Mortgage Advice

VA Loans: The Ultimate Guide for Veterans Buying a Home

November 11, 2019

At Ross Mortgage, we’re proud to honor military service members who sacrifice their lives defending our freedom. To honor their service to our country, we’re committed to supporting Veterans on their journey to homeownership by helping more servicemen and women utilize the VA loan benefits they’ve rightfully earned.

If you, or someone you know, is looking to buy a home and would like to learn more about VA loans, we hope this comprehensive guide is helpful.

Should you have a question that’s not answered as part of this article, send us a message and we’ll be sure to get back to you with more information!

What is a VA Loan?

Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (also referred to as the GI Bill of Rights), VA loans are government-insured mortgages that can be used toward the purchase of a primary residence. They are issued by private lenders (like Ross Mortgage Corporation) and backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

VA Loan Eligibility: Who Can Qualify?

Members of the United States Armed Forces, including those who are on active duty or reserve, as well as widows or widowers of Veterans, are eligible for VA financing.

Those interested in applying for a VA mortgage loan will first need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA as proof they’re entitled to receive VA financing. The eligibility requirements to obtain a COE for service members, spouses and other eligible beneficiaries can be found on the U.S. Department Veteran Affairs website.

Have questions? Our team of VA experts are standing by and happy to assist you with the process of obtaining a COE, based on your unique circumstances. Simply fill out this form, and a member of our team will contact you soon.

VA Loan Benefits: What Are They?

VA loans come with special advantages other mortgage loans don’t have, including:

  • Flexible credit requirements as part of the mortgage qualification process.
  • Lower interest rates.
  • Zero down financing.
  • No private monthly mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • Limited closing costs. Veterans are exempt from paying certain closing fees if a 1% origination fee is charged at closing.
  • The ability to use gift funds, grants and seller concessions for down payment and/or closing costs.
  • Reduced property taxes. Many states offer property tax benefits for Veterans. For example, Michigan signed an act into law in 2013 that exempts disabled veterans from paying property taxes.
  • Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants that help disabled veterans make modifications to their home.

For more information on VA loan benefits, check out this blog post.

What to Know VA Home Renovation Options

While the Specially Adapted Housing grant provides disabled Veterans with funds needed to make modifications to their home, we’re also pleased to offer a VA mortgage option that combines the benefits of VA loans and renovation loans to provide any eligible service member with a cost-effective solution for remodeling their home.

Our VA renovation loan allows Veterans to roll renovation costs into their mortgage loan, meaning they can fund home improvements without dipping into their personal savings!

Interested in learning more? Send us a message! We’d be happy to put you in touch with an experienced member of our lending team who can discuss details of the VA Renovation loan with you.

Interested in Refinancing a VA Loan? This Information Is for You!

If you’re interested in refinancing your VA loan, we encourage you look into the VA’s Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)—a program that allows homeowners with VA loans to obtain lower interest rate, shorten their loan term or convert an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) into a fixed-rate mortgage.

Our VA expert, Eric Ensley, discusses the details of this program in depth here. As a fellow Veteran who has personally taken advantage of the program to refinance his own VA mortgage loan, Eric will walk you through everything you need to know to make an informed decision about whether refinancing is right for you.

Site Condos and VA Loans

If you’re eligible for VA financing and thinking about buying a condo in Michigan, we have good news!

In May 2018, the Veteran’s Administration announced it was updating the way it approached VA loans for site condos, stating:

Site condominiums in the State of Michigan will be processed in the same manner as a single-family detached residence.”

What is a site condo and why does this matter?

A site condo is defined as “a single-family totally detached dwelling (no shared garages or other attached buildings) encumbered by a declaration of condominium covenants or condominium for ownership.”

What you may not know is many home developments in Michigan are actually classified as “site condos,” meaning homebuyers could be looking at houses in a subdivision that are actually considered to be condos. The reason why some developers classify subdivisions this way is because the local government approval process for builders is often more efficient.

While obtaining site condo approval through the VA was not terribly challenging, uninformed lenders and real estate professionals often steered eligible Veterans away from site condos, because they believed getting the project approved would be too difficult.

By removing the site condo approval process associated with VA loan financing, eligible Veterans have one less obstacle to overcome and an easier time using the benefits they’ve earned to purchase the home of their choice.

To learn more about site condos and VA loans, click here to continuing reading our full blog post on this topic.

Myths and Misconceptions About VA Loans

Despite the many positive aspects of VA loans, there are several myths and misconceptions in the real estate community that create the false perception VA loans are cumbersome to obtain and inferior to other mortgage solutions—nothing could be further from the truth. We put these myths and misconceptions to bed in this Realty Times article.

We encourage all service members to educate themselves about VA loans and how to overcome any misguided information they receive from other members of the real estate community in an attempt to deter them from using the benefits they’ve so rightfully earned.

As a leader in the VA lending space, our team has taken additional steps to combat the stigma surrounding VA loans by hosting continuing education and certification classes for our peers in the real estate community. Our goal is to arm mortgage lenders and real estate agents with the information, resources and tools they need to support the Veteran community when it comes to exercising their VA loan benefits.

VA Loan Success Stories

Many of our employees have personal ties to the military community and are passionate about helping Veterans achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Since 2015, our team of VA lending experts has helped nearly 600 Veterans exercise their VA loan benefits. Here are just a few of their stories.

Could you be next? If you’re thinking about buying a house, we’d love to offer our support! Send us a message and we’ll put you in touch with a VA expert on our team who can help you navigate your options with confidence.

How to Get Pre-Approved for a VA Loan

Earlier in this post, we talked about getting a COE to prove your ability to access the benefits offered through a VA loan. While obtaining a COE confirms you’re eligible to apply for a VA home loan, it does not guarantee you’ll qualify for financing.

In order to qualify for a mortgage loan, you must meet certain requirements set forth by your mortgage lender related to your income, credit score, debt-to-income ratio and other factors.

The good news is, the process of getting approved for a VA loan is a lot like other mortgage loans—but with flexible qualifying criteria and credit score requirements. To learn more about the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage, check out this post. If you’re ready to take the next step and get pre-approved for a mortgage, contact us to get started!

To the families who have lost a loved one while in military service, you are always in our thoughts. To the Veterans who may be reading this, thank you for your service. No matter where you are on your journey of homeownership, our team will always be here to support your needs in any way we can.

To get in touch with a certified VA expert on our team, send us a message or give us a call at (877) 775-7088.