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Housing

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How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent

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Once you’ve secured your VA home loan, the next step is to start looking for your dream home. From here, you have two options: begin the house hunt by yourself, or hire a real estate agent for some extra help. Although it’s possible to go through the entire home buying process without a realtor, it’s significantly easier to have an agent with you that knows the ins and outs of the industry. But how do you find the right real estate agent for your situation? There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting your agent, so we’ve put together some tips that can help you find your perfect match; take a look!

Realtor Search Websites

One of the easiest and most effective ways to find a realtor is to use a realtor search website. There are many of these websites all over the internet, and most of them are fairly user-friendly. One of the easiest to use is Realtor.com’s Agent Connection Tool. All you have to do is put in the city you’re looking to buy in, some contact information, and they’ll connect you with a real estate agent in your target area.

Personal References

Although you’re not guaranteed to find an agent this way, getting referred to an agent by one of your friends, family members, or even your lender can be one of the best ways to get a good agent. If someone you know refers you to an agent, you know that they had a good experience and the likelihood you will have a similar experience as well is very high. If you have any friends or family that have recently found a new home, consider asking them if they enjoyed the agent they hired and whether or not they would recommend them to you.

Open Houses

Another great way to find a real estate agent is to attend an open house. You could be going to an open house because you are shopping on your own, but it doubles as a great opportunity to find a quality realtor. It may happen that you just naturally connect with the agent that is selling the home, and from there you can ask if they have any other homes available. In fact, many agents will set up open houses with the intent of gaining new potential buyers for other houses.

If you’re thinking about buying a new home and are wondering if you qualify for a VA home loan, contact us today! Our top-notch mortgage loan officers are ready to answer any qualification questions you may have or provide more information for anything you’re curious about.

White couch with pillows blankets and a wedding book on it

Making Your New Home Feel Cozier

By | Home Renovation, Housing | No Comments

After you’ve secured your VA home loan and purchased your new Idaho home, the next thing you’ll want to do is start making the house your own. Making your house cozy and comfortable to your liking makes it feel more like a home rather than just a house, and here are some of our favorites for you. Check it out!

Repaint With a Warm Color

Something that people often overlook when trying to make their home feel more welcoming is picking a warmer paint color. Walls that are painted white, grey, or something similar can make the house feel cold and uninviting. The human brain subconsciously reacts to colors and can change our mood directly. A great example of this is McDonalds using red and yellow as their primary colors, as the colors red and yellow both trigger hunger subconsciously. The color of your house doesn’t have to be anything that is exceptionally bright, but colors like moody green will naturally make you feel cozier.

Rugs

A simple tip to make your home feel friendly and inviting is to add rugs. Although hardwood floors and tiles look amazing, it’s hard and uncomfortably cold at times. To fix this, all you have to do is add some rugs! The simplest start is to add some rugs in front of all the doors that lead outside. After that, there are long skinny rugs you can put in your hallways, ones you can put in front of your sink, your bathroom, rugs for your bedroom, etc.

Comfort Items

Another easy way to make your home more comfortable is to add household objects like pillows and blankets. You can add as many pillows as you want to your couches, and maybe throw a blanket over the back of the couch as well. You can add a throw blanket to the end of your bed, and add decorative pillows to it as well. There are endless options with pillows and blankets, but it’s all a matter of personal preference in design!

If you have any questions about securing your VA home loan or refinancing your current mortgage, be sure to contact VA Home Loans Idaho! We’re here to help you get started on the process and answer any questions you may have about our loan process. Give us a call today!

A dark brown cabin covered in snow

Getting Your Home Ready For Winter: 3 Steps

By | Home Maintenance, Housing | No Comments

If you’ve just bought a new home with your VA Home Loan, you might not know how to properly prepare it for the winter months. Even though it might seem like the Idaho summer is just now coming to a close, that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start thinking about winter and how to prepare your home for the change of seasons. With the right preparation, you can be assured that there will be no unnecessary damage resulting from the winter conditions.

Check Your Gutters

The leaves changing colors in the fall are a beautiful sight to see, but it could lead to problems later as they start to drop off of the trees and into your gutters. As they build up in the gutters, it can make it harder for rainwater to get through them, which puts extra stress on the gutters themselves. During the transition between fall and winter, it’s a good idea to clean the leaves and debris out of your gutters so that they can handle the winter elements.

