As a potential first-time home buyer, can it qualify as my "primary" residence, not "secondary"?

Asked by Jram, Flagstaff, AZ Tue Nov 17, 2009

I teach school on a military base in Germany for the federal government. I can only return stateside for 2 months per year. I rent my home here. I have never bought a home nor do I own landed property. 1.5 years ago, the VA pre-approved a loan for a home I had thought about buying and, given my work, it would still be considered my "primary" residence. I am currently looking at purchasing my first home. My prequal lender says that I can only qualify it as a "secondary " residence. What gives?

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Loren Hoboy, Agent, Phoenix, AZ
Tue Sep 21, 2010
Let's try again:
See text copied below, from the IRS Regulations under I.R.C. Section 121.

In the case of a taxpayer using more than one property as a residence, whether property is used by the taxpayer as the taxpayer’s principal residence depends upon all the facts and circumstances.

If a taxpayer alternates between 2 properties, using each as a residence for successive periods of time, the property that the taxpayer uses a majority of the time during the year ordinarily will be considered the taxpayer’s principal residence.

In addition to the taxpayer’s use of the property, relevant factors in determining a taxpayer’s principal residence, include, but are not limited to:

(i) The taxpayer’s place of employment;
(ii) The principal place of abode of the taxpayer’s family members;
(iii) The address listed on the taxpayer’s federal and state tax returns, driver’s license, automobile registration, and voter registration card;
(iv) The taxpayer’s mailing address for bills and correspondence;
(v) The location of the taxpayer’s banks; and
(vi) The location of religious organizations and recreational clubs with which the taxpayer is affiliated.

Having said that, a US citizen in the military does not reflect his primary place of residence by assignment location. If you buy a new home and it is to becomes your primary residence (ie not a rental) then you have no problem. If you rent it out, it is an investment property and you clearly can't live there and thus it is a "secondary" property.

To take advantage of your VA benefit, I suggest you wait until you are ready to come home and buy your "new" primary residence. The good prices will be with us a little longer, so you have time.

Greater Phoenix/ Central Arizona
1 vote
Tina Dudek, Agent, Scottsdale, AZ
Tue Nov 17, 2009
Hello Jram,

Thank you for your post.

I can tell you 100% that the VA is very specific about their requirements ....a couple of initial questions typically asked are ....are you active duty and for how much longer (income requirement)? Do you have a regular income that can be shown as reported in the US ...where is your income coming from?

There are other specifics as well and I would be happy to chat with your further at your convenience.

Please give me a call anytime or email me at - I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Tina Dudek
(928) 607-1983 direct
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1 vote
Kris Burnell, Agent, Oro Valley, AZ
Tue Nov 17, 2009
To recieve the first time home buyer credit, it must be your primary residence, however, I know there are some exceptions for miliary personnel. I would consult a tax accountant or check the IRS website at IRS.GOV. as many questions are answered on that web site. Also to qualify you must not have owned a home in the last 3 years. Wish I had a definite answer, but I would do both of the things I have mentioned.
Kris Burnell
Long Realty
Tucson, Az.
0 votes
Dave Westall, Agent, Tahoe City, CA
Tue Nov 17, 2009
I would consult with a tax professional/CPA to get the most accurate assessment to your situation. There may be special exceptions for military personnel or for government contractors working abroad in military zones. The last paragraph of this article starts to touch on this subject:…

I strongly recommend talking with a tax professional to get the most accurate money saving advice.

Best regards, Dave

David Westall, Realtor
DRE# 01796995
Tahoe Riverfront Realty, Inc.
530-583-3483 x7
0 votes
, ,
Tue Nov 17, 2009
Let the lender know that your primary residence will be stateside and that you travel alot because you are in the military. Question? How will you make the payments while you're gone for more than a month at a time? Answer: Direct debit from your account. Do not rely on family members to make payments for you as life gets in the way and people forget to make payments on things that are not theirs. Don't rent it out as renters can destroy your home and if you're a million miles away, you can't do anything about it (even with a management company). It will cause you more stress than you can imagine. Honestly, I'd recommend that you take a mortgage payment and invest in an IRA fund, so that when you permanently move back to the states, you can pay cash for your house. How's that?
0 votes
Johnathan Mu…, Agent, Flagstaff, AZ
Tue Nov 17, 2009
They want you to live in the home for more than 6 months and a day out of the year to consider is a primary.
Let me know if I can further assist you,
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