
Our New Home Specialists can help you find the best options for your military buyers.