If you're a drilling member of the National Guard, you enjoy some military benefits like low-cost health insurance and military discounts on and off post. When you're looking to buy your first home, your military background can also give you an advantage. If you are an active member of the Guard, here are some financing options you should look into.
1. The VA loan.
VA real estate financing is available for qualifying military members. These loans have a lot of advantages. For one thing, you don't need any down payment at all to get 100% financing on a home in your price range. Also, mortgage insurance (usually applied to those who don't have strong down payments) is often waived by the lender. As an added bonus, you can get VA loans over and over again -- it's not limited to a one-time home purchase. Since you're not in active duty service, you might wonder if you qualify. You'll be excited to know that many members of the National Guard actually do qualify for VA financing with approved lenders.
You will be eligible if you have served at least 6 years in the Guard. If you have been discharged, it must be honorable. Sometimes your Guard unit is called up for a deployment, placing you in temporary active duty service. If this is the case, you will be eligible for a loan after completing one deployment, even if you haven't served six full years in active reserve or select reserve.
2. The conventional loan.
If you haven't yet acquired six years of service but still need to buy a home, take heart. There are still some good options for you that cater to your military service. Some lenders, like USAA (a bank that directly serves the needs of service members) will offer conventional loans for service members at competitive interest rates and with very little (5%) down. If you have excellent credit, negotiating a mortgage with lenders who are experienced with service members can also help waive or absorb the mortgage insurance that you would normally pay with a low down payment.
3. Other Loans
If you are not able to be approved for a conventional loan, you can look into other options. Because you're in the guard, you have more freedom to move around to different areas in your state and choose a more rural setting. Choosing a rural area to buy will help you qualify for a USDA loan. The USDA has a program in place to help promote the development of less-populated areas by offering guaranteed, low interest loans to low-income families. FHA loans are another good option if you don't have much for down payment funds.