Relocating is always a stressful time for individuals and families. For those serving our country, it can be a way of life as one’s military career may take you to several places around the country–as well as around the world. Change is always difficult and it is important to understand that planning can help minimize the stress and interruption of a geographic relocation. There is not one, but many choices you will face, and the more educated you are regarding the options and the more organized you can be in assessing the information, the smoother the transition will be.
The first goal of any relocation would be to align yourself with experts. Those helping you must not only be experts in their field, but they also should be experts at helping relocatees. Not everyone is equipped to help you from afar. It takes patience, anticipation, technology, and knowledge to be qualified as an expert in this area. For example, for real estate professionals, The National Association of Realtors offers a certification course in this area–The Military Relocation Professional. This program provides education for real estate professionals about working with current and former military service members to find the housing solutions that best suit their needs as sellers or buyers and take full advantage of military benefits and support.
Again, there is a multitude of decisions you will have to make which cover an even larger multitude of options. Here are just some of the questions you should be considering…
Will you be renting or purchasing in the new area? This is the most important question you will answer and the answer will in many ways affect the other questions and answers that you may face. Here are other questions which arise from the answer to this question. Within this article, we will assume your goal is to purchase; however, if you are renting some of the same concerns will apply.
Do you have a home you own in your present area and are you going to sell or rent that home?
Will you have eligibility for VA financing? Though VA allows reuse of your eligibility, costs can rise when you finance a home using your VA eligibility a second time.
What is your time frame for purchasing? Perhaps you must sell your present home first.
Have you been fully approved by a lender for your new purchase? A pre-approval is defined as a review by a qualified underwriter, not a loan officer opinion letter. The lender will fully vet your cash assets, credit situation, and income so you can narrow down your financial choices with regard to your new home. Nothing wastes more time than looking at houses for which you may not qualify.
Exactly where will you be working? Will it be on a military installation and what kind of housing is available in that immediate area? Your proximity to your work location may affect everything from the cost of housing to the type of traffic you will face.
What kind of hours will you be working? This might affect whether or not you can rely on public transportation to get to and from work and how far from the base you should consider living.
What is your time frame for moving? Are you moving quickly or planning ahead for a move sometime in the future? Of course, it always helps to have more time because this gives you more time to explore your options and make better decisions, but in today’s world, sometimes those in the military can’t plan ahead.
What type of housing do you prefer? Most military– especially those with families — would prefer a single-family home with a yard. However, in some areas, the cost of housing may preclude your first preference unless you are willing to undertake a longer commute. All decisions come with trade-offs, but it is important to start with your ideas and work from there. Within your choice, there will be several sub-choices as well–from the size of the lot, to how many bedrooms you need for your family. Do you need a garage and how many cars should it be able to accommodate?
Do you have children, what ages are they, and do any of them have special needs? Some school systems are better than others in general and certainly, some are better at providing support for children with special needs. What other facilities are important –such as athletics or religious institutions?
What benefits do you have access to? For those who are active military, The Basic Allowance for Housing will vary for different geographic locations. For those who are leaving the military, veterans who have a disability are likely to have an exemption from the funding fee for a VA mortgage, which is a very important benefit. Disabled veterans also are more likely to need to be closer to medical facilities for rehabilitation and other medical services.
Do you have time for a house-hunting trip before you relocate? If so, how much will time will you be able to allocate? This will allow you to meet with local professionals and your Realtor can plan your activities, including what homes you will be able to see in person as well as areas you can tour.
Do you have access to online video technology? This will help if your real estate professional has the ability to help you tour properties “remotely.” This is a great time-saving factor if you don’t have time for a visit, or to make the visit more productive because you can narrow down choices.
Has your real estate and/or mortgage professional put together a relocation package? A package that covers information on the market area and conditions, schools, vendors, and more will be very helpful in the planning process.
In general, we would like to quote an important adage–Success is not an accident. The proper planning of a move will make all the difference in the world with regard to making the move more successful. Selecting the right professionals to help you will be the most important first step.
If you’re looking to learn more about VA financing options, contact a mortgage advisor today!