As a Certified Military Relocation Professional, I understand the special challenges Military families face and have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate through those challenges. Let’s start with some important information —
What you should know about Military Relocation (MR)
In 1973 the U.S. Department of Defense ended the draft and transitioned to an all-volunteer military service. In order to attract and retain enough recruits and officers to the all-volunteer force, the military had to rethink pay scales and benefits. In addition, family support became increasingly important to meeting recruitment and retention goals. In 1983, a landmark White Paper authored by General John Wickham, Jr., U.S. Army Chief of Staff, articulated the “new” Army’s philosophy for family support:
It is now generally recognized that families have an important impact on the Army’s ability to accomplish its mission…The family life of members, once a private matter, is now an organizational concern…Service members and their families should be able to enjoy the benefits of the society they are pledged to defend. Furthermore, the nature of the commitment of the service member dictates to the Army a moral obligation to support their families.”
Furthermore, the Army Family Covenant (AFC), introduced in 2007, expressed the Army’s commitment to caring for soldiers and families by providing a strong, supportive environment where they can thrive and that enhances their strength and resilience.
In addition to base pay, service members authorized to live off base receive a monthly basic allowance for housing (BAH) payment. BAH rates are based on the local cost for rent, utilities, and renter’s insurance. Rates are increased with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in high-cost areas. Rank determines both pay and BAH – higher ranks receive a larger housing allowance payment. BAH rates are adjusted based on location and number of dependents.
House-Hunting Readiness Kit
Military buyers need to be prepared to move fast when they find the right house. I suggest that buyers bring the following with them:
Lender’s preapproval letter
W-2 forms (member and spouse) for the past two years
At least the two most recent months of Leave and Earnings Statements and spouse’s pay stubs
Copies of statements for at least the two most recent months of savings and checking accounts and any other accounts that may be used for earnest money and down payments
General or real estate specific power of attorney for an absent spouse
Digital camera, video camera, or smartphone
PenFed Foundation Dream Makers Grant for First-Time Home Buyers
The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation offers first-time military home buyers three-to-one matching grants up to $5,000 for down payments and closing costs. The home buyer doesn’t have to be a PenFed member to benefit from Dream Makers, and the grant can apply to a mortgage from any financial institution.
Military (Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard or Veteran), a Department of Defense employee, or a Department of Homeland Security employee.
First-time home buyer, have not owned a home for the last three years, or lost a home through divorce or disaster.
The gross annual income of all applicants used to qualify for mortgage is no more than the greater of $55,000 or 80 percent of area median income, adjusted for family size.
Dream Makers Grant Application Process
Applicants start by deciding the amount of money they can contribute in down payment and closing costs. The minimum applicant contribution is $500.
The applicant’s contribution plus the Dream Makers grant must be at least 3 percent of mortgage amount.
The Dream Makers program matches the applicant’s contribution three to-one, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Applicants must attend a home-buying educational seminar in the area or online.
An applicant can apply for a Dream Makers grant online — even before starting to look for a home or selecting a mortgage company. For more info, visit Pentagon Foundation and select “Dream Makers.”