LAURINBURG — The American dream has been owning your own home, with a white-picket fence, 2.5 children, a golden retriever and a mini-van in the driveway. HGTV has capitalized on this idea with shows like House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Love It or List It and the list goes on — all of which I watch religiously.
The shows make it look so simple: set a budget, go house hunting, find the home of your dreams, make an offer and the house is yours. Being knee-deep in the home-buying process right now I can tell you that’s not even close to reality.
There is a mountain of paperwork, terminology, inspections, appraisals, debt-to-income ratios and costs attached to purchasing a home — Justin and I were woefully under prepared. There is no class that teaches you all the steps and setbacks that come along with buying a house — even though it’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make.
Children learn that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and how the pythagorean theorem works but high schools and colleges neglect to teach young people tangible skills. When I say tangible skills I mean things like how to apply for health insurance, how to do your taxes, the steps involved in buying a home — things that all adults need to know.
At 26 years old, Justin and I had no idea the mountain we were about to climb in purchasing our first home. Since Justin had served six years in the United States Navy we chose to use a VA loan to finance the house which offers lower interest rates and a zero percent down payment to help veterans buy a home. Since I wasn’t a veteran, Justin was the only person on the loan.
We had been pre-approved by Navy Federal Credit Union for a home worth $133,000 — which was far and above what we were comfortable paying. We settled on a house that was a lot less than that to keep our mortgage payments low. What we didn’t expect was to be denied for a VA loan just days before we were scheduled to close.
Our real estate agent explained the bank never sent our mortgage paperwork to the lawyer’s office for final approval. Justin called the bank and they took all of his information. Our loan officer at Navy Federal Credit Union called to inform Justin his application had been denied. The reason for the denial was because he hasn’t been working at his current job for two years, according to the bank that disqualifies him as a good candidate for a home loan.
Justin has been separated from the Navy since February 2016, just over a year, his six years of military service didn’t qualify towards his job history. Since leaving the military he has maintained steady employment — working at a hospital in Ohio before we moved here. He now works two part-time jobs and goes to school full-time to earn his nursing degree.
Navy Federal also stated that because the jobs Justin is working now — registration at Scotland Memorial and assistant manager at PetSense — aren’t in the same field of work as when he was in the service that also made him a poor candidate for a home loan. Despite the fact that it is illegal in America to work as a nurse at any medical facility without proper licensing.
Justin was a hospital corpsman in the Navy, basically he was a medic attached to a Marine Corps unit. Legally he is not allowed to perform those same duties because he isn’t certified by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, which doesn’t recognize his corpsman training as an equal equivalent to an associates or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The North Carolina Board of Nursing only recognizes Army and Air Force medic credentials and allows those service men and women to petition the Board of Nursing to review their service records and allow them to take the state licensing test.
Surprisingly a similar thing happened to my Poppa, my dad’s dad, when he got out of the Army in the 1980s. His application for a VA home loan was denied because he had just gotten out of the Army and the bank determined he hadn’t been working for GM in Michigan long enough to be a good candidate for a loan.
Since there is a large population of military families in this area, just a disclaimer so you don’t go through the same thing. VA home loans aren’t given to veterans unless they meet a laundry list of criteria. A list that makes it incredibly difficult for our country’s veterans to purchase a home, despite the claims of wanting to help those who’ve served.
We managed to get a home-loan through USAA, but are paying almost $4,000 in closing costs which we hadn’t budgeted.
So word to the wise if you plan on purchasing a home do your research ahead of time and check with several banks and lenders before choosing a loan. If we would have gotten a second opinion we would have learned up sooner that we didn’t qualify for a VA home loan, instead of being led to believe we could afford a $133,000 home.