It just took me a year and a half to finally find the house I wanted. I learned a lot over that time using my VA Loan, and I now realize that we are the least favorable option for an Seller, especially in the recent market.
So the wife and I started looking for a large enough house to accommodate our family of 4 about a year and a half ago like the title says. We found a Realtor that we trusted that also worked as a Nurse with my wife, and she recommended the Broker she used. More about that later on. We used the typical apps to help in the search, like Trulia and Redfin. I like Redfin. Trulia is just ass and never seemed to have any new homes added as fast as Redfin. We would find homes that met our criteria, and either schedule a visit with our Realtor, or see if there was an Open House. In the beginning I was a complete noob about the entire process, and so was my wife. We looked up what houses had sold for in the area we were searching, and bid based off of traditional numbers, aka how much over asking the average was. It seemed like $15k was the norm, so at every house we would bid over by $15k, and also add an escalation clause so if we tied with anyone we would also bid higher. This didn’t work, and over time our Realtor told us the hard truth about the current market and using a VA Loan. One, she said we were the least favorable option for any Seller because in this particular market Seller’s we’re choosing Cash-in-hand first, traditional lending second, and VA last of at all, because they also wanted inspections waived etc. now contrary to what a lot of you might believe, the VA does NOT do a home inspection. They do an Appraisal and it’s not the same. They also require a Termite inspection. Sellers don’t wanna be bothered by all of this, because by Law they’re supposed to also pay for it. You are the least likely to win a bid under these circumstances unless you a) waive all inspections and fees, b) figure out how to pay for these inspections yourself since legally the Sellers supposed to do it, and c) add a good faith deposit in like $10k up front etc. Also, if any inspection turns up something that wasn’t originally on the disclosure, and you back out, the Seller has to now add that to the disclosure document and pay to have whatever it was fixed or hope it doesn’t deter the next potential buyer. See why we’re the least favorable option in this current market? After a year of losing every bid we decided the only way we would ever win one using a VA Loan was to stack some extra Capital, waive everything, and bid over right to our max which was $50k over asking. Now if we found a house that the asking was $450k, we’d bid $500k. If the asking was $600k, we’d bid $650k. If you’re wondering why we wouldn’t bid $650k on the $450k ask, it’s because you have to be able to cover any potential appraisal gap. We figured that most homes were asking around their expected appraisal price, and Realtors can look up a homes possible appraisal before going in. Follow? Anyway, this shit went on for over a year. The closest we came to our first dream home was owned by a LTC in the Army. When we went to the open house I saw his awards display and noticed he was also a former Marne soldier, and I mentioned it to my Realtor. He actually reached out to our Realtor personally and asked if we could meet the highest bid and actually wanted to hook a fellow veteran up, but the bid was $5,500 more than I could go. Huge disappointment on that one, but now I started paying more attention to who the Sellers were and it’s a tip I wanted to share. It didn’t work for us, but, maybe it will for someone else. Now let’s talk about the house we finally won and how. Compete fluke. Not gonna lie, it was all luck. Kerry our Realtor sets up an appointment with a house listing for $639k. I see it and tell the wife no. $650k was our max, so I figured there was no way we’d even be close. I figured it would sell for over $700k like everything else and I didn’t have the capital reserves to fill that gap. She calls us a week later to tell us “you remember that house you turned down? The one you said was too much? Well no one bought it and it’s come down to $629k and has an open house this Saturday”. Of course, the one we don’t bid on is the one we could’ve easily won, but lightning struck twice that week, and no one else bid again! The Seller’s accepted our bid and now the worst part was over, or so I thought. First thing I had to do was get a Homeowner’s policy. I recommend calling multiple companies and getting them to email you their best quote. Next, underwriting did an official verification of employment sand I had to send them W2s, check stubs, bank account statements, and even explain how I valued a recent private car sale of X amount, and justify how a used car sold for that much. Apparently underwriting doesn’t know how to Google? Current market on used cars plus a heavily sought after vehicle equals what someone is willing to pay for it. Just know you’re gonna have to explain every Big deposit with receipts and a Letter of Explanation. Also, the VA side of this required us to have a Termite Inspection which turned up a single floor joist in the basement having had signs of termites, so we had to pay for the recommended treatment and that was $750. We had to pay for it because we waived the Sellers responsibility. The VA then came back two weeks later after getting that report requesting a Structural Engineers report on that very joist. Add another $650. Then the VA wanted an inspection of a ventless gas fireplace because they wanted to know if it was properly “vented”. A ventless fireplace. Ugh. That cost another $450. Last, with just three days left till closing underwriting wanted to verify my employment, again, smfh. I was sending them a check stub every week from a company I’ve been working at for 28 years. Three days left and they’re not sure? Huge pain in the ass. Be prepared to jump through hoops to get this deal done. That’s pretty much my story of using my VA Loan. I shortened it as much as possible. I realized that they’re supposed to “protect” our interests by making this process the way it is, but in a Sellers Market you’re at the mercy of luck, or settling for something that’s been sitting on the martlet for a while that you might not want. Be prepared to be passed over when bidding even if you’re tied for the highest bid. Sad reality of the current market and situation. Good luck all.