Kentucky VA Loans
What are VA Home Loans?
VA Loans provide military veterans and current service members a distinct advantage when it comes time to purchase or refinance a home. Today's VA Loans have the most favorable terms available for most veterans. VA Loans can be used to purchase a new home with no down payment with no mortgage insurance or refinance up to 90% of a homes current equity.
What are the eligibility requirements for a VA Loan in Kentucky?
Veterans Affairs loan guidelines use two methods of income qualification in Kentucky. The residual income method is the primary method, where it is determined that the borrower has sufficient income to cover daily living costs once housing, taxes, insurance and all other liabilities like credit card and auto payments have been made. Additionally, VA loans use a debt to income ratio (DTI). Using this ratio, the veteran's total debt should not exceed 41% of the veteran's total income. Most lenders will require at least a 620 credit score for a VA Loan approval.
How much can I borrow?
The maximum Kentucky VA Mortgage amount is determined by:
Maximum VA Loan in Kentucky: The largest loan allowed for VA mortgages with zero down is $417,000 in KY. Please refer to the Kentucky VA Loan Limit chart at the bottom of this page to see your area's limit.
Maximum Finance: For purchase transactions, the Maximum VA Loan will be 100% of the lower of the selling price or the appraised value.
What will the down payment and closing costs be?
Kentucky VA loans have zero money down up to $417,000 in most counties.
What property types are allowed for VA Loans in Kentucky?
VA Loans may be used to purchase or refinance single family residences and VA approved condo projects if the property is the veteran's primary residence.
Can I do a VA refinance in Kentucky?
Three kinds of VA Refinance programs are available for veterans in Kentucky.
Rate/Term VA Refinance
The Rate/Term VA Refinance can be used to refinance a conventional, FHA or subprime mortgage into a stable, fixed rate VA Loan.
VA Cash-Out Refinance
A Cash-Out VA Refinance is very beneficial for the veteran who wants to access the equity that they have built up in their home. VA Loans can be used to refinance up to 90% of a homes current value and take cash out for any reason.
The VA Streamline Refinance is designed to lower the interest rate on a current VA mortgage or convert a current VA adjustable rate mortgage into a fixed rate. A VA Streamline Refinance Loan can be performed quickly and easily. It requires much less hassle and paperwork than a normal refinance including no appraisal, no qualifying debt ratios and no income verification.
How much can I refinance in Kentucky?
The maximum amount for an KY VA loan is determined by:
Maximum VA Loan in Kentucky: The largest loan allowed for a VA Mortgage varies from county to county. The highest maximum VA Mortgage right now is $1,094,625. The lowest maximum VA Mortgage amount available in any county is $417,000. To see what the limit is in the county in which you're interested, visit the following page http://www.homeloans.va.gov/docs/2009_county_loan_limits.pdf. This site lists U.S. territories as well as states.
Maximum Finance: In Kentucky, The maximum VA refinance loan amount will be 100% of the appraised value of the home for a rate/term refinance or 90% of the appraised value for a VA cash out refinance.
What factors determine if I am eligible for a VA Refinance Loan?
VA refinance loans use two methods for income qualification purposes in Kentucky. The residual income method is the primary method, where it is determined that the borrower has sufficient income to cover daily living costs once housing, taxes, insurance and all other liabilities like credit card and auto payments have been made. Additionally, VA loans use a debt to income ratio (DTI). Using this ratio, the veteran's total debt should not exceed 41% of the veteran's total income. Most lenders will require at least a 620 credit score for a VA Loan approval.
Why choose a VA Home Loan?
Kentucky VA Mortgages require no down payment.
There are no prepayment penalties for VA Home Loans.
An Kentucky VA Loan is fully assumable, provided the person assuming is qualified.
VA Mortgage Loans have no PMI premiums.
A VA Mortgage Loan is eligible for non-credit qualifying, Streamline Refinance or "IRRRL".
A VA Home Mortgage is available all areas of the country, provided a market exists for the property and the home meets VA's property standards.
A VA Home Loan may be used to purchase or refinance a new or existing home.
Kentucky VA Loans are offered at terms of 15 or 30 years.
VA Refinance Questions & Answers
1. What are the guidelines for a Kentucky VA Refinance?
If the borrower wishes to take cash out of the property, then the maximum financing amount is 90% of the appraised value, depending on the borrowers qualifications. If the borrower does not take cash out then the maximum financing will be 100% of the appraised value of the home or the amount you are refinancing plus closing costs, whichever is lower.
2. Why should I consider refinancing into a Kentukcy VA-insured mortgage?
Kentukcy VA refinance mortgages do not come with prepayment penalties, have no teaser rates nor balloon payments. They are offered at market rate with terms up to 30 years and are fully amortized, meaning that you pay towards principal and interest every month.
3. What if I have a prepayment penalty and other refinancing costs and there isn’t enough equity in my home to refinance?
If you do not have sufficient equity in your home to add your prepayment penalty and/or other refinancing costs into your new VA mortgage, then you should ask your current lender to consider a second mortgage to pay the difference or a short payoff on your existing loan. Offering either of these options is at the discretion of the lender.
4. Does it matter that the value of my home is now less than what I still owe?
Not to Kentucky VA, but the current mortgage lender considering the refinance would have to be willing to accept a short payoff on the existing loan OR to hold a second mortgage to make up the difference needed to pay off the existing mortgage and the home’s value.
5. I have already obtained one Kentucky VA loan. Can I get another one?
Yes, your eligibility is reusable depending on the circumstances. Normally, if you have paid off your prior VA loan and disposed of the property, you can have your used eligibility restored for additional use. Also, on a one-time only basis, you may have your eligibility restored if your prior VA loan has been paid in full but you still own the property.
6. Only a portion of my eligibility is available at this time because my prior loan has not been paid in full even though I don’t own the property anymore. Can I still obtain a VA guaranteed home loan?
