11 Things to Know About VA Loans and Housing Programs
As part of its mission to serve the nation’s vets, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides several housing benefits to service members and their families, including assistance with home loans. If you or someone close to you has a military affiliation, it’s a good idea to know about the resources available. Here’s an overview.
1. Who’s eligible: Current service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses of members of the armed forces can take advantage of VA home loan guaranty benefits and other housing programs.
2. The VA’s role in the mortgage process: Unlike what you may assume from the name, VA loans are provided by private lenders such as banks and mortgage companies, not the VA. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, which allows private lenders to offer better terms to borrowers.
3. The advantages of VA loans: They often include no down payment, no required mortgage insurance, a limit on the amount vets can be charged for closing costs and possible assistance from the VA if the homebuyer has trouble making payments.
4. How VA loans can be used: The loans are just for primary residences. You can’t get a VA loan for a vacation home or an income property.
5. How many times vets use VA loans: Vets may be able to use their VA entitlement more than once, but the original loan must be paid off and the amount of the benefit may be reduced. As you may expect, each case is unique.
6. There are no prepayment penalties: Buyers through the program can’t be punished for paying off their loans early, which can happen with other mortgages.
7. Home equity loans are an option: The VA also offers Cash Out Refinance Loans for vets that allow homeowners to take money out of their home equity to pay for things like school and home improvements.
8. There are special provisions for Native Americans: Native American veterans may be eligible for additional home-financing help. The Native American Direct Loan Program can further reduce the interest rate on a VA loan, or can help pay for the purchase, construction or improvement of homes on Federal Trust Land.
9. There are additional resources for disabled vets: The VA also helps disabled vets buy, build or adapt a home to make it more accessible.
10. States sometimes offer additional benefits: Some states provide additional home-financing resources to eligible veterans, such as reduced property taxes. You can find out more here: http://www.va.gov/statedva.htm.
11. Refinancing is an option: The VA can also help eligible veterans who need to refinance their VA loan through an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL).
For more information about the resources available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, visit their website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/.
An experienced Realtor can help veterans and their families navigate through the VA loan process. Find a RE/MAX agent near you.