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home, people, spouse, military, buy, military spouses, military families, house, move, louis, caliber, folks, active duty, rent, orders, jacksonville, virginia beach, mistakes, understand, absolutely


Ashley Peebles, Lindsey Litton, Bryan Bergjans


Lindsey Litton  00:07

Welcome to the MilHousing Nation podcast where we bring you stories from real military spouses who have been in your shoes. From New spouses to veteran spouses. You’ll get tips, tricks, and actionable steps that can help you along your military life journey. This episode is brought to you by caliber home loans, caliber is committed to educating military families about their VA loan benefits and bringing your military families home. Get connected with them online by visiting caliber at


Now here’s Ashley Peebles…


Ashley Peebles  00:43

All right, welcome, everyone. My name is Ashley, people’s Welcome to the MilHousing nation podcast, I’m so glad that you’ve joined us today, you are in for a treat. Because one thing that all military families have in common is we move a lot, it is something that we do all the time, I tried to count up our moves the other day, I got tired and decided that it wasn’t worth my effort. So because we move so often, and we move all around the country and all around the world, there are some things that you definitely need to know leading into a move to ensure that your family’s well taken care of and that you don’t make mistakes on the front end on the back end anywhere that really could cost you. So we’ve got our wonderful friend from caliber home loans. Mr. Brian burgeons with us today. Brian, welcome.


Bryan Bergjans  01:33

Thank you for having me. This is great. It’s a great topic near and dear to our heart all look forward to having this conversation.


Ashley Peebles  01:41

Well, I’m very thankful for you, you know, we have made our own mistakes over time. So I’m hoping that through our mistakes and through the things that you have seen happen, hopefully we can keep people from from making some of those mistakes on their own. Maybe they can learn from all the ones that we’ve done. So tell me that. Where are you? Where’s your Where’s your home office? And what’s your military affiliation?


Bryan Bergjans  02:06

No, I actually live in St. Louis, as well, on the suburbs of St. Louis. So about 20 miles west of the city of St. Louis, born and raised here, actually, last time I ever left. The only time I ever left Missouri was for active duty and the military. I traded my nice little cozy 900 square foot house with my mom for a baby beach house in Virginia Beach. And sandbridge and five other roommates. So I had a great time on active duty. It was it was a it was extremely fun. And then I came back to St. Louis. Well, we you know, I spent my whole life talking about how I wanted to get away from St. Louis. But then that small town, you know, brings you back. So I still live there today, my corporate offices in Dallas. So caliber, caliber Home Loans is, you know, we serve across the nation, we used to have it a joke that we were the biggest company no one ever heard of. But that’s kind of now I think the secret’s out. But we you know, we have offices all across the nation. My corporate office, though, is in Dallas, but I spend most of my time in sales.


Ashley Peebles  03:19

That is perfect. You know, we live in Williamsburg, Virginia. So I definitely can understand the the draw to the beach and the big house. So that’s fantastic. We just moved on to the river. And I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to to get me away from there. I’ve never used the term forever home. This one that everyone would ask us all the time. So is this your forever home, I was like, I don’t know what that is stop putting me in a box. One, this one’s different. There’s something about being near the water that just brings my whole self to peace. And I’m, I’m just not someone that is I don’t I don’t sit down. I don’t relax, I’m always going. And when I get to our new home, it’s just like, you know what, it doesn’t matter that I’ve got two teenagers that are running over, it doesn’t matter that there are boxes all over the place, because we just moved last Friday, I just look out at the water. So we may may be dealing with a forever home in the people’s house. So let’s try to get these listeners maybe not to their forever home but maybe to their right now home for this PCs. So we’ve got people that are looking that maybe they’ve got orders in hand, they are ready to go. What are some key factors that they should be thinking about in preparation for moving?


Bryan Bergjans  04:37

So one of the things that I think that folks need to understand or to start prepping themselves so the good news about being in the military is uh, you know that you’re moving, right, you know, it’s happening, you know, you might have a six to 12 month window, you know, typically it’s somewhere in that range, but you know, it’s gonna happen And so we try to do is encourage folks to do what we call a forensic analysis of their own finances. Right? So you gotta you gotta take it you got to take you get it and analyze what your current financial situation is. Because that helps, right? So just because you have what’s called basic allowance for housing, which everybody listening in us knows, right, it’s that stipend that you get every month from Uncle Sam that allows you to rent or buy. But just because it’s what’s just a substantial amount of money doesn’t mean that you can actually afford to buy a house at that level, because of your other obligations and debts, right. So it’s a good healthy habit to sit down, go through all your finances, your liabilities, all of all the expenses that you have going in coming out, you know, all that good stuff, and really understanding what you can afford. So you’re not house bored, or when you move to the next market, because nobody wants to walk into a new place, and then wonder how they’re going to make their payments.


