Sumathi Narayanan Realty's Blog
We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who don’t have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.
Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.
So, in today’s post, we’re going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not it’s a good financing option for you and your family.
VA Loans FAQ
Who is eligible for a VA Loan?
VA loans aren’t just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.
How long do you have to service to be eligible?
The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.
Who are VA Loans offered by?
Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.
Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?
If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.
Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.
Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?
Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.
What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?
The VA doesn’t have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.
When financing a home purchase, one of the most basic decisions to make is where to get your mortgage from. The basic options are whether you should go to a mortgage lender or not. Financing with a mortgage lender has both pros and cons.
Pro: Many Loan Options
If you go to a mortgage lender, you’ll find that they offer a great amount of choices. These are essentially brokers for various underwriting companies, and they offer many loan options. You’ll also have a wide variety of mortgage setups to choose from. Whether you want a 15-, 30- or 40-year fixed or some sort of variable loan, you can likely find it through a lender.
Pro: Might Be Able to Negotiate
The choices that mortgage lenders provide sometimes make it possible to negotiate with potential lenders. If you can pit multiple lenders against each other, you might be able to get a lower interest rate or complimentary points on your loan. A lender might even try to negotiate on your behalf.
Pro: Knowledgeable Guidance
At a mortgage lender, you’ll work with a loan officer whose sole job is to help homeowners find mortgages. They’ll be knowledgeable and able to provide you with informed guidance throughout the loan application and selection process.
Con: Might Not Be Local
Should you shop loans with a mortgage lender, it might not be someone local to your area who’s providing assistance. Often mortgage lenders service people across a state and even maybe in multiple states. As a result, there’s a good chance you won’t ever meet them in person.
Con: Might Sell Your Loan
Ultimately, mortgage lenders are in the business of underwriting and managing mortgages -- and that’s not necessarily the customer service business. If a lender deems it financially prudent to, they’ll sell your loan to another lender. Not only will you not deal with the same person or office, but you might not even deal with the same company down the road. Since mortgages last many years, there’s a chance yours could be sold multiple times.
Finding a Mortgage is a Personal Choice
A mortgage lender may be a good option if you’re looking for a great deal on a home loan, but they don’t offer a personal touch. If you want someone in your area and prioritize personal service, a credit union or other more local institution might be a better alternative for you. The decision to go through a mortgage lender or another place ultimately depends on what type of experience you want.
If you’ve been considering taking the next step toward homeownership, you’ve likely heard about FHA loans. Offered by the Federal Housing Administration (hence, “FHA”), these loans are great for a number of people hoping to purchase a home but who don’t have a large down payment saved.
There are many misconceptions about FHA loans since they’re often advertised by large, private mortgage lenders but are technically a government program. In order to clear up some of the confusion, we’ve provided answers to some frequently asked questions regarding FHA loans.
Read on to learn about FHA loans and how they might help you purchase a home.
Who issues an FHA loan?
FHA loans aren’t issued by the government. Rather, they’re issued by private lenders but insured, or “guaranteed,” by the government.
Since lenders want to make sure they’ll see a positive return from lending to you, they typically want you to have a high credit score and a large down payment (typically 20%). However, not everyone is able to meet those requirements. In this situation, the FHA is able to help you acquire a loan by giving your lender a guarantee.
Are there different types of FHA loans?
Yes. In fact, there are nine distinct types of loans guaranteed by the FHA. These include fixed rate mortgages, adjustable rate mortgages, refinance loans, reverse mortgages, VA loans, and more.
What do you need to qualify for an FHA loan?
It’s a common misconception that you need to be a first-time buyer to qualify for an FHA loan. However, if you have previously owned a home that was foreclosed on or if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, the foreclosure and bankruptcy have to be at least three years old.
You’ll also need to demonstrate a stable employment history, usually including two years of employment with the same employer.
Finally, the FHA will ask you for your current and previous addresses, the last two years tax returns, and the W-2 forms from any of your recent jobs.
What is the most I can borrow with an FHA loan?
The FHA sets mortgage limits on loans depending on the state and county you’ll be living in. For a single-family home, the limit ranges from $275,000 to $451,000. So be sure to check the limits for your state and county.
Can you refinance an FHA loan?
Refinancing a loan is a great way to receive a lower interest rate or to shorten the term of their mortgage to save in the total number of interest payments. In fact, the FHA typically only allows refinancing when it will result in lower interest payments on a loan.
What is the minimum credit score needed to qualify for an FHA loan?
