THE MILITARY HOME BUYERS’ CHECKLIST
By Joe Gladden, Captain, USN, retired
Veteran Realtors Serving America’s Military, Inc. (VR SAM®)
Published in Military.com
No two military moves are exactly alike! However, there are common concerns that factor in just about every military PCS move, such as; housing affordability and resale value, schools for your children, spousal employment, and the “commute,” which may range from a non-issue in some areas to a critical issue in areas such as the metro DC region.
Although much of your planning, and many of your actions hinge on written orders, you cannot start planning the move too early. All too frequently, PCS orders and move planning occur when the military member is deployed, leaving the spouse with the challenge of planning the move while attending to that “small matter” of managing the household. Since our military training drilled us in organizational skills and methodical problem solving, and since many military specialties live and die by the “checklist,” we offer the following “checklist” as a point of departure for the “ideal military move.” It is worth stating again that you cannot start planning your move too early, and we recommend a house hunting trip (if feasible) of no later than 60 days prior to your desired move in date when feasible.
MILITARY HOME BUYERS’ CHECKLIST
Verbal or written orders to arrive at your new duty station:
No earlier than___________ No later than___________
If applicable, contact your local realtor (to sell your home) no later than 90 days before your ideal “move out” date from your present home. __________
Contact your realtor at your new duty station as soon as you have verbal or written orders. Contact date: ________ Name / company: _________
Cell Phone: _________ Email: _________________ Web Site: __________
Note: If you do not have a local realtor, or one in your new duty station, you can contact VR SAM for assistance in locating a quality realtor in your area:
877 VRV-RSAM (877 878-7726), firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vrsam.com
Contact at least two REPUTABLE lending institutions (see note 1) and request pre-qualification / approval to determine the MAXIMUM amount they will lend, and the MAXIMUM monthly payment for which you qualify. Discuss the market interest rates and various loan products (fixed, ARMs, interest only, VHA, FHA, etc.) with your loan officers. Ask the loan officer about any special loan products for deployed military members, or for Reservists / Guardsmen recalled to active duty. Note that pre-qualification or approval DOES NOT commit you to any specific lender and you should not be reluctant to compete lenders for your business. (Recently the VA maximum loan amount was raised to $417,000)
Company 1 Company 2
% Down Payment
Org / Discount Points
Est Lenders Fees
Est Settlement Fees
Lock In Requirements
Est Mo Payments (PITI)
Maximum Loan Amount
Does loan officer attend settlement?
Review your personal budget to determine the MAXIMUM monthly payment with which you are comfortable. Use the lesser of your comfort maximum and qualification maximum for your planning purposes.
Maximum Comfortable Monthly Payment (PITI) ________
Review your accounts and assets to determine the source for down payments, earnest money, and settlement costs. Available funds ________
With the information above, determine the price range that you will consider.
Home Price Range for Search _________
Determine your ideal “Move In” date
Ideal Move In Date _________
Determine your family’s home requirements (bedrooms / bathrooms, etc.)
Provide your realtor with the information in checklist items 5 through 9 above. Your realtor’s web site should have a tab to search the local Multiple Listing System, and may have the capability to send you automatic email updates of new listings that meet your requirements. This capability is a major help in understanding the local market in you new duty station, which may be dramatically different than at your current duty station.
Determine the date of your house hunting trip and give your realtor as much advance notice as possible to schedule adequate time, plan, and provide logistical assistance for you. Generally, it is better to schedule too much time (four or five days minimum not including travel) than too little time.
Once you have found your new home and are under contract, your realtor should employ a detailed checklist for timely and accurate contract execution to your move-in. The “big pieces” of this check list are:
final loan approval
home inspection scheduled / completed
termite inspection scheduled / completed
VR SAM® hopes this is helpful and invites your comments and / or questions!