By Ali Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
Veteran’s Day began in 1926 as a celebration of the end of World War I. Today, Veteran’s Day serves as another opportunity to honor all of those who have served in our nation’s military along with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) programs that assist military service members and eligible surviving spouses to attain the American Dream of homeownership.
Among the many benefits available to those who have served our country is the V.A. Loan Program which provides the opportunity for qualifying veterans to purchase a primary residence without putting any money down toward the sale price of the home. The V.A. Loan Program is a loan guarantee benefit which also assists qualified veterans to buy, build, repair, retain or adapt a home for their personal occupancy.
V.A. Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. The Veteran’s Administration guarantees a portion of the loan with a mortgage option enabling the lender to provide qualifying veterans with more favorable terms. While the V.A. Loan is designed specifically for those who served, there are requirements.
According to the V.A.’s www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans website, to qualify for a V.A. Loan there are specific service conditions each borrower must meet. The loan candidate must:
* have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime, or
* served 181 days of active service during peacetime, or
* have more than six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves, or
* be the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.
If interested veterans or surviving spouses meet the above requirements, they must then obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the V.A. The COE certificate is a very important part of the loan application because COE verifies that the applicant’s length and character of service make them eligible to use the V.A. home loan benefit.
To begin the process, V.A. Loan applicants can apply online or fill out VA Form 26-1880 which can be downloaded from the V.A.’s website, http://benefits.va.gov/benefits, and mailed directly to the V.A. at Atlanta Regional Loan Center, Attn: COE (262), P.O. Box 100034 Decatur, GA 30031.
While applicants interested in the V.A. Loan are not required to reach any kind of income threshold to use their home loan benefits, they are expected to have stable, reliable income that will cover monthly expenses including their new mortgage payment. Additionally, the V.A. requires that borrowers maintain a certain amount of income left over each month after all major expenses are paid.
The V.A. Loan Program is one of several programs offered by the V.A. including The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) which can lower the interest and reduce the monthly payment on the existing V.A. guaranteed loan; the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program which helps Native American Veterans purchase, construct, improve, or refinance a home on Native American trust lands (providing the applicant’s tribal organization participates in the V.A. direct loan program) and Adapted Housing Grants which assist veterans with certain total and permanent disabilities related to their military service to obtain suitable housing with either a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.
As Calvin Coolidge, the president who signed the first law to observe what we now call Veteran’s Day said, “the nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” Today, the V.A. Loan Program offers one of the best ways for America to recognize – and honor - its defenders.
For more in-depth information on any or all of these programs, visit the V.A.’s www.va.gov website and see all of the opportunities available to assist Americans who have served their country to attain homeownership or to make their existing homes more available, affordable or comfortable.
The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of homeownership, go to www.biabuild.com on the web.