Consider this: a mortgage program offers certain Americans a home loan with a zero down payment and no private mortgage insurance requirement. In addition, closing costs are limited and if the home is newly constructed, the builder must supply the buyer with a one-year home warranty.
Despite the obvious perks of the program, only 10.5 percent of the nation’s nearly 22 million veterans take advantage of this aspect of their Veterans Administration benefit offerings. When asked why, 33 percent of those who responded said they were completely unaware of the benefit, another group said that they went with the FHA loan because they assumed it was “easier” to obtain.
Obviously, the VA could be doing a better job informing (especially young) members of the military, veterans and surviving unmarried spouses about the VA loan and the mortgage industry could be doing a whole lot more to get the word out. So, today we’ll take a look at the program and learn why it may just be the best loan product on the market.
Remember, we aren’t VA, mortgage or financial experts, so consult with the appropriate professional should you have any questions regarding the VA home loan program and its benefits.
The basics of the VA home loan program
Like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t actually make loans, but offers lenders a guaranty, if the veteran defaults on the loan. Should this happen, the VA will pay from 40 to 50 percent of the balance of the loan (the percentage depends on the size of the loan).
As you can imagine, this promise enables lenders to relax when faced with a borrower who may have little or less-than-perfect credit and a lower-than-average income.
So, what can you do with the VA home loan program?
- Buy a home (a condo, too, if it’s in a VA-approved community)
- Build a home
- Simultaneously buy and rehab a home
- Buy a lot and/or manufactured home
Is the VA loan harder to qualify for than the FHA loan?
No-one quite understands why so many current members of the military and veterans assume that the FHA loan is easier to obtain. Although there are additional steps you’ll need to take when pursuing a VA loan, they are quick and somewhat easy (if you have the right lender).
To qualify, you’ll need to say “yes” to at least one of the following questions:
- Were you on active duty for at least 90 consecutive days during wartime?
- Have you served at least 181 days of active duty during peacetime?
- Have you served in the National Guard or Reserves for more than 6 years?
- Are you a widower or widow of a military service member who died either in the line of duty or as the result of an active-duty service-related injury or disability?
The biggest advantages of the VA loan
As previously mentioned, the biggest advantage of the VA loan is that you won’t have to put any money down. Now any conventional or FHA-backed loan for which a borrower submits a less-than 20 percent down payment will require the purchase of mortgage insurance (the Mortgage Insurance Premium in the FHA loan and private mortgage insurance, or PMI, with a conventional loan).
These policies cover the lender in the event the borrower defaults on the loan. This insurance, which benefits the lender should the borrower default on the loan, can add quite a chunk to your monthly mortgage payment. For instance, FHA’s annual mortgage insurance premium for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 3.5 percent down payment is 0.85 percent annually.
The VA loan has no monthly mortgage insurance premiums, closing costs are limited and there is no prepayment penalty. With no monthly mortgage insurance premium, the veteran’s house payment each month will be less than if he or she had obtained an FHA loan.
The VA home loan process
Yes, there are a few more hoops to jump through when dealing with the VA. Eligibility requirements, however, are much like those for FHA and conventional loans:
- “Suitable credit.” The VA doesn’t really explain what they mean by “suitable.”
- You should be able to prove that you have the income to cover all your bills and the house payment.
- You must live in the home (you can’t rent it out).
- You must present a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Most VA-approved lenders can access your COE online or you can access your COE on the eBenefits page of the VA website.
The biggest hurdle for vets is that these loans are provided by lenders and they all have their own guidelines. Shop around until you find one that you feel you can work with.
The West Coasts Premier Urban Professionals – Ski/Snowboard Weekend
March 10-12, 2017
Vacation with other urban professionals from across the country at Nevada’s premier winter resort. This vacation has something for everyone, including non-skiers/boarders; you won’t want to miss this experience!
Snowboard, ski, snowmobile, tubing, casinos, ice skate rink, dog sledding, carriage rides, gondolas, parties and more
Come for the snow or come for the parties ALL are welcome!!!
Placer County, California. Our territory stretches from the Sacramento Valley all the way to North Lake Tahoe. We are consistently ranked the 2nd healthiest county in California (but we’re bound and determined to get to 1st!), and we already rank 1st in quality of life. We boast the best schools, the best outdoor recreation, and the most beautiful views you’ll find anywhere, but we also are home to amazing art, award-winning wines and agriculture. We love it so much here – it’s a way of life we call the #PlacerLife. This is Placer.
Some people splurge on vacations, some on clothes, and others on things like Rolexes, cars, or fancy dinners. Me? I choose to contribute to my own personal spa fund. While my friends will take themselves on shopping sprees or out for drinks to celebrate accomplishments or unwind after a long week at work, I beeline straight towards my favorite spot for a 60-minute massage.
