For those of you who have served in the armed forces, you’ve most likely heard of VA (Veterans Affairs) loans. The VA Home Loan Guaranty program originated in 1944 as a way to help Veterans returning from war build a strong financial future through home ownership.
Today, the program serves hundreds of thousands of military personnel and their families and has become an important part of our economy, offering veterans, service members and surviving spouses tremendous benefits toward achieving their goal of homeownership.
Most members of the military, veterans, reservists and National Guard are eligible to apply for VA loans. In addition, spouses of military members who died while on active duty may also be eligible.
Many people assume that conventional loans are their best option when buying a home. The downside is that they require a higher credit score to qualify for the best rates. Because VA loans are government guaranteed, banks assume less risk, which can lead to an even lower interest rate than conventional loans. VA loans also have additional advantages that could make them a better option for you. Here are just a few reasons why:
VA loans can be obtained without any down payment. Zero, zilch, nada. Other loans typically require anywhere from 3% to 20% down. Not having to wait years to build up savings for that down payment can get you into the home of your dreams much sooner.
A VA loan doesn’t require mortgage insurance (MI or MIP), a benefit typically only seen when you put 20% or more down. This translates to significant monthly savings for borrowers, such as an extra $80 – $120 per month! I recommend you use that extra cash to save for retirement or contribute to a college fund for the kids.
Veterans Affairs doesn’t require a minimum credit score for a VA loan. Keep in mind that individual lenders may have their own internal requirement – likely around a score of 625.
Even if a borrower already has a VA loan, they may still have remaining “entitlement” and be allowed to obtain another VA loan. This additional VA loan can be used for refinancing an investment property you once occupied, or allows homeowners to focus on the closing on their new home, prior to selling their current one. That’s a big deal and prevents the dreaded “same-day move.”
Additionally, the VA doesn’t put a cap on how much you can borrow to finance your home, though they do limit how much of the loan they will guarantee (which will likely limit the amount a lender is willing to give you). You can find additional information on VA loans here.
As with any loan, it is vitally important to work with an experienced lender. If you’re thinking about buying a home (now is a great time to get started) and here are a few local lenders and mortgage brokers who can guide you through the process.
As a REALTOR®, I’ve been lucky to help several VA buyers, including two very recently, and I couldn’t be happier to see them find their dream home. Call me today if you’re ready to make home ownership a reality.
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