Uncle Sam has a gift for the men and women who serve our country. It is the VA loan. The VA loan, short for Department of Veterans Affairs home loans, is available to veterans, active service members, reservists, and members of the Public Health Service. These loans are so popular, that in the past fiscal year alone, Uncle Sam has guaranteed 300,000 VA loans totaling more than $38 billion.
Why are these loans considered a gift to our servicemen and women? Because VA loans require no down payment and are available from most lenders. Additionally, the government limits the amount of closing costs, origination fees, and appraisal fees. Because VA loan rates generally run the same as conventional rates, skipping the down payment is a big advantage. Not surprisingly, about 91 percent of VA buyers do just that.
Best of all, there is no private mortgage insurance (PMI) because the government prohibits lenders from requiring it. Not having PMI is a considerable cash savings for a borrower. For example, on a $126,000 loan, PMI would run approximately $40 to $64 a month for the first three to five years of a 30-year loan. The total savings? $1,440 to $3,840.
However, there is a downside:
Applying for a VA loan is no different than applying for a conventional loan, except that one needs to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the VA. Not only are VA loans easy to get, Uncle Sam has made it even easier this year. The actual loan process takes about two to six weeks, the same time as a conventional loan. And just about every lender that handles FHA or conventional loans also makes VA loans.
Yet the greatest gift of all remains the fact that VA loans allow a buyer to purchase a home without investing a down payment. And that is a very good gift indeed.