Yes, depending on the circumstances. If a veteran has already used a portion of his or her eligibility and the used portion cannot yet be restored, any partial remaining eligibility would be available for use. The veteran would have to discuss with a lender whether the remaining balance would be sufficient for the loan amount sought and whether any down payment would be required.
7. Is the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran eligible for the home loan benefit?
The unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability is eligible for the home loan benefit. If you wish to make application for the home loan benefit as a surviving spouse, please contact us.
Purchase - First Time Use
10% or More
Purchase - Additional Use
10% or More
1st Time Use
IRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Loan)
1st Time Use
Kentucky VA Loan Limits
Area County Name Maximum Single Family Mortgage
(No Money Down) Maximum VA Jumbo
(0$ Down to 417k, 25% Down Above)
NON-METRO ADAIR 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO ALLEN 417,000 1,094,625
FRANKFORT, KY (MICRO) ANDERSON 417,000 1,094,625
PADUCAH, KY-IL (MICRO) BALLARD 417,000 1,094,625
GLASGOW, KY (MICRO) BARREN 417,000 1,094,625
MOUNT STERLING, KY (MICRO) BATH 417,000 1,094,625
MIDDLESBOROUGH, KY (MICRO) BELL 417,000 1,094,625
CINCINNATI-MIDDLETOWN, OH-KY-IN (MSA) BOONE 417,000 1,094,625
LEXINGTON-FAYETTE, KY (MSA) BOURBON 417,000 1,094,625
HUNTINGTON-ASHLAND, WV-KY-OH (MSA) BOYD 417,000 1,094,625
DANVILLE, KY (MICRO) BOYLE 417,000 1,094,625
CINCINNATI-MIDDLETOWN, OH-KY-IN (MSA) BRACKEN 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO BREATHITT 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO BRECKINRIDGE 417,000 1,094,625
LOUISVILLE-JEFFERON COUNTY, KY-IN (MSA) BULLITT 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO BUTLER 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CALDWELL 417,000 1,094,625
MURRAY, KY (MICRO) CALLOWAY 417,000 1,094,625
CINCINNATI-MIDDLETOWN, OH-KY-IN (MSA) CAMPBELL 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CARLISLE 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CARROLL 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CARTER 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CASEY 417,000 1,094,625
CLARKSVILLE, TN-KY (MSA) CHRISTIAN 417,000 1,094,625
LEXINGTON-FAYETTE, KY (MSA) CLARK 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CLAY 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CLINTON 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CRITTENDEN 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO CUMBERLAND 417,000 1,094,625
OWENSBORO, KY (MSA) DAVIESS 417,000 1,094,625
BOWLING GREEN, KY (MSA) EDMONSON 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO ELLIOTT 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO ESTILL 417,000 1,094,625
LEXINGTON-FAYETTE, KY (MSA) FAYETTE 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO FLEMING 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO FLOYD 417,000 1,094,625
FRANKFORT, KY (MICRO) FRANKLIN 417,000 1,094,625
UNION CITY, TN-KY (MICRO) FULTON 417,000 1,094,625
CINCINNATI-MIDDLETOWN, OH-KY-IN (MSA) GALLATIN 417,000 1,094,625
NON-METRO GARRARD 417,000 1,094,625
CINCINNATI-MIDDLETOWN, OH-KY-IN (MSA) GRANT 417,000 1,094,625
LEXINGTON-FAYETTE, KY (MSA) WOODFORD 417,000 1,094,625
We lend in all of Kentucky's top cities:
VA Loans require no down payment and allow you to qualify for a more expensive home. Plus, today mortgage rates on VA loans are very low, making homes even more affordable.
The VA doesn’t actually make loans. Instead, it insures loans so that if buyers default for some reason, the lenders will get their money. This encourages lenders to give mortgages to people who might not otherwise qualify for a loan.
VA Home Mortgage Loan Advantages vs Other Mortgage Loan OptionsVA home loans do not require a down payment, unless the purchase price is more than the appraised value or in excess of current loan limits.
VA home loans have limitations on which closing costs may be assessed to the veteran.
VA home loans have no prepaid without penalty.
Maximum (zero down) VA loan has increased to match conforming loans!
VA home loans may have forbearance extended to worthy VA homeowners experiencing temporary financial difficulty
VA performs personal loan servicing and offers financial counseling to help veterans avoid losing their homes during temporary financial difficulties
Rates are competitive with conventional loan interest rates.
VA home loans do not require mortgage insurance premiums.
Although there is no down payment required – There are still lender closing costs, but the seller usually pays ALL of the veteran’s closing costs (and with a $0 down payment, the veteran can literally purchase a home for nothing).
VA FastTrack IRRRL Streamline Refinace
We are sensitive to the needs of our American Veterans. But before you get a VA loan, you will need a Certificate of Eligibility, and your DD-214. If you do not have one, or cannot find it, you must contact the VA to get one. Click HERE for details on how to obtain these forms.
If WE are your lender – we can under most circumstances, get your required Certificate of Eligibility for you for free.
VA Frequently Asked Questions… Click HERE
ERA DATES LENGTH OF SERVICE
World War II 09/16/40 – 07/25/47 90 Days
Peacetime 07/26/47 – 06/26/50 181 Continuous Days
Korean Conflict 06/27/50 – 01/31/55 90 Days
Post Korean 02/01/55 – 08/04/64 181 Continuous Days
Vietnam 08/05/64 – 09/07/80 90 Days
Post Vietnam 05/08/75 – 09/07/80 181 Continuous Days
Enlisted 09/08/80 – 08/01/90 2 Years
Officers 10/17/81 – 08/01/90 2 Years
Persian Gulf 08/02/90 – present 2 Years of period called to active duty, not less than 90 days.
Income Guidelines for VA Home Loans
When buying a home in Kentucky, the VA still requires a borrower to have sufficient and adequate income to cover the repayment of the mortgage. Before a borrower can be approved for a Kentucky VA home mortgage loan, the stability of income and the continuance of the borrower’s income must be established through acceptable sources of income, the borrower’s past employment record, and the employer’s confirmation of continued employment must be established.
