Buying A House VA Home Loans — 30 March 2011

When the time comes to buy your house in Pierce County, active duty personnel and veterans turn to their VA Home Loan.  VA Loans are one of the best loan products out there, and they have helped millions of families across America become homeowners.  Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding using your VA in Pierce County.

Q.  Where do I start? Do I find a Real Estate Agent or get my loan first?

A.  Technically, you can find a lender and pre-qualify for your loan before you find your Real Estate Agent.  Especially if you’re new to the area it’s a good idea to find a Real Estate Agent you like and trust who knows the communities you are thinking of buying in and ask for recommendations from them to Pierce County mortgage lenders who understand the nuances of how to process VA Loans.

Q.  What is a Certificate of Eligibility? How do I get one?

A. Certificates of Eligibility For Home Loan Benefits are issued by the VA and are the official documentation that you qualify to use this benefit.  Most of the time the mortgage lender you work with can get it for you, in some cases you need to apply using a VA Form 26-1880.  If the Veteran is enlisted, they will need to provide a Statement of Service from their CO. If the Veteran is separated from service then seperation papers or a photocopy of your DD214 is needed.  The VA has a detailed FAQ regarding eligibility here.

Q. How much money do I have to save to buy a house using my VA?

A. VA Loans require no down payment from the buyers, but that doesn’t mean there are no costs! Closing costs are for things like title insurance, the buyers share of escrow, and other costs and fees related to the transaction. Typically these costs end up being about 3.5% of the cost of the house- so for example on a $250,000 house, the closing costs would be about $8,750.   Buyers should speak with their Agent about negotiating with the seller to cover these costs.   In addition to closing fees, buyers will have costs related to home inspections- which can vary depending on the size of the house.

Q. Do I have to get a home inspection? I thought the VA did that!

A.  While it’s true that VA Appraisals are more thorough than standard appraisals (the VA is looking out for you, and wants your house to be in great shape!) it is no substitute for a thorough home inspection by a licensed home inspector familiar with the type of home you are buying.

Q.  I’ve had some credit issues in the past- am I going to be able to buy a house with my VA?

A. Depending on the type of credit issues, you should be able to use your VA.  Since the minimum scores required vary from bank to bank, the best thing to do is talk to a mortgage lender about your credit report and find out if there is anything you should be doing for your credit before you apply for your loan. According to Kathy Roark at Windermere Home Mortgage, “We require a credit score of 620 or higher, and collections and judgments need to be paid in full.”  Again, this can vary, so check with your lender to find out where you stand.

The VA Loan is one of the best loans out there.  The key is finding a Real Estate Agent and Mortgage Lender in Pierce County who work with them and know how to help you get the best deal on your next home.  If you’d like to talk to one of our VA Specialists, contact us.

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Joint Base Living is a blog about food, neighborhoods, events, and things to do near JBLM!

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