Top 10 Most Notable Women Veterans

2 female marines conduct a security patrol in Afghanistan, There is a compelling argument to be made that American women have been fighting battles and waging wars against gender-bias and socio-sexual mores since our country’s inception.

From the struggles for equality by “suffragettes” Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the early 20th century to Gloria Steinem and the birth of the modern feminist movement, women have been fighting for freedom as fervently and legitimately as many enlisted soldiers.

But as an unfortunate by-product of the groundbreaking successes of American feminism, history often overlooks those women who have served in uniform. The following is a list of some of the most famous women veterans in our history. We here at Low VA Rates want to thank these women for their courage and service.

  1. Yeoman Lorretta Walsh – In early March, 1917 Loretta Walsh became the first woman in the history of the United States to enlist in the armed forces and the first female petty officer of the Navy in 1917. Apparently, the events leading up to World War I were what inspired her to enlist. She served four years in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was one of the first female Naval officers to receive equal pay, benefits, and responsibilities to those of her male counterparts. A true revolutionary!
  2. Dr. Mary E. Walker – Dr. Mary E. Walker was the first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in U.S. history. She was awarded it for her miraculous diligence as a medic during the United States Civil War. However, after her involvement in the suffragette movement became known, she was stripped of her medal and asked for it back. True to character, however, Dr. Walker wore the medal proudly until her death, and the validity of the award was posthumously reinstated by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
  3. Lt. Kara Hultgreen – Lieutenant Kara Hultgreen was the Navy’s first fully qualified female carrier-based fighter pilot. She was a Distinguished Naval Graduate of the Aviation Officer Candidate School, and earned the call-sign “Hulk” for her amazing strength. Hultgreen tragically died in a training accident in 1994 when her F-14 Tomcat crashed into the Pacific, but her exemplary willingness to serve has inspired countless women.
  4. Elizabeth C. Newcume – Like other trailblazing women throughout history, Elizabeth C. Newcume disguised herself as a man and served in the U.S. military for almost a year during the Mexican-American War. Her sex was discovered ten months later and she was discharged as a result. However, Newcume would later win back the service benefits promised her in her military contract, including land grants and back/hazard pay equal to that of a man’s..
  5. Margaret Corbin – Margaret Corbin was never officially enlisted in the armed forces, but that didn’t stop her from fighting for her independence during the Revolutionary War. She joined her husband and 600 other men in defending Fort Washington in 1776, taking over for him after he was wounded and unable to return to his post. Her ability to clean, load, and fire the cannons was like unto an enlisted officer. However, she sustained injuries in the battle left her permanently disabled. In 1779, the United States Congress awarded Corbin with some disability benefits, making her the first woman in America to receive any, including one-half soldiers pay and enlistment in the Corps of Invalids.
  6. Master Sergeant Barbara J Dulinsky – Master Dulinsky was a volunteer enlistee during the Vietnam War. In 1967, she became the first female Marine to serve in an active combat zone after reporting to the Military Assistance Command in Saigon.
  7. Clara Maass – Clara Maass was a contracted nurse for the United States Army whose service during the Spanish-American War was highly distinguished. She selflessly volunteered to undergo experimental treatment for a yellow fever outbreak after her retirement, which ultimately claimed her life but lead to the safety of many more lives. To honor her sacrifice, it was decided she would be the first woman ever immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp.
  8. Sgt. Esther Blake – Sgt. Esther Blake became the first woman to enlist in the United States Air Force within the first minute of the first hour women were granted the ability to do so in 1948. The USAF had been authorized as an official branch of the military just nine months earlier, making Blake not just the first woman but one of the first individuals ever to join the Air Force. She went on to serve 50 combat missions in the air, and has left an extraordinary legacy behind her of women serving.
  9. Annie G. Fox – Annie G. Fox was a member of the Army Nurse Corps who braved and survived the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor. She was the first woman ever to be awarded the Purple Heart for her extreme valor, though at that time, the award qualifications did not require the recipient to have been wounded in battle. When the qualifications changed in 1932, Fox’s Purple Heart was replaced with a Bronze Star, since she was not actually wounded during the Pearl Harbor attack.
  10. PFC Maureen Daugherty – In April 1986 Daugherty became the first American woman to make a dangerous parachute drop into Bolivia. Just making the short list to be part of the Army Paratroopers was distinction enough, a tradition dating back to those who served in WWII at Normandy, France, featured in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers’.

Thanking Our Female Veterans!

We at Low VA Rates are endlessly thankful for the women whose lives pioneered greater freedom and opportunity for generations of women to come. And we stand by and support the women we know and love today in their continued fight for equal rights, particularly those serving in the armed forces. Thank you for sacrificing your friends, family, careers, and lives to protect us. You inspire us every day to do more to serve veterans in our community and around the country. To learn more about what we do at Low VA Rates to give back to veterans, visit our website or give us a call today at 866-569-8272.

Beginners Guide to VA Loans

We are continuing our series on the Beginners Guide to VA Loans here in this post. At Low VA Rates, we answer a lot of questions of all different types and especially about the VA Loan. We get questions like, what is a VA Loan? What are the benefits of a VA Loan? How do I qualify for a VA Loan?, and many others. To help out, we created the beginners guide to VA Loans below as a slide deck on Slideshare.net for your reference. Please check this out and pass it along to any Veteran or active military members you know. And, thanks!

The Beginners Guide to VA Loans

At Low VA Rates, we answer questions all day long about home loans of all different types, but especially about the VA Loan. What is a VA Loan? What are the benefits of a VA Loan? How do I qualify for a VA Loan? Those are just a few, so to help out we created the beginners guide to VA Loans below for your reference. Please check this out and pass it along to any Veteran or active military members you know. And, thanks!

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The Beginners Guide to VA Loans by LowVARates.com
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Bankruptcy and Your VA Loan Benefit

This article is meant to help those who have been through a bankruptcy and are looking to get their financial feet back under them and move forward in their life’s journey. No segment of the economy has been untouched by the real estate collapse. Veterans and their families need to know the future looks bright, no matter the past.

If real estate and financial markets are terrains and the last few years have been a journey through them, then (wow), we are emerging from some bad jungle! The unfortunate part of this is that you or someone close to you likely has been financially harmed by the difficulty of the way.

How does Bankruptcy Affect Your VA Loan?

How does bankruptcy affect your ability to obtain a VA home loan? For most prospective VA borrowers, it’s pretty much good news: Experiencing a bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’re automatically out of the running for another VA-backed mortgage down the road.

Bankruptcy filings in federal court dropped 12 percent in the fiscal year 2013. So, yes, there is a recovery there. Some military personnel and vets and their families continue to seek shelter using either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection. The good news is that a responsible homeowner who has used Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection can, without a doubt, get their overall fiscal health back on track.

