Profile picture for MeganBrady

1st time buyers

My husband and I recently have decided to buy a home. We are stationed in Lemoore, CA and will be here for another 3-4 years. We want to make this home but I am apprehensive to the process. We've never owned a home before and I am feel kind of lost on what to expect. This isn't a forever home, it is something only expected to be last for 3 maybe 4 years. Is this a common amount of time that people spend in starter homes? Any advice that would help me feel less apprehensive would be appreciated!
  • May 08 - Lemoore
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Answers (15)

It's not really a common amount of time, Megan. If your plan is to move out of the area in four years, I'd recommend renting unless you wanted to speculate in the real estate market.

Since March 2012, home values nationwide are up by 22%, so it would have been great to buy then because you could sell today at a tidy profit. However, the future is uncertain, and homeowners tend to spend more money then renters on household goods, which you'll have to move in four years if you do decide to leave.

All the best,
  • May 12
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Profile picture for hpvanc
short stay + hot market + low general inflation = rent

Buying a property you plan to keep for less than 7-10 years only works in times of high inflation or strong buyer's markets. It worked well 40-25 years ago, and for those that circumstances allowed to successfully timed the market bubbles of the last 15 years, but looks like a very risky proposition for your future financial health at the current time. Given the manic/depressive swings of the last 15 years, combined with current inflation trend, and the marketing in many parts of the country you are probably looking at a stay of 25-30 years to have it make sense from the risk perspective.
  • May 12
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Profile picture for JoshBarnettREIB
Hire a Realtor to help you find what you are looking for and help you through the process. 
  • May 12
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When you want to buy a home the best place to start is to hire an EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent, not just a Buyer's Agent. EBAs only work with homebuyers and there is never a conflict of interest that will jeopardize your negotiating position.  

  • May 12
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Thanks for your service to our Nation from one Veteran to another. The very 1st part of owning a home is to work with a Lender who understand Veteran and VA benefits to get approved.  To get pre-approved, you will complete a mortgage application and provide me with various information verifying your employment, assets and financial status such as W-2 forms, bank records and credit card statements. We'll review your mortgage options and underwrite your application. Once the application process is complete you will receive a pre-approval letter indicating the amount your lender is willing to lend you for your home. A pre-approval letter is not binding on the lender; it is subject to an appraisal of the home you wish to purchase and certain other conditions. If your financial situation changes (e.g. you lose your job), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, your lender must review your situation and recalculate your mortgage amount accordingly. Many sellers of existing homes insist that a buyer be pre-approved before accepting their offer, because with pre-approved buyers there is no waiting period, and they know that the buyer will be able to come through with the funds for purchase. In contrast, builders selling new homes are happy to work with buyers without forcing them to go through this pre-approval process. If you are already working with a lender, don't be shy to give me call so I can price the same mortgage for you with less cost. What do you have to loose but your money?
  • May 11
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There is quite a bit of "paperwork" and the process can seem daunting,that's why it is in your best interest to work with an Agent who has prior experience with "buyers". Some Realtors take additional classes and training to provide the best possible service to buyers.Your Realtor should be able to provide you with references from recent clients who are very happy with the service they were given by their agent. I would look at those, and talk to the clients.
An excellent Buyer Agent will take the stress out of the process as much as possible and walk you through it as well.
  • May 11
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Best advice is to find an experienced Realtor to help you along the way.  This is of course the same advice a lot of people here are giving.  However, our service [deleted by Zillow  moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for posting guidelines] is an innovative online Realtor marketplace where experienced, full service Realtors compete for your business with cash rebates you can use to lower your closing costs or outbid your competition.  It's free, fast (multiple agents contact you within 24 hours), and has no obligation. [deleted by Zillow  moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for posting guidelines]
  • May 10
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Hi Megan, purchasing a home - especially your first home - is a big deal and your apprehension is entirely understandable and normal.  I work with a lot of military families that PCS out to our area and are only planning on staying here for a few years.  My task with most of these families is to help them find a home that they are comfortable in while they're here, that you will feel safe in while your husband is deployed, and that they can either rent out easily when they pick up new orders or sell to buy in their next duty station.  The first step is to contact a lender to find out what price range your qualified for and what type of financing works best.  I strongly recommend, since you're military, that you take advantage of your VA loan eligibility.  This type of loan is a zero down payment loan and has many other benefits that will help minimize your monthly out of pocket costs. If you're a member of certain banks and you decide to go with them for your loan, you may also be eligible to receive a cash-back incentive at closing for using their services - which is also a great perk. Once you're qualified with a lender and you know what price ranges yield the amount of mortgage you feel comfortable carrying, you can connect with a Realtor and start pinpointing locations and homes that might interest you.  Your Realtor will be able to assist you throughout the entire process to limit the apprehension and anxiety that goes along with such an important investment.  They will be your wealth of knowledge to understanding what the market is doing right now and what type of market can be projected when it comes time for you to move on to your next duty station. Also, with the apprehension also comes great joy when you finally have the keys to your new home wherever and whenever you decide to make that purchase! Thank you for your service and all the best in the future!
  • May 09
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First off, I recommend you and your husband look into VA loans which are exclusive to veterans. VA loans are great options to consider. They offer many great benefits including competitive rates and 0% down payment. So one of the first steps to buying a home would be to speak with a lender that fits your situation to get pre-qualified. Then when you do apply for a loan, lenders like myself will need to look at several different things if you are trying to get pre-approved for a loan. We will need to analyze your assets, credit, expenses, income, debt, employment, down payment, etc. Connecting with a lender is a great way to kick start your home buying process. Either way, the best thing for you to do is to speak with a knowledgeable lender to see if you can get started on financing a new home. If you need additional assistance, feel free to reach out. Good luck!
  • May 09
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Hey Megan,

