VA Home Loans (Veterans Affair Home Loan)
VA guaranteed loans are made by lenders and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you fail to repay the loan. In most cases, no down payment is required on a VA guaranteed loan and the borrower usually receives a lower interest rate than is ordinarily available with other loans.
Other benefits of a VA loan include:
- Closing costs comparable – and sometimes lower – than other financing types.
- No private mortgage insurance requirement.
- Right to prepay loan without penalties
- Mortgage can be taken over (or “assumed”) by the buyer when a home is sold.
- Counseling and assistance available to veteran borrowers having financial difficulty or facing default on their loan.
Although mortgage insurance is not required, the VA charges a funding fee to issue a guarantee to a lender against borrower default on a mortgage. The fee may be paid in cash by the buyer or seller, or it may be financed in the loan amount.
A VA loan can be used to buy a home, build a home and even improve a home with energy-saving features such as solar or heating/cooling systems, water heaters, insulation, weather-stripping/ caulking, storm windows/doors or other energy efficient improvements approved by the lender and VA.
Veterans can apply for a VA loan with any mortgage lender that participates in the VA home loan program. A Certificate of Eligibility from the VA must be presented to the lender to qualify for the loan.
VA Home Loan Streamline Refinance (VA – Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL))
The “streamline” refers only to the amount of documentation and underwriting that needs to be performed by the lender, and does not mean that there are no costs involved in the transaction. Lenders may offer streamline refinances in several ways. Some lenders offer “no cost” refinances (actually, no out-of-pocket expenses to the borrower) by charging a higher rate of interest on the new loan than if the borrower financed or paid the closing costs in cash. From this premium, the lender pays any closing costs that are incurred on the transaction.
Lenders may offer streamline refinances and include the closing costs into the new mortgage amount. This can only be done if there is sufficient equity in the property, as determined by an appraisal. Streamline refinances can also be done without appraisals, but the new loan amount cannot exceed the original loan amount. Investment properties (properties in which the borrower does not reside in as his or her principal residence) may only be refinanced without an appraisal. The basic requirements of a streamline refinance are:
- The mortgage to be refinanced must already be VA insured.
- The mortgage to be refinanced should be current (not delinquent).
- The refinance is to result in a lowering of the borrower’s monthly principal and interest payments.
- No cash may be taken out on mortgages refinanced using the streamline refinance process.