Accept this dose of reality: a bankruptcy filing has negative consequences, which almost without fail includes a harpoon into your credit score. The road back goes a bit uphill and requires your hard work and dedication—pretty much what you would expect to get back on track after a derailment.

The hard work and dedication part are crucial because a new lender is going to want:

    • an explanation of your bankruptcy
    • evidence that you have re-established good credit
    • proof of job stability

It’s the Discharge Date!

Here’s key information: VA lenders typically won’t talk with you until you’re at least two years beyond the date of a bankruptcy discharge. Remember this detail. The clock starts ticking with the discharge, not with the initial bankruptcy filing.

It can be a different story for veterans who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. If your bankruptcy was Chapter 13 you may be eligible for a VA loan just 12 months removed from your filing date. Satisfactory credit and no late payments during that time will be the critical factors, with a stable job situation. You will also need to obtain permission from the bankruptcy trustee to take on those new monthly payments.

Losing a Home to Bankruptcy or Foreclosure

Home ownership is a road that can have many forks when it comes to bankruptcy or foreclosure.  Some homeowners will essentially give back their home during the bankruptcy process. Others may lose theirs to foreclosure months or even years after the fact.

It’s common to have a short sale or foreclosure after a bankruptcy discharges. Mortgage lenders face the challenge of trying to determine the status of a mortgage and whether it was discharged in a bankruptcy. Policies can vary on this, so it’s important to check with a loan specialist.

As long as your mortgage debt is truly discharged with the bankruptcy, a foreclosure that follows in the wake wouldn’t “restart” your two-year waiting period. The good news here is there should be no double-whammy with a foreclosure that happens months or years down the road.

Boosting Your Credit

A hurdle to getting a VA loan after bankruptcy will be your credit score. This may be the most critical factor that you can directly address. Spending those two years after the discharge working on credit repair is critical, and making your payments on-time is not less important.

A bankruptcy is not the end of the world. The VA has a policy that is not overly harsh with the veteran who has had the misfortune of a bankruptcy. The VA mortgage loan benefit continues in force and in availability to the person who has a recovery plan and works that plan.

We’re lowvarates.com and we would be happy to answer your questions.

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The Basics of VA Loan Assumption

The VA Loan assumption is a kind of gray area. Those who have taken out a VA loan or are familiar with the process have heard that a VA loan can be assumed under certain circumstances, but a lot of the particulars about how the assumption works and how it is carried out are not understood. VA Loan assumptions aren’t all that complicated, they just need a little bit of explaining to be laid out in an understandable way.

 

The “Assumability” of a VA loan is one of the biggest advantages of the VA Loan Guaranty in the first place. In fact, learning of the assumable nature of the VA loan is often what tips the scales for someone trying to determine if a VA loan is right for them. The reason this is such a large advantage is because it allows the new buyer to take over the loan at the established interest rate – instead of the current market rate. While that is true for any loan assumption, not merely VA loans, the VA will do you one better; the VA funding fee on an assumption of an existing loan is a mere .5%, as opposed to the 2.1-3.3% funding fee for the opening of a new VA loan. VA Loan assumptions also have a tendency to be in the right place at the right time. For a military member arriving at a new station, he or she has good odds that they’ll find another military member trying to sell their home in an area convenient to the base.

 

To take advantage of the VA loan assumption option, it’s important to know how it works. The VA has published clear, specific guidelines for assumptions. The first condition for the assumption is that the new borrower taking over the VA loan must also be VA eligible. It’s designed to work best in a situation where one VA borrower hands off the mortgage to another VA borrower. What is being assumed is the liability of the mortgage; the new borrower takes the liability of the mortgage over from the old borrower. But the condition that the new borrower is also VA eligible is not the only condition. In order for the Release of Liability (ROL) to be approved, three other conditions need to be met.

 

First, the payments on the loan need to have been kept up-to-date or (possibly) just be brought up to date by the time the assumption takes place. Second, the new borrower must have credit good enough to make it a smart risk on the part of the lender. This is important because the new borrower also needs to demonstrate an adequate ability to pay off the loan (make the monthly payments) just like if the new borrower was opening a new loan instead of assuming an old one. Third, the borrower has to put on paper that he or she is willing to assume the liability of the loan to the federal government. This requirement ensures that the new borrower fully understands the obligations that goes with assumption along with the benefits.

 

It is required by law to obtain an ROL for the loan assumption if the original loan was made on or after March 1, 1988. Being 25 years ago, that date means that the great majority of loan assumptions will need to obtain an ROL. Just in case the seller is tempted to engage in some sort of less-than-legal arrangement, the seller should be aware that if he or she does not obtain an ROL from the lender before the loan is assumed by the new buyer, the lender can force the seller to use the “due on sale” clause of the loan instrument. Not a pretty picture. The buyer could even be forced to pay the loan in full immediately or face an equally immediate foreclosure. They don’t joke around with the requirement to obtain an ROL.

 

For a loan that was opened pre-March 1988, an ROL is not required for it to be assumed, but it’s still a smart idea because it protects the seller in case the buyer has issues making payments or defaults on the loan. In this case, the ROL is not acquired through the lender, but directly through the VA. This is because a pre-March 1988 loan is considered freely-assumable. For the VA’s part, this is preferred because the buyer must take over the obligation to indemnify the VA for any losses on the mortgage. For additional protection, the VA will often recommend that the seller also obtain an ROL through the lender.

