For starters, what is a PCS Move? For military personnel, PCS is the acronym for Permanent Change of Station which means it's time to move the house and family; courtesy of the military.
Two informative real estate related articles from Military.com regarding PCS Moves for Military Service members and their families.
As a Military Veteran, I understand the challenges of buying and selling real estate while serving in the Armed Forces. I ensure all of my clients have a supportive real estate experience.
As part of the "The Congressional Team", I will match the competitor's "Military Move" Program...same incentives! Contact me, Rick Reed, at (301) 742-1172 for details.
PCS House Hunting Tips
"Trying to shop for a house across the country, or even in another country, is a major undertaking no matter what. It can get even more complicated if the servicemember is deployed, or because of work scheduling, and even childcare concerns. Here are a few tips to make your hunt for a home more successful."
Military.com| by Joe Gladden
You have received orders to your new duty station and it is time to plan for your move across the country, or even across the planet. Under perfect circumstances, which of course don’t exist, this is a major undertaking. And moving gets considerably more complicated when the military member is deployed and mom or dad cannot participate in the house hunting trip because of childcare concerns, work schedules or deployments. This article expands on a critical aspect of our “Military Home Buyer’s Checklist.”
By now you should have carefully selected your realtor through referrals and phone interviews. With the desired outcome of finding the right home for your family and obtaining a ratified contract on that home, here are key elements of making the trip a success:
- While the military does not cover your house hunting expenses, they do give you “permissive leave” (up to 10 days) to conduct the trip. When appropriate you and your spouse may choose to use “Military Space Available” travel to get to your new duty station. *See note below in regard to “Military Space Available.”
- It is not unusual for military members to house hunt during conferences or other events at their new duty station. Viewing and selecting homes, writing and negotiating a ratified contract can take several very busy days. Dedicating a complete week to this process is not overkill! Be sure to schedule ample, uninterrupted time for this process.
Do your homework in advance. Ask your realtor for local detailed street maps, especially in large metropolitan areas. Take advantage of their automated e-mail listings to plot these listings on the maps, and to “calibrate” your expectations of the local market. Do your research on schools, commute (ask your associates at your new duty station), and other family concerns. Before your arrival, work with your realtor to prioritize the areas of interest.
Consider your realtor as your teammate! Good realtors are busy with multiple clients so help them help you:
- Schedule ample time “in town” for your trip.
- Give your realtor as much advance notice as possible (weeks or months if possible) and ask them to block out your entire time in town to work with you. Keep them updated on any changes to your schedule.
- Prioritize your requirements and make sure your realtor knows what they are!
- Don’t be bashful about letting them know if they are focusing in the wrong area! They need your input and know that performing well may lead to repeat business, referrals, and a long term friendship with their clients
Touring 10 homes in a day can be tiring and stressful for adults, even more so for children. If you add multiple time zone changes to the equation, it can be even more exhausting. When possible, plan your trip without children or ask your realtor for assistance in arranging childcare in the local area.
Be sure to bring with you the following:
- Your pre-approval letter from a REPUTABLE lender. In some areas, contracts will not be seriously considered by sellers with out a pre-approval letter. Smart realtors representing the seller will be very skeptical of Internet and/or unknown lenders! Remember a pre-approval letter DOES NOT commit you to any specific lender, so it is prudent to bring the other documents listed below just in case you find a local lender with better rates and terms.
- All W-2 forms (member and spouse) for the past two years.
- At least the two most recent months of pay stubs (member and spouse).
- ALL PAGES of at least two most recent months of your primary savings and checking accounts statements.
- ALL PAGES of other accounts that may be used for earnest money and / or down payments.
- Your checkbook. This may sound odd, but a growing number of people bank on- line almost exclusively and/or use credit cards for normal purchases and do not carry checks. However, checks are still the most accepted and convenient means of placing earnest money on a home.
