VA Buyer Tips

VA Loans are available for veteran and active United States military and their spouses.  If you have questions or would like assistance with starting your home buying journey with a VA loan, feel free to call me. I would be glad to get you some lender contact information to get the ball rolling so you can be in your new house asap!

Note: this information is current as of this writing, but is subject to government requirements/changes/lender requirements.

Advantages of a VA Loan:

  • No Down Payment Necessary.
  • Home buyers will usually need at least a 5%-10% down payment for conventional loans or a 3.5 percent down payment for FHA financing. On a $200,000 loan, that’s $10,000 for conventional borrowers and $7,000 for FHA. For many first-time homebuyers, coming up with that kind of cash up can be challenging. Being able to purchase with $0 down means VA borrowers don’t have to spend years saving to scrape together a big down payment.
  • Less Stringent Qualifications-Many first-time home buyers might not yet have a strong credit history, which can make it more difficult to get approval for a mortgage or qualify for an affordable interest rate. Since the VA Loan is government-backed, VA Loans are easier to qualify for at competitive rates.
  • Lower Monthly Payments:  Since VA Loans don’t require the added monthly expense of private mortgage insurance (PMI), they tend to leave more money in your pocket each month. In addition, the competitive VA Loan rates can save a typical buyer thousands over the lifespan of the loan.

Who is Eligible for a VA Loan?

(information below is via the US Dept of Veterans Affairs)
You must have suitable credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. The home must be for your own personal occupancy (you must live in the home). The eligibility requirements to obtain a COE are listed below for Service members and Veterans, spouses, and other eligible beneficiaries.
VA home loans can be used to:

  • Buy a home, a condominium unit in a VA-approved project
  • Build a home
  • Simultaneously purchase and improve a home
  • Improve a home by installing energy-related features or making energy efficient improvements
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot.

Military Eligibility

To obtain a COE, you must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and meet the service requirements below
Six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, AND

  • Were discharged honorably, OR
  • Were placed on the retired list, OR
  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, OR
  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve

*If you do not meet the minimum service requirements, you may still be eligible if you were discharged due to (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) a service-connected disability.

Spouses – Eligibility

The spouse of a Veteran can also apply for home loan eligibility under one of the following conditions:

  • Unremarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability, or
  • Spouse of a Servicemember missing in action or a prisoner of war
  • Surviving spouse who remarries on or after attaining age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003  (Note: a surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, must have applied no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. VA must deny applications from surviving spouses who remarried before December 6, 2003 that are received after December 15, 2004.)
  • Surviving Spouses of certain totally disabled veterans whose disability may not have been the cause of death

Other Eligible Beneficiaries

You may also apply for eligibility if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Certain U.S. citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II
  • Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with World War II service, and others

Restoration of Entitlement

Veterans can have previously-used entitlement “restored” to purchase another home with a VA loan if:

  • The property purchased with the prior VA loan has been sold and the loan paid in full, or
  • A qualified Veteran-transferee (buyer) agrees to assume the VA loan and substitute his or her entitlement for the same amount of entitlement originally used by the Veteran seller. The entitlement may also be restored one time only if the Veteran has repaid the prior VA loan in full, but has not disposed of the property purchased with the prior VA loan. Remaining entitlement and restoration of entitlement can be requested through the VA Eligibility Center by completing VA Form 26-1880.

So….Where do I start?  What are the steps?

1.  COE – The first step to getting VA Loan financing is to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE).  Find complete directions on what and where to submit the documents needed to get the COE by clicking here.
2. Get A Real Estate Agent / REALTOR- You can use any agent you like.  Be sure to find one that is active in the area where you are purchasing and has experience with VA loans.  If you need a suggestion, of course, I suggest myself. 🙂 On a serious note, I am happy to help; but whether you choose me or not, take the time to find the right agent.  You’ll be spending a lot of time together, you might as well enjoy it!
3.  Get Prequalified – Steps 2 & 3 are kind of hand in hand, your REALTOR can send you a list of local lenders who are VA loan specialists to help you with your purchase.  There are several in Palestine and surrounding cities in East Texas.  Take the time to get prequalified, not just preapproved.  There is a difference and it will help save you from any surprises later.
4.  Go Shopping – Once you’ve got your financing lined up, it’s time to start the fun part–house shopping!  You and your REALTOR will work together to find that perfect home.
5.  Make Offer & Negotiations – Make an offer on your chosen home and negotiations will begin to get a “meeting of the minds (and wallets) between you and the seller.  Don’t forget, your buyer’s agent is on your side!  Learn more about buyer representation.
6.  Inspections, Appraisal, Survey & Loan Processing – This is a busy time to get inspections, appraisals, surveys, and last minute loan documents completed.  Don’t worry, your agent and lender will walk you through each step as they come!
7. Closing Day – It’s the day you’ve been waiting for!  It’s the day you get your keys! Closing typically ranges from 30-45 days from purchase contract to closing date.

Feel free to call / text Lisa Priest at 903-948-3343 or email to get started on your VA home buying journey!