Ashley Peebles  06:12

Absolutely. So when you’re coaching people through this and their forensic analysis, do you recommend that they try to get their utilities and everything within their bH? Or is that something that is? I don’t know, is that per family? Is that per


Bryan Bergjans  06:28

situation? Well, you know, bH is utilities and everything lumped in, right. So I mean, you know, it just depends, because this is where it gets this word the gray area kicks in. So it is not a secret that military spouse, unemployment rate is extremely high, right, and dreamily high because of the fact that people have to relocate every three, four or five years, right. So if your situation is that your spouse has an employer that allows them to be remote, then virtual, which might be the case for who knows how long now with COVID, right. But if you have a spouse, that’s not going to lose employment, and they’re going to keep employment, no matter where you go, because that’s the employer they work for, well, then your situation is a little different. When you roll in, you might say, you know what, we can just go up to bH for our house, and then we’ll pay utilities, because we can afford to do that, because we have two incomes. But on the other end of that, where you’re relocating to another duty station, and your spouse is going to have to find a new job. And we know that could take six to 12 months and might not even happen, then you probably need to keep everything under VH. Okay.


Ashley Peebles  07:47

Yep, absolutely. And the reason I wanted to cover that is because as a very young spouse, at one point, we looked at rbh. And we absolutely made sure that the house that we were moving into was right at that limit, we were so excited. Like you said, You moved from your parents house into this awesome house in Virginia Beach, we were doing the same thing. And we were so excited to be grownups and I’m grown up paychecks, that we did put ourselves into a position to where we were house poor, you know, we love to travel, it’s what we love to do. It’s our passion. But if you end up overextending yourself on your home, it can take away from the the money that you would normally set aside for those passions. Yeah. So, when you’re talking about affordability, are there any tips and tricks there? When you’re, you’re going through that for someone?


Bryan Bergjans  08:35

Well, here’s, here’s what I would say because the rent versus buy, you know, scenario comes up for everybody, whenever you move, right? Be like, absolutely gotta go. Okay, um, if I am pcsing, from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida, and my family and my spouse’s family are all West Coast people, the reality is moving to Jacksonville, if, if it costs more to buy than it costs more to rent, I’m probably gonna win because that’s not gonna, I probably have no long term commitment to Jacksonville. This is just a pitstop along the 20 year track of, you know, the race of the military. But if I’m going from, you know, Jacksonville, Florida to somewhere where, you know, it was one of our top, you know, on my dream sheet, and it’s where my wife’s from, or where I got family, and, you know, then I’m going into it thinking, Hey, you know, let’s figure out a spot that we might be able to lay roots here. So I want to get good schools safety, uh, you know, stay within a reasonable commute to the base and just kind of highlight that way and then see what it looks like from a render spy perspective. Because then if, if buying makes more sense, you know, then you’ll do it because right now on the market that we’re in, inventories are low no matter where you go. So it doesn’t take long to sell a house. And typically you can sell it for more than you paid. So now with that being in the consideration for going to a great market, you’re like, Well, why am I going to waste my money renting when we’re going to be here for four or five years, and I can we can buy here, if we decide to stay, we rent it, if we decide to move, we sell it and we can make six or 7% on it. So that’s the kind of stuff you got to really look at. And it’s tough, because if you don’t have good people in your corner, your internal board of directors like your realtor, your mortgage lender, and folks that you can ask these questions for trusted advisors, you know, you you might make a bad decision.


Ashley Peebles  10:48

I love that you brought up the trusted advisors, because the truth is, everyone’s like, Oh, well, I have my uncle Jimmy, who, you know, I’m from Alabama. So I can say, Uncle Jimmy, who owns a trailer in Alabama, and forever, and he rents out another couple, you probably don’t want to call uncle Jimmy from Alabama, if you’re going to be PCs in San Diego. So absolutely, I wanted to highlight the fact of just underscore the fact I guess I would say, of trusting those advisors and the wisdom that you have around you. So let’s talk about let’s look maybe a catastrophic mistake. It’s something that you and I spoke about earlier, if someone is moving, and they get themselves into a bad position, they just make a mistake and get into a bad position. Let’s talk about how important it is to make those good decisions. Because a catastrophic decision being a military family, that could be that could be something that could hurt them well down the line, it could add the job that they have. So could you speak to that for just a second?


Bryan Bergjans  11:53

Yeah. So when I’m that moonlighting as a mortgage professional, I still serve in the Navy reserves. And so I’m in the Navy for a long, long time, basically. And so one of the things that we consistently push on our sailors all the time, especially the folks who work for me is that financial management needs to be a top priority, right. And not just from a standpoint of making sure you have enough money coming in versus money going out, but paying your bills on time, and keep them good credit. So when we say making a bad financial mistake with the home, this is not like a bad sweater that you bought at Macy’s where you can just take it back, okay, once you buy a house, you’re locked in for 30 years or whatever, but then you have to go through the whole process of selling it, right. So it’s not like you can just turn the keys back over and do it. So if you made a a catastrophic financial mistake by pushing yourself to the limit, because you have people in your corner that don’t have your best interest in mind, right. And that pushed you to your affordability Max and you move into a home and you are now house broke, okay? And then God forbid your spouse loses their employment, right, which could happen to anybody, especially given this current situation. Now you can’t make your mortgage payment, now you go 30 6090 days behind, potentially a foreclosure, okay, we all know, post 911 everybody has to have a clearance, everybody has to have a clearance in the military. And they’re constantly doing investigations on backgrounds and background checks. And credit, obviously, is a huge factor in the ability to maintain a security clearance. So if you’ve got a foreclosure or have you filed bankruptcy or whatever, there’s a good chance that you might not be able to maintain a secret clearance and, and there’s a lot of people out there and click you know, they carry Ts eyes for top secret clearances. And I know for a fact that if you have a blemish on your credit report for a TSI, unless you’re some you know, Special Warfare person, you know, that you’re probably not going to be able to maintain that. And so if you can’t maintain the clearance for your job, then the Navy or any other branch, what what good are you tonko sam at that point, and then most likely, you’re not going to be allowed to reenlist. So there is a horrific, catastrophic consequence to making a bad decision here.


