By Maceo Keeling –
If you have at least 90 days of total active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for the Veterans Administration Home Loan Guaranty Program, often called the “VA Loan.”
A very common and unfortunate misunderstanding is that the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program in the United States General Infantryman Bill (GI Bill) provides loans—it does not! As the name states, it is a loan guarantee for U.S. Armed Services personnel. The federal government will “back up” the loan that a service member qualifies for with a bank or lending institution.
On the VA Administration website, statistics show that only one out of three service members know about this benefit. Under the program, qualified buyers can borrow up to $417,000 in most locations before they have to make a down payment.
VA lenders generally look for a 620, or “Fair,” FICO credit score, so you still have to qualify with a lender.
VA Loans also allow veterans and active military to bounce back faster after a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sale. You can be eligible for a VA Loan two years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge; one year after filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy; and two years following a foreclosure.
Some lenders have no required waiting period following a short sale.
The VA also limits what lenders can charge in closing costs. In addition, sellers can pay all of a buyer’s mortgage-related closing costs and up to 4% in concessions, which can cover things like prepaid expenses or even paying off collections and judgments at closing.
Qualified veterans can use the VA Loan Guaranty Program over and over again. In fact, it’s possible to have more than one active VA Loan at the same time. It’s possible to remain eligible for a VA loan even if you lose a VA backed home to foreclosure.
The application process is very clear, but it is also the process that keeps many service members from applying for the benefit.
Overall, the program is one of the best benefits available for home purchase. So service members and former service members, “ATTENTION!”
Checkout the GI Benefits section on the Veterans Administration website (www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/) and find out what you have earned. And, thank you for you service!
“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to become great!”
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The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.