The History of VA Loans

During World War II, politicians wanted to avoid the postwar confusion about veterans’ benefits that became a topic of much debate in the 1920s and 1930s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted a postwar assistance program to help veterans transition from wartime to normal life. So many politicians from many parties, such as Harry W. Comery, Ernest McFarland, and Edith Nourse Rogers, helped write and sponsor the legislation. The Servicemen’s readjustment Act of 1944, known informally as the G.I. Bill, was the legislation that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). An important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen, later known as VA Loans. This enabled millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes. The VA loan guarantee program was especially important to veterans.  Under the law, as amended, the VA is authorized to guarantee or insure home, farm, and business loans made to veterans by lending institutions. Despite a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding, the federal government generally does not make direct loans under the act. The government simply guarantees loans made by ordinary mortgage lenders after veterans make their own arrangements for the loans through normal financial circles.  The Veterans Administration than appraises the property in question and, if satisfied with the risk involved, guarantees the lender against loss of principal if the buyer defaults. In association with the VA’s program, the Service members’ Civil Relief Act was passed in 1940 to protect the millions of active soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen, and other service members during World War II from financial woes on their home loan that may occur as a result of active duty commitments. It continues today to protect active service members from bankruptcy, being sued, and even freezes their interest rates at 6%, so those in service don’t have to worry about their home and family while away on duty. The Veterans Housing Act of 1970 removed all termination dates for applying for VA-guaranteed housing loans, a waiver on funding fees for post Korean War Veterans, and provision for direct loans to Veterans eligible for Specially Adapted Housing Grant, which is a grant given to Veterans who are entitled to compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability.  This 1970 amendment also provided for VA-guaranteed loans on mobile homes. More recently, the Veterans Housing Benefits Improvement Act of 1978 expanded and increased the benefits for millions of American veterans by increasing the maximum loan guaranty entitlement to $25,000 for home and condominium loans, and reduced the minimum service requirement for eligibility purposes for Vietnam Era veterans from 181 days to 90 days in order to equate Vietnam service that performed in prior wartime periods. Until 1992, the VA loan guarantee program was available only to veterans who served on active duty during specified periods. However, with the enactment of the Veterans Home Loan Program Amendments of 1992, program eligibility was expanded to include Reservists and National Guard personnel who served honorably for at least six years without otherwise qualifying under the previous active duty provisions. Such personnel are required to pay a slightly higher funding fee when obtaining a VA home loan. Qualifying for VA Loans has been fairly painless for many Veterans. The VA Loan program is designed for Veteran’s who meet the minimum number of days of completed service. The program does allow for benefits to Surviving Spouses. The VA does not have a minimum credit score used for pre-qualifying for a mortgage loan. However, most lenders require a minimum credit score of at least 620, so research the different venders available to you that will meet your credit score.  After you have found a lender, you will need to fill out the appropriate application with the appropriate documents needed. On October 26, 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it has guaranteed 20 million home loans since its home loan program was established in 1944. With guaranteed home loans that have no down payments, no private mortgage insurance (PMI), and even an option for a refinance of up to 100% of the loan amount, VA Loans are one of the biggest benefits and blessings to those who have served our country.

When Is It Wise to Lock in My VA Loan Rate?

By now, the low interest rates in the loan market are old news, but chances are they won’t stay that way forever. We’ve already said goodbye to the historic lows that were being seen not long ago, and interest rates can fluctuate dramatically over short periods of time. Now could be a very good time to look into refinancing or opening a VA loan, because of the generally very low interest rates. But something that often confuses borrowers and can even stop them from qualifying from a loan is the concept of locking in an interest rate during processing.

 

Borrowers are often frustrated when they agree to apply for a loan at a given interest rate one day, but by the time they are trying to close with the lender, the interest rate is a quarter of a percent more than it was the day they opened the application. In more extreme cases, borrowers get frustrated because the rates have risen so much that they no longer qualify for the loan that they applied for. There is a method to getting around this, called “locking” in an interest rate at the time of application. This is always an opt-in choice, and is subject to individual lenders’ policies regarding locking rates.

 

Since VA loans are financed by third party VA-approved lenders, and not the VA itself, all VA loans are subject to the lender’s policies and procedures, which cover rate locking as well. Locking is done at the request of the borrower, and prevents the interest rate from fluctuating higher – or lower. Locking will never be done without the permission of the borrower, and may not even be available depending on the rules of the VA lender you are working with.

 

All lenders require that you have applied for a specific loan for a specific property (no locking an interest rate while price checking over the phone) before allowing a lockout. Generally, lenders will not keep you posted on interest rates from day to day, and it is not their responsibility to do so. Choosing when to lock an interest rate is as important as choosing whether to do so at all. Loan periods can vary in length, but are generally long enough to get the loan completely processed and closed. It’s important to note that rate locks aren’t “free”. A thirty day rate lock could make a 4.00% loan with no points a 4.00% loan with one point.

 

Once locked, you can’t unlock the rate until the specified lock period has ended. So, if rates go down after you’ve locked, there’s generally not much you can do. However, in some cases, and with some VA lenders, the option of “floating down” exists. A Float Down is generally a one-time option where a borrower can opt to bring their locked rate down to the current market rate if it dropped after they locked. Most lenders that offer this option have specific requirements for a situation in order to allow a borrower to do so. A common requirement is that the interest rate must have dropped at least a quarter of a percent. When you get the paperwork for your loan when you apply, your lender should provide you with a copy of their lock policy. Read the policy carefully and understand exactly what your options are so you can make the best choice for your loan. There can sometimes be additional fees associated with locking an interest rate, which can catch you by surprise if you’re not prepared for them.

 

With the above information, the only remaining variable to deciding when to lock your VA loan rate is market situation. Often, in this case it is wise to rely on the advice and perspective of your VA loan specialist, who can tell you if it seems that rates are on the rise and it would be smart to lock, or if rates seem to be declining and you may want to hold off. Whether the market seems likely to rise or fall is the largest factor in considering locking. If you’re not sure about market trends and don’t have someone you can ask, you can always ask the lender you are working with. While they can’t provide specifics about what is going to happen, they should have a sense of the market direction, and a good VA lender is going to be on your side and give you the best information they have available to you

Historically Never a Better Time for a VA Home Loan

Let me take you back 60 years—that would have been 1963. In 1963 interest rates for a 30-year fixed home loan dropped below 6 percent. For approximately 40 years—between 1965 and 2005—interest rates stayed above that 6 percent mark, often several points above that mark.

There is no way to know if history will repeat itself, but it is a fair question to ask: if we were to go another 40 years before interest rates returned to the present historic lows, where would YOU be and would you be in a better position to take advantage of that opportunity?

There is no time like the present!

You have many different loan options right now for a VA home mortgage. You can get a fixed loan, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), or a refinance—all at historic lows. Just how good is the current VA interest rate? As I said earlier: you may not have a better opportunity for a veteran mortgage loan in your lifetime.

The timing is absolutely wonderful for a VA loan. I’d like to offer some advice, because almost everyone needs a lender to get into a home and everything in the lending industry is about risk assessment.

There are 3 key elements to any mortgage transaction.

  • Credit. Your credit score and history are the driving factor in this market. You can find out more about your credit (and even download a free credit report) at any of the “Big Three” credit bureaus’ websites:
    • Experian
    • Equifax
    • TransUnion
  • Debt to Income (DTI). This ratio determines how much of a payment you can afford under lending guidelines. The baseline for DTI is usually around 41%. (Calculate the money you spend on house maintenance, tax, insurance premiums, car loans, credit card bills, educational loans, etc. Then, calculate the amount you earn every month. Finally, calculate your debt-to-income ratio by dividing the first number by the second number.)
  • Loan to Value (LTV). This ratio determines how much you borrow against the value of the property. VA loan requirements allow for LTV & CLTV on purchases and IRRRL’s to 100%. The LTV & CLTV on cash-out refinances are allowed up to 90% of appraised value.

Additional Guidelines

A VA mortgage loan requires a certificate of eligibility (COE).  Getting help to apply for your COE (and get your other questions answered) is really pretty simple.