Blow Out Your Sprinklers

It’s important to make sure that there’s no water in your sprinkler system by the time freezing temperatures come around. If you don’t, the leftover water will freeze in the pipes and leave you with an expensive bill come springtime. For something like this, it’s best to have a professional come out and do it for you. However, you can do things like putting covers on your outdoor water faucets to protect those pipes from winter conditions. This doesn’t have to happen until the weather starts to cool down, but it’s always a good idea to think ahead and be prepared for when that time comes.

Check Your HVAC System

This is one that is often overlooked, but just as important as the rest. One of the worst things is waking up in the morning wanting to take a warm, relaxing shower to get your day started just to find out that your water heater isn’t working properly and having to endure a cold shower instead. As the cooler weather settles in, you’ll probably also want to have a working heater with proper ventilation throughout your whole house. There are plenty of online guides that can walk you through the process of checking your HVAC system by yourself, but it’s suggested that you hire a professional to fix any issues that come up in your inspection.

If you are facing a bigger, more expensive problem with your home than you thought, VA Home Loans can help! While most loans are used to purchase a new home or to refinance a mortgage, they can also be used to pay for repairs or renovations to a current home. If you have any questions regarding how you can utilize a VA Home Loan, contact us today!

White and brown home with for sale sign.

How to Get Started on Buying a New Home

By | Financing, Home Loans, Housing, VA Loans | No Comments

If you’ve never had to look at buying a new house, it can be somewhat of a confusing process. There are certain steps you have to take, and some of them have to be done in a certain order. If you’re a military veteran and are looking at purchasing your first home, read below about the steps involved to start seriously browsing.

Determine Your Price Range

The first step in deciding on a home is to figure out what your price range is. While you may be able to secure a loan, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to pay it off eventually. A good way to get a general idea is the Affordability Calculator. This tool will give you a good idea of what price range you should be looking in. This is also a good time to consider how much of a down payment you can afford because typically you will have to make a down payment of 5-20%. Veterans who receive a VA Home Loan, however, aren’t responsible for a down payment.

Discuss Loan Options

The next step is to be approved for your VA Home Loan. VA Home Loans are for active and retired service members as well as their spouses. They are easier to acquire than a conventional loan due to fewer qualification requirements, and because they don’t require a down payment are much more helpful to the veteran borrower. This makes it so many more veterans are able to purchase a home. You can get an online quote on the VA Home Loan website, or you can contact an officer to speak about your options.

Hire a Realtor

It can be very important to find a good realtor when you’re looking for your home. With a realtor, you can be very involved in the process, or somewhat hands-off if you’d like. You can give them a list of qualities you want in a home and a general location, and they’ll find you a list. Or, you can bring the realtor homes you like and they can help you with negotiation and other purchasing activities. Finding the right realtor to work with can be hard. Luckily, there are sites that have reviews for realtors, which can help in slimming down the pool. There are many realtors that have a background in military service, so if that’s something you are looking for, there are plenty of options. It’s always a good idea to meet with a realtor to decide if they’re the right fit for you, though!

You’re Ready for Your New Home

After you’ve determined your price range, secured your VA Home Loan, and hired a realtor, you’ll be ready to find your new home and make an offer on it. Buying a home can be a stressful process, but calling VA Home Loans of Idaho to discuss your loan options as a veteran can help ease that stress. Give them a call today and discuss your loan for your new home!

Large, brown wood house with green grass

Your Priority List After Moving In

By | Home Loans, Housing | No Comments

Assuming you’ve secured a VA Home Loan and are about to move into your new home, chances are that there are going to be a few things that you need to change, update, and fix before everything is set up how you like it.
Moving into a new home can be very messy with a sea of boxes piling up and what seems like deliveries coming every hour. The best way to stay organized during this time is to make a priority list of what needs to be done once you move in.

First

If you didn’t do it before you moved in, the first things you should do are:

  • Transferring utilities – sometimes, utility companies can get behind on transferring their services to you, so it’s good to do your research ahead of time.
  • Setting up internet and TV – the same goes for internet; there are online tools to help you pick a new internet provider or transfer your old one over to the new house.
  • Changing your address – make sure you have submitted an application to the post office so that your mail gets forwarded to your new house before anything gets sent to the old address. Also, don’t forget to update your information with the DMV!

