The VA home loan program is one of the best and most popular benefits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides to active-duty service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses. This guaranteed loan program is provided through private lenders, like banks and mortgage companies. Because the government guarantees a portion of the loan, lenders can provide more favorable terms.
Since there’s some confusion about VA home loans among New York residents, let’s take a closer look at the program. For additional information, visit our Guide to VA Home Loans.
Curious about VA mortgages and whether you’re eligible? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about VA home loans.
Created by the original G.I. Bill (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944), the VA-Guaranteed Home Loan program has helped generations of veterans, service members, and their families enjoy the dream of homeownership.
VA home loans are granted by private lenders but backed by the Federal government. Whether you’re looking for a home within the Capital District region of Albany, Saratoga and Glens Falls, NY, near a military base like Fort Drum, or in a location elsewhere within New York State, if you’re an active-duty service member, veteran or eligible spouse, a VA mortgage could be an excellent option for you for financing a home.
When it comes to securing a mortgage, there are many loan products available. In some cases, homebuyers are eligible for a number of loan types, giving them a few options to choose from.
However, many veterans don’t find out they’re eligible until they’ve already committed to another type of home loan. VA loans have significant benefits so anyone who thinks they might be eligible should check further.
Length of service, duty status, and character of service determine eligibility for specific home loan benefits. Generally those eligible include anyone who has served or are currently on active duty in the US Armed forces:
As with any loan, you must show you have satisfactory credit and sufficient income to meet the expected monthly obligations. Beyond that, you’ll need a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
The Certificate of Eligibility provides:
You can apply for a COE online here.
You will need your DD214 in order to obtain the COE. This is a discharge form, also known as a certificate of release, for military members. It verifies a service member’s military service and details the condition of their discharge.
If you are a veteran and you do not have your DD214, you can obtain a free copy here.
Yes, there are loan fees associated with VA home loans. Early in 2023, the VA announced that they would be making a scheduled change to VA funding fee rates. You can learn more about VA mortgage funding fees here.
Yes, disability benefits affect VA mortgage eligibility – in a positive way. A veteran can include disability pay as income. Veterans who get compensation for a service-connected disability are exempt from the VA Funding Fee which is applied to all purchase and refinance loans.
Plus, the VA offers housing grants for veterans and service members with certain service-connected disabilities so they can buy or change homes to meet their needs and live more independently. This could mean installing ramps or widening doorways.
In terms of income and purchasing power, active duty service members receive allowances that can serve as income in the calculation of mortgage eligibility, allowances like the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
BAH is a monthly allowance that helps service members living off-base keep up with housing costs. It is for qualified service members stationed in areas where military housing is not provided. The BAH amount a service member receives can be counted as income to help qualify for a VA home loan.
It’s much like any home loan application process. VA loans are obtained through the lender of your choice once you obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. You will also need proof of income and be prepared for a credit check.
Once you’re pre-approved by the lender, you can shop for a home. Then, when you make an offer and it’s accepted, underwriters from your lender will again assess your finances and make sure you qualify for a VA loan. The VA will require an appraisal before final approval. The appraiser will check that the home is sanitary, structurally sound, and move-in ready.
VA home loans are among the best mortgage options for those who qualify – however, there are many nuances that must be understood if you are hoping to navigate the VA home loan process successfully. As such, you’ll want to look for a lender or broker with extensive VA mortgage experience.
If possible, you’ll want to work with a mortgage professional who is qualified as a Certified Veterans Lending Specialist. This will help to ensure that you’re working with a knowledgable representative who truly knows the ins and outs of VA home loans.
We are proud to be CVLS certified here at Maple Tree Funding! You can learn more about the Certified Veterans Lending Specialist Certification and what it means here.
If you qualify for a VA mortgage and want to apply, you can start right now by filling out a quick application here.
Based in Albany and Glens Falls, we work with home buyers – including veterans – throughout all of New York State. We are proud to provide competitive loan options that make it possible for those who’ve served and protected our country to own a home of their own.
Please note: Maple Tree Funding is not affiliated with any government agencies, including the VA.