What Are VA Home Loans?

What Are VA Loans?

As the video says, the name is misleading – they’re not loans FROM the VA.

The VA – short for “US Department of Veterans Affairs” – is the Federal military veteran benefit system.

The VA administers benefits and services for Servicemembers, Veterans their dependents and survivors.

Programs related to home loans are one of their key services.

The VA is not a bank; they do not provide home loans themselves.

But they do guarantee a portion of home loans provided to veterans and other eligible people by banks and mortgage companies.

These guarantees enable lenders to provide more favorable terms.

They are are commonly called “VA Loans”.

They cover buying, building, repairing, retaining and adapting homes for personal occupancy by eligible Veterans and survivors.

What Are The Major Types Of VA Loans?

What Are The Major Types Of VA Loans?

Major Veterans Affairs loan programs described in this video include:

1) Purchase Loans.

These help eligible parties buy a home at competitive interest rates with little to no down payment and little or no private mortgage insurance.

2) Cash Out Refinance Loans which enable taking cash out of home equity to pay off debt, fund school or make home improvements.

3) Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans also called Streamline Refinance Loans can help veterans obtain lower interest by refinancing existing VA loans

Other programs include:

4) Native American Direct Loans to help eligible Native American veterans finance homes on Federal Trust land.

And

5) Adapted Housing Grants to help veterans with service-connected disabilities buy, build or modify a home suited to their disabilities.

Many states offer additional resources to veterans, too.

Talk to your home lender about your situation.

What Is A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE?

What Is A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE?

The COE is the key document that verifies to lenders that someone is eligible for a VA-backed loan.

Servicemembers, Veterans and National Guard and Reserve members may apply online or through their lender; most lenders have access to the system and can verify eligibility IF the VA has records on file.

The VA also maintains a hotline for assistance.

Surviving Spouses can use VA Form 26-1817 to request determination of their eligibility for VA Loan Guarantees.

Your lender may be able to assist with processing or contact the VA for information this video did not address.

What Is Equity?

Equity is the value YOU own in property such as a house. It’s the difference between what’s OWED and what the property is WORTH in the current market.

The example this video shows – you have a house worth $300,000 today and you owe the bank $200,000.  Your equity would be $100,000.

If the house is valued at $500,000 in five years, and you still owe $150,000 your equity will be $350,000.

Equity grows if the property value goes up or if the amount owed goes down.  The key thing to remember, simple as it sounds, is that you “own” increases in value. The bank’s loan doesn’t go up if the home’s value goes up.

Equity in a home can be used as collateral for loans but a house is not a piggy bank. Home equity can become a key financial asset over time; treat it wisely.

What Are Real Estate Commissions?

Like the video says – real estate agents aren’t paid by the hour!They’re paid a percentage of the purchase price in a successful real estate transaction.

When one agent represents the sellers and another represents the buyers the commission is typically split between them.
In the US, real estate commissions are commonly 6% of the transaction usually 3%/3% when split.

No government or industry body sets commission rates.  Legally, commission rates ARE negotiable.  However, remember that agents only earn their commission on successful sales.

Consider the work you want them to do for you to evaluate the value you should put on the commission they earn.

What Is “Prime”?

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  – is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.

The video shows  an example.

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%
  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%
  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

Closing Costs Explained Visually

Purchasing a home is exciting. Once escrow begins, the excitement can change to frustration, particularly if you are not ready for the closing costs that quickly accumulate.

Closing costs simply refer to the fees associated with various things associated with the escrow process in a real estate transaction. In the excitement of having an offer accepted for your dream home, you can easily lose track of the fact you are going to need to have some serious cash on hand to pay them. Many people make the mistake of only assuming they need the down payment money, and have to rush around town trying to come up with money for the closing fees.

Do yourself a favor, and discuss closing costs in advance with your real estate or mortgage person.  And watch this video to have a good mental picture of the costs that you’re likely to incur.

 

Title Insurance Explained Visually

What is title insurance and why should any buyer get it when purchasing a home (single family, townhouse, condo, apartment, or whatever format your home purchase takes)? Doesn’t the attorney or settlement company handling the closing see to it that you have a clear title? Isn’t this just another way for someone to siphon a few coins off a real estate transaction?

Title insurance prevents the property owner from suffering financial loss if, at any time during his ownership of the property, someone comes along who can show that they have full, or partial, ownership of the property instead.

A careful title search is done at the time property changes hands. On rare occasions mistakes are made anyway. Property can change hands in a number of ways including by deed, by will and by court action. Typically, these proceedings are recorded in different places. Searching the history of ownership to be sure nothing has fallen through the cracks is a tedious job that requires alertness, intelligence, and skill.

It is very likely that the value of your property will go up over the years. As time passes, these elements are likely to result in your home equity’s being your largest asset. Just how devastating would it be if you eventually discovered that someone else owned what you’d always thought was your home?

Do yourself a favor. When you buy a home, buy title insurance.  And watch the video to understand the essentials.

How Should I Prepare For Internet Showing?

Today, your first “showing” will be on the Internet – you’re watching this on the Internet, right?

Your price, listing description and PHOTOS determine whether someone will visit in person.  Consider professional staging advice or help.

Prep for photos and video just as carefully as real visits.

Ask your realtor if they use a professional photographer

If they do look at prior photos and pick someone who understands the job.

Photos should make the most of your home’s features and give prospective buyers an emotional connection that invites them to visit in person.

Help them envision their lifestyle in the house not just the counters and walls.

If your realtor recommends video, just as with  photography stage it carefully and hire a professional it will pay off.

And look over your listing when it goes live on a computer AND a mobile device to make sure it’s accurate, pleasant and compels people to show up.

Remember – your first showing these days will be on a screen.

 

How Should I Prepare The Outside For An Open House?

Professional “staging” may include the exterior, but if you’re doing it all yourself, try the five things outlined in this video.

1 – Landscape & lawn.

That’s the first impression; make it a good one.

Mow, prune, edge and get rid of junk!

2 – Paint And Clean!

You don’t have to do the whole house, but the front door and lintels should either be painted or cleaned.

3 – Leaks & Repairs

Small visible problems can become large mental objections and change how someone feels about your house.

Fix ‘em beforehand.

4 – Pets

Some people have allergies and concerns.

Time for Fido to visit a friend.

You weren’t including him with the house anyway.

5 – Get Fresh Eyes

Have your realtor or a friend who’s willing to be candid tell you what you missed. Or pay a staging professional for a report.

We don’t really see familiar things well – so let them be your

‘test buyer’ so you can present the best first impression to the real ones.