These first steps should be at the top of the priority list to make sure that you have everything up and running so you can move on to the next steps!

Second

Now it’s time for the bigger things. Electrical, plumbing, and other core components of the house should be next on the priority list. While their functionality was (hopefully) checked before you moved in, there might be some things that you want to change or update if you’re planning any kind of remodel in the future.
If you are not highly educated on the practice, the best thing to do is to call an electrician or plumber and explain to them what your plan is to get an idea of what they would have to do to make it a reality. This is an important step to get done so that you don’t have to move everything around after you get settled in your new home.

Third

These are the smaller things that do not require immediate attention. Painting, updating fixtures, and putting the finishing touches on the house fit into this category – this is the opportunity to personalize your new home and make it the way you want. Because you already have the foundation of the first two steps done, this is where the real fun comes in!

Whether your new home needs a little or a lot of work, following these general steps when moving in will help you efficiently get your projects done. If you are considering refinancing or purchasing a new home, contact us today and we can help make the transition easier!

A large two-story home, surrounded by hedges, sits behind a large front yard. A For Sale sign is in the bottom left corner.

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Home

By | Home Loans, Housing, VA Loans | No Comments

You did it! You secured your VA Home Loan, and now you’re ready to shop around…but do you know what you’re looking for?
Buying a home is a huge commitment, and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration while shopping. With nearly half of homebuyers experiencing regrets after their purchase, the last thing you want to happen after you get those keys is to realize you forgot something during your hunt for the perfect home!
Here are just a few things to take into consideration when making the big decision!

Family Size

How many people do you have living in your home? Is that number likely to increase in the near future? Do you have or want pets that you will need to accommodate?
These are just some of the first questions you should think about when looking at the size of your future home. After making sure you have enough space for all of your family, there are more details to look at:

  • Are there enough bathrooms?
  • What are the zoning laws if you need/want to expand?
  • Do you want a spare room for an office, library, or guest room?

The number one regret of homebuyers is not buying a big enough home. By planning ahead, you can make sure you have enough space for all of your loved ones!

Location

It may seem like a no-brainer, but your location is so, so very important! When looking at the locations of potential homes, a few factors to consider include:

  • Is it a safe neighborhood?
  • Is the commute manageable? Is the time likely to increase, and is that a problem?
  • (If you have children…)What kind of school district is it in?
  • Does it have nearby amenities like parks and a good gym?

Being realistic about these factors can make or break the location of a home. You never want to buy a home for its short commute only to have it multiply tenfold within five years when you hadn’t expected that kind of time extension.

Personal Needs

Recognizing your family’s needs and wants when buying a home is important. If you have an active family or a dog, having at least one big yard is a requirement for your home. If you cook a lot, having a well-planned kitchen is key. Do you enjoy entertaining? A large living and dining area is a must.
Another need that a lot of people forget to take into account is storage availability. Is there built-in shelving? Are there enough closets? Do you have a garage, a driveway, or street parking?

How Much Work Is It?

Are there “just a few” improvements you feel the need to make to create your perfect home? Is it as simple as adding a little paint or building a fence for your yard? Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew with the renovations! Even DIY fixes can add up, and when you need to call in professionals for plumbing, wiring, and repairs, those costs can add up quickly. Different rooms come with different costs, so knowing what those are can be critical.
Kitchen renovations are especially difficult and expensive; not only do you want to make sure plumbing and wiring are done correctly, but you also face the extra cost that you likely have only one kitchen, so will need to find other meal alternatives until the room is completely finished. Factoring these costs into your initial home budget is essential if these are changes you feel need to be made for you to be happy in your home.

Do You Love It?

Finally: if you do not love your home and see potential in every corner, then it may not be the home for you. The housing market can be scary sometimes, especially with how quickly things are going in Boise, but taking your time to find the right home can mean the difference between the perfect home and major regrets you just can’t change. Don’t let the market bully you into buying too soon; but also know that if there’s a home you love and it meets all your needs, including your budget, you should put in an offer. You never know if that chance will come again!

By taking into account all important factors when buying a home, you can be sure to avoid the biggest mistakes other homebuyers have made when making their decision. Remember: it’s your home, and it’s never been easier to afford than with a VA home loan!

