Here are some answers to a few of the top VA home loan questions. Veterans home loans can be confusing. The program helps veterans of the United States military get a home after they have served our country. However, the benefits provides are not exactly straight-forward and simple to understand.
You may be wondering how much you can borrow, what the Special Adapted Housing Grants are or how to go about getting a VA loan. You’re certainly not alone and there are some very good VA lenders out there ready to help. Here are some of the things you should know about VA home loans before you start searching for a home.
Understanding the Specially Adapted Housing Grant (SAH Grant)
The SAH grant provides a way for disabled Veterans to live independently without barriers in their homes. Veterans can get as much as $77,307 to help with modifying or building a home to suit their specific needs. This can include things, such as:
• Adapting kitchens
• Installing ramps
• Adjusting walkways
• Modifying doors
• Updating garaging
• Adding flooring
• Adapting bedrooms
• And More!
Any improvements making the disable veteran more comfortable in their home qualify under the grant. Some of the conditions that qualify for the grant include:
• Sight limited to light perception
• Blindness in both eyes
• Loss of both arms, both legs or use of both arms or both legs
• Severe burn injuries
• Severe respiratory injuries
Veterans that think they may qualify for a SAH grant should call their local VA benefits office to apply. Don’t call your lender, as they won’t have answers for you. The VA in your area will be able to determine if you’re eligible for this grant.
Are VA Loans Hard to Get?
Some veterans think getting a VA home loan is difficult. However, in 2015, 72% of those applying for a VA loan were approved. The process includes six steps, which are:
1. Choosing a lender
2. Getting a Certificate of Eligibility
3. Becoming Pre-qualified
4. Finding a house and signing the contract
5. Appraisal and final loan application
6. Closing and moving in
These steps are not much different than the steps to buying a home with a conventional loan.
Finding out if you qualify for a VA loan is the hardest part. Your chosen lender will determine if you qualify based on credit score, debt-to-income ratio and a few other factors. It usually takes a “fair” credit rating to qualify, as long as you meet the other qualifications. You will need to show stable income and a DTI of 41% or lower. However, there is some leeway with the DTI qualification.
How Much can I Get from a Full Entitlement
VA-eligible borrowers will be able to get a VA loan backed up to $144K if they have full entitlement. However, this is just the basic entitlement. Tier II or Bonus entitlements allow additional backing up to $417K or higher.
When you receive your Certificate of Eligibility, don’t jump to any conclusions. You may have access to more than it shows depending on your income and credit. It’s best to contact your local VA Regional Loan Center or the lender you chose to find out what you really qualify for.
Who Qualifies for VA Home Loan Benefits?
If you served in any branch of the military including the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps and Public Health Service Corps, you may be eligible for VA loan benefits. You may be able to get a VA loan if:
• You served in the Reserves or National Guard for 6 years
• Served in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines for 2 years
• Served during war-time for at least 90 days as active duty
• Service during peacetime as active duty for at least 181 days
• Are a surviving spouse of a Veteran
• Are a midshipmen or cade of a military academy
• Are a member of another Federal service organization
• Were released for a duty-related disability
The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to fill out the VA paperwork and apply for a Certificate of Eligibility.
Are VA Home Loan Benefits Available for Widows of Veterans?
If you’re a surviving spouse of a veteran, you may be eligible for VA home loan benefits to buy or refinance a home. If your spouse was rated totally disabled, you may also qualify. There are several different qualifications to meet as a widow of a veteran or a survivor of a veteran. Surviving spouses of POW or MIA for 90 days or more may also be able to get some benefits.
It’s best to speak with a VA-approved lender and the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out if you’re eligible as a surviving spouse.
There are several questions you probably have about VA home loans and your eligibility. You’re not alone and your local VA office will help you figure out your eligibility. It’s also smart to find a VA-approved lender in your area and speak with them about what you might qualify for.