Kentucky VA Lenders Guidelines for 2013
1) Why use a VA loan to buy or refinance a home in Kentucky ?
The VA loan began in 1944 through the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill of Rights. The GI Bill was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and provided veterans with a federally guaranteed home with no down payment. This feature was designed to provide housing and assistance for veterans and their families, and the dream of home ownership became a reality for millions of veterans. VA guaranteed loans are made by private lenders, such as banks, savings & loans, or mortgage companies to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home, which must be for their own personal occupancy. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you or a later owner fails to repay the loan. The guaranty replaces the protection the lender normally receives by requiring a down payment allowing you to obtain favorable financing terms.
2) Is Using the VA Loan a Good Idea?
The more you know about our home loan program, the more you will realize how little “red tape” there really is in getting a VA loan. These loans are often made without any down payment at all, and frequently offer lower interest rates than ordinarily available with other kinds of loans. Aside from the veteran’s certificate of eligibility and the VA-assigned appraisal, the application process is not much different than any other type of mortgage loan. And if the lender is approved for automatic processing, as more and more lenders are now, a buyer’s loan can be processed and closed by the lender without waiting for VA’s approval of the credit application.
3) What can I use my VA Home Loan for?
To buy a home (including townhouse or condominium unit in a VA-approved project), to build a home, to simultaneously purchase and improve a home, to improve a home by installing energy-related features, or to buy a manufactured home and/or lot. On manufactured homes, there must be land included with the home and the home must be at least 24 feet wide. The manufactured home must have an identifiable tag.
4) What is the maximum amount of guarantee the VA will allow on a home loan and what is the maximum loan amount?
The maximum guarantee authorized by the VA is 25 percent of the loan amount up to $104,250. The maximum VA home loan is $417,000. The maximum guarantee in the states of HI and AK is 25 percent of the loan amount up to $156,375. The maximum VA home loan in these states is $625,500.
5) What can be done when both husband and wife are eligible?
They may acquire property jointly, but the amount of guarantee on the loan may not exceed the lesser of 40 percent of the loan amount or $36,000 ($104,250 for certain loans over $144,000).
6) I am a Veteran who purchased a home with my spouse utilizing my VA eligibility. I am now divorced and my spouse was awarded the home. How do I get my eligibility back?
When the property is awarded to the Veteran’s spouse as a result of the divorce, entitlement cannot be restored unless the spouse refinances the property and / or pays off the VA loan in full or the ex-spouse is a veteran who substitutes their entitlement.
7) I heard the VA has an inventory of foreclosed homes. How can I find out more about this?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans. Click this link here for a list of Kentucky VA homes for sale.
8) VA Home Loan Entitlement – Isn’t the VA home loan automatic? It’s one of my entitlements, Right?
Some first-time homebuyers are misinformed as to the workings of a VA Loan. The Veterans Administration does not normally act as a lending agent. Instead, the VA is in the business of guaranteeing the loans of veteran. In most cases, the VA offers a guaranty to those who meet the requirements, the first of which include a good credit rating. If you are considering any kind of home loan, it’s best to consult a credit counselor and a financial planner to find out what credit rating you already have and what you can do to improve your credit rating before applying for the guaranty. It’s important to know that a VA home loan guaranty is available only if the veteran has the income to handle house payments. A VA loan guaranty is not an automatic benefit. Your financial planner or credit counselor can go a long way towards helping you prepare your personal finances before filling out that home buyer’s paperwork.
9) The VA Guaranteed Loan – Advantages
If you are looking to purchase a home with no money down, you’re in luck if you qualify. VA mortgage loans can be guaranteed with no money down in most cases up to $417 thousand dollars. An added bonus? No private mortgage insurance requirement with a VA guaranteed loan. The VA even offers help for those looking to refinance. Don’t investigate these benefits without asking for information about the interest rate reduction loan, part of something called the Streamline Refinancing Program, which allows veterans to refinance at little or no expense to them. VALoans.com can give you all the details you’ll need to take full advantage of your VA home loan benefits.
10) Adjustable Rates – Do I have to take a fixed-rate VA loan?
Veterans who shop around will learn it’s possible to get a fixed rate loan, negotiated with the lender of your choice. Another option? The adjustable rate loan, where interest may be adjusted one percent annually, up to five percent over the duration of the loan period. Which to choose? No matter which way you think is best, do your homework, shop around and get the best rate possible. Some make the mistake of taking the first offer that sounds fair, but don’t be intimidated by the process. You may be eager to get the “hard part” over with and get into a home. Take some time to research the biggest purchase of your life! When in doubt, consult an expert, a legal advisor or a trusted friend in the real estate business. The more research you do, the better you’ll feel at closing time. The VA is in the business of loan guaranty, but the choice of which loan to take is strictly up to you. It’s also a good idea to look for businesses who make a habit of cultivating customers who are veterans–you may find their expertise in VA matters quite valuable to reduce unnecessary waiting times on paperwork.
11) Get Pre-Approved / Should I get a pre-approved loan?