A grey two story house with lit up windows is viewed from the street; behind it is the early morning sky.

Why Now is the Best Time to Buy a New Home

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With a few key changes coming into play in 2020 thanks to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, having access to a VA home loan can make all the difference in the world for service members and their families. Buying a home can be intimidating, but there’s no time quite like the present to make those dreams a reality!

February is Historically One of the Best Months to Buy

With the benefit of the usual slight drop in market pricing over the winter still being in effect, and February beginning to see the early gradual growth of spring listings, this month could offer some benefits that others might not, especially with the recent trends in Boise and Eagle. By utilizing a Veterans home loan in Boise, you could be closer than ever to your dream home.

Trends Indicate Prices Will Continue to Rise

With the influx of people moving to Idaho not likely to decrease any time soon, the market trends indicate that home prices will only continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Compared to 2018, December’s median listing prices in Boise saw an increase of over 15 percent. Now may be a good time to view a home as an investment: using a VA home loan in Idaho, you could get something a little lower in price, make the needed improvements, and come out with a profit if you needed or wanted to resell!

Idaho is Still Growing

Idaho’s population is constantly growing; whether it’s people moving to escape to peaceful country life, or those who are coming to Boise, Eagle and the surrounding area for a taste of city living without the overcrowding and high cost of living of larger cities, our beautiful state has much to offer. It’s not just individuals seeing the draw of the Gem State; companies are eyeing the Treasure Valley as the new up and comer! Amazon and Pioneer Square Labs (a Seattle startup) are relocating to the area, joining the big hitters like Micron, Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft, bringing amazing employment opportunities along with them. If you are looking for a new job, the low unemployment rate and rapidly increasing job pool could provide you with one more reason to look at relocation into a new home!

There are many reasons why now is a great time to buy a new home, and with a VA home loan, it has never been easier for servicemen and women to start a new life. Get a quote today; you never know when your dreams are just around the corner!

A map of the US with red pins sticking out of it

2020 USA Moving Trends

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The growth rate of Idaho continues to shock and disturb many locals. However, Idaho isn’t the only state experiencing rapid growth. States like Arizona, Utah, and Florida are right behind Idaho. The increased influx of people is due to neighboring states like California, Oregon, and Washington, where the cost of living has become unlivable for many. Idaho is projected to experience a jump in the tech industry, with most of the house-hunters being California locals. For veterans, servicemembers, and active-duty family members, this means the competition for purchasing homes is high. Luckily, a VA Home Loan can help you qualify for your dream home without needing a down payment.

Why Idaho Is the Place to Be

Idaho is one of those flyover states for many. Often times if you tell someone you live in Idaho, they say “sorry”. This is confusing because they are clearly missing out on all of the attractive aspects Idaho has to offer, and the statistics say otherwise, too. If anything, the locals would rather people be deterred from moving here. So first thing’s first, let’s find out why you should consider a VA Home Loan in Idaho.

Low-Cost of Living

Without loan limits, veterans have a bigger pool of houses to pick from if they qualify for an amount greater than $300,000. Idaho is cheaper than the US average, coming in at 97.7 with a median housing price of $263,900.

Seasons

Idaho attracts the people who enjoy having white winters and hot summers. In the Boise area, you can experience all four seasons in their entirety. Fall and spring are very moderate in temperature and make for some scenic photographs with the foliage. The state capitol, Boise, is the City of Trees after all! Check out some of the most scenic photographs of Idaho on Pinterest.

Very Low Crime Rate

Idaho is an ideal place to raise a family. Especially with it having one of the lowest crime rates in the nation. Your chance of falling victim to violent crime in Idaho is 2.67 per 1,000, compared to 4.49 nationally.

The City & Country Life

Idaho is still very rural in a lot of areas. With the increase in population, you should purchase the land you want before it’s bought out. What’s great about the still-developing state is that you can get a taste of the outdoors and city life without having to travel for hours on end. The capital city of Boise is surrounded by hills where hiking, biking, and running are a lifestyle must. During the warmer months, the Boise River will open so the public can float the river in rafts, kayaks, and boats. If you want to escape the noisy city life (even though the city is quaint) you can drive about 20 minutes out and be in more agricultural areas. If you enjoy city life, then walking the entire downtown area and exploring the shops and restaurants can take up a whole day.