  • Credit Score. The VA insures VA loans and does not require a minimum FICO score. All lenders have their own requirements in addition to those of the VA. Most lenders today require the minimum mid-score in a tri-merge report to be at 620 or better. The credit report must clearly support an applicant’s ability to meet financial obligations in a timely, responsible manner. Lowvarates.com specializes in working with those below that tri-merge number.
  • Established Trade Lines. VA loan requirements allow for both traditional and alternative credit trade lines. However, most lenders require that you must have at least two lines of credit that you have maintained for at least two years.

Late Payments

VA loan requirements does not allow for more than one debt payments being more than 30 days late if the incidents have occurred within the last 12 months. This includes more than one late payment on a single account. In addition, individual lenders may have restrictions on late payments made in the last 12 months. No mortgage late payments made in the last 12 months are allowed on purchase and refinance of VA loan. And only a 1×30 mortgage late payment is allowed on a VA streamline (IRRRL).

Collections

VA loan requirements specify that most collection accounts outstanding must be paid, no matter what their age as long as they are currently delinquent and/or due and payable. Isolated collection accounts do not necessarily have to be paid off as a condition for loan approval. For example: a credit report may show numerous satisfactory accounts and one or two unpaid medical (or other) collections. In such instances, while it would be preferable to have collections paid, it would not necessarily be a requirement for loan approval.

Bankruptcies

Chapter 7 must be discharged for at least 2 years with no late payments since the date of discharge. Applicants who filed for Chapter 13 and have satisfactorily made at least 12 months of payments, and the Trustee or the Bankruptcy Judge approves of the new credit, the lender may give favorable consideration.

Liens

VA loan requirements will not allow for any delinquent federal debt such as student loans or tax liens or other government debt, no matter what their age as long as they are currently delinquent or due.

Foreclosures

VA loan requirements state that an applicant may be eligible if there was no loss of security on a foreclosure or a satisfied judgment that was completed more than 12 months prior to the date of the application. However, if there was loss of security due to a foreclosure, the applicant is ineligible for a VA loan within 36 months after foreclosure.

Child Support

VA loan requirements state that child support in arrears must be brought current. If a payment schedule has been established with the Court for the past due amount and a history of satisfactory payments is provided, the applicant will not be required to pay the past due amount in full. Both the payment for the past due child support and the regular court ordered support payment will be included in the applicant’s income to total debt ratio.

If you are paying court ordered child support, it is considered a liability payment (even though it may not show up on your credit report or your pay stubs as wage garnishment); it counts against your debt ratio (DTI). Receiving court ordered child support is considered a source of income.

Down Payment

VA loan requirements for a home purchase do not have a minimum down payment. The VA loan is one of the very few loans that can be financed to 100% with $0 down payment.

If you think about it for a minute, the current lending climate is one of the truly unique opportunities of our times. It won’t take long to contact lowvarates.com and get your questions answered as you start the ball rolling toward home ownership.

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

How Long Will Low VA Mortgage Rates Prevail?

Nobody out there has a crystal ball as to what will happen with the housing market, specifically, how long these low-interest-rate veteran’s mortgage loans will continue. But there are many industry experts and we are hearing some consensus that bodes well for homeowners: low interest will continue through 2014 and possibly beyond.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the national organization representing the real estate finance industry, predicts that by the end of 2013, the interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage will be at 4.4 percent or lower, increasing to 4.6% by the end of 2014.

This is particularly good news for veterans and reservists who have not used their VA home loan entitlement and who are working to set their financial house in order so they can get into their own home. There are many reasons you may not have acted on getting into your own VA home loan as yet—low credit score, strengthening your savings accounts, sorting through past financial problems, etc. The time is now right for you to press ahead until you can qualify for your VA home loan.

Why Now is a Good Time to Get a VA Loan

These historic lows in interest rates seem to be stuck in place for a while, but we all know they can’t last forever. The prudent thing would be to outline a plan for qualifying for a loan right now and begin your preparations so you can get into the home before interest rates rise.

For some perspective on interest rates: financing hundreds of thousands of dollars over 30 years means paying a lot of interestss. For instance, on a $400,000 fixed-rate VA mortgage loan, a mere two-tenths of a percent (the difference between an interest rate of 4.0 and 4.2 percent, for example) costs you an extra $16,400 over the life of the loan.

In December 2012, the Federal Reserve established specific targets for when it will raise interest rates. It said it won’t raise interest rates “as long as inflation isn’t forecast to rise more than 2.5% in the future and as long as unemployment remains above 6.5%.”

These two things are not likely to happen before 2015, at least. Who says so? Well, the Fed and the world’s top economists have published independent reports projecting inflation below 2.5% and unemployment above 6.5% through 2014.

Plan Now to Get Your Veteran’s Home Loan

Here are 5 things you can do today to prepare to get into your home while the VA mortgage interest rates are low:

  1. Get a free copy of your credit score so you know your number and you know where you need that number to be. Most conventional lenders require a credit score of 700 or higher to qualify for a home loan. Lowvarates.com has helped hundreds of homeowners get into homes with credit scores of 630 and even lower in some cases.
  2. If you have had financial setbacks and your credit score has suffered because of them, start correcting things now. Contact creditors and arrange to fulfill your debt obligations. There are a number of debt consolidation companies that can help you negotiate debt amounts and payoffs until you get back on track. Look for a company that provides a free service (rather than a company that requires a large up-front fee).
  3. Establish simple credit accounts—things like a gas card or a bank card—charge a modest amount to them and pay it all off immediately. Do NOT purchase things you don’t need and for which you can’t pay. Remember, the point of this is to strengthen your credit score by showing you pay your debts on time and completely.
  4. Research the housing market in the area you would like to live. With very little work, you can find out the price ranges in an area and what homes are going for (do it online). You might even be able to find government-owned properties that you can purchase at a reduced price. Visit the federal housing website, www.hud.gov, for listings. Talk to a local realtor for details on HUD homes.
  5. Establish savings. A great benefit of your VA entitlement is that you can get a VA home loan without a down payment. However, any homeowner can tell you that moving into a new home always has hidden costs. There is always something to fix or to improve. Having a savings account that you have ear-marked for your home will take the pressure off of your regular finances.

 

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

Roadblocks in Qualifying for a VA Home Loan

The VA mortgage loan program is a federal program that is accommodating, flexible, and favors the US military veteran borrower (you!). But that doesn’t mean VA lenders are willing to shell out money without condition. As a borrower seeking a veterans mortgage loan, you are still required to meet certain standards. If you fall short of those standards, you don’t need to panic. There are tried and true strategies to overcome any obstacle that may stand in your way to securing that VA loan.