Obtaining pre-approval for your VA loan amount is an excellent time-saving step. Once you know the exact amount you’re eligible for in your VA home loan, you can begin searching for a home as a ‘serious buyer’. You’ll know in advance exactly what you can afford and what is outside your price range. It’s the kind of security you’ll be grateful for as you search for the best value for your money. With pre-approval, you avoid wasting time with property that’s out of your price range or sellers who are unsure whether you mean business.
12) Are You Eligible for a VA Home Loan Guaranty – How do I get proof of eligibility?
It’s easy to use an online program called ACE–the Automated Certificate of Eligibility–to get started in the VA loan guaranty process, yet can only have this done by a VA approved lender. Unfortunately, the automated system won’t work for everyone. Some people don’t have enough information in the ACE database, and are required to fill out a VA Form 22-1880, a Request for Certificate of Eligibility. If this applies to you, simply fill out the form and mail it to your regional Eligibility Center along with supporting paperwork including a copy of the DD214 discharge paperwork. Don’t send originals of the DD214, a photocopy will do. The certificate of eligibility process can be tricky for veterans who were separated from the military with a discharge other than honorable. In this case the VA must investigate the discharge to insure it was not classified as dishonorable. People who fall into this category should seek help from their local VA office, especially if you need to file an appeal to the results of your request of eligibility.
13) Your Discharge May Affect Your Chances – I don’t have an honorable discharge. Am I automatically disqualified from VA loan eligibility?
The nature of your discharge can affect your eligibility for a VA loan. The certificate of eligibility process gets complicated for veterans separated from the military with a discharge other than honorable. In these cases the VA checks to see if the discharge was classified dishonorable. If you had an ‘other than honorable’ discharge, seek help from their local VA office, it’s best to get some expert advice on what additional information to file, where to send the paperwork and what to do if an appeal is necessary. Be sure to include copies of your DD214 form, plus any paperwork or documentation showing that you either didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, or had your discharge upgraded, modified, or corrected.
14) I Lost My DD214 – What if I can’t find my DD214 form?
Those who have been discharged, separated or retired should keep multiple copies of the DD214–your discharge paperwork. It’s the most important military document in your records. This is proof of your military status, whether you are retired, separated, discharged. It also displays the nature of your discharge, and what your status is with the National Guard or a Reserve Unit. The lack of a DD214 form can bring some of your VA processes to a halt, but fortunately you can get a replacement copy by writing to the National Personnel Records Center. Enclose a completed form SF-180 along with a letter stating the reason for your request, you name, rank, social security number. If you are a recently discharged military member who separated or retired at an overseas location, remember that your DD214 form may be delayed overseas for up to a year before it becomes part of the National Record Center archives. If this is the case, you contact the orderly room, First Sergeant or Sergeant Major in charge of where you separated or retired and request a copy directly from your final base.
15) Already Have a VA Loan? – Is it possible to use my VA eligibility more than once?
Check with your lender about interest-rate reduction refinancing on your existing VA loan. This is a great advantage and there’s no need to re-establish VA loan eligibility. Instead, ask your lender to use the VA’s “email confirmation procedure”. You may also re-use your VA loan eligibility for another VA loan. The requirement here includes having completed payments on the previous note, and you must no longer own the property. When applying for re-eligibility, include copies of the paperwork that proves your old VA loan has been paid off-a “paid-in-full” letter from your bank, or a copy of the “HUD-1 settlement statement.”
16) A One-Time Deal / What is the one-time exception for renewing VA eligibility?
A VA certificate of eligibility is renewable on a one-time basis. You qualify if the existing VA loan is paid in full, but you still own the property. Under the rules, you ordinarily must prove the property has been sold, but thanks to the one-time exception you may renew the VA certificate of eligibility. All you need to do is complete VA form 26-1880 and send it to the nearest VA Eligibility Center. Remember that getting released from liability for a VA loan or having a debt waived by the VA is not the same as paying off the loan. In that case you’ll have to pay back the government’s loss. Once that is done, the certificate of eligibility may be renewed.
17) Partial Eligibility – Can I get eligibility for another VA loan even though I am still working on the first one?
If you have an existing VA loan, you may still be able to get VA loan eligibility for second loan. A VA certificate of eligibility may be available for any unused amount of what you are entitled to receive. You’ll have to negotiate a downpayment with the lender, and your leftover eligibility may not be sufficient for the entire amount of the second loan. Partial eligibility is sometimes complicated, and it’s best to get the advice of a VA rep before filling out any paperwork.
18) VA Loans and Rental Properties – Can I use my VA loan to buy a rental property?
The idea of buying a building intended as a rental property is sound-but VA mortgages aren’t intended for this purpose. If you buy a home with a VA home loan, you must certify that you intend to “personally” live in the house. There are naturally exceptions made for houses that are in the building stages when the sale is made, but the general rule is you must occupy the house within sixty days of the loan closing. The occupancy requirement applies to all VA guaranteed loans except one; the Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan or IRRRL. For these loans, the veteran is required to certify that the dwelling was previously occupied as the home.
19) Bankruptcy and VA Eligibility – What happens if I file bankruptcy and wish to buy another home at some point?
