Retiring in Hawaii is going to be awesome, right? You’ve done your 20 or more years of military service and you’ve timed this last assignment perfectly: Oahu, Hawaii. The culmination of it all and the perfect place four your service time will end. Retiring in Paradise is what lots of people strive for.
Being in the military, they’ve already relocated you, possibly your family too, your car and all of your household goods to the Island. Now, all you have to do is plan for the next chapter of your life… living on Oahu, post-retirement. So many changes. So many options.
Purchasing Real Estate
If you are currently in the military and planning to retire on Oahu, and you would like to purchase a home, then keep these things in mind:
Start Planning Early: If you plan on obtaining financing, don’t wait until the last minute to speak with a lender about your options. While you are still on active duty, way before a possible retirement, meet with a lender to discuss financing. Once your retirement plans are underway, your financing options will often change, and you may be required to show pay stubs from a new job. While this is not unusual, many people assume that their financing opportunities are the same while in the military, and also after leaving the military, which is not the case. Financing timelines change as you get close to retirement, and financing options change as well. So don’t wait to get all the info.
Decide on a Price Range: If you are going to be purchasing a home with a VA loan, your lender will provide you with a maximum loan amount that you will be able to use toward your new home or condo. You will also need to obtain your certificate of eligibility from the VA. Your lender can assist you with this. By meeting with your lender, you will have a pretty good idea of what amount you can get pre-approved for, and what loan type will be best for you. VA financing is just one of the options available. Getting a high pre-approval amount doesn’t mean you have to stay with that price range. If you are going to be downsizing, then you may decide to look at homes below your maximum spending ability. If you’ve saved some cash in your thrifty savings plan, then you may want to use that money as well. Whatever you do, pick a price range based on your comfort level and future plans. Just because you may be able to afford a huge home, that may not ultimately be the best option.
Decide the Neighborhood You Want to Live In: There are many neighborhoods where many people like to live on Oahu. When visitors think of Oahu they think of Waikiki and the North Shore. You’re in the military, though, and you’ve been on Island for a bit. You know that you can look to buy a house in any number of neighborhoods to include: Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Mililani, Hawaii Kai, Kailua etc. So, choose the side of the island that you will want to live on. Note: This decision may have a lot to do with where you work or may work in the future. While right now you may live on the West side of Oahu due to work. In your retirement, you may choose to begin a new career in Downtown Honolulu. Commuting at that point, due to traffic, may not be the best option. Your new area will have a lot to do with work, possibly schools, and ultimately price point.
Choose a Realtor: Choosing a realtor is an important decision for military members. A Realtor familiar with various parts of Oahu is going to make the home search easier by providing you with important information about each community. VA loans have extra requirements and sometimes more limitations. By choosing a Realtor familiar with the VA loan process, your purchase process should be a lot smoother. Since VA loans come with a few restrictions, a Realtor familiar with this type of financing will know what to look for prior to making an offer. Honolulu condos are a good example of restrictions. Not all condos qualify for VA financing. (Department of Veterans Affairs Condo eligibility site is a good resource for condos.)
If you are currently in the military and you are planning to purchase a home and retire on Oahu, don’t wait until the last minute to inquire about loans and the purchase process. Speak with a Realtor who specializes in assisting VA buyers, is preferably MRP (Military Relocation Professional) certified, and speak with a lender who will provide all the information about the lending process and timelines well ahead of the actual retirement.
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Kinga Mills RA, RS-75728