Time to Move

Idaho has a lot to offer. With the affordability, outdoor excursions, and family-friendliness, choosing Idaho as a place to settle after your service is ideal. It also is a place where your family is safe to live if you were needed in other parts of the US. Speak with a VA Home Loan lender in Boise to discuss your options.

VA Home Loan Process: Follow These Steps

By | Home Loans, Housing | No Comments

Obtaining a home is not as hard as it may seem. You need to have satisfactory credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA home loan. Follow this guide if you are wanting to buy a new home using a VA home loan.

1. Approved VA Home Loan Lender

First, you will need to find a lender or institution like Finance of America that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to get you going. Get yourself someone who is an expert in the loan process. Having someone who is a dedicated VA home loan specialist will make for a quicker and smoother process, than someone who only does it on the side.

2. Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

Basically, this certificate is proof that you meet all of the requirements to qualify for a VA Loan. If you are interested in finding out if you meet these eligibility requirements you can follow this link for a breakdown. You can apply for a certificate of eligibility online, by mail, or the recommended route, your VA home lender.
Here is the PDF if you were to mail in your COE.

3. Finding The Perfect Home

Maybe the hardest part of the process, but it’s also the part that makes it feel the most real. Discuss a “VA Option Clause” with your real estate agent when negotiating a purchase agreement. You want all of your bases covered with the real estate agent you choose, so having yet another professional who specializes in VA home loans can come in handy.
Try not to get too dizzy with all of the paperwork, make the house hunting process fun. Browse local listings, speak with real estate agents, and watch HGTV for inspiration.

4. Apply for a VA Loan

Get your bank statements, pay stubs, and all other necessary forms of paperwork for your lender. The average benchmark number lenders set for an approved credit score is around 620. While it’s not impossible to get a VA home loan with bad credit, it may set you back since most lenders want someone they view as very low risk.

5. Processing

Not so fun part, but after you submit your application it needs to go through processing. This means processing your credit and income information to ensure that you qualify. This also includes an inspection of the home that you are considering to make sure that it meets the VA minimum property requirements.

6. Approved to Move!

After the institution reviews your assets, income, and credit, you’ll be granted your VA loan! You will have to sign a few more papers, and then pay some closing costs. The property will also be transferred to you, and keys will be given. Once you’ve finished everything, feel free to enjoy your new home.

A suburban home bought with a VA Home Loan

Prepayment Penalties are No Problem

By | Financing, Home Loans, Housing, VA Loans | No Comments

Because of their service to this country, there are many support systems in place for veterans. The problem is that many veterans don’t know what is offered to them. Veteran Affairs provided a huge element of support for veterans when VA Home Loans were enacted in 1944 as an addition to the GI Bill of Rights. However, most homebuyers – veterans or not – have a hard time deciphering which loan will be best for their situation.

All too often, veterans do not take advantage of the benefits of a VA home loan because they do not understand what is actually provided within them. There are plenty of advantages worked into the VA home loan structure but one that can provide freedom and flexibility for their lifestyle is: no prepayment penalties.

Prepay Away

As is the case with most home loans, there are certain rules that lending organizations require the borrower to abide by. It is primarily structured this way so that the lender is ensuring a certain amount of revenue from interest-based on the term of the loan. However, organizations offering VA home loans can not penalize veteran-borrowers for paying back their loan before the term states.

How Is This a Benefit?

While prepayment might not seem like a big deal, it really is. Being able to pay back your loan before the term is up allows borrowers to relieve the financial burden that loans can instill. More importantly, it allows home loan borrowers to relocate, upgrade, downsize, or just find a home better suited to their needs without having to wait out a loan term.

This can grant veterans the opportunity to adjust to their lifestyle as time goes on. Maybe that means they can continue to grow their family with children or pets, build a business in or out of their home, relocate to a more accommodating neighborhood, move to a new state for work, or renovate the home their already and sell for profit. The opportunities are endless and would not be possible in a traditional home loan experience.

Other Home Loan Benefits

There are plenty of other benefits for veterans a part of VA home loans so speak with a home loan expert on what the VA can offer to you as you continue on your home buying journey. Be sure to ask which type of VA home loan will work best for you and your needs.