The Star-News


Vets may benefit from slump

Sat, Dec 18 2010 12:00 PM Posted By: Special To The Star-news

(NAPS) - When military heroes return home from the Middle East, they may find a completely changed housing landscape-which could be good news for them. In just the last two years, housing prices have plummeted, making homes more affordable than at any time in the last five decades. Now, mortgage rates have seen historic levels, bringing the American dream of home ownership to many.

Making matters better for returning armed service members is the benefit of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, a special mortgage program offered exclusively to active and retired military service members as well as to the widows of those who gave their lives in service.

"VA loans are a very underused benefit of being in the military," said Jay Farner, president of Quicken Loans, the nation's largest online lender. "With housing prices falling so significantly over the last two years, there is a great opportunity to purchase a home at incredibly affordable prices."

VA loans are similar to a conventional mortgage but have some very important flexibility. The program, which can be used to purchase as well as refinance a home, requires no down payment, offers relaxed credit score guidelines and allows loan fees to be rolled into the mortgage. In addition, VA loans do not require mortgage insurance, a potentially costly expense regularly paid by homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes.

The program has been a moderate success, with the Veterans Affairs office guaranteeing more than 14 million VA loans since the end of World War II. However, this represents only a fraction of those eligible to get the benefit.

"There are very few loan options available as flexible as the VA loan. Every veteran should at least investigate before buying or refinancing a home," Farner added.

Several large lenders, including Quicken Loans, offer VA loans, and the Veterans Affairs office also offers information on the loan program.

Many Americans consider an affordable mortgage the least the government can do to welcome home the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen.

 


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