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VA home loans are an important financial benefit to service members, veterans, and their families. Buying real estate with a VA home loan is quite similar to purchasing property with a traditional mortgage loan, with some exceptions.
The buyer must first demonstrate that he or she is entitled to receive VA home loan benefits after obtaining a professional property appraisal. The buyer's creditworthiness and property value are evaluated before the VA home loan is approved. Since the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees VA home loans, the lender frequently does not insist on a down-payment from the buyer.
Active service members, veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans who are eligible to receive benefits may apply to VA home loan programs. VA home loans include the member's guaranty benefit along with home-related programs to help eligible persons purchase, build, adapt, or retain a home for personal occupancy.
Benefits of VA Home Loans
Private lenders like mortgage companies and banks provide VA home loans. The Veterans Administration guarantees part of the loan and enables the lender to offer more financially favorable terms to members:
• Purchase loans offer buyers a competitive interest rate. In many instances, the buyer is not required to provide a down-payment or purchase private mortgage insurance.
• Cash-Out refinance loans allow homeowners to take cash out of existing home equity to pay off debt, make home improvements, or pay for school.
• Interest rate reduction loans (IRRRLs), also known as the Streamline Refinance Loan, help buyers secure a lower interest rate when refinancing a VA loan already in place.
• Native American Direct Loan (NADL) assists eligible Native American vets to buy, build, or improve homes on Federal Trust Land or to reduce the interest rate on an existing VA loan.
• Adapted Housing Grants assists permanently disabled veterans with service-related disabilities to buy, build, or modify a home to their needs.
Length of service/service commitment, character of service, and duty status are used to determine eligibility for certain home loan benefits:
• Purchase loan and Cash-Out refinance programs: Veterans Administration-guaranteed loans may be used for homes that the member, spouse, and/or active duty servicemembers’ dependent(s) will occupy. Eligibility requires adequate income to maintain monthly payments, adequate credit, and a viable Certificate of Eligibility or COE.
• Interest rate reduction loan (IRRRL) program: In order to qualify, members must have an existing VA-guaranteed loan on their property. Typically, the IRRRL enables members to reduce monthly payments by lowering interest rates of the current VA-guaranteed loan.
• Native American Direct (NADL) program: The member’s tribal organization must agree to participate in this direct loan program. A valid COE is required.
• Adapted housing grants: Veterans with certain permanent, total disabilities sustained through military service need suitable housing. They may qualify for the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) or the Special Adapted Housing (SAH) grants.
Apply for VA Home Loans
1. Purchase loan and Cash-out refinance programs: Veterans Administration loans are accessed through the member’s lender of choice. He or she must obtain a COE before making an application. Request a COE from eBenefits or by mail. Note: Some lenders can assist in this step. [Learn more.]
2. Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) program: Borrowers do not need a new COE. Bring a valid COE to demonstrate a previous use of the entitlement. Alternatively, lenders may use VA’s email confirmation procedure instead of the COE.
3. Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program: Borrowers must first confirm that their tribal organization currently participates in this VA direct loan program. Present a valid COE to the lender of choice in order to access the NADL program. COEs may be obtained by request through eBenefits or by mail. Some lenders can assist with this step.
4. Adapted Housing Grants programs: Apply for the SHA or SAH grants by downloading and completing VA Form 26-4555 in pdf form or by completing an online application. Submit completed forms to the closest Regional Loan Center.
By: Sebastian Tennant |U.S. Gov Connect
U.S. Gov Connect Reporting On U.S. Government Programs & Regulations
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