Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loans are a benefit you earn for your military service. However, there are common myths and misunderstandings about these loans that may keep active military members and veterans from taking advantage of this program.
Here are some of the most common myths about VA loans:
Myth 1 - VA loans are handled by the VA.
The Veterans Administration guarantees the loans, but doesn’t actually give you the money for it. You get the actual money from, and make payments to, a VA-approved lender.
The VA sets guidelines for loan qualification. A lender will look at your finances (credit score, debts, income, etc.) to verify whether you qualify.
Your first step is to get prequalified for a VA loan by a reputable lender. You need to get a Certificate of Eligibility from https://vip.vba.va.gov/portal/userprofiling/login.jsp to verify that you are eligible for a VA home loan. Often, lenders can get the Certificate of Eligibility online on behalf of a veteran.
Myth 2 - VA loans can only be used once, and not every veteran qualifies.
Veterans can use their VA loan benefit multiple times. You can buy a house with a VA loan and get another VA loan if you move to a new house.
Depending on your individual situation, you may be able to keep your first home and get another VA loan on a second house. This is all determined by the amount of eligibility left and a few other rules set by the VA. Typically, veterans sell their first house and get full eligibility restored so they can buy the next house.
This VA website https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/purchaseco_eligibility.asp has the details on eligibility requirements for a VA loan. In general:
- Service During Wartime or Peacetime - There are specific requirements based on your time in active duty and discharge status.
- Selected Reserve or National Guard - Requires a total of six years as a member of an active unit and other criteria.
- Military Spouse - The spouse of a veteran who died in military service, is missing in action, or a prisoner of war may also be eligible for VA loan benefits.
- Other Eligible Beneficiaries - US citizens with service as members in certain military-associated organizations may also be eligible for a VA loan.
Myth 3 - You don’t have closing costs.
It’s true that the VA does not require a down payment when getting a VA loan. However, there are “funding fees” that are added to your loan amount. You will have closing costs and prepaids similar to other loan programs. These include taxes, insurance, lender fees, title fees, etc.
Myth 4 - VA loans have difficult property requirements.
VA appraisals are very similar to other loan programs. The requirements are essentially the same. The main difference is that you can only use VA certified appraisers. Your lender will order the appraisal as part of the home buying process.
The VA has Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). Essentially, the VA wants to ensure that a veteran gets to live in a safe, secure home. The house must be livable, up to code, and not in a state of disrepair. For more information on these requirements, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AD1BrMf3lk.
Myth 5 - Because it’s a government program, the process takes longer.
On average, VA home loans don’t take any longer than conventional home loans unless there is a government shutdown or other unforeseen factors. However, there may be delays if the VA portal is experiencing difficulties or if appraisers are in a very busy period.
Myth 6 - You have to have excellent credit to qualify for a VA loan.
You do not need excellent credit for a VA loan. The minimum credit score is usually 580, but under special circumstances, veterans may qualify for a VA loan even if they have no credit score.
Myth 7 - I can only get a VA loan with my spouse.
Actually, a veteran can get a VA loan with someone other than his or her spouse, but only if the other borrower is also a veteran.
The process for obtaining a VA home loan starts by talking with a mortgage lender. While the lender can’t legally give specific financial advice, Lincoln Lending (NMLS # 398026) has an experienced team that can discuss options that would be best for your specific situation. To schedule a no-cost, no-obligation information session, please call (405) 799-5363 or email us at info@LincolnOK.com.