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Optimizing the House Hunting Trip
By Joe Gladden, Captain, USN (retired)
Published on Military.com
You have received orders to your new duty station and it is time to plan for your move across country, or even across the planet. Under perfect circumstances, which of course don’t exist, this is a major undertaking. And it gets considerably more complicated when the military member is deployed and / or Mom or Dad cannot participate in the house hunting trip because of child care concerns, work schedules, deployments, etc. This article expands on a critical aspect of our “Military Home Buyer’s Checklist.”
It assumes you 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:
· Consider your Realtor as your team mate! Good Realtors are busy with multiple clients so help them help you:
o Schedule ample time “in town” for your trip.
o 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.
o Prioritize your requirements and make sure your Realtor knows what they are!
o 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 fatiguing. 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:
o Your pre-approval letter from a REPUTABLE (emphasis added!) 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.
o All W-2 forms (member and spouse) for the past two years.
o At least the two most recent months of pay stubs (member and spouse).
o ALL PAGES of at least two most recent months of your primary savings and checking accounts statements.
o ALL PAGES of other accounts that may be used for earnest money and / or down payments.
o 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.
o 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.
o Your camera, digital 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.
Note: Military Space A travel is a great way to save money. Post 9-11, schedules are rarely found on web sites and you must contact the departure point for updated information. It is now more cumbersome, but persistence in learning the system can save big travel dollars.
VR SAM® sincerely appreciates all of the sacrifices our military families make in the service of our country. We sincerely hope you have a pleasant and rewarding house hunting experience and welcome your questions and comments. Contact us today.
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