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Facts about Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loans

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By Chris Birk, Guest author to Homebuying at About.com

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 pledges 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
  • Streamlined refinancing loans that require no additional underwriting

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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