Strategies for Veterans Buying Your First Home Using Your VA Loan

In many areas of the country the real estate markets have experienced inventory shortages, especially in major metropolitan areas. The seller, in many cases, will have several competing offers to choose from, in addition, it can be difficult for the veteran buyer to find a homeowner who will accept an offer using VA financing. Based on previous issues from veteran buyers, several strategies will be illustrated on how to make your VA offer as competitive as other types of financing, such as a Conventional or FHA offer. You may want to discuss your options with your loan officer in order to increase your chances of having your offer accepted.

There are usually 5 main areas of concern:
1) Closing Costs
2) Misunderstanding of Mandatory Fees
3) VA Appraisal vs. Conventional Appraisal or FHA Appraisal
4) An Offer With More Money Looks More Attractive To A Seller
5) VA Offer Requires a Termite Clearance

These 5 issues will be further elaborated in this article. Understanding these 5 common areas of misconception will most likely increase your chances of achieving an accepted offer.

Many veterans need help with their closing costs. In a seller’s market, rather than asking a seller to help pay your closings costs, it would behoove you to have your lender increase your interest rate, and request for a lender credit to cover the closing costs. In regard to additional fees, many agents have a misunderstanding that a seller would be responsible for mandatory fees.

This group of fees include: escrow, processing and underwriting. The VA guidelines state that these fees are a seller’s responsibility when the lender is charging a 1 point loan origination, (which is rare in today’s lending environment).

This concern needs to be addressed, so that all parties have an accurate understanding of the VA guideline.The VA appraisal has been commonly perceived as stricter than a Conventional or FHA appraisal. The most significant misinterpretation is that a VA appraiser may request for more repairs on the subject property. In today’s lending world, due to the stricter federal guidelines, Conventional, FHA or VA loan appraisals are all using similar standards.

Many sellers believe a Conventional offer with 20% down payment appear to be a stronger offer than a VA loan with no down payment. The offer with the highest down payment is believed to have a higher probability of closing. If both buyers have been pre-approved by an experienced loan officer, and the borrower’s information has been pre-approved by Fannie Mae’s underwriting software, called Desktop Underwriting, then they both have the same probability of closing.

The only area that the VA loan may have a slight disadvantage is that the VA requires a termite report and clearance, but Conventional and FHA loans do not. The VA guidelines allow you to pay for repairs, but not the report itself. You can offer to pay for the repairs if the report is available and you are aware of the costs. If the repairs are expensive and the seller elects to decline the repairs, it might be a house that you need to pass on.

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