Are you PCSing? Five things to think about when buying a house during a PCS move
1) Get pre-approved: It is important to understand exactly how much you can spend on a house before you start the search. Remember its often better to buy well under what you are actually qualified for. You don’t want to become “house poor”. Another important reason to get pre-qualified is that the best agents won’t work with you unless you have already been pre-qualified by a bank.
2) Use a good lender: A lot of people like to use the cheapest online lender they can find. Unfortunately, you often you get what you paid for. Some will nickel and dime you with "junk fees" - fees not required by most other lenders. Additionally, those types of lenders are often terrible at getting appraisals ordered and completed in a timely manner and often if you are using your VA Loan benefits will not look good to the seller’s real estate agent and may be recommended against to the seller. If you want to present a strong offer with a VA loan, you will need to choose a strong local lender to work with. You may have to pay a little more in percentage points but the small amount is often less important than the strength of the offer made with the lender’s backing.
3) Use a local real estate agent who understands the military: Buyer’s agents are almost always paid for by the seller and they will have the local knowledge necessary for you to make a good decision. Make sure you choose an agent that has the “Military Relocation Professional” or MRP designation - certification. This certification proves they understand your needs better than a run of the mill realtor. Best yet, if you can use a veteran that has personally been through a PCS and used the VA loan. When PCSing you will often need to look at homes prior to the move or move in quickly after getting into the area; it is very important for your real estate agent to know how to best write a contract to let you occupy a home prior to closing and convey the need for that to the seller and their agent.
4) Think about your exit strategy: When you PCS again will you be selling when you move or renting it out? If you think about this ahead of time you can better prepare for it when you make the purchase in the first place. If you aren't sure, purchase with a plan for renting later that way both options remain available. The VA loan is a powerful tool for real estate investing there are many very successful servicemembers that have a very good supplemental stream of income coming from houses across the US by the time they hit their 20 years. They can then retire with two streams of income!
5) Do your homework: Just like when you make decisions in the military you like to get all the necessary information available in order to reduce uncertainty. Research potential real estate agents and lenders before you use them. If you aren’t comfortable with an agent then its not a good fit; the best agents will make you feel like family. Don’t settle for anything less than the best!