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A Veteran’s Path to Homeownership

by: Natalie Jones, contributor

Military personnel and their families are often required to move frequently, so when the time comes to settle down, the purchase of a home is a big deal. When you have reached the point of homeownership, it’s important to go into this investment with a clear understanding of what to expect and how to approach the process. Keep the following in mind as you prepare to join the ranks of homeowners across the country.

Veteran Home Buyers

Determine What You Can Afford

Write out what you want in a home and decide how much you can afford to pay each month. In addition to the mortgage payment, consider the costs of furnishing the house and handling maintenance once it becomes yours. Factor in utilities, water and other local fees. A home affordability calculator can help you.

Understand Relevant Terms

In addition to a mortgage budget, you need to understand how loans work:

  • Your debt-to-income ratio is how much of your gross income is used to pay existing debts, including student loans, credit cards, auto loans and child support. Your DTI, including your estimated homeownership costs, should be 36% or less. 
  • Mortgage rates are the amount of interest attached to your mortgage. Buyers with great credit and a sizable down payment qualify for a better interest rate. 
  • Your monthly mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home, your down payment and the mortgage rate. A monthly property tax and mortgage insurance expense may be added to this amount. 
  • The annual percentage rate helps you understand the cost of your loan. You can use the APR to compare mortgages from potential lenders.
  • Short-term loans with higher monthly payments save you money over the years because you pay less interest. 

Bankers and other lenders are motivated to approve you for larger loans, but this doesn’t mean you can afford the resulting payments. Review any loan documents before signing.

Adjust Your Finances

Increase your credit score by reducing spending and paying off debts. Pay all your bills on time each month. Don’t close credit cards you’ve paid off and don’t open any new credit accounts. If there are mistakes on your credit reports, work with credit reporting bureaus to correct them.

Get Prequalified for a Loan

This step helps you understand what you can afford and lets sellers know that you have done your research. Prequalification also gives you an advantage if someone else wants to buy the same home and provides confidence to negotiate for terms you want.

Choose an Appropriate Loan

The Veterans Administration loan program offers funds for a first home, for refinancing your current home, for adapting your home and even for a second home. VA loans usually do not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance. You may qualify even with a low credit score. Check out current rates to figure out if a VA loan is the right choice for you.

Review the advantages and disadvantages of other types of loans:

  • Federal Housing Administration loans are available for people who have lower-than-average credit scores and less money for monthly payments. 
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides loans for rural buyers. They don’t require a down payment, but USDA loans are limited by income and property value caps. 
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages are useful if the current interest rates are high, or the borrower plans to move or sell before interest rates increase.
  • Fixed-rate mortgages are some of the most common loans. The monthly payment and the interest rates stay the same during a 15- or 30-year period. 

Enjoy Your New Home

Your research and focused steps mean a successful venture. Once you qualify for your loan and complete your paperwork and closing formalities, your hard work will pay off. You’re ready to celebrate the purchase of your new home. Let’s connect today to determine your best path to homeownership and prepare you to buy a home in Arizona.