Stability of a person’s income is generally derived from their employment history. VA requires verification for the previous two full years and must be documented through lender verifications of previous employment or W-2′s. This income must be analyzed to determine whether it can be expected to continue through the first 3 years of the mortgage loan (if the borrower intends to retire during this period, the expected retirement income, social security benefits, etc. should be used). Any gaps in employment must be reasonably explained by the borrower. Schooling or education for the borrower’s profession (e.g. nursing school) can be counted towards the 2 year requirement. Allowances for seasonal employment, such as is typical in the building trades for example, may be used.
VA FUNDING FEE
In order for VA to guarantee the home loan in Minnesota or Wisconsin, there is a closing cost assessed by the VA to originate the loan called a funding fee. This fee will vary, depending upon the type of VA loan, whether this is your first time to use your entitlement, if you are a disabled veteran, the down payment and if you served active duty or in the National Guard/Reserves.
The VA funding fee is required by law. The fee, is intended to enable the veteran who obtains a VA home loan to contribute toward the cost of this benefit, and thereby reduce the cost to taxpayers. The funding fee for second time users is a bit more expensive. The idea of a higher fee for second time use is based on the fact that these veterans have already had a chance to use the benefit once, and also that prior users have had time to accumulate equity or save money towards a down payment.
The following table breaks down the funding fee charged by VA:
First time use, purchase of an eligible property
Down Payment Active Duty Reserves/NG
0% to 4.99% 2.15% 2.4%
5% to 9.99% 1.50% 1.75%
10% + 1.25% 1.50%
Second time use, purchase of an eligible property
Down Payment Active Duty Reserves/NG
0% to 4.99% 3.30% 3.3%
5% to 9.99% 1.50% 1.75%
10% + 1.25% 1.50%
Active Duty Reserves/NG
First Use 2.15% 3.3%
2nd Use 2.40% 3.3%
IRRL Streamline Refinance
Active Duty Reserves/NG
All Homes .50% .5%
Moble Homes 1.0% 1.0%
VA STREAMLINE REFINANCE
An “Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan” (IRRRL) or Streamline Refinance allows Veterans to refinance their current mortgage interest rate to a lower rate than they are currently paying. This program is only available to veterans who are refinancing their original VA mortgage in which they utilized their original eligibility.
■The VA charges ½ percent funding fee to guarantee the IRRRL Loan.
■There is no cash out on an IRRRL loan.
■The loan being refinanced must be current and have a perfect pay history for the last 12 months.
■2nd mortgages cannot be included and must subordinate.
■No assumptions are allowed.
■This loan can be done with “no out of pocket money” by including all costs in the new loan or by making the new loan at an interest rate high enough to enable the lender to pay the costs.
VA Cash-Out Refinance
Cash-out refinances on properties owned more than one year prior to the refinance are permitted on owner occupied principal residences only, and are limited to 90% of the appraised value plus the allowable closing costs.
A cash-out refinance is when a borrower refinances their current mortgage for more than they owe in order to pull out the built up equity that has accrued in the home. The amount a home owner can borrower is limited by the value of the property compared to the loan amount (otherwise known as the loan-to-value or LTV).
The following are basic requirements of a cash-out VA refinance loan:
■If the property was purchased less than one year preceding the refinance, the borrower is allowed to refinance up to 90% of the original sales price plus the allowable new closing costs or the appraised value plus the allowable closing costs (whichever is lesser)
■If the property was purchased more than one year preceding the refinance, the borrower can cash-out 90% of the the appraised value plus the allowable closing costs
■Applies to owner occupied properties only
■2nd mortgages may be paid off with the cash-out refinance (the second mortgage must be at least 12 months old)
■Loan amounts may not exceed 90% of the appraised value.
■The borrower must have sufficient entitlement for the loan (not including any existing entitlement that was used for loans to be paid off by the refinance
■There must be a first lien against the property
■If the new loan is to refinance an existing mortgage to buy out an ex-spouse’s equity, a divorce decree or settlement agreement must be provided to document the equity awarded to the ex-spouse
■All borrowers must credit qualify
■A funding fee of 3.00% will be added to the loan amount at time of closing (there are no refunds for previous funding fees assessed by the VA).
■Borrower may receive cash proceeds at closing
■Maximum loan term is 30 years plus 32 days
■VA Home Loan Centers Announces Summer Stimulus Offer (prweb.com)
■Louisville Kentucky VA Mortgage and home loan Program Quick Reference (louisvillekymortgage.net)
■Tips From A VA Loan Mortgage Expert (prweb.com)
■LowVARates Advocates for Overseas Military (prweb.com)
■Overseas Military May Miss Out On Low VA Loan Interest Rates (prweb.com)
VA Mortgage Loan Checklist
The following is a list of documents that may be required to process your VA mortgage loan:
•One full month's worth of pay stubs
•Last 2 years W-2's
•If self employed: Last 2 years tax returns with all schedules (if you are using commission, dividend or rental income to qualify then you will also need to provide your tax returns)
•Address and phone number of all employers for the last two years.
•Address and phone number for all landlords for the last two years.
•Copy of your DD214
•Your Original VA Certificate of Eligibility (we can help you get this if needed)
•Copies of social security, pension, and/or retirement award letters (if applicable)
•Last two months bank statements for all accounts
•Documentation to support your funds to close
•Explanation for any derogatory credit (if applicable)
•Bankruptcy and discharge paperwork (if applicable)
•Divorce decree and settlement paperwork (if applicable)
Senior Loan Officer
IRRRL stands for Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan. You may see it referred to as a "Streamline" or a "VA to VA." Except when refinancing an existing Louisville VA guaranteed adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate, it must result in a lower interest rate. When refinancing from an existing VA ARM loan to a fixed rate, the interest rate may increase.
