Buying a new home can be both exciting and stressful. Here are some ideas to get you started on your journey toward homeownership.

Decide where you want to call your permanent home

Research the housing market as well as economic conditions, school systems, and social aspects of the area or community.

You will want to know if home values are declining, stable, or rising. If you are planning to stay in an area long-term look for stability with a good rate of appreciation over the previous decades. However, if you want to sell the home in the short term, look for areas where property values are steadily increasing.

Consider the current and future implications for your family, including educational opportunities for your children. Evaluate the type of job opportunities available to your non-military spouse and to you upon retiring from military service.

Establish a home purchasing budget and financial plan

Begin with a home maintenance budget. When you go from renting an apartment or house to ownership, you will have some additional expenses. Consider monthly mortgage, insurance, and property tax costs. Also account for interior and exterior maintenance, major and minor repairs, and association dues or fees. Do not forget to account for one-time costs such as moving expenses and decorating and furnishing.

Determine the price range for your new home

The easiest way to set a price range is to get prequalified for your mortgage loan, whether through a bank, direct lender, or mortgage broker. Choose a lender that specializes in VA loans, but also has a variety of other mortgage programs to meet your needs.

Keep in mind that steps 2 and 3 are interchangeable, especially for those who want to plan everything else around the type and size of home they can buy.

Decide if you want to work with a real estate agent

If you are an experienced buyer, you may decide to skip the agent and search for and negotiate the purchase yourself. If you are considering a property that is listed by the owner, you may have to pay out-of-pocket to have an agent prepare and negotiate your contract.

When considering properties listed by other real estate agents, it is best to have a buyer’s agent represent you. They split any commissions with the listing agent and broker, so there is no cost to you.

Next steps

Once you tackle these preliminary items, then you are ready to begin looking at houses. Once you make an offer and it is accepted, then you will be ready for a second round of tasks that include:

  • Meeting the loan underwriting conditions.
  • Transferring down payment funds into escrow.
  • Setting a closing date.
  • Planning your move.

Following these tips will ensure any family purchasing a home has a quick and easy process.