VA Loans

Congress created the VA Loan Guaranty Program in 1944 to help returning service members achieve the dream of homeownership. Since then, the Department of Veterans Affairs has helped more than 18 million military members purchase homes.

What is a VA Loan?

A VA loan is perhaps the most powerful and flexible lending option on the market today. Rather than issue loans, the VA instead pledge's to repay about a quarter of every loan it guarantees in the unlikely event the borrower defaults. That guarantee gives VA-approved lenders greater protection when lending to military borrowers and often leads to highly competitive rates and terms for qualified veterans.

What are the Key Benefits of a VA Loan?

Far and away, the most significant benefit of a VA loan is the borrower's ability to purchase with no money down. Apart from the government's UDSA's Rural Development home loan and Fannie Mae's Home Path, it's all but impossible to find a lending option today that provides borrowers with 100 percent financing.

VA loans also come with less stringent underwriting standards and requirements than conventional loans. In fact, about 80 percent of VA borrowers could not have qualified for a conventional loan. These loans also come with no private mortgage insurance (PMI), a monthly expense that conventional borrowers are required to pay unless they put down at least 20 percent of the loan amount.

  • Competitive interest rates that are routinely lower than conventional rates
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Sellers can pay up to 6 percent of closing costs and concessions
  • Higher allowable debt-to-income ratios than for many other loans

Extra Costs to the Seller

If you are obtaining a FHA loan in order to finance your purchase, you must include that information in your offer. This is because government loans place additional financial and performance obligations on the seller.

Non-Allowable Fees

FHA loans prohibit buyers from paying certain types of fees that are often charged by lenders, escrow companies, settlement agents, and title companies. They are called "non-allowable" fees. They still get charged anyway, but as the buyer, you are "not allowed" to pay them. The result is that the seller ends up paying them instead of you.

Most of these "non-allowable" fees come from your lender. By the time you are making an offer you should have already been pre-qualified by a loan officer, so you or your real estate agent can ask how much the lender’s non-allowable fees will be. 

Since these are fees the seller would not pay on an offer with conventional financing, this information must be included in your offer. You should also realize that since the seller will be paying these additional fees, they may be a little less negotiable on the price.