If you have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military, you deserve a welcome mat laid out at the doorstep of your very own home. And we’re here to help you get your well-deserved homebuying benefits.
There are numerous benefits you may be entitled to, including special loans with no down payments or private mortgage insurance (PMI), refinancing opportunities and even funds for upgrades. We’ll cover a few here but encourage you to meet with a knowledgeable lender or real estate agent to fully understand how benefits apply to your specific situation and how you can take advantage (because the government sure is fond of rules and paperwork).
An agent like Kimberly Larkin-Ritter of Berkshire Hathaway can help guide you to your just rewards. Larkin-Ritter stays educated on VA benefits and will work with her clients on issues that could be keeping them from qualifying for a home loan. “They come back from deployment and don’t always get the guidance they need,” she says. “I’m here to help them however I can, whether that means spending a year or two fixing credit or searching for their perfect family home.”
And members of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, which has chapters in the southern and northern ends of the state, are committed to “increasing sustainable homeownership, financial-literacy education, VA loan awareness, and economic opportunity for the active-military and veteran communities.”
VA Homebuying Resources
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), home loan programs may be used to buy a new home; refinance an existing home loan; or install energy-saving improvements.
With a VA direct home loan, the VA acts as your mortgage lender. With a VA-backed home loan, the VA acts as the guarantor for the portion of the loan you get from a private lender. This means less risk for them, so a higher likelihood that you’ll qualify, even if your credit score isn’t as high as it could be.
The other benefits of a VA-backed home loan include:
- No down payment as long as the sale price isn’t higher than the home’s appraised value
- Better terms and interest rates than other loans from private banks, mortgage companies or credit unions
- The ability to borrow up to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loan limit on a no-down-payment loan in most areas — and more in some high-cost counties (You can borrow more than this amount if you want to make a down payment)
- No need for PMI or mortgage insurance premiums (MIP)
- PMI is a type of insurance that protects the lender if you end up not being able to pay your mortgage. It’s usually required on conventional loans if you make a down payment of less than 20% of the total mortgage amount.
Read: The Dreaded PMI
- MIP is what the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires you to pay to self-insure an FHA loan against future loss.
- Fewer closing costs, which may be paid by the seller
- No penalty fee if you pay the loan off early
VA-backed home loans can be used to:
- Buy a single-family home, up to 4 units
- Buy a condo in a VA-approved project
- Buy a home and improve it
- Buy a manufactured home or lot
- Build a new home
- Make changes or add new features (like solar power) to make your home more energy efficient
In addition to the above, there are special benefits for:
- Native American veterans who want to live on Federal Trust land
- Disabled veterans with service-connected disabilities, to modify a home to accommodate the disability
- Homeless veterans who need to be connected to resources to help them
The requirements for VA home loans are:
- Suitable credit and sufficient income
- A valid VA home loan certificate of eligibility (COE) that verifies to lenders that you qualify for benefits
- DD-214 or other applicable service documents
- Certification that you will occupy the home
- Other documents as needed for obtaining a home loan
You can calculate your VA home loan benefit online and then decide your next steps.
NHD Veteran Homebuying Resources
In addition to VA loans, we at the Nevada Housing Division created a Home Is Possible program specifically for Nevada veterans, active military and surviving spouses. Home Is Possible, a Program For Heroes offers a below-market fixed interest rate 30-year loan and a reduced monthly mortgage payment. There is no first-time homebuyer requirement.
The Housing Division offers online homebuyer education to help you prep for your big purchase and we’ve assembled a group of knowledgeable and helpful real estate pros and lenders to support you in the homebuying process. These folks will let you know what programs you qualify for, how much you can afford and how all of these programs work together.
“It takes special people to stand up and serve their country,” Larkin-Ritter says. “When they come back, they deserve all of these benefits. And more.”
If you’re a veteran, active military member or surviving spouse, we offer you a virtual high five and heartfelt “thank you” for your service. Now, let’s get you the perfect spot to lay that welcome mat.