Ashley Peebles  14:35

Absolutely. And I’m so glad that you’re sharing that with our audience. Because I do think that it’s really easy, especially from the spouse perspective, that’s the only perspective that I can speak from here. We get these orders in hand and we’re like, ah, we are moving to San Diego. You know, it’s not, I don’t think anybody gets orders to mine not in North Dakota, and they’re like, Yes, I can’t wait to go buy a house there but you get these amazing orders. your guts stars in your eyes and hearts in your eyes, and you’re just so excited to get there and own property, their own your own piece of San Diego. And you can kind of get carried away with yourself. And you don’t realize that it’s a much bigger decision if you make a bad decision than it is if you make a good decision. So I’m very thankful that you’ve shared that with everyone. I believe that the people listening, hopefully, they’ll understand that it’s just a much bigger deal. It’s a much bigger decision that they need to make. And they’re not listening to their crazy uncle Jimmy in Alabama. So


Bryan Bergjans  15:34

one thing too did not catch up. Sorry. For one thing to keep in mind is, you know, you want to surround yourself with folks that can help, you know, guide you into a good decision, right. So you know, that aren’t going to just tell you what you want to hear, because we’ve spent, I mean, I can tell you, I’ve told people just as I’ve had to tell people, it’s not the right time for you more than, you know, I really want to write because people are excited to buy a house, especially first time homebuyers. And you know, the dream of homeownership is something that everybody, you know, wants to be able to obtain, right. So it’s hard to feel bad telling people, it’s not the right time. But you got to be willing to say it’s not the right time. Yeah.


Ashley Peebles  16:20

And I would say that the companies out there are the people out there that are not willing to tell someone that they don’t have their best interest at heart. So if someone wants to get in touch with you at caliber home loans, maybe they want to seek your wisdom, they want to see if this is the right time to buy, how can they get in touch with you?


Bryan Bergjans  16:41

Yeah, so we have a whole team that’s dedicated to assisting folks through this process fact finding process, right, so they don’t have to worry about talking to, you know, loan officers or anything, my team that we have established as a resource is made up of military spouses, veterans, reservists, etc. that can help somebody and walk them through this process if they want. We’re here to help. So the great news is if they just want to use us as to keep people honest, I’m more than happy to walk somebody through the process. And really, we kept it really easy. It’s military at



Ashley Peebles  17:28

So perfect if you had a grownup child or a brother or anyone in your family, that’s going to be pcsing soon, and they’re looking to buy a home or they’re looking to rent a home? Is there any final thoughts, anything that you would like to share with them or leave them with?


Bryan Bergjans  17:47

Yeah, you know, I would say, create your wall. And there’s a lot of homebuyer checklists out there. I know. You know, mill housing has a great one, because we helped them put it together. But it is a really good one. And you need to understand what it’s going to take from a administrative perspective to help your lender or realtor along, right. So give me an example. Certificates of eligibility are important because you can’t have a VA transaction, which you’re entitled to, or you’ve earned as an active duty military member without it. And so it’s very important that you provide all the information that you have to in order for that lender, or yourself to obtain that, because without that you have nothing. Number two statements of service. So we see it a lot where that ends up being a big hang up or pitfall or a booby trap for the process. So understand that statements of service are required, even though you’re on active duty, and you will have to get someone in your command typically the administrative person to type up a statement service, it’s really easy. It doesn’t require a lot of effort, but it’s one of those little things that always ends up D railing the train for someone that’s making a purchase. So those are the two things that I would say, make sure you understand both of those, and that you have, you know, cover on both of those and help your lender and your realtor along.


Ashley Peebles  19:34

Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Brian, for being with us today. We sure appreciate your wisdom. I know that people if they’re watching on YouTube, they are gonna love seeing your sweet face. And if you’re listening on the podcast, make sure that you subscribe. We’re gonna be talking to Brian more. I actually just asked him earlier. Maybe we could meet his wife but she is a reserved spouse just like I am. So I think there’s a whole new world out there. That we can explore from a reserve side of things, to maybe open up the eyes of the active duty community, but also lend some support and resources to the vast community of reservists that we have out there. So the little art of promotion for you guys to make sure that you subscribe to the podcast, but Brian, thanks for being with us today. And if you guys need to reach out to any of us, please don’t hesitate. We would love to be a part of your circle of trusted advisors. So thank you so much.

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