VA Loan Myths
Because of their complexity relative to other mortgage programs, VA loans are the subject of plenty of different myths. Some of these myths are based on truths, but what you hear can end up being very misleading, and it could be entirely untrue.
If you were to take these myths at face value without doing your own research, you might miss out on one of the best mortgage products available. Here’s the truth to some of the biggest myths surrounding VA loans:
Myth #1: VA loans can only be used once
Because of how useful VA loans can be, some people believe they’re too good to be true. The myth VA loans can only be used once is completely false, but it’s easy to see where this mistaken idea might have come from. If you currently have a VA loan, you are not eligible for a second one.
However, this doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for a second VA loan ever again.
Once you pay off your current VA loan, you’re eligible to use the program again. There are some small differences after the first time, such as a slightly higher cost at closing. But aside from the small differences, your second VA loan will be similar to the first one that you paid off.
Myth #2: VA members are guaranteed a mortgage
Nobody is guaranteed any type of mortgage, regardless of which mortgage program they’re applying for or whether they’re veterans. You must be approved for a mortgage, which means — depending on which program you choose — meeting credit requirements and having a specific debt-to-income ratio, among other factors.
When a lender says a VA loan is “guaranteed,” they mean the VA backs the loan. The VA guarantee is there to tell veterans they can get a mortgage with no required down payment, competitive mortgage rates and other benefits.
You can learn more about what “guaranteed” means here.
Myth #3: VA appraisals are impossible to pass
It is true that VA appraisals can be stricter than an appraisal with a different mortgage type. But that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to pass, and many VA home buyers don’t have any trouble with the VA appraisal at all. Because the VA is backing the home, they want to confirm it’s in good and livable condition before they approve any type of loan.
If you are applying for a VA loan and want to have a quick, speedy appraisal process, check here for some tips on how to pass the appraisal.
Myth #4: Today’s home prices require a higher down payment
There’s no denying home prices have increased over the past decade. This has made homes harder to afford for many would-be home buyers, since down payments are usually used to lower the costs of monthly payments. The higher the downpayment, the lower the monthly payments.
Here’s the truth: with a VA loan, you don’t need to make a down payment and you can still afford a house. The key to buying an affordable home isn’t the size of the down payment, but finding a home within your means.
Many VA members purchase a home without a large down payment. In March, the average down payment for a VA loan was just two percent – below the minimum 3.5% required by FHA loans, and much lower than the traditional 20%.
While a larger down payment will lower your monthly costs, you probably don’t need to make a larger downpayment to be eligible for a VA loan.
Myth #5: VA loans take forever
When comparing FHA loans, conventional loans and VA loans, VA loans are typically the slowest program. According to mortgage software giant Ellie Mae’s April 2020 Origination Report, VA loans took an average of 48 days to close.
By comparison, FHA loans took 45 days to close, and conventional loans took an average of 41 days.
So yes, a VA loan is likely going to take longer to close than another program. However, a difference of 3-4 days is small when you consider how much lower VA rates are.
VA loans are slower than other mortgage types, but they do not take forever.
Myth #6: Surviving spouses don’t qualify for VA mortgages
Actually, many spouses of veterans can qualify for a VA home loan.
Generally, the spouse must be un-remarried and the veteran must have died during service or from service-connected causes. But there are exceptions and other ways a surviving spouse can be eligible.
And, surviving spouses are exempt from paying the VA funding fee. To confirm your eligibility, your VA loan officer will request your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and verify that it has Entitlement Code 06.
Myth #7: All realtors are good VA home loan advisors
There is no VA loan certification for real estate agents. As a result, you shouldn’t look to your real estate agent for reliable information about VA loans. And an underinformed real estate agent can unintentionally push VA-eligible borrowers towards programs that might be less advantageous for them.
Instead, you should get your VA loan facts from a VA specialty lender whose primary product is VA-backed loans.
The VA loan facts are hard to beat
The proliferation of myths about VA loans can obscure the fact this is simply one of the best loan products available to aspiring home buyers.
The VA loan rates available to eligible buyers — combined with the low down payments — are hard to beat with a conventional or FHA loan. But with a little research and a well-informed VA lender, you could be on your way to a VA home loan.