Not every military family has the opportunity to settle down long enough to make buying a house worthwhile, but if you’ve been saving money for a house and you’re ready to take the plunge into homeownership, here are 10 tips for home buying that might make your experience easier.

Here are 10 tips for home buying to keep in mind:

1. Get Clear on Your Dream Home

Saving money for a house is hard, but that’s not the only hard part of the home buying process. You’ll want to get clear on what your dream home consists of before you dive head-first into house hunting. Take some time to determine how many rooms you need to accommodate your military family, what other features are important to you, what kind of neighborhood you want to live in, etc.

2. Determine Your Budget

If you’re looking for the best tips for home buying, you can’t ignore the importance of finalizing your budget. Once you’re clear on what you need in a home, saving money for a house and clarifying your final budget is essential.

Try to stick to that budget as closely as possible since there are always additional expenses that come up when you buy a home: maintenance, furniture, repairs, etc. Be sure to get help if you need assistance with financial planning. The last thing you want is to end up with a mortgage you can’t afford.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Mortgage Process

Financing your new home can be a complicated process. Depending on the lender you work with, qualifying requirements may differ slightly depending on what type of loan you apply for. While strong credit and a satisfactory income make a big difference, do some research on the best loans available and the requirements ahead of time.

4. Take Full Advantage of Military Incentives

There are a lot of incentives and opportunities for military families looking to purchase a house, one being VA-backed home loans. Don’t settle for huge down payments or high-interest rates when there are other opportunities available to you as a military family. AAFMAA can help you narrow down your military home loan options to get you the best financing possible.

5. Shop Around

While you’re eager to purchase your dream home, be sure you give yourself time to shop around and see what’s available before making a final decision. If you have the time to do so, take tours of houses, compare properties, and really seek out something that’s right for you before locking yourself into a mortgage.

6. Consider Resale Value

You’ll likely want to spend many, many years living in your dream home, so selling probably isn’t on your mind during the homebuying process — but you should always consider resale value when purchasing. You’ll want to ensure the house you buy will sell well sometime in the future. This means you’ll want to avoid neighborhoods with a high turnover rate and look for timeless features in a home that will appeal to a variety of buyers.

7. Buy in Neighborhoods with Places to Connect

As a military family, you’re likely very familiar with how difficult it can be to make new connections and friends when you move. Make this transition easier by keeping an eye out for places where you and your family can connect more easily with others in the community. Look for homes closer to public parks, gardens, community pools, town events, etc.

8. Do What You Can to Improve Your Credit

Your credit score plays a big role in determining your mortgage and interest rate, so anything you can do to improve your credit score can help a lot as you’re saving money for a house. Some things you can do include paying bills on time, keeping credit cards open and balances as low as possible (under 10% or even 5% can make a huge difference), and checking copies of your credit reports.

9. Be Careful When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

A great real estate agent can make your homebuying process amazing. They will scour the market for your desired home and guide you all the way through to the process. A bad real estate agent, however, won’t do much to help you at all — and can end up getting you in over your head when it comes time to close. Collect some referrals, interview a few agents, and feel free to ask for references from real estate agents before deciding who you work with.

10. Be Confident

A lot of active duty servicemembers and Veterans are unsure how to go about the homebuying process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Ask for help where you need it, do some research, and be confident in your ability to find the home of your dreams. You’ve got this!

More Tips for Your “Home Sweet Home”:

Solutions for Your Military Family:

Life Insurance, Wealth Management, Home Mortgages, Survivor Services, and more. Learn more about AAFMAA.

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