No appraisal or credit underwriting package is required by VA. You should be aware, however, that lenders may require an appraisal and credit report anyway.
A certificate of eligibility is not required. Your lender may use our e-mail confirmation procedure for interest rate reduction refinance in lieu of a certificate of eligibility.
An IRRRL may be done with "no money out of pocket" by including all costs in the new loan or by making the new loan at an interest rate high enough to enable the lender to pay the costs. (Remember: The interest rate on the new loan must be lower than the rate on the old loan unless you refinance an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage).
No lender is required to make you an IRRRL, however, any lender of your choice may process your application for an IRRRL. While it might be the best place to start shopping for an IRRRL, you do not have to go to the lender you make your payments to now or to the lender from whom you originally obtained your VA Loan.
Some lenders may say that VA requires certain closing costs to be charged and included in the loan. Remember - The only cost required by VA is a funding fee of one-half of one percent of the loan amount which may be paid in cash or included in the loan.
You must NOT receive any cash from the loan proceeds.
An IRRRL can be done only if you have already used your eligibility for a Louisville VA loan on the property you intend to refinance. It must be a VA to VA refinance, and it will reuse the entitlement you originally used. You may have used your entitlement by obtaining a Louisville VA loan when you bought your house, or by substituting your eligibility for that of the seller, if you assumed the loan. If you have your Certificate of Eligibility, take it to the lender to show the prior use of your entitlement.
The occupancy requirement for an IRRRL is different from other Louiville VA loans. When you originally got your Louisville VA loan, you certified that you occupied or intended to occupy the home. For an IRRRL you need only certify that you previously occupied it.
The loan may not exceed the sum of the outstanding balance on the existing Louisville KY VA loan, plus allowable fees and closing costs, including funding fee and up to 2 discount points. You may also add up to $6,000 of energy efficiency improvements into the loan.
NOTE: Adding all of these items into your loan may result in a situation in which you owe more than the fair market value of the house, and will reduce the benefit of refinancing since your payment will not be lowered as much as it could be. Also, you could have difficulty selling the house for enough to pay off your loan balance.
Some lenders offer IRRRLs as an opportunity to reduce the term of your loan from 30 years to 15 years. While this can save you a lot of money in interest over the life of the loan, if the reduction in the interest rate is not at least one percent (two percent is better) and lots of new loan costs are rolled into the new loan, you may see a very large increase in your monthly payment.
Beware: It could be a bigger increase than you can afford
No loan other than the existing VA loan may be paid from the proceeds of an IRRRL. If you have a second mortgage, the holder must agree to subordinate that lien so that your new Louisville KY VA loan will be a first mortgage.
This website is not an Government Agency, and does not officially represent the HUD, VA, USDA or FHA
2014 Louisville Kentucky VA County Loan Limits in all counties in Kentucky is $417,000.00
Fill out my form now by clicking here for your free mortgage prequalification on a VA Streamline!
Labels: VA Mortgage Streamline (IRRRL)
We've helped thousands of veterans and military families capitalize on the home loan benefits earned by their service. Along the way, we've also answered more than a few questions about the VA Loan — and we're always happy to help. For your convenience, we've compiled the answers to some of the more common questions.
If you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us. Give us a call at 800-884-5560 or complete our online questionnaire to find out more.
FAQsExpand All [+]
Senior Loan Officer
VA Loan Eligibility
What is the VA Loan entitlement?
Veterans, service members and others who qualify have what is called an entitlement, which is basically a promise from the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a financial guaranty on a mortgage issued by one of its approved lenders. The VA doesn't issue home loans. Instead, it guarantees a portion of each. That guaranty is important to lenders and helps borrowers who might otherwise struggle to secure financing. Having a VA entitlement means you have a financial guaranty from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Am I eligible as a spouse of a deceased veteran?
VA loans are available to some non-military personnel, including both unmarried and remarried spouses. An unmarried spouse whose veteran died on active duty or because of a disability connected to his or her service is eligible for VA home loan benefits.
Surviving spouses who obtained a VA loan with the veteran before his or her death can also obtain a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, better known as a VA Streamline refinance. Surviving spouses who remarried upon or after turning age 57 and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible for a VA home loan. Surviving spouses who remarried before that date are no longer eligible to participate.
The spouse of an active duty member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days is eligible for one-time use of the VA home loan benefit.
How can I get my Certificate of Eligibility?
The Certificate of Eligibility is a formal VA document that certifies what entitlement, if any, a military member has for a VA home loan. Obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility is a crucial step in the process. This is the only verifiable way to determine a veteran's eligibility and entitlement. Without a Certificate of Eligibility, prospective borrowers cannot complete the lending process. Veterans can obtain their Certificate of Eligibility directly from the VA, which typically takes a few weeks. Veterans United Home Loans uses an automated system to get your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes.
Who is eligible for the VA Loan?
There are basic eligibility requirements for veterans and service members, along with members of the Reserves, the National Guard and surviving spouses.
You May Be Eligible for a VA Loan If Any One of the Following are True:
• You served 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
• You served 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
• You served 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard
• You are the spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or because of a service-connected disability.
The only way to verify a veteran's eligibility for a VA loan is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. Veterans can obtain their Certificate of Eligibility directly from the VA, which typically takes a few weeks. Veterans United Home Loans uses an automated system to get your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes.
It's important to remember that not everyone eligible for a VA loan ultimately secures one. Prospective borrowers still have to satisfy credit and underwriting standards set by both the VA and the lender.
What is the difference between eligibility and prequalification?
Not everyone eligible for a VA loan ultimately secures one. Prospective borrowers still have to satisfy credit and underwriting standards set by both the VA and the lender. Getting prequalified for a loan is a basic step that borrowers can complete online or over the phone. This step gives veterans a sense of their purchasing power and lays the foundation for the credit and underwriting process. But it is only a first step. Veterans with sufficient credit scores will move toward loan preapproval, which is a more formal stage desired by home sellers and real estate agents.