Here are some common obstacles veterans and other program-eligible people encounter as they work on getting a VA Loan and into the home of their choice:

Reason 1: Credit Score is Too Low

According to the August 2012 Ellie May Origination Insight Report, the average qualifying credit score for a non-VA loan was 763. At Low VA Rates we will finance a loan with a credit score of 620, and can go lower in many cases. Most VA mortgage lenders will not go below 660. On VA streamline refinance loans we require NO appraisal and NO value determination at all. Almost every other lender does. (On a VA cashout refinance for debt consolidation etc., we go to 100% and all other lenders go to just 90% LTV.)

If your credit score is low, and you know that it is a potential problem, you should begin immediately to correct that situation. Most credit reporting companies use the FICO standard score to establish your credit rating. This pie chart shows how your FICO score is calculated:

As you can see, nearly 2/3 of your credit rating is determined by the amount of debt you carry and your history of paying your creditors on time. A simple and effective strategy to improve your credit score is to pay down your debt, keeping your schedules and commitments without payment delinquencies or non-sufficient funds (NSF) occurrences.

Reason 2: Home is Not in Good Condition

While other buyers will take a property in an “as-is’ condition, VA loan rules require repairs to be completed before escrow closes. VA home loans must be move-in-ready and not require significant repairs. But don’t abandon hope on getting a VA loan if the home you want to live in happens to need repairs. Many foreclosure properties have been damaged by previous owners and are on the market at bargain prices. With a little help, you can determine if the home is offered at a price that offers good value to you even considering the repairs that must be made. If you are buying the home from the current owner, you might be able to work out an agreement about completing the needed repairs so it will qualify for a VA mortgage loan.

Reason 3: Lots of Cash Buyers in the Local Market

Home prices across the US continue to recover from the dramatic drops that occurred in the recent economic downturn of 2011-12. The high number of distressed properties, particularly in regions hit hardest, made an attractive market for investors. Surprisingly, more than 40 percent of homes in some foreclosure-ridden markets were purchased with all cash. Going up against a cash buyer to purchase a home can be a tough row to hoe.

The VA imposes strict requirements on home condition, requiring a home inspection and any needed repairs for things like termite work, damages, and other repairs. So, any kind of mortgage (VA loan, FHA, or conventional loan) takes longer to close than all-cash deals, which don’t even require an appraisal. While the process may seem frustrating, keep in mind that this VA requirement is meant to ensure the value of your new home and protect you as a homeowner.

Reason 4: Impatience

Finally, if you have pre-qualified for a VA loan but have lost out on getting into a specific home for whatever reason, be patient. Now is actually a great time to get into a home. VA interest rates are at historic lows. The home market will continue to stabilize and you will be able to work through the process of getting into a home that feels like home.

Many veterans who successfully qualified for a VA loan exercised a strategy of patience in finding the home of their choice. Many report working through several potential deals until everything fell into place and they could get into the home they desired.

Don’t let a competitive market, a home in need of repairs, or a low credit score deter you from your goal of home ownership. And remember that patience might just be the brightest tool in your bag as you work on getting into that home.

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

Why Buying a Home with a VA Loan is Your Best Option

You are a veteran (or other qualified participant) and you are wondering if a VA loan is the right way to go. Simply put, for veterans who meet the eligibility requirements of the Veterans Home Loan Program, it will in most cases be your best option. Yes, there are certain restrictions and rules of compliance—such as occupancy requirements. You will need to apply and go through the eligibility process before you can even seek a loan, but the positives almost always trump any negatives.

I’m giving you a quick list of reasons why a VA loan may be your best option:

  • No mortgage insurance premiums – a real benefit in the current housing market.
  • Homes are inspected and appraised by VA prior to approval and/or during construction.
  • VA can offer assistance to veteran borrowers in default due to temporary financial difficulty.
  • There is no down payment required (though you can make one).
  • You can finance the VA funding fee in the loan.
  • VA Loans do not require perfect credit – there is no credit score cut-off.
  • Flexible mortgage types – fixed, hybrid and traditional ARMs.
  • VA guaranteed mortgages are assumable.
  • No pre-payment penalties on a VA loan.
  • Refinance and interest rate reduction loans are available.
  • VA funding fees may be waived for veterans with service-connected disabilities and surviving spouses of veterans with service-connected disabilities.
  • Closing costs may be shared between the buyer and lender.

If things have been tight financially lately; or, if you have gone through a bad spell somewhere along the way, there is something else to consider about the VA mortgage loan program. Lenders working with VA home mortgage loans tend to allow lower credit scores – in the 620 range or higher. To help defray the costs of a veterans mortgage loan, there is a funding fee for your VA loan. The funding fee varies based on being active duty or part of the Reserves/National Guard. Veterans loans have limit amounts ranging from $417,000 to more than $1 million, depending on the county in which you live.

Your VA Loan Means a Lower Monthly House Payment

The real benefit of having your VA mortgage loan backed by the government is that banks do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI) which will substantially lower your monthly house payment. VA loan rates are typically 0.5%-1% lower than conventional loans.

I have provided you with a table so you can see just how much savings are available with a VA mortgage loan with its lower VA home loan rates and no PMI:

Estimated Monthly Savings for a New VA Loan

Loan Amount

1% Rate Reduction

PMI Savings

Total Mo. Savings

$150,000

$94

$115

$209

$250,000

$156

$191

$347

$350,000

$220

$268

$488

$450,000

$282

$345

$627

You may have heard someone suggest that some sellers avoid VA loans because of the added loan processing requirements and inspections. What they fail to understand is the “why” part of the matter. The added requirements for a VA loan are really quite minimal and exist to protect the veteran’s investment to make sure he or she gets the best possible value. When the housing market was wide-open and free-wheeling, there were a lot more people looking to buy homes than there were homes available to buy. That is just not the case in the current housing market.

The current housing market finds far more homes than there are qualified buyers, so most sellers are more than happy to deal with the rigors of a VA loan. In other words, the timing for a veterans mortgage loan is right.

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

How Much Can You Borrow with a VA Loan?

Most veterans will not notice any real change in their 2013 VA loan limits. The VA’s establishment of 2013 loan limits reported a modest increase in median home prices. The report also showed that across the U.S., some loan limits increased, some decreased, and many stayed the same. The majority of U.S. counties will remain at $417,000 veterans loan amount.

How is the VA loan limit figured?

The VA primary entitlement is $36,000. The VA pledges to repay up to a quarter of the loan amount, which is a financial guarantee. You can quickly calculate $36,000 x 4 = $144,000, which would appear to be the maximum loan amount for most borrowers.

But wait! To stay competitive and ensure veterans have access to home ownership, the VA started to link its guarantee amounts with the conforming loan limit for conventional financing, which is $417,000. The VA’s general policy is to cover a quarter of the loan amount. A quarter of $417,000 is $104,250. To meet that figure, the VA essentially created a secondary entitlement amount ($104,250 – 36,000 = $68,250).

