As a veteran, you’re probably well aware of the many reasons why you’d want to use your VA loan benefits to buy a home. At this point, it’s a no brainer. But a civilian selling their home may not be as well versed with all the ins and outs of the VA loan requirements, and it could seem completely intimidating. Should you find yourself in a bidding war against a home buyer with a conventional loan, the seller may be more inclined to take the “easy way out.” Chances are if you’ve used your VA loan in the past, you’ve encountered this situation at least once. The good news is that buying a home with a VA loan doesn’t have to end this way! There are a few simple ways you can make yourself an attractive home buyer with a VA loan, and avoid a stressful bidding war. Get a real estate agent who is experienced with VA loans Right off the bat, one of the most important things you can do is work with an experienced, military-friendly real estate agent. This can make or break a deal right out of the gate. An agent with VA loan experience understands the rules set by the VA so that you don’t waste your time seeing properties that aren’t eligible for purchase. They also understand the needs and requirements that are unique to military life that other agents just may not understand. It’s nice to start this process off with someone who just gets it. And they’ll be able to go to bat for you when it comes to negotiation with the seller’s agent. They’ll be able to explain your story and appeal to the seller who may be weighing out several offers. Many times, a seller would rather sell their family’s home to a veteran and his or her family out of solidarity and support over an investor with a cash offer. You’d be surprised how often the “human side” of life comes into play when people are selling their homes. But, aside from having an experienced, military-friendly agent, there are some other things you can do as a home buyer to improve your odds of getting that dream home. Include your preapproval letter with your offer A preapproval letter is almost like a security blanket for sellers. They feel reassured that you’re coming to the table with a tentative approval with minimum risk of being denied at the last minute. What’s even better than a preapproval? An approval! Some lenders approve you prior to the home buying process. If a seller is comforted by a preapproval, an approval all but seals the deal. Consider the home’s condition Remember – the VA requires all homes financed with a VA loan must meet all of their minimum property requirements. These are determined through the thorough appraisal and inspection process. The VA set up the VA loan to provide veterans with homes that last, not homes that require a lot of maintenance or are a “fixer-uppers.” Some sellers get anxious when they find out a potential buyer has a VA loan because of the VA’s requirements, and often reject an offer from a VA loan without even trying. To avoid this potential pitfall, make sure your homes are in good condition and in a good location. This is also where a military-friendly agent will help you because he or she should be well versed in the VA appraisal process. If all else fails, keep these three S’s in mind when looking for a home: safety, sanitation and structural integrity. Be reasonable and realistic In other words, don’t push the seller to the edge. If you find yourself in a sticky situation with a seller, and you or your agent has a feeling that they may decline your offer, sit down and really think about the requests you’re making. Ask yourself what are your must haves vs. your wants, the amenities vs. the necessities. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket Whether you’re a conventional buyer or one with a VA loan, putting all of your expectations into one home is bound to be a setup for disappointment. A seller may choose another offer over yours for any number of different reasons. You have to be prepared to face that no matter what you do your offer on your dream home may be rejected. That’s why it’s important to find several homes (or at least two homes) that fit your list of “must haves.” Just as no two homes are the same, neither are sellers. Having more than one option minimizes your risk of disappointment and setbacks.
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