Home Buying Advice for Military Personnel and Vets

Posted September 16 2016
by PenFed Team
Image of parents with young child

Buying a home can be especially tricky when you’re working around military service. If you’re on active duty, you’ll be on a tight timetable for selling your current home and choosing a new one. If you’re making the transition to civilian life, you may be looking for an entirely different sort of home than you’ve ever had before.

There’s no reason to settle for second best. Connect with a real estate professional who knows how to work with military relocations and financing, and seek out a VA mortgage to enjoy unique benefits available only to those who’ve served our country.

Get a Military-Savvy Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent who has no experience helping military personnel may not understand the unique demands of a military relocation. The right agent can help you pull the pieces together in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle.

Rapid relocations. The speed of a military relocation can seem mind-boggling to real estate agents who are not used to the limited time available for the process. Most permanent change of station (PCS) orders are issued just weeks before an impending move, and you’ll get only a few days of leave in order to find the right home in your new location. You need an agent who understands that decisions need to be made quickly.

Resale potential. Many real estate agents are used to helping clients find homes that represent a smart, long-term investment. When you’re ready to sell and move again in a matter of a few years, you need a home in a strong market with outstanding resale potential.

Unique loan requirements. If you are considering using a VA mortgage loan for your financing, your home must meet standards designed to ensure it’s a smart investment. An agent who’s familiar with these minimum property requirements (MPRs) can help you target properties that are likely to meet the standards or can be fixed with a minimum of time and money.

One way to identify a military-savvy real estate agent is to look for an agent who’s taken the Did You Serve pledge or achieved certification.

Financing for Military Personnel and Veterans

Although VA mortgage loans give you guaranteed mortgage loans at outstanding rates, only 10 percent of veterans typically use their VA mortgage home loan benefits—usually because they are not aware that these loans exist, or how to qualify and use them.

VA mortgage loan benefits include:

No down payment. The days of buying a house with no money down may be coming to a close, but veterans can still qualify with a VA mortgage.

Lower monthly payments. Since VA mortgages are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, you won’t be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your home—and that means lower monthly payments for you.

No prepayment penalties. A VA mortgage gives you the benefit of avoiding prepayment penalties.

Is a VA Mortgage Loan Right for You?

A VA mortgage loan could be a good fit if you have suitable credit and sufficient income. You’ll also need a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. To get one, you must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and meet at least one of these service requirements:

  • Have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
  • Have served 181 days of active service during peace time
  • Have served more than six years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Are the spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability

Secure Your VA Mortgage Financing with PenFed

A VA Fixed Mortgage loan from a home loan lender like PenFed Credit Union can give you long-term, stable payments and higher loan limits—all with little or no down payment. You can use a VA mortgage loan to purchase a new home or refinance one you already own.

Learn more about PenFed’s VA Fixed Mortgage lending programs by visiting the PenFed Home Ownership Center today.