Serving in the armed forces is one of the most honorable experiences many men and women can have. Being in the military comes with a lot of perks and benefits. One of the most overlooked benefits by both Veterans and service members buying a home through a VA loan.
A VA loan is a mortgage guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)issued by private lenders and available only to veterans, active-duty service members and their eligible spouses.
Some of the advantages of buying a house through a VA loan are: low interest rates and closing costs, $0 down payment, and the option to forgo private mortgage insurance (pmi).
Additionally, the VA did not set a minimum credit score. However, having stellar credit can help to attain rock bottom variable or fixed rates. For peace of mind, be sure to get a free copy of your credit report and check for errors before applying. If you notice anything suspicious in your report, you can hire a credit repair company to help or you can remove the inaccurate itemsyourself.
Even though VA loans are more popular now than before, it is still different than a traditional loan.
Here are 7 VA loan tips that you need to consider if you’re thinking of buying a home through a VA loan.
1. You can get started without the Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
- A COE is issued by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and is proof that you are eligible for the VA home loan benefit
- Mortgage lenders can get the COE for you
2. Your credit score still matters, but it’s not everything
- The higher your score, the better the deal
- Lenders tend to be more flexible with VA loans
3. Make sure you have enough saved
- You are still responsible for certain closing costs (i.e. application fees, insurance, inspection fees, real estate taxes, and more)
- A VA funding fee needs to be paid; fees amounts vary depending on whether you are a first-time homebuyer and down payment given
4. Shop for a VA lender and get pre-approved
- Look for reputable lenders that exclusively cater to military members, veterans, military spouses, and their families - compare all offers
- Although a fee is charged, by using a mortgage broker, you may compare rates from as many as 100 lenders with just one credit inquiry
5. Find a real estate agent that’s VA-savvy
- Contact your VA regional loan center and ask if they can recommend a VA-savvy agent in your area.
- Make sure the real estate agent you hire knows the eligibility criteria certain properties must meet.
6. Choose a property that’s VA-approved
- Properties purchased through a VA loan can’t be used as vacation homes or investment properties; condos must meet certain requirements
- Appraisals are conducted by someone chosen by the VA
7. Close the deal only when you’re ready to move in
- Interested homebuyers must complete the VA’s minimum occupancy requirement
- For active-duty service members, spouses or dependents may satisfy the requirement by moving in first