Permanent Change of Station. We have to move quickly! This is nothing new to any family who humbly serves our country. Typically you know the possible locations and even the timeline. You make plans to sell your home or you’ve been thinking that your next move is the best time to buy that first home. Packing your belongings is something of a routine at this point. Well it’s becoming a bit of a cliché at this point, but here comes 2020. With the COVID pandemic we haven’t been too certain as to when those orders will be signed. If you’re currently stationed overseas getting home can be a bit of a chore. Then it hits suddenly, report no later than…it’s time to move!
Now let’s say that purchasing a home is something that you are definitely moving forward with or is something you’re considering. There are a few things to do right away. The first is try to find knowledgeable professionals that can help you with this process and that are familiar or specialize in working with veterans. There are a few differences when purchasing a home using a VA loan and having both realtors and lenders that focus on the VA process will make sure nothing gets overlooked.
The second step, analyze your budget quickly. A change in duty station comes with a different cost of living and a new amount of BAH. If you currently own a home or rent off post then you have a good idea of how much your housing expenses compare to your BAH.
I usually suggest that if you’re comfortable with the monthly payments that you’re currently making then try to mirror that when you move. If your current rent is $300 less than your BAH then let’s target that at your next duty station.
Now if you’re currently living in base housing then we need to try to forecast a little more. What extra bills will you now have living off post? Do you want to make sure that your mortgage and all housing bills are taken care of with the BAH? How much of your base pay etc. is left over each month that can account for the unexpected expense? Narrow down this number and your mortgage professional can take the monthly payment you’d prefer and go backwards to find you a purchase price.
Third step, documents. The docs needed for Pre-Approval should be easy to get and send to your lender. At a minimum expect: Most recent LES, Most recent bank statements, at least last year’s W2 but maybe the previous 2 years, Certificate of Eligibility, Signed PCS Orders. As I mentioned, these should be easy to get but make sure you send legible copies and all pages of each document. An underwriter will not accept a scanned image that is partially cut off or only 3 of 4 pages of a bank statement so when your loan officer asks for a better copy of something understand that they’re making sure that we’re compliant up front.
The Certificate of Eligibility is something that your lender SHOULD pull from the VA portal without asking you for it. Every now and then the VA asks for more information and we have to upload a statement of service, or your DD214 if you’re retired. If that’s the case then your loan officer will ask you to send one of those in. The important part here is if your lender has had a chance to review documentation along with a loan application then we are able to get any questions answered now instead of in the middle of the process.
Fourth step, get out there with your trusted veteran friendly realtor. By now we should all be on the same page. And this could literally be within a few days of each other. It is possible to get things done quickly if we’re all working together. What your realtor really needs to know are your needs, wants, and the financial side of the transaction.
Have that open and honest conversation with your realtor on the things that are required and then the things that you want. Determine what your deal breakers are. If you absolutely need a certain number of bedrooms, a specific school district, etc. Then those wants like a bigger than normal yard, granite counters or open concept. If we’re having to move quickly then you really want to be open for suggestions and try to remain a little flexible. Make sure that your loan officer and realtor are on the same page on price range and overall closing costs. We need to be submitting offers that are within price range and our budget.
Now what if it’s a different situation. What if we are finishing up with a lease next month, we are definitely going to buy a home, but my spouse is currently deployed and I’m doing all of this by myself? Well everything that we have discussed above still holds true. Analyze your budget, get connected with people that you trust and can help you, get Pre-Approved and figure out what you want in a home. There’s really only one thing that changes on the mortgage side and the realtor side when a spouse is deployed.
For the mortgage, it’s a Power of Attorney. I’d say that most married couples have a general POA already for deployments, but there will need to be another one. Mortgage lenders require a power of attorney to be limited and specific to the property address that we’re acquiring. The lender will have a format that they use but I’ve also used several different ones that were generated by the title company. The key on this is getting it done immediately after getting a contract on a home.
The POA must be signed by the veteran and notarize. Every base has a legal office where you will be able to sign and notarize the POA. A scanned copy needs to be sent to the loan officer so that it can be approved along with the other standard documents and the original is required to be sent to the title company. Having the original is the reason for the speed of execution here. If you’re stationed in Riyad and it takes 10-14 days for the postal service to get a document package back to the states then it doesn’t leave a lot of time for error. Just make sure that your loan officer knows we’ll be using a POA ahead of time so that it’s ready to go.
One the realtor side, the biggest issue here is deciding on a home without your spouse being able to see the home for him/herself. This is happening more and more these days but the advantage we have today is technology. With the ability of us to take video and high quality pictures on our phone, touring homes remotely has become easier than before. Many of our realtors have made this a common practice and can give your spouse almost the same experience as if they were there. The other main factor is to evaluate the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Talk about any expectations for the area and trust that a good decision will be made.
At the end of the day, a quick move isn’t ideal. A move is going to have some stress no matter the timeline. Just know that the home buying process can move quickly if needed. Be honest with your professionals about your needs, work quickly with them on anything required of you, and make sure you feel confident in the team that you are working with and you’ll be into that new home!
Blog post sponsored by Aligned Mortgage. Start Your Path To Home Ownership Today!
Aligned Mortgage Mission:
To aggressively serve veterans and their families through education and facilitation of the VA Home Loan Benefit, while advocating for our local military and veteran community. In doing so, We will help them achieve the American dream of homeownership, while also introducing them to the builder of there forever home.