Not Enough Veterans Are Using their VA Loans Benefits
Since its creation on June 25th, 1944, as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, VA home loans have been used by more than 22 million veterans in purchasing their dream homes. However, according to a National Survey conducted by Westat, a professional services corporation, about 33% of veterans don’t know about VA loan benefits. Resulting in less than 12% of the country’s Veterans taking advantage of their VA home loan benefits.
Part of the reason why some Veterans aren’t taking advantage of their VA loan benefits is that they simply don’t know about the benefits they’re eligible to receive. Some believe that they do not meet the eligibility requirements. While others claim that they don’t know how to apply for a VA home loan.
By looking at why many Veterans aren’t using their VA benefits, it is immediately apparent that many are uninformed about the specifics of VA Home Loans. With that in mind, we will look at essential information about the eligibility, benefits, and the application process for VA home loans.
VA Home Loan Eligibility
Making sure that you meet eligibility requirements is the first step towards enjoying the many benefits which are offered by VA home loans. To be eligible for these loans, applicants must meet the VA’s military service, property, income, and credit score requirements.
- Military Service Requirements
VA loans are exclusively for Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and eligible spouses. In addition to these basic service requirements, the applicant must meet at least one of the following criteria.
- At least 90 consecutive days of active duty service while in wartime.
- At least 181 consecutive days of active duty service while in peacetime.
- At least six years of service if the applicant is a member of the National Guard or reserves.
- Eligible spouses must have been married to a service member who lost their life while on duty or due to service-related disability.
- Property Requirements
Properties that can be bought with a VA home loan must meet individual eligibility requirements outlined by the VA.
- Single-Family Residences.
- Must meet all health and safety requirements by the VA.
- Multi-Family Dwellings. (up to four units)
- Must meet health and safety requirements by the VA.
- The applicant must live in one of the units.
- Condos and Townhomes.
- Condos need to be approved by the VA.
- Manufactured and Mobile Homes
- Both must be set on permanent foundations.
- Mobile homes must be doublewides.
There are also specific properties that don’t qualify for the VA home loan, including homes in flood zones with no flood insurance, homes at a Coastal Barrier Resource System, and Airport Noise Areas 3. Furthermore, other properties that do not qualify for the VA home loan include cooperatives, timeshares, and condos, which have not been approved by the VA.
- Credit Score Requirements
The Department of Veteran Affairs doesn’t currently have a credit score requirement. That decision is left up to the lenders who usually have a credit score requirement of 640. There are ways to get a VA loan with a lower credit score. Instead, some lenders base their decisions on the applicant’s payment history, current mortgages, and collections reporting.
- Income Requirements
A steady source of income is vital since lenders want to trust that the applicant will be able to make their monthly payments. An eligible income must come from one of the following:
- Social Security.
- A Full-Time Job.
- A Part-Time Job. (two years or more)
- Self-Employment. (two years or more)
- VA Disability.
- Retirement and Pension.
- 1099 Income. (two years or more)
- Seasonal Jobs. (two years or more)
- Child Support. (three-year continuance)
- Alimony. (three-year continuance)
- Rental income. (reported in tax returns)
Incomes that do not qualify for the VA home loan are unemployment, workers compensation, GI bill, BAH, and Cash Payments.
VA Home Loan Benefits
Once eligibility is determined, the applicant will be able to enjoy some of the best home loans available with VA home loans. This is no small part due to the great benefits that VA loans offer Veterans and Active Duty Service Members. Some of these benefits include:
- No down payment requirement.
- Lower monthly payments.
- Low-interest rates.
- No mortgage insurance premiums.
- No prepayment penalties.
- Loans can be used to finance the funding fee.
- There are no loan limits for the first loan.
In addition to the benefits listed above, VA loans can be taken out as either a 15 year fixed rate mortgage or a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Borrowers with an existing VA loan can still take out another loan. However, they will be subject to county loan limits, which are at $510,400 in most places.
By using the information provided, Veterans and Active Duty Service Members will be more informed about VA home loans. Hopefully, knowing this information will prompt eligible applicants to take advantage of the VA home loan program and achieve the dream of becoming homeowners.
Phil Georgiades is the CLS for VA Home Loan Centers, a government-sponsored brokerage that specializes in VA loans. Phil has more than 22 years of experience working in real estate. If you’re interested in applying for a VA home loan, you can contact us at 888-359-3661 or click here.