Which, in my opinion, makes me a bit of an expert on the subject. After all, I’ve gotten massages everywhere from five-star resorts, to local reflexology shops, beaches, and spa chains; I’m equally a fan of the budget-friendly deep-tissue massage and the relaxation-focused luxury resort Swedish style.
I get a lot of questions from people asking about “renting to own” a property, and I wanted to clear up some common misconceptions about rent to own situations.
Aspiring homeowners with lousy credit, no nest egg savings for down payments, or just plain low incomes may have a tough time purchasing a home—particularly as buyers with deeper pockets compete for the limited number of properties for sale.
That’s why it may be so easy for them to be lured in by the promise of rent-to-own properties—a fast-growing but slightly sketchy segment of the consumer housing industry. In these sorts of programs, tenants who can’t qualify for a mortgage will make monthly payments on a home they’re renting with the promise of owning it after a set number of years—usually between five and 20 years of payments. The payments are often higher than local rents, because tenants are essentially buying the property from their landlord over time. In many cases, they’re also responsible for making repairs on the homes.
The problem is that if a deal sounds too good to be true, well, we all know by now that it probably is.
Here’s the rub: Many renters in these arrangements never become homeowners—despite years of shelling out for repairs and extra-high rents, according to a New York Times investigation into Vision Property Management. The Columbia, SC–based firm is one of the largest firms in the field.
The deals often don’t come with consumer protections and may not even be enforceable in certain states. And it’s often the cheapest homes, those designed to appeal to the worst-off buyers, that come with the most pitfalls.
“It usually doesn’t end well for anyone involved,” Kevin Koel, a real estate attorney with Capital Farm Credit, in Bryan, TX, tells realtor.com®. The rent-to-own business “is rife for people to get taken advantage of.”
In the worst-case scenarios, there are no guarantees that the landlord (who could be an individual renting out just one property or a large company) even owns the property, he warns.
Sometimes landlords will try to evict tenants early to get out of the deals. “They’ll find some way to default you so they won’t have to honor the contract,” Koel says.
And even when tenants in these arrangements make their payments on time each month, that typically doesn’t give their credit scores a corresponding boost. That’s because sellers often don’t report the payments to credit bureaus, he says.
A better plan for those interested in rent-to-own propositions would be an owner-financed deal, says Cassandra McGarvey, a real estate attorney with Houston-based Sanders Willyard. They’re very similar to rent-to-own deals except the tenant gets the deed to the property.
Plus, their credit scores can go up if they pay on time. And they can’t be evicted as easily if they fall behind on payments as the home would need to go through foreclosure proceedings.
The problem for tenants is sellers are often reluctant to transfer the deeds to these super risky buyers.
If tenants can’t score an owner-financed deal, she recommends they have a record of the rent-to-own arrangement on the deed of the property. This provides them with some measure of protection if their landlord decides to sell the home to another buyer. Many title insurance companies would be hesitant to go through with a deal with a new buyer if they were aware of a rent-to-own arrangement, she says.
They should also have a home inspection performed so they understand what condition the property is in—and how much money they can expect to spend on repairs.
“If you’re buying a house with major foundation problems, it could cost you $20,000 to $30,0000,” McGarvey says. “You want to make sure you deduct that $20,000 to $30,000 from the price of the house.”
And finally, tenants and landlords need to hash out who will be responsible for paying property taxes, homeowners association fees (if there are any), and insurance. They should also put in writing when the deed will be delivered, assuming everything goes well, and who will get the insurance check if the home is destroyed by something like a fire.
With all of these potential problems, McGarvey advises tenants to steer clear of the arrangements. “They are designed to take advantage of lower-income, less credit-worthy individuals,” she says.
Rent control in L.A. primarily applies to multifamily buildings built before October 1978. When a new tenant moves in, a landlord can set the rent as high as someone is willing to pay, but rent increases in subsequent years would be capped — recently at 3%.
Tenants in rent-controlled buildings have strong protections against eviction to ensure landlords can’t kick them out to charge higher market rents.
But under the Ellis Act, passed in 1985, landlords are able to evict tenants if they intend to either take the housing off the rental market or demolish the building to put up new apartments.
Hawthorne is prime for gentrification. 10 minutes away from the beach, like 5 minutes from LAX, easy access to the Green Line, adjacent to Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, and Inglewood, and bounded by the 405 and the 105. The fact that SpaceX has a big facility here, employing many tech workers, is a big plus.
I moved to Hawthorne a year ago and saw this coming!!!