Marje Tracy's Blog
There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.
Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.
What is a VA Loan?
VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.
Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed
VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.
Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.
Who is eligible?
There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.
If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:
You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime
You’ve served 181 days during peacetime
You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard
Your spouse died due to their work in the military
There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.
Applying for a VA Loan
There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.
Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender. If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.
Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.
Selling a home may prove to be an uphill climb. Fortunately, if you craft a home selling strategy, you can eliminate guesswork throughout the property selling cycle.
A home selling plan is a must-have, and perhaps it is easy to understand why. This strategy enables you to prepare for potential hurdles you may encounter as you promote your residence to buyers, review an offer to purchase and perform other house selling tasks. Plus, if you allocate time and resources to develop an effective strategy, you could streamline the process of selling your residence.
There are several things you can do to ensure your home selling strategy will deliver the best-possible results. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you craft a top-notch house selling plan.
1. Analyze Your Home
What you originally paid for your house is unlikely to match your home's current value. Luckily, there are various assessments you can use to evaluate all areas of your residence.
A home inspection enables you to identify any underlying house issues and correct such problems before you list your residence. Or, you can always hire a home appraiser who can give you a property valuation.
When it comes to selling a home, it helps to prepare as much as you can. If you conduct a home inspection and appraisal, you could gain valuable insights so you can set a competitive initial asking price for your residence.
2. Upgrade Your House's Interior and Exterior
Your home may have flaws, but you can address these issues right away. By doing so, you could make your house an attractive option to buyers.
Clean each room of your house. Also, eliminate clutter so you can show off the full size of your house.
In addition, mow the lawn and perform other home exterior updates. If you boost your house's curb appeal, you may be able to differentiate your residence from the competition – something that could result in a quick, profitable home selling experience.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent understands what it takes to develop a house selling strategy. Thus, he or she can help you craft a home selling strategy and put this plan into action in no time at all.
Typically, a real estate agent meets with a house seller and learns about this individual's property selling goals. A real estate agent next creates a plan designed to help a seller quickly achieve the optimal results.
A real estate agent offers plenty of guidance throughout the house selling journey too. Therefore, if you are unsure about how to showcase your residence to potential buyers, a real estate agent can deliver support. On the other hand, if you are uncertain about whether to accept or reject an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent can provide an honest, unbiased recommendation.
Use the aforementioned tips, and you can instantly create and implement a successful home selling strategy.
The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in a home. Not just a place to cook meals it’s also often the entrance to a home and where families gather together at the end of the day. Arguably, it’s also the most important room in the home and the one home buyers should be most astute of.
The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel ranging between $20,000 and $50,000. Whether you’re eager for some renovation projects or looking for a move-in ready home, you’ll want to assess the level of work this room will need as your shop potential houses.
Start with perhaps the most obvious - is the room large enough for your daily needs? Is there plenty of counter space or room to expand cabinetry? Do you have a lot of kitchen tools that call for plenty of storage space or perhaps prefer an island to prep dinner at? Know what your ideal kitchen space ahead of time, especially if it is a priority, so your realtor can help you find the perfect fit.
Check that all appliances to ensure they are in working order as per the disclosure statement claims. Appliances are a big expense and you’ll want to have a good idea of what will need replacing or to be installed. Consider if they are an easy color to match when it comes time for replacement and if any are under warranty.
You’ll also want to examine the cabinetry. Check to ensure all drawers and cabinets are properly aligned and open smoothly. If they are wooden cabinets you can easily swap out hardware or change the color if you’re not a fan of the current style. However, other materials are not as convenient so consider replacement costs if you’re unhappy with the current installation.
Countertops can be another major expense. Have the granite countertops been properly taken care of? If they are laminate are they scratched or chipped? If this isn’t an upgrade you’re looking to make, be sure to look closely at what each home already has in place.
Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in your home, especially if you love to cook. Check flooring for loose tiles, discoloration or poorly maintained wood flooring. This tells you a few things. Firstly, the quality of the materials used to build the home. And secondly, how well the house has been maintained over time.
Remodeling isn’t on everyone's list when house shopping. And with kitchen’s being one of the most expensive to renovate, this is one room you want to pay extra attention to as you view each potential home. Happy house hunting!