By Laura Gutmann on January 18, 2010
What is a VA Home Loan?
The department of Veteran’s Affairs manages an extensive benefit program that makes it easier for those who have served in the armed forces to achieve home ownership. A private lender makes the loan, but the VA program guarantees it. This provides veterans with the opportunity to buy a home without having to come up with a down payment.
What are the benefits of this type of loan?
Besides not having to make a down payment, veterans participating in the program can also negotiate interest rates, receive pre-purchase counseling, avoid mortgage insurance premiums, and receive assistance with financial difficulties, among other advantages.
Keep in mind that although an eligible veteran’s basic entitlement for a loan is currently $36,000, a private lender has the final say when granting approval, so having good credit is still important.
In addition, a guaranteed loan is still a loan – that you will need to repay on a regular basis, just like you would any mortgage.
How do I know if I qualify?
In general, members of the armed forces currently on active duty qualify after serving 181 days or more. Those who have previously served will usually need to have completed at least 90 days of active duty. It is also possible to become eligible if you are a widow of a veteran who died as a result of service, went missing in action or became a prisoner of war. Those with a more limited armed forces affiliation, such as cadets, should also investigate the possibility of a VA loan if they are considering purchasing a home.
Through the VA website you can request a certificate of eligibility, and determine if this loan program applies to your circumstances. Your lender may also be able to help you with this process.
It is also important to know that this home must be for your personal occupancy.
What is the best place to look for more information?
The Veteran’s Affairs office has consolidated a wealth of official information about VA Home Loans. In addition, it has established regional loan centers, which you can contact to discuss your individual situation. Finally, veterans can also access related resources by visiting the Veteran’s Information Portal.