A Department of Veterans Affairs survey from 2004 found that more than 20 percent of veterans had no idea that the VA Home Loan Program even existed. Since then, social media and a weak housing market have combined to help more veterans and service members gain awareness of the program.
Even with the increased awareness, many longtime borrowers are still unfamiliar with all the program’s ins and outs.
- VA loans are reusable
You can have more than one VA loan; you just have to be sure to pay off the entire loan each time. It is also possible to have more than one VA Loan at the same time.
- 90 percent of VA borrowers don’t put any money down
The VA Home Loan is one of the last zero-down lending programs on the market, and while many scrutinize the program for this feature, the program has the lowest foreclosure rate of any program in the industry.
- There is a mandatory fee
VA loans have a mandatory fee, known as the VA Funding Fee, which is a requirement of the Department of Veterans Affairs, not the lender.
- VA refinance loans have increased more than 750 percent since 2006 Historically low interest rates have allowed veterans to save thousands of dollars over the life of their loan, which has led to this giant increase shown from the most recent statistics.
- They aren’t issued by the VA
VA loans are not issued by the VA, but are guaranteed by the VA. This guarantee gives lenders confidence to provide you with great terms and rates.
- Just over 12 percent of veterans have used the program
Just over 12 percent of the nation’s 22 million veterans have used their VA loan benefits, showing the large lack of awareness.
- You can receive a VA loan with a bankruptcy or foreclosure
Service members with a bankruptcy or foreclosure on their record can still secure a loan. Even if the loan foreclosed on was a VA loan, it is still possible.
- Foreclosures on VA loans dropped 28 percent
Even with zero down, the VA loan boasts the lowest foreclosure rates of any lending program. In 2011, the foreclosure rate dropped 28 percent from the prior year.
- Only certain uses are acceptable
VA loans are intended for single-family homes that will be your primary residence, meaning you can’t buy land or a business with the loan.
- There are currently 1.5 million VA loans
While awareness is lagging, three are still over 1.5 million active VA loans currently being used across the nation.
- Not just anyone can be your co-borrower
The VA loan program requires that only your spouse or another eligible veteran can co-sign on the loan with you.
- No mortgage insurance
VA loans do not require the hefty mortgage insurance premiums that most conventional programs require if you don’t put 20 percent down. The VA’s guaranty eliminates the need for this, helping you save additional money each month.
- The VA helps those in need
In 2011, the VA helped 72,391 homeowners in default stay in their homes by finding solutions other than foreclosure.
- No prepayment penalties
With the program, you can make as many payments as you want, any time you want, and can even structure your payments to automatically deduct extra each month.
Chris Birk is the director of content and communications for Veterans United Home Loans, the featured writer for VA Loans Insider and author of The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits. Connect with Chris on Facebook at VA Loans Insider or on Google+.