While you don’t need excellent credit to qualify for a loan, the FHA will require you to have a score of at least a 580. You can check your score for free online from a number of companies, such as Mint or Credit Karma. Be aware, however, that scores vary between credit bureaus. So, it’s a good idea to check your FICO score once per year, which is the score used by mortgage lenders.
Missing a mortgage payment is not the end of the world. Many lenders are more than ready to work out a payment plan if you’re going through a rough patch or budgetary crisis. However, you may end up doing more harm than good to your credit and home ownership if you don’t contact your mortgage lender as soon as the financial need arises.
Below are things to remember about a late mortgage payment.
1. Mortgages Come with a Grace Period
Even if you pay one day or five days after the due date, it still might not be considered late since many lenders offer a grace period of about five to fifteen days. If you want to know about your specific grace period, contact your lender for grace period information.
2. A Late Fee Will Appear
If your payment is delayed, then it will most likely incur a late-payment fee. You can expect to pay the late fee in your next mortgage payment. Work with your lender to see if you can avoid a late fee by setting up an automatic payment method or if there are other clauses in your contract to have the fee waived in extreme circumstances.
3. Damage to Credit Score
A damaged credit score is one of the adverse effects of a late mortgage payment. Your payment history is of uttermost importance as it can affect your ability to secure financing of any sort in the future. Your lender usually reports your payment history, and if you are thirty days behind, your credit score may feature “late 30” next to the loan. This mark could drastically hurt your overall FICO® score.
4. Suffer Drastic Measures
When you suffer delinquent payment beyond 90 days, your lender automatically considers you in default on your loan. If left without a written waiver or payment arrangement, they may start to take foreclosure actions against you, which could lead to more public actions and eviction from the home. There are other things that can be done to retain your home, however. Bankruptcy affords the ultimate protection until your debts can be assessed and discharged by the government but should be a last option since it can remain on your credit report for ten years.
5. The Account Goes to Collection
Your account can go into collection if you are behind your mortgage payment. In that case, you will receive a phone call or a letter from your lender about the late fee and that your account is being sent to a collection agency.
Every borrower’s situation is different, depending on credit score and payment history. If possible, avoid falling short of your mortgage payment. The earlier you make the due payment, the better it is for you, but if you’re unable to, set up an arrangement with your lender.
Still have more questions about mortgages and how to successfully nail down the right price for you? Contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction.
Filling out a mortgage application may prove to be a long, exhausting process. Fortunately, we're here to help you streamline the mortgage application process so you can move one step closer to acquiring your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you approach the mortgage application process with confidence.
1. Be Thorough
A mortgage application likely requests a lot of information about you, your finances and your employment history. However, it is important to answer each mortgage application question to the best of your ability. Because if you fail to do so, you risk delays in getting approved for a mortgage. Or, perhaps even worse, a lender may decline your mortgage application.
In addition, be honest in all of your mortgage application responses. This will ensure that if your mortgage application is approved, you will receive a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
2. Ask Questions
There is no need to leave anything to chance as you complete a mortgage application. Thus, if you're uncertain about how to respond to various mortgage application questions, reach out to a lender for assistance.
Remember, there is no such thing as a "bad" question, especially when it comes to filling out a mortgage application. Lenders employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to assist you in any way possible. Work with these mortgage specialists, and you can get the help you need to finalize your mortgage application.
3. Get Multiple Quotes
It may seem like a good idea to complete a single mortgage application to request home financing from a single lender. Yet doing so may be problematic, particularly for those who prioritize affordability.
Ultimately, meeting with multiple lenders and getting several mortgage quotes is ideal. If you shop around for a mortgage, you may be eligible for a low interest rate that helps you save money when you complete a home purchase.
Once you finish a mortgage application, it may be only a matter of time before you find out if you have received approval. Then, if you receive a "Yes" from a lender, you can accelerate the homebuying journey.
Of course, for those who plan to buy a home soon, it may be beneficial to employ a real estate agent. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the top lenders in your area, as well as help you complete a home search in no time at all.
A real estate agent typically learns about a homebuyer's goals and crafts a strategy to help this buyer accomplish his or her aspirations. Furthermore, a real estate agent provides recommendations and tips to help a homebuyer make informed decisions throughout the property buying journey. And if a homebuyer ever has concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to respond to them.
Ready to complete a mortgage application? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can finalize a mortgage application, obtain home financing and make your homeownership dream come true.