Military families looking to move generally can make the process easier and successful by tapping into their military network, using websites like www.militarybyowner.com. Is this different than for non-military families? Not in the sense that most people - military or civilian - tend to have additional trust when a friend of ours has had a good experience with a service provider and recommends or refers them.
It is different, though, relating to certain services like real estate and the loan process. The military background itself complicates these service, whether Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.
For example, buying homes as a military person has additional options and also challenges presented by military pay, orders, etc., such as:
- A military member qualifies for a VA loan, which the general public does not. This is a zero down payment program, rare in today's lending world and a great benefit for the military servicemember.
- The real estate agent/REALTOR(R) who writes up offers for a military buyer needs to write the contract to correctly reflect the VA loan terms. The contract terms need to be stated very particularly when it comes to "Non-allowables," which are certain fees and costs that the VA does not allow a military member to pay. If the contract doesn't provide for the seller to cover those fees, there are suddenly thousands of dollars that the buyer can't pay and the seller hasn't agreed to pay (for example, usually about $3000 on a $200,000 VA loan). The risk is that the home purchase falls apart when the agents don't know how to do it in the first place or fix it later, or the buyer has to renegotiate the purchase price higher - yes, the buyer pay more - so there is a seller credit large enough to cover the Non-allowables.
- There are about twenty other Non-allowable fees (like termite inspection), that the military member buyer cannot agree to pay, that need to be provided for as paid by the seller or other party or provider in the transaction, either through a properly worded seller credit or otherwise.
- The LES shows BAH for the military member's current duty station. BUT if buying a home at the next duty station, the real estate agent and also the loan service provider should be using the BAH for the next duty station.
- The military member frequently has a deployment or temporary duty that will take him away from the local area when loan documents need to be signed. The loan officer needs to know what kind of Power of Attorney needs to be done as well as what other documents for the transaction cannot be signed using a Power of Attorney (such as initial loan document disclosures, among others). Otherwise, it will cause delay or possibly risk the purchase, for example if the delay takes you past a short sale deadline and the home gets foreclosed instead of sold to you.
- Does the military member already own a home at a prior duty station? If so, and it's been rented out, does the rent show on the military member's tax returns? If not, most lenders cannot count the rent as income helping the expense ratios for you to qualify for a loan and instead have to "hit" the military member's income with the whole mortgage, real estate taxes, and insurance payment in calculating how much home he can qualify for at the current duty station. There are certain exceptions, but they're limited.
- Did the military member retire and get a VA disability rating, making him eligible to avoid paying the VA's Funding Fee, saving him thousands of dollars. The real estate agent should know to ask, or at least have an experienced VA loan consultant to refer to you.
There are lots more details related to military personnel buying or renting homes (get a military escape clause in your lease!). It's meant to help show that to make the process of buying a home near a military base smoother, it really matters to use a real estate professional who has training and experience with military matters as they relate to home buying. Thousands of dollars, delay and possibly the whole home purchase are at stake.
I am a military spouse who's done a lot of VA loans and can refer you to a military spouse for the Southern California area: Ashlyn Strempel. Originally from the New Orleans area, Ashlyn lives in Temecula and has a husband stationed at Miramar, and has helped military members purchasing homes for sale near military bases such as Miramar, Camp Pendleton, MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot), Balboa Navy Hospital, Coronado, 32nd Street and throughout the San Diego area. She is an agent for my husband's brokerage, Sand to Sea Properties, Inc., which also serves the military niche near Camp Pendleton as well as out to Twentynine Palms MCAGCC.
Lisa Delzompo (951-704-4559)
"May your home always be too small ... to hold all your friends!"
CA Dept of Real Estate, Real Estate Broker License #01379811;
NMLS Identifer #331744
REAL ESTATE: www.SandToSeaProperties.com. Covering northern San Diego, Oceanside, Temecula, Murrieta, Riverside County and desert areas of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, CA.
LOANS: PRW Lending, Inc. Call direct 951-704-4559, or email me at lisa(@)sand2sea.us
Information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. Information is general and may not address your particular situation. Do not rely solely on this or any information you find on the internet. You should consult relevant professionals directly about your real estate, financial, etc., situation.