Military families are special. The character of their lives is marked by sacrifice, dedication, and unending support. They know what it means to come together as a family unit to make it through long trainings and deployments. They learn how to overcome physical distance with heartfelt goodnights via FaceTime, and teach their children the value of sacrificing personal time to serve something greater than themselves.
Military spouses keep households running while their loved ones are away—an act of service and sacrifice in its own right. They provide the invaluable emotional support that is so vital to service members’ mental health and wellbeing.
November is Military Family Appreciation Month—and what a time to celebrate family! As we gather together for the upcoming holidays, we invite you to take time with us to honor the sacrifices and celebrate the successes of military families across the country. We’d like to pay special tribute to the families who have met the unique demands of military life while also navigating a global pandemic with courage, commitment, and resilience.
Being part of a military family isn’t all about sacrifice—there are some perks that come with the territory! As a dedicated military advocate who’s spent the past three decades helping military families take advantage of their benefits and obtain low-interest home loans, I’d like to share some tips for service members and their families who want to use their VA loan to purchase a home.
VA Home Loan Basics
One of the most celebrated benefits of military service is the VA home loan (also called VA loan for short). Among other housing-related programs, the VA provides a financing option for eligible service members, veterans, and surviving spouses to purchase, refinance, or improve a primary residence.
VA loans are available through VA-qualified lenders like banks and mortgage companies to provide home loan financing with favorable options. For military members, the VA loan program enables eligible veterans and active-duty military personnel to finance up to 100% of a home’s value.
Some additional features worth mentioning include:
- VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs
- Maximum 100% LTV (loan to value) purchase
- Seller may pay all or part of buyer’s closing costs and up to 4% of the value of the property in seller concessions
You can obtain a VA loan through a VA-qualified lender of your choice (like SWBC Mortgage!), who will help you obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). To be eligible, you must have a good credit score, sufficient income, a valid COE, and meet certain service requirements.
Do You Qualify for a VA Home Loan?
According to the VA, the length of your service or service commitment and/or duty status may determine your eligibility for specific home loan benefits. After about six months of service, most active-duty military personnel, members of all military branches, and veterans qualify to apply for a VA home loan. Reservists and members of the National Guard can apply after six years, unless they are called to active duty before that.
Here are some common qualifications for a VA home loan:
- Serving 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
- Serving 181 days of active service during peacetime
- Serving as an active member of the National Guard or Reserves for six years or more
- Being married to a service member who died in the line of duty or from a service-related disability
A VA home loan can really help veterans get into their dream home, but it’s important to remember that qualifying for a VA loan is a separate process from qualifying for a mortgage. Make sure you partner with a loan officer that can help guide you through the entire loan process, from gathering up must-have documents, to prequalification and closing. They should also help you obtain the required COE to ensure a timely closing, as well as answer any questions you have about the homebuying process.
Service members and their families work hard for their wins. This Military Family Appreciation Month, celebrate your military family’s dedication and commitment by taking advantage of the VA loan. If you're a veteran and you're considering purchasing or refinancing a home, make sure you check it out—don’t miss out on all the perks you and your family deserve for your military service!
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