How do basic and bonus entitlements work?
Basic Allowance for Housing, formerly known as Basic Allowance for Quarters, is a key asset that can help service members qualify for and afford a VA mortgage. This monthly housing allowance can be counted as income provided it's stable and likely to continue. The same is true for other military allowances and forms of bonus pay. Lenders have to make sure the payments are reliable and consistent. Qualified borrowers can use BAH to cover some or all of their monthly mortgage payment.
How do I restore my entitlement once I pay off my previous VA Loan?
Veterans who want to fully restore their entitlement after paying off their VA loan can seek a full restoration of their entitlement. The most common example is when a borrower sells their home and uses the sale proceeds to pay off their original mortgage. At that point, the veteran's previously used entitlement is no longer tied up in the original home. Veterans then have to fill out a VA form and submit documentation to the agency.
What is 2nd Tier Entitlement?
Qualified borrowers have two layers of entitlement. Together, the first tier and the second tier combine to create the VA guaranty. The second, additional layer of entitlement can help borrowers who have experienced foreclosures or other major problems with VA loans. Thanks to second-tier entitlement, even a veteran who defaults on a VA loan can still purchase again. It's important to note that on a second-tier entitlement purchase, there's a minimum loan amount of $144,000.
Can I use the VA Loan for a second home or rental properties?
No. The VA Loan is designed only for primary residences that are occupied by the owners of the properties.
VA Loan Qualification
Who sets the VA Loan guidelines, the VA or my lender?
The VA sets broad requirements and guidelines for military borrowers. There are no income requirements or credit requirements to participate in the VA Loan Guaranty program. The VA simply requires that borrowers represent a satisfactory credit risk. But VA lenders ultimately issue the loans, and they have their own unique requirements, especially when it comes to credit scores. So prospective borrowers have to satisfy both the VA and the agency's approved lenders in order to secure home financing.
If I have bad credit, can I still get a VA Loan?
In today's economic climate, VA lenders are looking for solid credit scores. Lenders will determine at the outset whether your credit score meets its benchmark. But veterans whose score falls short shouldn't lose hope. We have an entire department dedicated to helping people raise their credit scores and prequalify for the loan they deserve. Our Department of Secondary Approval works one-on-one with veterans, providing simple and concrete steps to boosting their financial health. Best of all, it's absolutely free.
Can someone else sign on the loan with me?
Veterans and service members can have someone sign on the loan with them, although there are certain restrictions. For a VA loan, that other person, known as a co-borrower, must be either a spouse or another veteran. Parents, friends and significant others who don't fall under one of those two headings cannot be a co-borrower on a VA loan. Married veterans can obtain a VA loan on their own, but if they live in a community property state, their spouse's active debt and income will be factored into the loan application.
What income can I use to qualify for a VA Loan?
VA-approved lenders have to make sure prospective borrowers have enough steady income to meet their monthly expenses, including a new mortgage payment. Lenders are generally looking for at least two years of stable employment and income from the same employer and job type. Reliable, documented income can be included from a host of sources, including:
• Base pay & allowances
• Non-military employment
• Retirement income
• Rental income
• A spouse's income
• Alimony/child care
To count income from overtime work, part-time jobs, second jobs and bonuses, veterans need to show that same two-year period of stability. Veterans who are self-employed or who make a living in the building trades, doing seasonal work or working mostly on commission have some additional paperwork hurdles to face. Tax returns for the previous two years will be essential in verifying income.
How long do I have to wait after bankruptcy to get a VA Loan?
A bankruptcy or foreclosure doesn't automatically disqualify you from getting a VA loan. But a lot of it depends on when the event occurred. In most cases, veterans will not be able to secure VA financing for two years after a bankruptcy or foreclosure. The VA has some exceptions that allow military members to participate in the program before that two-year mark. But, remember that VA-approved lenders, and not the VA, ultimately issue the loan. Lenders have more stringent standards that rise above the VA's requirements. And that means there's almost no way for a borrower to secure financing for at least two years.
Do I need my tax returns to apply for a VA Loan?
Lenders will file paperwork with the IRS to obtain tax records for prospective borrowers. This information plays a crucial role in determining a veteran's financial health and ability to handle the fiscal responsibilities associated with homeownership. Veterans can help speed through the process by having that information on hand, but it isn't necessary.
Rates and Loan Costs
What fees should I expect to pay for my VA Loan?
The VA has cap on the fees that veterans can pay to obtain a VA loan. Generally, VA lenders are allowed to charge a 1 percent origination fee, plus another percent to cover administrative and other costs. On a VA loan, sellers can pay up to 6 percent of the loan amount in closing costs and concessions. The one charge most VA borrowers can't escape is the VA Funding Fee, a mandatory cost that helps keep the home loan program running. Borrowers with service-connected disabilities can receive an exemption from the VA Funding Fee.
What is the VA Funding Fee, and how do I calculate it?
The VA Funding Fee is a mandatory fee applied to both purchase and refinance loans. It helps keep the home loan program running. The fee is a percentage of the loan amount, and it changes depending on several factors, including whether it's a purchase or a refinance, how many VA loans you've had in the past and the type of military service. You can see the full breakdown and even calculate your exact fee by visiting VAFundingFee.com.
How are rates for VA Loans determined?
Mortgage rates are shaped by a host of economic factors. Lenders set their rates based on what's happening in the bond market and in the greater financial landscape. Interest rates change constantly, often multiple times per day, which is why it's important to talk with your loan officer about when to lock in your rate. As with other lending products, military members with excellent credit can secure better interest rates and loan terms than those with less sterling credit. But, in general, VA loans have consistently lower rates than conventional loans.
Does the VA Loan offer adjustable rates?
