If you’re relocating to the island of O’ahu as an active or veteran service member, you may or may not know about the benefits that come with buying a home with a VA loan. In fact, there are actually some pretty great reasons to choose to buy a home here in the Honolulu area, especially if you qualify for a VA loan. Here are some tips for buying a home when you’re in (or have been in) the military.
Understand All the Benefits—And Use Them!
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers some really outstanding benefits to active and veteran military services members—but far too many who qualify for these benefits won’t use them or don’t even know about them. For example, with a VA loan, military members can buy a house for 0% down with no mortgage insurance, while taking advantage of lower interest rates and forgiving credit requirements.
Additionally, many states offer additional perks, like closing cost assistance, tax abatements, and more. The loan can even be used for other home-related costs, like building a house, making repairs, refinancing, or adapting the home for special accessibility. Think your benefits are expired or used up? Always check!
Work with an Agent Who Understands Unique Military Needs
As a military service member, you have needs that are unique to your lifestyle. Working with an agent who specializes in military home buying means taking advantage of services targeted towards your particular lifestyle. This realtor will understand that you will likely need to find a home and relocate within a very short time span. They will also know that though you’re looking for a home to meet your needs, you will probably be relocating again in a few years and will need to be able to quickly and profitably sell your home—and will know how to help you buy a home that not only fits your needs but also offers strong resale potential.
They may even have served themselves and offer direct firsthand experience and advice, or be able to point out other benefits you may be eligible for.
Work with a Realtor Who Knows VA Loans
In addition to making sure your Realtor is familiar with unique military needs, you’ll also want to make sure they’re well-versed in the VA loan system and process. It can be somewhat complex process for those who don’t understand it, so it’s important to have an expert guide.
One thing you’ll want to make sure your Realtor can help you with: the appraisal process and home qualifications. The VA won’t underwrite just any house. It must meet VA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) that ensure the home will be safe, sanitary, and sound. Any problems that prevent a home from qualifying will need to be corrected before the close, and fixer-upper homes might not qualify at all. A good Realtor will be able to pre-appraise the home to determine if there will be any problems before you undergo the headache of making an offer on a home that won’t qualify.
Discuss Your Military Status with Your Lender
Though referred to as a “VA Loan”, your loan is actually financed through a private lender and backed by the VA (in lieu of mortgage insurance, which is why it’s not required). So you’ll still need to work with a bank, credit union, or other organization to obtain the loan. Make sure your loan officer knows that you’ll be using the VA loan, and always inquire into other veteran incentives they may offer—many will waive appraisal fees or give additional lender credits. And as always, it’s important to ensure that your lender understands the VA loan system and process.
Think of Your Home As an Investment
Why buy a home if you’ll be relocating again? Because it can be a great investment, even over a short period of time, and especially in high-demand areas like Honolulu. A good Realtor will understand your investment needs and help you search for popular home sizes and styles in popular neighborhoods. They’ll know which areas will offer great rental income potential (if you choose to keep your home and rent it), or which which offer you the ability to sell your home quickly and profitably.
And did you know that VA loans are assumable, meaning you can transfer the loan and the home to another veteran? That means it’ll be easy for you to sell your home to another military member, especially if you’re in a military-popular area.
Thinking of Buying a Home on O’ahu?
If you’re thinking of buying a home as an active or veteran member of the armed forces and you’re searching for a VA-savvy or Military Relocation Professional certified Realtor, then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu. We have extensive experience helping people buy and sell homes on the island of O’ahu, and can offer the expertise and knowledge of agents who’ve spent decades learning the ins and outs of VA and military home purchases and sales. Come explore the communities and cities of O’ahu and start searching homes for sale today.