That second entitlement layer comes into play whenever a veteran purchases a home for more than $144,000.

For Some Counties 2013 Loan Limits are Lower

Certain counties have lower loan limits from 2012 to 2013. This table shows the states and counties where 2013 VA loan limits are smaller compared to 2012: Data is displayed in alphabetical order by state and then by county within that state:

State

Counties

California Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Orange, San Benito, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Ventura
Colorado Eagle, Lake, Routt and Summit
Connecticut Fairfield
District of Columbia
Hawaii Honolulu
Idaho Blaine and Teton
Massachusetts Bristol and Dukes
Maryland Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Carroll, Harford and Howard
New Jersey Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Union
New York Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Putman, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester
Pennsylvania Pike
Virginia Lancaster
Washington San Juan
Wyoming Teton

 

Veterans mortgage loan limits apply to loans closed January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013.VA loan limits are based on county median home values estimated by the FHA.

To be clear: the VA loan limit DOES NOT limit the amount a veteran can borrow using the veteran mortgage loan program. The VA loan limit shows the maximum amount for which the government will provide its guarantee. Loans over the specified limits will likely require a down payment to secure the overage.

Most lenders require that a combination of the guarantee entitlement and any cash down payment must equal at least 25 percent of the reasonable value or sales price of the property, whichever is less. To keep it simple then, if you have $25,000 remaining entitlement you would probably meet a lender’s minimum guarantee requirement for a no-down payment loan to buy a property valued at and selling for $100,000. And don’t forget, you can also combine a down payment with the remaining entitlement for a larger loan amount.

You can direct your questions about VA loans in a particular county to the VA Regional Loan Center listed for that county.

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

Moving to a 15-year VA Streamline Loan

Owning your home “free and clear” is the targeted goal for many U.S. veteran homeowners. With VA interest rates at historic lows, the time has never been better for you to take the steps necessary to pay off your home as quickly as possible.

Do you currently have a VA loan with a 30-year fixed interest rate mortgage of 4.25% or higher? Using a VA streamline refinance, you may have a window of opportunity to pay your home off much quicker, with less interest, and at a monthly payment close to what you are now paying. (You can go here to check out VA refinance rates.)

Exercise caution here. Moving from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage will save you money over the life of the loan. However, if the rate of your 15-year loan is not at least 1 % below your current 30-year interest rate, moving to a 15-year loan can substantially increase your monthly house payment.

Refinance with a VA Streamline Loan
Here are some possible advantages to moving to a 15-year streamline loan:

  • No appraisal or credit underwriting package is required when applying for a streamline loan.
  • Streamline loans require no “out of pocket” money. All costs are included in the new loan amount; or, the new loan interest rate is set high enough for the lender to pay the costs.
  • You save a bundle of money over the life of the loan.
  • Low VA Rates will process your application for a 15-year streamline loan.

Own Your Home Sooner
For illustrative purposes, let’s say your original VA loan is $150,000 and you have 20 years left on your loan. You have paid on your home for 10 years and have reduced the principle by $25,000 (meaning you have a loan balance of $125,000). Here is a comparison of keeping the existing 30-year mortgage at the higher interest rate or of moving to a lower-VA loan rate for a 15-year mortgage.dsf

30-yr Fixed at 5% Interest:

  • $150,000 loan amount
  • $800.00 monthly payment
  • $288, 193 in total payments
  • $138,193 total interest paid

15-yr Fixed at 3% Interest:

  • $125,000 loan amount
  • $862.00 monthly payment
  • $155,180 in total payments
  • $30,180 total interest paid

The VA streamline loan is actually the VA’s Interest Rate Reduction Finance Loan (IRRL) and it comes with some restrictions:

  • It can be made to refinance a property only on which you have already used your VA loan eligibility.
  • It must be a VA to VA refinance.
  • According to the VA website, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is not required. But if you have your COE, take it to the lender to show the prior use of your entitlement.
  • No “cash out” option exists for this loan.
  • No loan other than the existing VA loan may be paid from the proceeds.
  • The occupancy requirement for a streamline loan is different from other VA loans. For a streamline loan, you need only certify that you previously occupied the home.

You can always check out the VA website for eligibility details on a VA streamline loan. Generally, veterans using the VA Home Loan Guaranty benefit are required to pay a funding fee. The required fee reduces the loan’s cost to taxpayers. The funding fee is a percentage of the loan amount—which varies based on loan type, military category if you are a first-time or subsequent loan user, and whether you make a down payment.

You have the option to finance the VA funding fee or pay it in cash, but the funding fee must be paid at closing time. You do not have to pay the funding fee if any of these apply:

  • You are a surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service-connected disability.
  • You are a veteran receiving VA compensation for a service-connected disability.
  • You are a veteran who would be entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability if you did not receive retirement or active duty pay.

Get Started With Your VA Loan Today

The Process of Getting a VA Loan

We want to get you into a loan that is good for you!

Refinancing your home, Buying a new home, Those phrases can be fraught with stress and overwhelming anxiety when you are new to the process, or even when you’ve had bad experiences when refinancing before. But in truth, the process of getting a VA loan can be a simple one if you know what to expect and if you have a good team helping you! Here at Low VA Rates we have whole teams lead by licenced loan officers all dedicated to you! We want to help you to get the house you want without all the stress. The first step in getting a VA loan is knowing what to expect with the process. Therefore,With you in mind, we’ve broken it down into 8 steps so it can be as painless as possible for you.

Steps to Getting a VA Loan

 

  1. Get in touch with us! Call, Email, Live chat etc.
  2. We’ll talk you through the upcoming process and ask you some pre-qualifying questions.
  3. Our licenced loan officers can go over rates with you to find the best fit for you.
  4. We’ll send you a pre-approval worksheet it will help you to see what you can afford.
  5. We then Analyse and determine your creditworthiness
  6. Your approval letter is sent now!
  7. You can make offers now so go find the right home!
  8. We will keep you updated on interest rates and how they affect you.

 

Check out the Infographic and then call us!

The infographic below has the information listed above plus more! The Image should help you see how quick and easy it can be, and how we can help get you through that process from start to finish. Still have questions? Please give us a call at 866-569-8272 or simply leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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How To Get A VA Home Loan
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4 Tips to Avoid Delays in Closing Your VA Loan

I have been processing VA loans for four years and have seen all kinds of things go wrong at the last minute. If you have purchased or refinanced a home in the past you may be familiar with some of the frustrating holdups in actually getting to the closing table. While some of these issues may be due to third parties and are out of our control, there are several steps that you, as a borrower, can take to help the process go smoother and more quickly.

