Military Families: Five Things You Need to Do Before Purchasing a Home

By Janelle Lucero at BBB of San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties 

Unlike civilians who have a permanent residence in a given city, military servicemembers must consider deployment orders and need to weigh whether they should rent or purchase a home. While many servicemembers chose to rent, many others decide to invest in real estate instead.

For servicemembers who are considering home ownership, Better Business Bureau serving San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties offers the following five tips before making the big purchase.

1. Purchasing a home is a long-term commitment. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for military service personnel completing three- or four-year assignments to purchase a home. You might instead consider saving for a down payment for when you reach a point that is right for you to make the purchase. 

2. Take your time. While lower interest rates might be attractive and lure you to act, resist making a rash decision to purchase a home right now. Take time to ensure your credit is in order so that you can take advantage of the lowest rates possible. Credit reports can be checked free of charge once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.

3. Act your wage. Consider how much money you make and how much goes out. Lenders call this the debt-to-income ratio. To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, add all of your debt payments (i.e., mortgage principal, taxes and insurance as well as credit card, student loan and car payments). You should not pay out more than 36%. For example, if you make $5,000 gross per month, you should pay only up to $1,800 in monthly bills. Keep in mind that just because a lender is willing to provide you with a loan, it doesn’t mean you can afford it.

4. Don’t be house poor. If you decide to move forward with the purchase of a home, you will need to set aside some cash to pay closing costs and other items such as furniture and other things that aren’t needed in a rental unit,like a washer and dryer, for example.

5. If you’re not sure, rent. After carefully considering all of the above, if you feel you aren’t ready to make the leap, rent instead. Postponing the purchase of a home until you are financially established and sure about your job will be much better in the long run. 

Please visit BBB’s Military Line® for more information. For any questions or concerns, visit bbb.org or call (858) 496-2131.  

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