Veterans can explore adjustable rate mortgage options with a VA loan. Today, the most common ARM for VA borrowers is either a 3/1 or 5/1 Hybrid, where the borrower gets a fixed interest rate for the first three or five years of the loan term. A low interest rate during those first few years can make a huge difference for veterans who might need cash to pay off other debts or obligations. ARMs are also a potential option for service members who only plan to stay in their homes for three to five years. Not every VA-approved lender offers ARMs. Many states require lenders to have additional compliance disclosures and counseling initiatives in order to satisfy government requirements.
Does my credit score affect my VA Loan rate?
Your credit score plays an important role in determining your mortgage rate. Prospective borrowers with solid credit can expect lower rates and better terms than those with fair to middling scores. The VA requires borrowers to be a satisfactory credit risk in order to qualify for a government-backed loan. VA lenders have their own additional requirements and, in the current lending climate, will pay close attention to an applicant's score. It's more important than ever to get a handle on your credit profile, get caught up on any outstanding debts and responsibly use credit. Put yourself in the best position possible when it comes time to start the home-buying process.
VA Loan Guidelines
Can I borrow more than the value of my home with a VA loan?
On a VA purchase loan, veterans can borrow up to the appraised value of the home, plus some costs and fees associated with the loan. Homebuyers interested in making their home more energy efficient can add up to $6,000 in improvements through an Energy Efficient Mortgage. On a VA Cash-Out Refinance, we can help homeowners refinance up to 100 percent of their home's value. Homeowners can use that cash to pay bills, renovate their home and other key uses.
Can I have more than one VA loan at a time?
Your VA entitlement isn't a one-time benefit. Borrowers who qualify can utilize their VA home loan benefits over and over. Most veterans will only ever have one VA-backed mortgage at a time. But there are unique situations where veterans can have more than one VA loan at one time. Most of those circumstances are related to relocation needs, including deployments and jobs. But it's important to remember that VA loans are for primary residences. You can't use your home loan benefits to purchase investment properties or businesses.
How complicated is VA financing?
As the nation's leading dedicated VA lender, we've worked hard to make the VA loan process as simple and streamlined as possible. VA loans have less stringent requirements than other lending programs, and that's one of the key benefits for veterans and active duty personnel. Prospective borrowers have to meet basic financial and credit-related benchmarks to satisfy both the VA and the lender. Veterans receive a financial guaranty from the VA, and that guaranty gives lenders the confidence to issue no-down payment loans with great rates and terms.
When purchasing a home, does the VA Loan allow for cash back options?
The VA has two major refinance programs. One of them, the Cash-Out Refinance, helps homeowners extract cash from their home's equity while obtaining a lower interest rate. We can help veterans refinance up to 100 percent of their home's appraised value. Most lenders are currently capped at 90 percent. The process for obtaining a Cash-Out Refinance is similar to the process borrowers go through for a VA purchase loan. Veterans with a conventional or FHA mortgage can refinance into a VA loan using the Cash-Out program.
What is the maximum VA Home Loan?
Contrary to what you might have read or heard, there isn't a maximum loan amount on a VA loan. But there is a maximum amount the VA will guaranty without the borrower having some manner of down payment. That's what industry people are referring to when they talk about VA loan limits. In today's market, qualified borrowers can purchase a home worth up to $417,000 with no money down across most of the country. In some high-cost areas, that limit can rise to more than $725,000.
Can I borrow extra money to make home improvements?
VA borrowers can add up to $6,000 to their loan to make energy efficiency improvements to their home. Known as an energy efficiency mortgage, or EEM, these unique loan products allow homeowners to make select upgrades and repairs to the property in order to maximize energy efficiencies. Spending money at the outset on energy improvements can ultimately lower heating, cooling and other related energy costs for years to come. That monthly savings can be funneled into additional payments to the mortgage principal or dozens of other household necessities. Veterans interested in an EEM should consult with their lender and be sure to arrange for a home energy audit from a professional firm.
VA Loan Basics
Who is Veterans United and VA Mortgage Center.com?
Veterans United is a financial services firm and parent company of VA Mortgage Center.com, the nation's leading dedicated VA lender. In the last year alone, we've made available more than $1.6 billion in VA financing. Headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, we employ more than 700 people in nearly two dozen states and have maintained an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for five straight years. Our mission is to help veterans and active duty personnel take advantage of the benefits earned by their service. We are here to proudly serve those who have served.
How is Veterans United involved in the community?
We are committed to enhancing lives and strengthening communities across the country. Veterans United and its employees donated more than $550,000 to military charities and community groups in 2010 alone. We're proud to support military organizations such as Fisher Housing Foundation, Hire Heroes USA, Homes for Our Troops, Fisher House Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Our employees contribute thousands of hours to volunteer projects, from Boys & Girls Club to building a house each year for a veteran in need. To further our philanthropic goals, we recently launched the Veterans United Foundation. Learn more about our new foundation at EnhanceLives.com.
Why choose the VA Loan program?
The number one reason veterans and active duty borrowers chose the VA loan program is simple: The ability to purchase a home with no money down. That incredible benefit opens the doors of homeownership to thousands of people who might otherwise struggle to secure financing. VA loans also feature no private mortgage insurance, flexible credit and income requirements and consistently lower rates than other loan products. Your VA loan entitlement is a hard-earned benefit. This program provides qualified borrowers with unmatched buying power and flexibility. For the vast majority of veterans, service members and military families, the VA loan program represents the simplest and most powerful path to homeownership.
How do I get prequalified and what happens afterward?
The best way to start the application process is to speak to one of our VA loan specialists today. Our team can prequalify borrowers over the phone in a matter of minutes. We will gather some of your basic financial information and take a look at your credit score. You'll then receive our loan application packet and get on the path to preapproval, which is a more involved process that requires a more detailed look at your finances and your ability to handle a mortgage and its associated costs.
What if I don't have copies of my discharge paperwork?