- If one spouse cannot make the trip, be sure to execute and bring a general power of attorney for the absent spouse (see your local military legal office). This is usually acceptable for purposes of writing the contract, but the actual settlement will PROBABLY require a more specific POA for the lender’s and/or settlement company’s purposes. Check this with your realtor.
- Your digital camera if you have one. While your realtor should also have one, this can be extremely helpful in evaluating a large number of homes at the end of a busy day! Perhaps more importantly, in cases where one spouse cannot make the trip, emailing pictures can be very helpful in keeping them in the process.
Benefits of a VA Loan in Today's Market
Military.com ETHAN EWING
Contrary to what many Americans think, it's a very good time for service members to refinance or purchase a home. With mortgage rates continuing to hover at all-time lows and many homes selling at significantly discounted prices, it's possible for those with good credit and income to purchase a great home.
One of the unique benefits afforded to military personnel is access to the Veterans Affairs Home Mortgage Loan program. This program offers tremendous mortgage benefits to active-duty service members, veterans, and some surviving spouses. A VA home loan can be used for a number of purposes, including purchasing or building a new home, refinancing a current mortgage, repairing or improving your existing home, or installing home efficiency measures.
While a conventional loan might seem like a great bargain because of an advertised lower rate, keep in mind that you often need a high credit score of 720 or above to qualify for these best rates. VA home loans are backed by the government, meaning banks can assume less risk with the loan and possibly price it lower than a rate you would qualify for from a bank. But even without a lower rate, there are a number of other compelling benefits that make the VA home loan program a better overall alternative.
- The VA program won't deny a loan based solely on a low credit score, and most lenders don't tier interest rates for better scores. The VA program usually looks at only the previous 12 months of credit history, unless bankruptcy, a tax lien or a collections situation factors into your situation.
- The VA home mortgage loan doesn't require a down payment. This can save consumers up to 20 percent of the loan value when compared to a conventional loan.
- Borrowers can often refinance to a lower rate within the VA program without re-qualifying for the program through the VA Streamline Refinance Loan.
- If the borrower has a service-related disability, they may qualify for the lender to waive the funding fee, further reducing closing costs.
Starting the Process
You can begin the application process at any lender that offers a VA home loan. At some point, you'll be required to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. This document will verify that you're qualified for the program and outline your benefits level. Potential borrowers can go online to https://vip.vba.va.gov to apply for the program and obtain their COE.
Once you have determined your eligibility, you can move forward with the home buying process. This generally involves finding a VA-approved lender (if you haven't already), pre-qualifying for a loan, choosing a home, having it appraised, and then closing on the loan and property.
- Be sure to review your credit report before you begin the process to correct any errors. Your lender will use this to make a decision about your eligibility and interest rate, so be sure that you put your best foot forward. You can request a free copy at www.annualcreditreport.com. You should also check your credit score so you know what range you fall into before you speak with a lender.
- With interest rates at all-time lows, it makes sense to consider all your options. Those service members who will be in a home for a short period of time might want to consider an adjustable rate mortgage to keep payments as low as possible. For those who have extra disposable income, plan to stay in their home for a long time, and can afford a slightly higher monthly payment; it makes sense to look at a 15-year fixed term loan. This will help you pay off your loan faster and save money on total interest paid on the loan.
- It also makes sense to get pre-approved on your loan amount so that you know what range of house you can afford. This will save an immeasurable amount of time and stress in your home search. It will also provide you with credibility when dealing with sellers who know you are pre-approved at that dollar amount.
For more information about using your VA Loan to buy a home, visit Military.com's VA loan section.
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
To search an entire database of homes for sale in real-time with photos, descriptions, and community information, please visit my website: www.premiermarylandhomes.com
Rick Reed, G.R.I., CDPE- Certified Distressed Property Expert
Assoc. Broker/Owner "The Congressional Team" RE/MAX
Licensed in MD & Wash DC
8937 Shady Grove Court
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Office: 240-403-0399 X306
Can I help a friend or family member with their Real Estate needs? You can count on me!