Like many Americans, the recent pandemic may have you thinking a lot about your current living space and about buying a home. If you’re a military service member, veteran or family member, both new and tried-and-true tools and resources can streamline the process.
• Assess your readiness: If you decide to move forward, it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford, and having a rainy day fund is a good sign of your readiness. COVID-19 has reinforced the reality of unexpected economic ups and downs. So, don’t overextend yourself in buying. Leave yourself with the ability to weather economic cycles and afford run-of-the-mill expenses for home repairs.
• Build your team: Enlist a home mortgage consultant who can help you navigate the process, as well as discuss financing options that fit your needs. Consider working with a military lending specialist. To get a better understanding of the local market, as well as the impact the pandemic may be having on home sales, lean on your real estate agent.
• Know your down payment options: Not all financing options require you to put 20 percent down. For military service members and veterans, VA loans provide low- and no-down payment options for qualified borrowers, and don’t require monthly mortgage insurance. However, it’s important to understand that more money down could reduce your monthly payments and interest paid over the life of the loan, and may also eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance or reduce your funding fee on a VA loan.
• Leverage digital tools: At a time when health and safety is top-of-mind, digital tools can offer a contactless experience. While a recent realtor.com survey indicates that 63.6% of consumers looking for a home want to see a property in person before buying, many start the hunt online, and now you have better opportunities to do so. In an effort to keep clients safe, many realtors offer home walk-throughs using video chat apps.
When it comes to the mortgage process, many lenders offer time-tested digital tools allowing you to handle many aspects of the process remotely, including signing disclosures, uploading documents and simply getting started. In the first six months of 2020, 53% of the lender’s VA applications came through the online mortgage application. Be sure to visit www.va.org for instructions to get a “Certificate of Eligibility,” the first step to getting a VA-backed loan and a key document in using VA loan benefits.
Whether you wish to take advantage of historically low interest rates or you’re spending more time at home and want a larger space to accommodate the new normal, leverage as many resources as you can. For military personnel and veterans especially, rest easy in knowing there are resources available to simplify the process.