VA lenders have to obtain all kinds of official paperwork in order to process a loan, from the borrower's Certificate of Eligibility to tax returns and other crucial documents. It's easy for paperwork to get lost over time, so borrowers shouldn't worry if they can't locate their discharge documents or other important pieces of paper. We can obtain fresh copies of your most important documents with no hassle. Borrowers can also contact the VA and other entities to secure the paperwork themselves. The lack of this paperwork won't necessarily derail the loan process, but it's best to work with the lender as quickly as possible to take care of document needs.
Can I pay off a VA Loan early?
VA loans do not have any kind of prepayment policies. That means borrowers can pay off their loans early without penalty. That's a significant benefit for homeowners who want to cut down on their interest costs over time. Paying an additional $50 or $100 a month toward your premium can shave off years and tens of thousands of dollars from your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
I see that VA Loans are assumable, what does that mean?
With most loan products, when a home is sold the existing mortgage must be paid off. But there are instances when a homebuyer can take over the loan balance, interest rate and terms of the existing mortgage. This is referred to as "assuming" the loan. VA loans are one of the only fixed-rate mortgages that are assumable. This key difference gives homeowners increased flexibility when the time comes to sell their home.
When is the VA Loan not my best option?
For the vast majority of veterans, active duty service members and military families, the VA loan represents the most flexible and powerful loan program on the market. Qualified borrowers can purchase a home worth up to $417,000 and more without a down payment or out-of-pocket spending. But there are some cases when a VA loan may not represent the best fit. Veterans with significant cash reserves who can cover a 20-percent down payment may want to consider conventional financing. But that isn't the typical financial situation for most military borrowers. For everyone else, VA loans often make the most financial sense and allow veterans to get the biggest bang for their buck.
Can the VA Loan help me lower my monthly bills?
The VA has two major refinance programs. One, the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, better known as a VA Streamline, helps homeowners get into a lower-rate mortgage to reduce their monthly payment. VA Streamlines come with minimal hassle and paperwork. The VA does not require appraisals or credit checks on Streamlines, but some lenders have recently made them mandatory. We are still able to process some Streamlines without an appraisal, which is a tremendous benefit given the decline in home values across the country. Homeowners have to pay closing costs on a VA Streamline. But these can be rolled into the overall loan amount, along with up to $6,000 in energy efficiency improvements.
Can I refinance my home if I don't currently have a VA Loan?
Veterans and active duty homeowners who qualify can refinance into a VA loan using the program's cash-out refinance program. The process for obtaining a Cash-Out Refinance is similar to the process borrowers go through for a VA purchase loan, from the income verification and debt-to-income ratio to a home appraisal. Qualified homeowners with conventional or FHA mortgages do not have to take out cash when they refinance into a VA loan. But they are ineligible for the simpler VA Streamline program.
What is the Veterans United Realty referral program?
VA loans are specialized tools that require specialized knowledge. That's why Veterans United has developed a unique partnership with Veterans United Realty, a network of more than 1,400 real estate agents who specialize in helping veterans and active duty personnel purchase homes. These agents understand the requirements and advantages of VA loans and can make a huge difference on behalf of their clients. homebuyers who close on a home using a Veterans United Realty agent receive up to $500 after closing.
What types of homes can I buy with a VA Loan?
The vast majority of military buyers use their VA loan to purchase or refinance an existing single-family home. But veterans interested in purchasing a condo or building a home from the ground up can also utilize a VA loan. You can use a VA loan:
• To purchase a residence that's owned and occupied by the veteran.
• To refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan in order to lower the current interest rate.
• To refinance in order to take out cash.
• To repair, alter or improve a residence owned by a veteran.
• To simultaneously purchase and improve a home
• To make energy-efficiency improvements in conjunction with a VA purchase or refinance loan.
• To purchase up to four one-family residential units in a condo development approved by the VA. One of those four units must be used as the borrower's primary residence.
• To purchase a farm residence to be owned and occupied by the veteran. The property cannot be a working farm or an income-producing property.
You cannot use a VA loan to purchase vacation homes or income properties
Senior Loan Officer
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Q: What is a VA Guaranteed Home Loan?
A: VA guaranteed loans are made by private lenders, such as banks, savings & loans, or mortgage companies to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home which must be for their own personal occupancy. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you fail to repay the loan. The guaranty replaces the protection the lender normally receives by requiring a down payment allowing you to obtain favorable financing terms.
Q: What is pre-purchase counseling and why is it helpful?
A: Pre-purchase counseling gives a person information on (1) the process of buying a home, (2) the key players in the home buying process, and (3) debt management. The goal is to create a better informed homebuyer. While VA does not require such counseling, we strongly recommend it. There is usually no charge for the housing counseling. An excellent online source of information for first time homebuyers is provided by Ginnie Mae.
To locate a housing counseling office call (800) 569-4287 or visit HUDs website. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) maintains both the phone number and website.
Q: Does my entitlement guarantee that I will get a home loan?
A: No, VA cannot compel a lender to make a loan that would violate their lender policies. Lenders must also comply with VA income and credit standards. If a lender is unwilling to make a loan to you, we can only suggest that you try other lenders.
Q: How much is my entitlement?
A: Your basic entitlement is $36,000. For loans in excess of $144,000 to purchase or construct a home, additional entitlement up to an amount equal to 25 percent of the VA county loan limit for a single family home may be available. VA county loan limits, which can change yearly, are available at this link. The loan limits are the amount a qualified veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a downpayment.
Q: How do I get a Certificate of Eligibility?
A: Web LGY: It may be possible to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from your lender. Most lenders have access to the Web LGY system. This Internet based application can establish eligibility and issue an online Certificate of Eligibility in a matter of seconds. Not all cases can be processed through Web LGY - only those for which VA has sufficient data in our records. However, veterans are encouraged to ask their lenders about this method of obtaining a certificate.
You can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility by submitting a completed VA Form 26-1880, Request For A Certificate of Eligibility , to the Atlanta Eligibility Center, along with proof of military service. In some cases it may be possible for VA to establish eligibility without your proof of service. However, to avoid any possible delays, it's best to provide such evidence.
