Have you taken a look at those VA benefits?

Kimberly Bean
Published on November 13, 2019

Have you taken a look at those VA benefits?

As we celebrate Veterans Day in November, I would be remiss to not mention one of the most misunderstood and overlooked veteran’s benefit: The VA home loan.

  • Of the more than 20 million U.S. military veterans, only 10.5 percent use their home loan benefits.
  • When those who aren’t using this benefit were asked why, more than 33 percent responded that they didn’t know about the VA loan guarantee, according to the 2010 National Survey of Veterans. Another large group claims that FHA loans are easier to obtain.
  • Most who responded to the survey as being unaware of the program’s existence were older veterans and unmarried surviving spouses.

These statistics can — and should — change. It starts with the real estate/mortgage industry taking responsibility for educating veterans and their spouses about the VA home loan program and its benefits.

The loan, in a nutshell

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a home loan guaranty, promising the veteran’s lender that the veteran will repay the loan.

Now, this guaranty doesn’t cover the entire loan amount. Should the veteran default on the loan, the VA guaranty covers from 40 to 50 percent, depending on the size of the loan.

VA home loans can be used to:

  • Buy a single-family home or a condominium unit in a VA-approved project.
  • Build a home.
  • Simultaneously purchase and improve a home.
  • Improve a home’s energy efficiency.
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot.
VA loan advantages

Today there are only two easy ways to finance a Southern Maryland home with no down payment: Through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program and through the Veterans Administration.

Thinking of an FHA-backed or conventional loan? If you put down less than 20 percent, you’ll be subject to the required monthly payment for MIP (mortgage insurance premium) for the former and PMI (private mortgage insurance) for the latter.

This insurance, which benefits the lender should the borrower default on the loan, can add a lot to your monthly mortgage payment. The amount you’ll be required to pay depends on how much you borrow and the loan-to-value ratio. (You’ll find an FHA MIP rate chart at LendingTree.com.)

The VA loan, on the other hand, has no monthly mortgage insurance premiums, there are limitations on how much you’ll spend on closing costs, and the loan has no prepayment penalty.

If you choose a newly constructed Southern Maryland home, the builder is required to purchase a 1-year home warranty for you.

How to get one of these bad boys

As with anything that comes from the government, eligibility can become complicated (wait until you see the appraisal requirements!).  You are eligible for a VA-backed loan if:

  • You have what the VA considers “suitable credit.”
  • You have sufficient income to pay your bills and your mortgage payment.
  • You plan on occupying the home.
  • You have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

That last one is easy to get. In fact, a VA-savvy lender should be able to get your COE through the online ACE system. Learn how to choose the right lender for your VA loan at Military.com.

If for some reason your records can’t be accessed, you’ll need to apply to the VA for your certificate. We can help you with that.

Remember, you’ll be applying for this mortgage through traditional lenders and each has its own guidelines, so you’ll need to meet the lender’s requirements as well.

Yes, your credit score and overall financial picture will be examined, but the lending process for veterans isn’t quite as stringent as it is for civilians.

Brandywine MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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