Being new to the military brings a lot of changes, experiences, and opportunities that can be overwhelming. One of those opportunities can be discovering what a VA Loan is all about — how it works, why you might want to get one, and more. If you’re considering securing a VA Loan for your new home, take a look below. Alexis Miller from MILLIE presents 6 smart details about the program.
If you’re brand new to the military lifestyle, let me be one of the first to say, “Welcome!” As you begin your time with the service, one of the first things you may experience is a PCS move. And with that comes the challenge of finding a home. If you feel like now is the right time to buy, then here are a few things you need to know about the VA Loan.
1. It’s Available to You Right Now
Contrary to what the name indicates, the VA Mortgage (a.k.a. VA Loan) is available to active duty members, veterans, reservists and National Guard members. Some spouses of veterans are also able to apply for the loan, as well as individuals with service as members of certain organizations. You can check out the full list of eligibility requirements at the VA website. But chances are even if you’re new to the military, your spouse is eligible to use the benefit.
2. It Makes Buying Your First Home Easier
The VA Mortgage is a loan with no down payment that often offers a better-than-average interest rate. There are relaxed qualifications for being able to get approved for the loan and there is no Private Mortgage Insurance required. These benefits remove some of the barriers to buying a home, making it easier for to become homeowners.
3. You Can Get Started Finding a Home Right Away
If you’re headed into your first PCS you don’t have to wait to arrive at your first duty station to start looking for a home. In fact, if you’re more than 90 days out from buying a home you can call your bank/lender to get an estimate of how much you’ll be approved for. That will give you an idea of what price point to stay below when looking for a new place. Doing this also arms your realtor with valuable information that allows them to help narrow your home search.
4. Finding a VA Loan Realtor® Is Important
Just like you wouldn’t want an average dentist working on your teeth, you don’t want an average realtor handling your home-buying transaction. Finding a realtor who has experience with the VA Loan process and who has some military experience themselves makes all the difference in the world. Using an AgentHero, offered by MILLIE, means you’ll get an agent who is not only passionate about helping military families, but has lived the military life as well. They’re familiar with how the VA Loan works, and they’ll be able to step you through every part of the process, keeping you informed. This makes signing your first mortgage a lot less scary!
5. There Are Limits to This Benefit
My guess is there are big dollar signs in your eyes right about now. You’re thinking about that newly renovated house you saw on Zillow in that fantastic neighborhood… and it’s only going for $600K! Not to crash the party, but there are limits to the VA Loan. For starters, the amount is limited to $417K in most areas (jumbo loans are available for certain areas, but often your dollar doesn’t go as far there). If you exceed the loan limit, you have to provide a down payment for the rest of the purchase price of the home. That can get pricey.
6. Your Entitlement Is Reusable
Probably the best news of all is that the VA Loan is reusable! It’s not a one-time benefit, but one can you use every time you PCS. If you sell the home you used the VA mortgage on previously you will reinstate whatever portion of your entitlement that you used, as well as the full $417K benefit. Actually it is possible you can buy two homes using your VA entitlement depending on how much of your entitlement remains. Be sure to contact a VA loan specialist to find out how your entitlement can be used on your next purchase, at your next duty station, or wherever it is your family is headed next.
I hope this information helps you when it comes time to consider buying your first home! The VA Loan is a great benefit for military families and is one that can mean the difference between renting for 20 years and owning a home at your first duty station.
Alexis Miller is the Social Media Coordinator for MILLIE, a website dedicated to making the PCS process easier for military families. Their free information on duty stations, experienced AgentHeroes and helpful Scouts are all resources military families can tap into any time they have to PCS. When Alexis isn’t busy working for MILLIE, she’s doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing or traveling.