If you guys decide to buy a home, VA loans are tailor made for this purpose! They are set up for active military and veterans who happen to move around a lot. The way the eligibility is set up, many military members end up buying homes at bases, and then when they get transferred, they are still eligible to buy another home with their VA Benefits (depending on how much eligibility they have left). In these situations they can either keep the home they are in and use it as an investment property or they can sell the home and be restored to full eligibility. 

It is a pretty easy calculation to do, and I would be happy to help you out and see if it makes sense for you guys. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Thanks for your service!
  • May 08
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Profile picture for Clay Barnett
Hi Megan,

Good questions and smart for you to carefully consider everything before making a decision about buying a home. I agree with the answers above and would add that some members of the military in this area are also first time buyers and plan to keep their homes as rentals when they transfer out. This sounds easy but is not always as easy as it sounds and there are many things to consider. I recommend talking with a local lender about the types of loans, interest rates, taxes and insurance, out of pocket costs to close an escrow, and payments, etc., and a local Realtor about local market conditions, prices, locations, types of homes, etc., and if planning to rent it out speak with a property management company about rental availability, pricing, and vacancy rates prior to purchasing a home. Buying a home is exciting and can be very fulfilling but if you plan to sell within two years it is usually not recommended because of the costs involved but each situation is different and the market can fluctuate so talking to a Realtor and asking a lot of questions is recommended. Good Luck!
  • May 08
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Profile picture for sunnyview
If you only plan to keep the house for 3-4 years, you should consider whether demand for your market is growing/going up or shrinking/going down. You also should consider how much you could rent the house for if the market is not favorable when you go to sell. 

Looking for a starter house that has a PITI that is close to rent means that you will not be forced to sell if the market will not cover your expenses/commissions. Talk to a local agent or management company about rents and vacancy rates in the area you are looking to buy.

3-4 years is a short timetable so you need to run the numbers and make sure that with loan, inspections, repairs and taxes that you are better off buying and that you will be able to sell and cover the back end expenses like sales commissions, buyer credits and escrow.
  • May 08
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First and foremost, thank you for your service. I was In the Army/National Guard for 8 years. I would look for an Exclusive Buyers Agent to help you with the process. They can also align you with a good lender. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
  • May 08
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I would contact a lender (loan officer) and see what options are available for you first . Sounds like you may be approved for a VA loan but discussing with a lender to go over your options is your best first step to see what program you're comfortable with.

Good luck and best wishes!
-Scott
  • May 08
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Profile picture for aracz
Hi Megan,

A good place to start would be with a lender, to get pre-approved.

If you are only staying for 3-4 years, be careful to calculate with your local agent the closing costs on buying and on selling in the future to see how much the value on the home would have to go up, just to break even when you sell it.

Kind regards,

Arpad
  • May 08
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