In celebrating Veteran’s Day yesterday, it got me thinking about all of the great military clients I have worked with in my time as a real estate agent. So, it seemed like a good time to revisit an article I wrote early in 2013 for the local paper regarding Veteran (VA) loans as our first blog article. Much has changed since I first visited this topic two and a half years ago. While veteran loans have continued to grow around the country as the most utilized 100% down program for home purchases, the stigma of using them has curbed. Fiscal year 2014 loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs totaled nearly 440,000. While this showed a decrease in overall loans, the data actually shows a steady increase in purchase loan activity with a decrease in refinances. In other words, more folks are using the VA loan to buy year over year. VA Loans offer veterans the option of getting into a home for no money down, and do not require private mortgage insurance payments which can save a home buyer hundreds of dollars a month.
Veteran transactions are personal for me. My husband and I purchased our second home using a veteran loan in 2010. What a nightmare! For our first house, we didn’t even realize the loan existed. By our second home, I was working in real estate and was familiar with the loans but had not seen one all the way through. Unfortunately, the general thought process was full of inaccuracies on difficulties of using the loan. Many area agents were not familiar with the ins and outs of the loan, and hesitant to advise sellers to accept such offers. Myths surrounding VA processes had overshadowed the truths. The seller of our home almost did not sell us the house because of these misconceptions. I had to write a letter pleading them to give it a chance. And don’t even get me started on the actual loan process. We made the mistake of trusting one of the bigger banks with our file instead of a local lender with the same abilities.
Upon realizing a need to streamline the process, and get the word out about the actualities of the loan, in 2011 I began to offer local support by running Veteran Homebuying seminars. Through this, I made many great partnerships and referrals that I continue to work with today. This includes a fantastic network of local lenders and legal aid that are willing and eager to help Veterans purchase homes, in addition to a large veteran client base… many of whom attended the first of these and have now moved on to their second home purchases! The goal of the seminars was to get the word out to both veterans and the local agent community about VA loans. While we don’t hold as many seminars as we have in the past, I would like to think we had a hand in getting the word out about these now well utilized programs.
Some of the common misconceptions we worked hard to dissolve surrounded inspections and financial capability. Contrary to popular belief, buyers do not need to “pass” a VA Home inspection. In fact, home inspections are not a requirement of the loan, but a pest inspection is. A WDI (wood destroying insect) form is needed, and must be completed by a licensed pest inspector. An appraisal is also required, however this is not VA specific; appraisals are a requirement for any loan program. Appraisers are required to follow VA guidelines, which can mean a few requirements not necessary for other loan programs. In reality – these are few and far between, and often unique scenarios. When it comes to financing, sellers often do not realize that 100% down does not mean the buyer doesn’t have the money to purchase a home. Often, they are putting an earnest money deposit down like anyone else, but their deposit is returned at closing. Using a VA loan ensures they are locked in to some of the best market rates and low fees (as low as 3.75% with no closing costs earlier this month). VA loans are some of the easiest loans to qualify for when it comes to debt ratios, therefore reducing sensitivity to underwriting scrutiny. They are a win-win. Sellers supporting Veterans, and Veterans able to get into fantastic loan programs – a small benefit for the bravery they showed in protecting our country.
Every business has the ability to Thank a Veteran in some way, shape, or form. By discounts, donations, free meals, etc. At Parkway Real Estate, we are proud to support these folks as well. We have helped over 35 Veterans and their families buy, sell, or rent a home in Massachusetts. PRE will be hosting a Veteran Buyer seminar as part of the upcoming 2016 Seminar series. Be on the lookout for the time & date, and join us for snacks, refreshments, and good old fashioned home buying chatter. The event is free, and open to all current and former military members interested in learning more about their VA home loan guarantee benefits. All seminar attendees who work with PRE are offered free legal review for offers and P&S documents by a local Veteran friendly attorney in addition to a 10% commission rebate upon closing. For more information, please contact Danielle O’Brien at (508) 989 – 1989 or Parkway Real Estate’s main office at (857) 400-9098.
 http://www.benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/ABR-LoanGuaranty-FY14-10202015.pdf p.8
 Quoted on 11/3/2015 by Guaranteed Rate. Rates change daily – please discuss with your lender for an accurate quote for your situation.
Image: https://memphiskane.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/istock_000077295085_small.jpg?w=849 – searched & copied using Bing and license noted as free for commercial use.