Veterans should make sure to choose lenders who ‘speak the VA’s language’
By Erinn Hutkin
for Oregonian Media Group Marketing
As a mortgage lender who’s approved to loan nationwide, and who’s spent decades helping veterans across the United States secure home loans, Dick Maurer says that Veterans are spending thousands of extra dollars by not using their VA eligibility. Surveys show that VA loans have the lowest rates of the three main types of loans. Nearly one-half of a percent lower rate than conventional loans. Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration loan program suffers from a lingering poor reputation that may have been true decades ago but that it no longer deserves. With estimates that only 20% of eligible Veterans are using the program, too many are paying too high a price for their mortgage.
Yet Maurer, a Beaverton-based Senior VA Mortgage Advisor for Bank of England Mortgage, says changes over the years have made the process easier and better for veterans and lenders alike. For instance, the appraisers are now the same ones doing conventional and FHA appraisals. They use the same forms and they are using almost identical property standards as well. Underwriting approval is now done by the lenders, not sent to the VA first.
The word is getting out. Top producing Realtors are encouraging their Veteran clients to strongly consider the VA program. They see the obvious benefits of lower rates, easier qualifying and 100% financing with no monthly mortgage insurance. It’s what is best for their Veteran clients. As evidence, he points out that the VA set an all-time record for loans closed in 2016.
The key, Maurer said, is using a mortgage professional who has years of experience with VA loans. “There are some very good loan officers who don’t do VA loans because they know that they don’t know the program” he explained. “While VA loans are different, they’re not any harder than a conventional or FHA loan when it’s in the hands of someone who knows how to do it. My staff and I know what we’re doing. We understand the VA processes and speak the VA language”
“The VA exists for the benefit of our Veterans” says Maurer. “If there is any benefit of the doubt to be found, the VA, unlike conventional or FHA loans will give it to the Veteran.” This is especially true for Veterans who have had some credit challenges such as bankruptcies, foreclosures or late payments. Veterans who have had a short sale may not be subject to a waiting period in some circumstances.
Veterans should be aware that;
• There is no limit on the number of times a VA loan can be used. It’s not just for starter homes;
• VA jumbo loans often have less than 10% down;
• VA loans have no maximum loan amount;
• VA eligibility does not expire, it is good for life;
• Guard and Reservists from the Viet Nam and Korea era were granted home loan benefits retroactively in 1993;
• Self-employed or commissioned Vets may get more of their income used to qualify.
The most important decision a Veteran can make with their VA loan is choosing the individual loan officer, not the company, who will guide the process. Ask about their individual experience, such as how many VA loans they have personally done or how long they have been doing them. Ask for references or testimonials from satisfied Veterans. Veterans tend to be grateful and send cards or letters to say “Thank You” for a job well done. Ask to see some. If the loan officer says things like “we do VA loans” or “my company does VA loans” you need to question more deeply. Maurer says “Veterans should choose an experienced person to guide and manage the loan process for them, not rely on “we” or “my company”.
Maurer says “Very few lenders know the language and the processes of the VA. It’s easier to simply blame the VA for the lender’s own mistakes. Choose wisely so that your VA loan gets on track, stays on track and closes on track.”