VA guaranteed loans are made by lenders and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you fail to repay the loan. In most cases, no down payment is required on a VA guaranteed loan and the borrower usually receives a lower interest rate than is ordinarily available with other loans.
Other benefits of a VA loan include:
· Negotiable interest rate.
· Closing costs comparable – and sometimes lower - than other financing types.
· No private mortgage insurance requirement.
· Right to prepay loan without penalties
· Mortgage can be taken over (or “assumed”) by the buyer when a home is sold.
· Counseling and assistance available to veteran borrowers having financial difficulty or facing default on their loan.
Although mortgage insurance is not required, the VA charges a funding fee to issue a guarantee to a lender against borrower default on a mortgage. The fee may be paid in cash by the buyer or seller, or it may be financed in the loan amount.
A VA loan can be used to buy a home, build a home and even improve a home with energy-saving features such as solar or heating/cooling systems, water heaters, insulation, weather-stripping/ caulking, storm windows/doors or other energy efficient improvements approved by the lender and VA.
Veterans can apply for a VA loan with any mortgage lender that participates in the VA home loan program. A Certificate of Eligibility from the VA must be presented to the lender to qualify for the loan.
The VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) Loan
The VA Streamline Refinance is also known as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). The IRRRL allows you to refinance your current mortgage interest rate to a lower rate than you are currently paying.
The Streamline loan is extremely popular because of its ease of use: once you have already been approved for your initial VA purchase loan, it is relatively simple to lower your interest rate and experience considerable savings. In most cases, a loan officer or lender with expertise in VA loans should be able to complete the loan within a month’s time in most cases.
VA loan closing costs can be rolled into the cost of the loan, allowing veterans to refinance with no out-of-pocket expenses. Sometimes it is also possible for the lender to take the brunt of the cost in exchange for a higher interest rate on your loan.
In order to qualify for a VA Streamline, you must meet the following requirements:
· Be current on your mortgage with no more than one 30-day late payment within the past year.
· Your new monthly payment for the IRRRL must also be lower than the previous loan’s monthly payment. (The only time this condition does not apply is if you refinance an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage.)
· You must not receive any cash from the IRRRL.
· You must certify that you previously occupied the property.
· You must have previously used your VA Loan eligibility on the property you intend to refinance. (You may see this referred to as a VA to VA refinance.)
The VA Cash-Out Refinance Loan
A secondary VA refinance loan type is the VA Cash-Out refinance loan. The Cash-Out refinance allows borrowers to refinance their conventional or VA loan into a lower rate while also taking cash from the home’s value.
Functionally, the VA Cash-Out refinance loan replaces your existing mortgage instead of functioning like a home equity loan, which it is often confused for. A qualified borrower can refinance up to 100 percent of their home’s value in some cases.
The Cash-Out refinance loan is a loan type available in any form – whether USDA, FHA, or conventional. Veterans generally choose to use the VA Cash-Out over other loan types because the period to pay off the loan is extended, and also, generally comes with a lower interest rate.
Just like the VA Streamline Refinance loan, the home must be used as a principal dwelling by the owner. There is no set period of time that you must have owned your home, however, you must have sufficient equity to qualify for the loan.