Q: How do I obtain a VA Home Loan?
A: Here are the steps:
- Select a home and discuss the purchase with the seller or selling agent. Sign a purchase contract conditioned on approval of your VA home loan.
- Select a lender, present them with your Certificate of Eligibility if available, and complete a loan application. The lender can also obtain a Certificate of Eligibility on your behalf.
- The lender will develop all credit and income information. They will also request VA to assign a licensed appraiser to determine the reasonable value for the property. A Certificate of Reasonable Value will be issued. Note: You may be required to pay for the credit report and appraisal unless the seller agrees to pay.
- The lender will let you know the decision on the loan. You should be approved if the established value and your credit and income are acceptable.
- You (and spouse) attend the loan closing. The lender or closing attorney will explain the loan terms and requirements as well as where and how to make the monthly payments. Sign the note, mortgage, and other related papers.
A: There are many benefits of a VA Home loan:
- Equal opportunity.
- No down payment (unless required by the lender or the purchase price is more than the reasonable value of the property).
- Buyer informed of reasonable value.
- Negotiable interest rate.
- Ability to finance the VA funding fee (plus reduced funding fees with a down payment of at least 5% and exemption for veterans receiving VA compensation).
- Closing costs are comparable with other financing types (and may be lower).
- No mortgage insurance premiums.
- An assumable mortgage.
- Right to prepay without penalty.
- For homes inspected by VA during construction, a warranty from builder and assistance from VA to obtain cooperation of builder.
- VA assistance to veteran borrowers in default due to temporary financial difficulty.
A: Guarantee that a home is free of defects. VA guarantees only the loan. It is your responsibility to assure that you are satisfied with the property being purchased. The VA appraisal is not intended to be an "inspection" of the property. You should seek expert advice (a qualified residential inspection service), as necessary, BEFORE legally committing to a purchase agreement.
If you have a home built, VA cannot compel the builder to correct construction defects although VA does have the authority to suspend a builder from further participation in the home loan program.
VA cannot guarantee that you are making a good investment. VA cannot provide you with legal services.
Q: Should I have my home checked for Radon?
A: While Radon testing is not required, it is encouraged. For information on Radon and how to test, please read the Environmental Protection Agency guide found at this link.
Q: Is a guaranteed loan a gift?
A: No, it must be repaid, just as you must repay any money you borrow. If you fail to make the payments you agreed to make, you may lose your home through foreclosure.
Q: Can I get a loan for a home outside of the United States?
A: Unfortunately, the law only allows VA to guarantee loans on property in the United States, its territories, or possessions.
Q: Can I get a VA loan if I have had a bankruptcy in the last few years?
A: The fact you and/or your spouse have been adjudicated bankrupt does not in itself disqualify you for a VA home loan. The following rules apply:
- If the bankruptcy was discharged more than 2 years ago, it may be disregarded
- If the bankruptcy was discharged within the last 1 to 2 years, it is probably not possible to determine that you and/or your spouse are a satisfactory credit risk unless both of the following requirements are met:
- you and/or your spouse have reestablished satisfactory credit, and
- the bankruptcy was caused by circumstances beyond your and/or your spouses control (such as unemployment, medical bills, etc.)
- If the bankruptcy was discharged within the past 12 months, it will not generally be possible to determine that you and/or your spouse are satisfactory credit risks.
A: The VA funding fee is required by law. The fee is intended to enable the veteran who obtains a VA home loan to contribute toward the cost of this benefit, and thereby reduce the cost to taxpayers. The funding fee for second time users who do not make a down payment is slightly higher. The idea of a higher fee for second time use is based on the fact that these veterans have already had a chance to use the benefit once, and also that prior users have had time to accumulate equity or save money towards a down payment. First and second time users who make a down payment of at least 5 percent pay a reduced funding fee of 1.5 percent, the same as first time users making the same down payment. For a 10 percent down payment, the fee drops to 1.25 percent. The effect of the funding fee on a veteran's financial situation is minimized since the fee may be financed in the loan. National Guard and Reservist veterans pay a slightly higher funding fee percentage. To determine the exact funding fee percentage, please review the funding fee table.
Q: I want to buy a house with a VA loan. Do I need to occupy the property?
A: The law requires that you certify that you intend to occupy the property as your home. This requirement is considered satisfied if you actually intend to occupy the property as your home and in fact so occupy it when the loan is closed or within a reasonable time afterward.
Q: I am a single veteran stationed overseas and want to buy a home in my home town. My friends who are married can do this with their spouses occupying the property in their place, but VA says I can't do this with my parents or other relatives occupying on my behalf. Isn't this discrimination against single veterans?
A: The law specifically provides that occupancy by the veteran's spouse satisfies the personal occupancy requirement. The law makes no provision for occupancy by any other relatives as a substitute for personal occupancy by the veteran.
Q: May a veteran join with a non veteran who is not his or her spouse in obtaining a VA loan?
A: Yes, but the guaranty is based only on the veteran's portion of the loan. The guaranty cannot cover the nonveteran's part of the loan. Consult lenders to determine whether they would be willing to accept applications for joint loans of this type. Lenders that are willing to make these types of loans will likely require a down payment to cover risk on the unguaranteed, nonveteran's portion of the loan. Unlike other loans, the lender must submit joint loans to VA for approval before they are made.
Both incomes can be used to qualify for the loan. However, the veteran's income must be sufficient to repay at least that portion of the loan related to the veteran's interest in (portion of) the property and the nonveteran's income must be adequate to cover the rest.
Q: If a veteran dies before the loan is paid off, will the VA guaranty pay off the balance of the loan?
A: No. The surviving spouse or other co-borrower must continue to make the payments. If there is no CO-borrower, the loan becomes the obligation of the veteran's estate. Mortgage life insurance is available but must be purchased from private insurance sources.
Senior Loan Officer
Washington, DC, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia,
VA Regional Loan Center
210 First Street
Roanoke, VA 24011
116 N. Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016