  • Give your Loan Officer accurate information upfront. During the pre-approval process with your VA loan officer, you will be asked for several pieces of information that are critical in determining your eligibility for a VA loan. It is important that this information is as accurate as possible, or else you run the risk of hold ups later if it turns out that you do not actually meet VA or lender criteria.  I have seen loans held up because of misinformation that was discovered at the eleventh hour. Some of these critical items include: your credit scores, how much you currently owe and your current interest rate (if you are seeking to refinance), any second mortgage or home equity line of credit, bankruptcy or late payments on your mortgage, if your spouse is on the loan with you, etc.
  • Return phone calls and/or emails promptly. This may seem obvious, but after processing thousands of VA loans I have seen many closings stalled simply because the borrower did not return a call or email with some critical information we needed to move forward.  Life is understandably busy, but time is of the essence, especially when you are trying to save money!  Closings need to be coordinated with title companies and lenders, and can be pushed back days or even weeks waiting for information from the borrower.
  • Supply all documentation requested by your loan officer. Your loan officer will have sent you a list of items needed from you in order to process your loan and have it approved by the bank. Some of these items may include the Note from your current loan (if you are refinancing), employment/income documentation, DD-214 to request your COE, photo IDs, proof of homeowner’s insurance, etc. Omitting any one of these items will cause your closing to be delayed until it is received and reviewed. Banks will not issue an approval to close until all of their documentation criteria are met. The more thorough we can be up front during processing, the more smoothly everything will go toward the end.
  • Ask all of your questions well before you get to the closing table. Make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions of your VA loan, such as third party fees, your new payment, the interest rate, etc. Be sure to ask your loan officer to explain anything you do not understand before you are closing so that when it comes time to sign you feel confident and ready. It is frustrating for everyone when a closing has to be postponed because of something that could

FAQ; What is a VA Jumbo Loan?

Many veterans have already taken advantage of the VA loan. With easier qualifications and more flexibility, it has been the right choice for many to purchase and refinance their homes through this program. However, in most counties, the conforming loan limit with no money down is $417,000. What happens when your home costs more than this? Don’t fret, there is a solution! The VA Jumbo loan.

A VA jumbo loan simply put, is any VA loan greater than $417,000. Qualifying veterans can apply to purchase or refinance their home for up to a value of $1,000,000 through this type of loan. The VA Jumbo mortgage just asks the veteran to make a down payment of 25% on any amount over the limit of $417,000. Basically, the home is purchased for this down payment and the closing costs, which can be rolled into the loan and do not have to be paid out of pocket. Plus you get all the benefits of a VA loan!

For example, imagine you are a veteran and the home you intend to purchase is $650,000. In order to find out the down payment that you would need, simply start by subtracting the conforming loan limit ($417,000) from the purchase price, which equals $233,000. Multiply this amount by 25%, which equals $58,250. This would be your down payment. This works out to about a 9% down payment. That’s less than the standard down payment on most homes. The VA program is hard to compare to a conventional loan when you look at it from this point of view.

VA Jumbo loans are only available to those that qualify for VA loans and their eligibility requirements.  It will allow you to choose a home that suits you and your family the best. Jumbo loans have all of the benefits of a VA loan, plus it allows you to obtain a larger loan amount if that is what you need. Definitely make sure you check out this amazing offer! We have a team just waiting to hear from YOU! Call us now at 866-569-8272. We can not wait to help you get the loan that you want to suit your needs.

VA Loan Videos: Learn More About VA Loans

LowVARates has put a lot of time and energy as of late to solidify their place in the online universe as a leader in online videos about VA loans.  Statistics show that online video sites like YouTube are the future of the online search arena and this is a main reason why Google has purchased YouTube.  Think about it.  If you needed information on how to get a VA loan with no closing costs, would you rather read pages and pages of content or watch a video? Video wins 96.7% of the time, -don’t actually quote me on that percentage, I made it up- but it still rings true, Our society is full of Visual learners, these are individuals who like to visualise what they are learning instead of simply hearing some information spewed at them. What better way to help a visual learner than by watching a quick video? Videos appeal to multiple learning types as well and are proven to stick with you longer than if you just read or heard the information.

We have all sorts of VA Loan videos on our site to help prospective VA home buyers and existing VA loan holders alike.  In addition to watching the videos on our site, we invite you to follow us on YouTube by clicking here. Then you will be able to have instant access to the videos we produce and you will be able to learn more about us, our company, and VA Loans in general!

Here  is a list of some of our Top Videos, Check them out, we like them and we think you will too! We also feel they will be of great worth as you try to become more educated in the field of VA home mortgage loans.

 

Insider Secrets to the VA Streamline

How to pay off debt with a VA Hybrid Streamline

Understanding the VA Hybrid

Why a VA Loan to Purchase a Home

Using VA home loan benefits for buying or refinance your home is something more and more eligible military families and veterans are doing.  It is the goal of LowVARates to make using these VA home loan benefits a reality for all of those that are eligible.

VA Loan Officers Give Thanks to Veterans

Being in the mortgage industry for the past 8 years I have come to realize that showing appreciation to your clients is a must. If I were running my own company I would even make it mandatory for VA loan officers. If you think about the process of buying a home it would seem like the Broker holds all the cards, but in reality it’s the Solider or Veteran.

The Loan Officer works for them, not the other way around. At any time during the process of completing the application and closing of escrow, the client – if they want – can find someone else to work with. I don’t want to sound like VA loan officers have no value or bring nothing to the table, its just good to understand what my responsibility is – WHICH IS HELPING THE SOLDIER/VETERAN! Without them I cannot put food on the table, but they can still get a VA loan without me.

I hope that did not sound like a rant, I just want to get the point across of how important the Veteran is.

There are many ways that I can show appreciation for Veterans and Soldiers buying homes. Let me list some of what I have done:

1. Give them the service they deserve. When talking with them on the phone or in person be sure to thank them for their military service. Sometimes address them using their Rank – this shows respect. Be prompt in your timelines and expectations.

2. Offer competitive rates. Be competitive in the marketplace. Veterans and Soldiers will know if you are giving them higher VA interest rates and higher fees. I’m not suggesting doing the loan for free, but don’t “stick it” to them either. Trying to back pedal after you’ve been “caught” offering a bad deal is not a fun situation to be in.

3. Communicate. This is key. The best clients I have are the ones where I talk with them about the process of buying a home. I always try to educate Veterans or Active Military. Before closing explain to them how the final settlement statement looks and if there are any changes regarding rates, fees etc. NEVER DO A BAIT AND SWITCH!

4. Give them something of value. This is not too much to ask. Something simple like a Home Depot gift card or a house warming gift. The most recent purchase I did was here locally in UT. There were some speed bumps along the way to say the least. At the closing table I brought in a gift basket full of over the counter medicine as a joke. I also had some dish towels for the wife. They did not expect this, but they were very grateful because it was going above and beyond the call of duty.

5. Follow up. After the dust settles and your clients have moved in or completed their refinance, call them and ask how they like their new home or lower monthly payments. Send them birthday cards or Holiday cards.

