Service members move a lot.
A move may take them across the country or to the other side of the globe. When it comes time to buy a place to call home, a Veterans Affairs loan may be able to help them do it for less.
Since its inception in 1944, the VA loan program has helped more than 20 million service members and veterans purchase homes, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. Today, it can provide lower interest rates than traditional loans and other advantages for those who are eligible.
If you're considering buying a home, here are three reasons a VA home loan might be a smart decision:
1. The perks can be big. "Typically, a VA loan is a good choice for eligible veterans who want to avoid a down payment and who want 100% financing," says Winston Wilkinson, USAA's senior vice president for real estate lending. "But the choice should always come down to a veteran's personal situation."
Consider two of the biggest advantages of VA home loans:
- No need for a down payment. You can generally get 100% financing to help you get into your new home sooner.
- Mortgage insurance isn't required. Your monthly bill should be lower because you usually aren't required to pay private mortgage insurance, which can be part of a conventional loan.
While the mortgage rates associated with VA loans are often more favorable than other loans, a borrower's actual rate will vary based on personal credit rating and other factors.
2. They're available for repeat use. The VA loan is a reusable benefit. This can be particularly helpful for service members faced with frequent PCS orders that keep them crisscrossing the country.
3. The process is similar to other loans. The process of applying for a VA loan is essentially the same as applying for a conventional or FHA loan. Homebuyers establish themselves as trustworthy borrowers and provide evidence of income. An appraisal verifies the value of the home they are buying.
There are two exceptions:
- Establishing VA eligibility. You can do that yourself before you begin the process, or ask your lender to help.
- Getting a VA-approved appraisal. You lender will get an approved appraiser assigned to your case, and the VA sets maximum fees for the work.
Counselors at the VA Loan Guaranty Service can help you through the process.