headerPaycheckChronicles

Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Survivor Benefit Plan Questions

There are so many military benefits topics that are confusing, and the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is definitely one of them.  You have to understand...

The Most Military-Friendly Cities to Live and Work

Downtown Houston

Since my last article, I received hundreds of e-mails from several Military.com members. One of the more common questions came from veterans asking about buying a home in the right area. This depends on the strength of the city's job and real estate markets. But first, I'll start with what it takes to get a VA Loan and what that means, and then offer some location recommendations.

The Veterans Administration (VA) — unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — helps military home buyers by guaranteeing the mortgage to your lender. Many people think the VA actually lends the money — they don't. The VA home loan program is for military veterans and spouses only, and you must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility to present to your mortgage lender. This site, homeloans.va.gov, provides more information.

Next, you want to go where the jobs are. In November 2007, BNSF Railway was ranked the number one employer on a list of the top 50 military-friendly companies, based on their hiring of military personnel, National Guard/Reserve policies, percentage of veterans hired in the last 24 months, and recruitment programs. BNSF is based near Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas — which has consistently been in my top 10 areas to buy homes for the appreciation factor. Another area in Texas I like a lot for appreciation, stability and military "friendliness" is Houston, with an entire e-Government system just for veterans available at http://www.houstontx.gov/vetaffairs/. Their goal is to offer incredible service to those who have done the same for our country.

Another great military-friendly city is Charleston, SC. Some areas of the Charleston real estate market have dropped in price, but not as steep as many other parts of the country. Condos and multifamily homes have suffered the most, while many single family homes maintained stability. In addition, the city itself has a housing initiative to help first-time homebuyers.

Baltimore also has a particularly interesting niche in the real estate and job market. This holds career fairs specifically for military veterans. Baltimore, while beat up in the recent subprime crisis, is showing signs of stability now and has a growing job rate.

Be sure you also check on Section 8 housing and special military credits. A property manager or real estate agent can tell you if credits are available in an area you are interested in, but this can substantially offset the cost of your loan or your rental payment.

In short, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, Charleston and Baltimore are all areas that I consider military friendly and would recommend to veterans.

For more home buying advice, visit Military.com's Home Buying channel.

Related Topics

Personal Finances

Military News App by Military.com

Download the new Military.com News App for Android on Google Play or for Apple devices on iTunes!

Featured VA Loan Articles

  • VA Loan Closing Costs: An Added Benefit
    Besides the advantage of requiring no down payment for qualified VA borrowers, there's also a distinct advantage for the borrow...
  • White suburban home.
    IRRRL Facts for Veterans
    Military.com
    IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan,also known as a "Streamline" or a "VA to VA" loan.
  • US Map Showing High Cost Counties
    VA Loan Limits for High-Cost Counties 2017
    Military.com
    The VA loan limit for 2017 is $424,100. But it could actually be substantially more if you buy a home in a high-cost county. Se...
  • Get the FAQs on VA Home Loans
    We've answered 16 of the most frequently asked VA Loan Benefit questions. View them now to get a quick understanding of your be...
  • Top 3 VA Home Loan Tips
    There are numerous advantages to having a VA mortgage. A VA mortgage loan can be guaranteed with no money down, in some cases u...
© 2016 Military Advantage