In order to be successful in this business, you must always show your Veteran/ Active military clients that you care and appreciate them. Before you know it they will be sending referrals to you and that’s when you know you have created a business partner for life.

VA Cash Out Loan / Debt Consolidation Loan

In recent years many financial advisors have risen to prominence, perhaps as a direct result of the advent of more easily obtained credit, followed by the oppressive “Debt Culture” that now manifests as one of the worst recessions on record. And while the specific debt management and wealth building strategies made popular by Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki or any of the other financial gurus out there vary distinctly, there is one fundamental financial strategy that they all seem to agree on; moving higher interest rate debt into lower interest rate debt saves money. In keeping with this fundamental tenet of financial freedom, if we can agree that ultimately what matters most is how much money comes in each month and how much goes out, then even if you currently have a fantastically low rate on your VA home mortgage, if you also carry balances on revolving debt (credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) at a higher interest rate than your VA mortgage, it may be time to consider a VA Debt Consolidation Loan or “Cash Out” refinance.

The VA Cash Out refinance can best be describe as a VA guaranteed refinance program for borrowers with existing VA mortgages OR those in conventional (non-VA) loans with existing eligibility. Because the loan, by definition requires the increase of the loan amount due to the rolling in of debt, it requires qualification similar to a full “documentation” loan similar to the VA purchase loan. This includes considering:

· Appraised Value / LTV (Loan to Value = the appraised value of the home / loan balance)

· Credit Scores & Debt Obligations (How much of your income is spoken for each month by credit payments, etc)

· Income (Do you have steady employment over the last two years? What is your gross household income?)

· Assets (Do you have any liquid / semi-liquid savings of any kind that prove your ability to save?)

If these basic requirements can be satisfied, the VA will guarantee loans up to 100% of the value of the home, though (currently) most lenders will not lend beyond 90% Loan to Value. The benefits are obvious, including the following:

· Debt Consolidation

· Home Improvement

· Competitive Rates, Favorable Terms,

· No Mortgage Insurance, even if you borrow over the customary threshold of 80% of your homes value.

· Defer mortgage payments and receive an escrow refund to free up immediate cash before making first payment

· Retaining VA loan status gives borrowers ability to take advantage of VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) if rates drop.

I recently closed on a VA debt consolidation loan for a veteran who had the following scenario:

· $225,000 VA Mortgage at 4.5% with a payment of $1600 per month (including taxes and insurance)

· Credit Card debt, totaling (over 5 cards) $32,000 and costing him $850 a month in minimum payments

· Income of $5500 a month with debt obligations totaling $2400 per month

At first, this borrower seemed fundamentally opposed to the idea of refinancing his mortgage, citing the fact that he had secured a 30yr fixed rate that he believed he would never be able to acquire again since rates had risen. He became much more receptive once I pointed out that it made no sense for him to have a mortgage of $225,000 costing $1600 a month when his credit payments on $32,000 were totaling more than half his mortgage payment and (unlike the mortgage) brought him no closer to paying down the balances.

Once we were able to get all the documentation settled, I was able help this veteran roll in all of his credit debt, and get additional money out for a home improvement project he had been considering. All told, when everything was said and done, we had helped him get into a loan at $270,000 on a fixed rate with payments at $1850 per month – a permanent savings of $550 per month. Over the life of the loan this will translate into a savings of $198,000.

Though I suspect the savings reflected in the above example might be the most compelling way to close out this post, I will instead end with an invitation. If you are a veteran homeowner and would like to know if there is any possibility that a refinance like this can help you save money, don’t hesitate to call James Shergill at 877-698-2482 to find out more. At the very least you will emerge from our brief discussion with a clearer understanding of your options. At best, you will save a great deal of money and take a giant leap forward toward financial freedom.

Jungle Book of Financial Truth for Veterans

The Jungle Book

In his classic short story, the Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling attributes the ability to manipulate fire as the dividing line between man and beast. Man’s “Red Flower” is understood by the animals as power, a means to dominion over those that fail to grasp its secrets. For years any further subtext into the metaphor was lost on me, probably reinforced by the (admittedly awesome) Disney animated film.

Recently, however, I re-read this story and found a more profound meaning that resonates with my job as a VA loan specialist. In the story and the cartoon for that matter, Mowgli ultimately decides to return to live in the village among humans. If we were to assume that the author meant fire to be a metaphor for something as basic and abstract as “power” the ending would seem sad. But when Mowgli watches those in the village from afar, they are hardly laying waste to the land with fire. Humans in the story are not maniacs, hell-bent on lording over their domain with flaming branches. They are living out a tame existence, using fire to cook, to heat their homes, to clear land for villages, to protect themselves from creatures, etc. This juxtaposition demonstrates how shifting one’s perspective can alter the fundamental nature we attribute to something. Fire as a barely bridled weapon of fear, destroyer of life when viewed narrowly. Fire as a sustainer of life for another providing heat, clearing land for shelter, cooking and perhaps most relevantly to keep animals at bay.

Regarding VA loans, the metaphor is less obvious at first glance but ultimately resonates with a similar meaning. For the majority of veteran borrowers, a VA mortgage is a partially understood vehicle that can provide a means to homeownership. An unfortunate few realize that a VA mortgage (like fire) is not something to be feared but rather a tool, which, if mastered can provide more than crude shelter, but a means to unlock financial opportunities to lead a freer more enriched life. While the responsibility rests ultimately on the veteran buyer (“Caveat Emptor”) to learn of fire, a more critical look at our society might suggest the basic principles of lending are adequately disclosed but not adequately transmitted to those people to whom mortgages are made available. This tragic phenomenon is less exclusive to veterans than it is to the access of debt we offer young and inexperienced borrowers. Billions of dollars are made each year at the expense of borrowers to whom the concept, power and scope of debt concepts are adequately explained. Like fire, as the recent American debt picture suggests, many have been “burned” by the lure of seemingly easy access to debt. However, more millionaires and Fortune 500 companies have been built on carefully leveraged debt models as a standard practice of modern business.

Looking back on the novel with this in mind, I now understand that maybe the solution set to the balance equation presented between fire/debt is less important than the scale by which it is measured. A scale that is one in the same, one I try to keep in mind when I discuss loan options with my clients. Though I was never a financial scholar, the knowledge I’ve accrued about basic finance working with VA home loan borrowers has and will serve me for the rest of my life. Therefore, I understand that the best and most honorable way for me to faithfully execute my responsibility as a VA loan Specialist isn’t to push a rate or an agenda, but to determine what the borrower knows, to demystify the concept of debt, to speak openly of its potential and liability, and to guide them to a place where a confident application can be made. It’s always surprising how a simple perspective shift can open doors of understanding to opportunity, just as re-reading a childhood classic can

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