Whether you need a VA home loan or want to find other forms of housing assistance, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the resources you need.
Loans are available to help you pay for a brand-new house or even refinance your existing home in order to get better rates or loan terms. If you already own a home and are living with a service-connected disability, you may want to consider applying for a specially adapted housing grant (SAH), which will help you make home renovations to accommodate your disability.
While there are many resources for veterans who have homes, the VA also helps those who are experiencing homelessness, as well as veterans who live in a nursing home. For example, HUD VASH, a program provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the VA, helps homeless veterans obtain vouchers that they can use to rent a reasonable home or apartment. Learn more about home loans, grants, VA nursing homes and housing vouchers that veterans can use in the sections below.
VA home loans can help you buy a new home, make energy-efficient upgrades to your existing home or even refinance an existing mortgage that you have. Rather than being provided directly by the VA, a VA home loan will be issued by private lenders such as banks, credit unions and other companies. The VA simply guarantees your loan, meaning that it will step in to cover your payments if you fall behind. With a government guarantee, many lenders are willing to issue loans with great terms that you are unlikely to find from a conventional loan. Furthermore, VA home loan rates tend to be lower on average.
In order to get a VA home loan, you will need to meet a variety of criteria. Your VA home loan eligibility is based on your service record, the length of your service and the branch of the military you served in. Your credit score and income can have an impact on your eligibility as well. In most cases, you need to have served for 90 to 181 days depending on whether you were active during a time of war or peace. However, you may be eligible for a VA home loan if you served for a shorter period of time if you were discharged due to a service-connected disability. Loans are also available if your spouse was in the military and he or she passed away while on active duty or due to a service-related disability.
You will need to obtain a VA home loan certificate of eligibility (COE) before you can start the VA home loan application process. A COE verifies that the VA has deemed you eligible to receive financing, and lenders will need to see your certificate before you can be issued a loan. Getting a VA home loan COE requires that you provide information on your military history or your spouse’s history. Once you have a COE, you can begin meeting with lenders in order to compare rates and services. Next, you will need a real estate agent who will help you begin looking at homes.
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After you find a home you want to live in, the VA will need to inspect it to make sure it is worth the asking price. After, you will sign the purchase agreement and pay any fees associated with closing.
There are a few costs associated with getting a loan from the VA, such as a funding fee, which offsets the burden of taxpayers to cover VA services. However, there are countless VA home loan benefits to consider, and in some cases, your fees may be waived if you meet special criteria. One of the best benefits of getting a loan from the VA is that you will typically see interest rates at about .25 percent lower than rates for conventional loans. Furthermore, you usually do not have to make a down payment when getting a VA loan. While failing to make a down payment would usually make you liable for private mortgage insurance (PMI), you can avoid this cost with a VA home loan even if you put no money down.
If you are a homeowner, another great VA benefit to consider is a SAH grant, which will cover the costs of updating or remodeling your home to suit a disability. In order to get a VA specially adapted housing grant, you must have a service-connected disability such as the loss of one or both limbs, blindness, severe burns or respiratory injuries. These grants can be used to build modifications that will make your home more accessible, but they can even help you build a new home that better suits your disability. If you are temporarily living in a family member’s home, you may also apply for a grant that will help you make the house more accessible.
For veterans experiencing homelessness, the HUD VASH program is a great resource that helps provide housing assistance. Through this program, eligible veterans can apply to receive vouchers from HUD, which are similar to housing choice or Section 8 vouchers. Veterans can call the National Homeless Veteran Call Center (NHVCC) at 877-424-3838 (877-4AID VET) if they need housing assistance. Another way to receive HUD-VASH help is to talk to a VA social worker or ask for a referral from a different VA program.
Older veterans with a disability may be qualified to move into a VA nursing home, which is more commonly known as a community living center or CLC. These homes are designed to help veterans receive top-quality nursing care as well as assistance with basic daily needs, such as getting dressed or bathing. Veterans typically use a community living center as a temporary place to stay when they want to improve or maintain their quality of life, but in some cases, veterans can remain at a center on a more permanent basis. Residents of CLCs usually have a service-related disability rating of 70 percent or more, but a veteran can also be accepted under other conditions if a CLC has the room and resources to care for him or her.
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