Welcome Home! Thank you for your service!
Now that you are seriously considering purchasing a home, let’s go over a couple of quick steps on how to purchase a home using your VA benefits.
Get pre-qualified or pre-approved.
This step allows you to move faster when you find a home you love. This letter is required (in most states) when submitting an offer. This letter shows the Cooperating Real Estate Agent and Seller that you’re a serious buyer and have been vetted by a Lender.
Search for a home:
Keep in mind that although you may be pre-qualified or pre-approved for a max amount, it does not mean that you have to purchase a home at that amount. Look at the total mortgage amount and see how it would fit within your overall financial budget. No one wants to be house poor or get into a situation where you cannot afford your home and then lose it.
I also suggest to think about and write out a list of what your dream home would look like. Think about what you definitely do not want in a home: for example, near overhead power lines, close to a dairy farm, railroads, busy streets, airports or other disturbances.
Once you have a list of everything, determine what is a want and what is a need. For example, a need would be 3 bathrooms. A want is 3 bathrooms that are completely remodeled in a farmhouse style.
Consider the home structure itself. Do you want a single story or a multiple story home? How many bedrooms, bathrooms and garage spaces? Do you want granite, stainless appliances, a master bath tub, a big yard that is fenced in? Do you want a home in a particular school district or near a specific freeway? You should also think about what neighborhood amenities you would like to have. Be aware that VA typically does not back fixer-uppers. Check out the VA Minimum Property Requirements for more information.
Once your wants and needs are set, number the items in order of importance. Which items could you live without if you were unable to locate a home with that feature? Performing these steps will help you focus on what is important to you in a new home. You will know what items would be a deal-breaker or not when a home is found. This exercise will assist your Real Estate Agent when setting up your home search. A home search can be as specific as you like – to a certain extent. You may want to set up a new email address that is only for real estate. You will begin to receive automated emails containing homes that match the criteria that was set. You will receive a lot of emails during this process from Lender, Realtor, title, inspections, etc.
Find a home and put in an offer:
When you see a home that you would like to view, contact your Real Estate Agent to schedule a showing. Try to spend at least 30 minutes in a home to really take in the home. Spend time outside. Drive by the home at different times of the day and night. You may find a difference in noise and parking or ease of access (or lack of) during the different time period. Once you have found the perfect home, it is time to submit an offer. It’s important to find a Military Relocation Professional (like me) that you can trust that is also an expert in VA home-buying.
Home Inspection/VA Appraisal: Once you get under contract, you will need to request a home inspection and a termite inspection. If the home is over 20 years (in AZ), it is recommended to get a roof inspection. The “typical” roof life-span in AZ is 20 years. The Lender will order a VA appraisal. Their lending team will take a longer look at your finances to make sure nothing has changed since the initial pre-qualification/pre-approval. If everything checks out, you’ll receive a clear to close.
Closing: The title agency will be in contact with you to schedule closing. There will be what seems like millions of documents to sign. Plan to spend at least 1.5 hours at the title office or request a mobile notary to come to you. Once all documents are signed and the loan funds, you will get the keys. Your Real Estate Agent will normally provide the keys from the lockbox that is installed at the house. Most Real Estate Agents will want to take a “just-closed” photo of you at the home and post to social media. Follow your Agent so they can tag you in the photos – if wanted.
I hope this helps explain the steps clearly for you. If there are more questions regarding the VA home-buying process, contact me. I would love to discuss buying a home with you.