What You Need to Know About the VA Loan Program, and How It Can Benefit You

Our military personnel do a great deal for our country, and one of the ways the government thanks them for their service is with the VA loan program, which allows both past and current military personnel a better option for financing. 

Originally established in 1944 as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, a VA loan is available for any individual who has served in active duty in any branch of the U.S. military for a minimum of 90 days, and it has helped millions of people and their families purchase a home. 

In addition to servicemen and servicewoman, non-active duty personnel, such as individuals in the Army Reserves or National Guard, may apply for a VA-backed mortgage, provided they have completed six years of service. The spouses of deceased or missing military members are also eligible if they have not remarried.

The major advantage of a VA loan is that it doesn't require a down payment. It also doesn't have private mortgage insurance. It does require the borrower to pay a one-time funding fee on their purchase, which can be paid up front or financed into the total cost of the loan. The funding fee for regular military members is 2.15 percent of the loan. Reservists pay a fee of 2.40 percent.

According to recent figures by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, more people took advantage of the program in 2013 than ever before, with close to 630,000 VA loans given out. This was mostly due to historically low interest rates.

Still, many veterans, especially those discharged years ago, often don't realize that such a benefit exists. That’s why the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has increased its efforts to let veterans know about the VA loan program, and all the benefits it offers. 

To qualify, borrowers must show enough monthly income after paying personal debts and housing costs to meet “residual income” levels set by the department. A VA loan must be for a primary residence and the limits on the amount someone can get are based on area median home prices. The 2014 limits range from $417,500 to $1,094,625.

One other important note: borrowers who received a dishonorable discharge from any military branch are not eligible.

To learn more about the VA loan program, contact our office today. 

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