So you’re considering buying a house as a travel nurse. Congratulations! Owning a home while travel nursing can provide stability, familiarity, and proximity to family and other important life priorities.
We know very well the life-changing benefits of travel nursing, but the concept is still something that mortgage lenders, banks, and real estate agents can’t quite wrap their minds around. The temporary, location-shifting, non-taxable nature of travel nursing can throw many of these professionals for a loop.
While we love a fenced-in yard, we’re tearing down the metaphorical fence between you and your new home. Keep these personal finance hacks and house buying tips in mind when it comes time to purchase a home as a travel nurse.
#1. Craft A Detailed Job Description Letter
Don’t skip this pro tip. We often see that the difference between loan approval or denial for travel nurses is the inclusion of a letter describing the travel nursing job itself.
A finance professional is trained to believe that the “ideal” borrower works a traditional 9-5 job. As a result, a mortgage application that comes across their desk for a professional working temporary stints at all different hours in all different states is bound to raise some red flags.
To paint those red flags green, craft a detailed letter to the mortgage lender explaining how travel nursing works. To prove you’re a stellar candidate, be sure to mention:
- The reliability and careful planning of travel nursing assignments and locations
- Your income
- Credit score
- Professional references
#2. Get A Few Years of Travel Nursing Under Your Belt
Having at least two years of experience as a traveling nurse will help both you and the mortgage lender in the long run.
The goal here is to sterilize that dreaded phrase, employment gap, in the lending conversation. The mortgage lender or loan officer is going to need to understand any income or employment gaps and how they trend. The more work history you have built up in the profession, the more data you’ll be able to show.
We know you may be done reading articles about how to furnish a temporary apartment and are itching to swap that secondhand-styled temporary home for a MCM permanent one, but be patient. The extra time spent travel nursing before chasing those house keys will serve you well in the homebuying process—and give you extra gratification when they’re finally in hand.
#3. Present Yourself As Financially Reliable
At the end of the day, a mortgage lender looks for borrowers who fit the bill as financially reliable: someone who they can count on to pay back the loan plus incurred interest.
When presenting yourself to a lender, highlight all of the ways in which you are financially responsible.
This will most likely mean explaining how travel stipends work for travel nurses. Many mortgage lenders and real estate agents do not understand that travel nurses are granted an untaxed living and housing stipend that accounts for a considerable percentage of their total income.
Be prepared before meeting with a mortgage lender with proof of taxed and untaxed income, and be patient as the professional learns about your unique situation.
#4. Research Home Loan Requirements
In understanding how to buy a house as a travel nurse, be sure to research all of the requirements to obtain a home loan.
There’s a ton of information online from financial experts and mortgage lenders explaining requirements for home loan borrowing. At the basic level, along with your income, you’ll need to consider:1
- The type of home you’re looking for
- Your financial assets
- Any current debts
- Your credit score
Showing up well-prepared to a meeting with a mortgage lender is the key to showing them that you are serious about the responsibility of buying a home.
#5. Check For First Time Home Buyer Benefits
If this will be your first home, you may be entitled to financial benefits as a first-time homebuyer.
Almost every mortgage lender out there offers some kind of first-time homebuyer benefits. Some offer lower interest rates, while others help cover down payments or closing costs.2
Keep in mind that there are usually income requirements for these special programs, so do your research in advance to understand the specifics for the mortgage lender you’d like to work with.
With a little bit of tactful planning, the answer to the question can I buy a house as a travel nurse is a resounding yes!
Here are some additional considerations to set yourself up for home buying success.
- Consider signing the loan with your partner. If you’re married or partnered and are considering living together, now might be the right time to buy a home together. If your partner has a more traditional job schedule, it may aid your case in financial reliability with your mortgage lender.
- Pay off debts where you can. Mortgage lenders consider something called a debt-to-income ratio, or your debts divided by your gross income.3 To be prepared, work hard to pay off as much existing debt as possible before beginning the homebuying process.
- Seek advice from other traveling nurse homeowners. There are hundreds of brilliant, helpful travel nurses out there who have successfully bought homes. Reach out to ones you know in your network or workplace for their valuable first-hand advice.
Have Your Travel Nursing Cake And Eat It In Your New Home, Too
Just because you’re seeing the world while you’re saving it doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to owning your very own home. Hundreds of travel nurses own a permanent residence, and you can, too.
Host Healthcare is here to help you achieve a travel nursing career that fits your ideal lifestyle. Our expert staff matches you with a travel nursing assignment that is right for you—anywhere you want to be.
Join our community of travel healthcare professionals today. To get started, fill out our 8-step new traveler questionnaire to get matched with a top-rated recruiter. And rest assured that we’ll be there through your entire journey with unmatched 24-hour support.
- Rocket Mortgage. Mortgage Qualification Tips: How to Qualify for a Mortgage. https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/mortgage-qualification
- Nerdwallet. First Time Home Buyer Benefits: How To Qualify. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/qualify-first-time-home-buyer-benefits
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. What is a debt-to-income ratio? https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-debt-to-income-ratio-en-1791/