Veterans and military families believe in the power of homeownership. Earlier this year, the national homeownership rate dipped to just under 63%, marking a 51-year low, according to U.S. Census data.
The homeownership rate among veterans is more like 82%, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Millions of veterans and military families will embark on home-buying journeys in 2017. Finding a good mortgage lender is a critical step in the process. Veteran and active military buyers have unique needs, along with access to what may be the most beneficial loan product on the market: the VA home loan.
Here’s a look at three important, high-level questions to ask when you’re evaluating lenders.
Question No. 1: Do you have VA loan expertise?
VA loans aren’t the right fit for every military buyer, but they’re helping scores of veterans get a foothold in the housing market. These flexible loans come with unbeatable benefits like $0 down payment, no mortgage insurance, forgiving credit guidelines, and the lowest average interest rates on the market.
They’re also a more specialized mortgage product, meaning some lenders are more familiar with VA loans than others. VA loans have guidelines and requirements that look a bit different from other loan types.
Finding lending partners who truly know VA loans can help ensure you get the most from this historic and hard-earned home loan benefit.
Question No. 2: Can you connect me to veteran-friendly agents?
Real estate agents are the boots on the ground for many military buyers. They can play an essential role in guiding veterans through the home-buying process. Working with agents who understand the unique needs of veterans and military buyers is key.
Many would-be buyers start with lenders and work toward loan pre-approval before connecting with a real estate agent. Talk with loan officers about their relationship with military-savvy real estate agents. This can be especially critical for active-duty military preparing for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move.
Question No. 3: What do your veteran and military customers say?
Consumers increasingly rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions. So why wouldn’t you consider them for what’s often the biggest purchase of your life?
Spend time reading reviews and testimonials from a lender’s recent clients. Hunt for real ones that don’t seem cherry-picked, whether you’re searching on social media sites, a lender’s website, or a third-party platform.
Third-party sites can be particularly helpful if you’re unsure about how “real” the reviews are on a lender’s site or social media page. For example, military home buyers can go to one of the popular review sites like Trustpilot and view lender pages, such as Veterans United’s reviews page.
Finding the right lender can make a world of difference for veteran and military buyers. Talk with more than one, and make sure you feel like you have a true partner for what can be a challenging yet rewarding experience.
This article was written by Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United Home Loans and author of “The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits.”
Watch: Veteran Housing Chief Gives Update on Growth of VA Home Loans
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) Veterans United Home Loans is not endorsed or sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs or any government agency; does not reflect DOD endorsements. Equal Opportunity Lender. 1400 Veterans United Drive, Columbia, MO, 65203.
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