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You Need to Tell Vets About VA Loans

Many current and previous armed forces members know little about VA loan benefits: 17% think they need 20% down; half think it’s a once-in-your-lifetime offer.

WASHINGTON – Many service members know little about the benefits mortgages available through a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or may even hold negative views about them, according to a Spotlight on VA Loans report commissioned by Navy Federal Credit Union and Operation Homefront. The survey was based on responses from about 1,000 active-duty service members and veterans nationwide.

Nearly half of active-duty respondents believe VA loans have higher interest rates than conventional loans – which they don’t. Seventeen percent of veterans and 45% of active-duty soldiers believe the need a down payment of more than 20% for a VA loan.

In reality, VA loans offer vets and military service members a chance to buy a home with 0% down.

Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), pinned a recent editorial at The American Genius that documents how VA loans help vets achieve homeownership quicker than they imagined. He shared the story of an honorably discharged vet in 2006. After knee and back injuries, he learned of options that sped up homeownership after his agent connected him to a lender that specialized in helping military homebuyers. The vet learned that he qualified for the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, which offers a 0% down payment, and that it would cover high housing costs in his area of Washington, D.C. He also learned that his VA loan would not require private mortgage insurance because of his service-related disability. He and his wife purchased a home much sooner than they thought possible.

Real estate pros can play a big role in helping military members and veterans achieve homeownership by sharing information about the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program and dispelling some of those common myths. To help with that, NAR and the Department of Veterans Affairs released a joint two-part video series earlier this year that examines misconceptions about the program, as well as its advantages.

NAR has served as a strong advocate for VA loans. At the end of 2021, NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith testified before Congress about the importance of strengthening the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, including citing benefits for borrowers and the program’s role in closing the racial homeownership gap. She noted that VA loan delinquency rates tend to be lower than FHA loans and comparable to conventional loans.

Some Realtors who want to expand their work with military members and vets have pursued a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification. The program educates NAR members on helping military homebuyers, including connecting them to financing resources and learning how vets can take advantage of the benefits available to them.

“As we honor their immense sacrifices, we also look for ways to better recognize and repay the men and women who have survived the horrors of combat and returned home to live out the ideals they risked everything to protect,” Goldberg writes for The American Genius. “Because when they do return, access to a safe, comfortable home should never be in question.”

Source: National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

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