Veterans who file for bankruptcy are still allowed to use a VA home loan if they are eligible. Unfortunately the process does require a waiting period. You are allowed to purchase another home two years after the “discharge date” of your bankruptcy. Keep in mind that the filing date does not factor in-you must wait the two years after bankruptcy has been discharged. Once you are eligible to buy another home, the usual credit and income requirements apply.
20) VA Loans and Your Debt Ratio – How is my VA home loan eligibility determined? To qualify for a VA home loan, you must fall into a certain debt ratio. Your income, credit card debts and the new indebtedness created by the VA mortgage are all tallied up to see where you land in terms of debt. The maximum debt ratio you may have and still qualify for a VA home loan is 41%. This is only one factor used to determine eligibility, the others include your reliable income and credit rating. If you are considering applying for a VA home loan, you may wish to make an appointment with a financial planner and debt counselor to see how you might improve your standing in advance of the application process.
21) The VA Loan for Home Equity Refinancing – Can I refinance with the VA?
If you own a home and are considering refinancing, VA refinancing may be just what you need. Under the terms of VA refinancing, your current real estate debt is paid out of the proceeds of a new VA mortgage. The requirements? The same borrower must use the same property as before. This type of refinancing is also known as a ‘Cash Out’ refinance, and is only good for homes that are used as the owner’s residence. Refinancing is available for up to 90% of the appraised value plus all closing costs in many cases. Your home must have enough equity to cover the loan. These terms may not be available in all states, depending on local lending laws. Check with your local VA rep to learn more.
22) What VA Loans Are Used For – Am I limited to buying an existing home with a VA loan?
A VA home loan has more flexibility than you might think. While many use this benefit to purchase existing homes, there are many other applications. Did you know you a VA home loan may be used to purchase and improve a home at the same time? You may also use a VA loan to improve your existing home by increasing energy efficiency. There is also a provision for people to use a VA loan to purchase a manufactured home and lot, under the right conditions. There are many applications for a VA home loan, sometimes all you need to do is ask!
23) Does the VA Charge A Fee? – Are there fees associated with my VA home loan?
There is a “VA funding fee” required by law. A first-time buyer will pay a little over two percent for a ‘no money down’ loan, and a second time buyer’s fee is just above three percent. The reason for the fee includes the idea that the veteran is reducing taxpayer burden by contributing to the cost of his VA mortgage. The higher fee for second-time borrowers presumes that there is equity in the home, or the borrower has had plenty of time to save in order to pay for the extra percentage. There is also a fee for VA refinance loans, and they fall within the same general price guidelines; just above two percent for first-timers and just above three percent for those who borrow again.
24) VA Fees Part 2 – Who is exempt from paying the VA funding fee?
While there is a funding fee for a VA home loan, some people are exempt from paying. If you are a veteran getting disability compensation for service-related medical issues, or are entitled to get compensation if you aren’t drawing retirement pay, you are exempt from the VA funding fee for your VA home loan. Also, surviving spouses of those who died in the service, or from service related disabilities are also exempt. It doesn’t matter in this case whether the spouse has any of their own entitlements. Remember that the VA has the last word on who is exempt, and some issues may be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If you have any doubts, ask your local VA rep to review your service records (or your spouse’s records) and get a determination from the VA.
25) Co-signers on VA Loans / Can I bring on a co-signer on my VA home loan?
It’s true that the legally married spouse of a military member or veteran can co-sign a VA loan. There is no “penalty” for doing so, the veteran loan is still fully guaranteed by the VA. Two unmarried military members are also able to co-sign on a VA loan with the same results. When a military member or veteran wants to bring an unrelated, non-military cosigner, the VA allows this with one major exception. The VA guarantee is limited to the amount of the veteran’s interest in the property. Some companies won’t allow these types of “mixed” loans, so you may have a bit of shopping around to do before finding a lender willing to work with you. If you find yourself in this position, give yourself plenty of extra time to hunt for the right lender.
26) The Veterans Benefits Act of 2004 – How does the Veterans Benefits Act change my loan process and entitlements?
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2004 made many changes to the VA loan process. If you haven’t had to get eligibility or otherwise deal with the VA for a loan since the act passed, you may be surprised at the changes. One of the major differences; the maximum guaranty amount of $60,000 has been modified. Now, for qualifying loans in excess of $144,000, the maximum is a sum equal to 25 percent of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit, which is determined under the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation Act. If you feel your VA mortgage may be affected by changes created by the Veterans Benefits Act, contact your lender for more information.
27) Fair Housing – I think I may be encountering discrimination in my search for a home. Can the VA help?
Federal law requires lenders who participate in VA home loans to obey Fair Housing Laws. The law prohibits a great many things including refusal to negotiate, false claims that a residence is sold or otherwise unavailable, and discrimination in financing. Chances are you won’t be confronted by these problems, but in the event you do experience something you perceive to be in violation of Fair Housing laws, you can report the activity to your local VA office. The local office will investigate your complaint, which you file by filling out VA Form 26-8827, Housing Discrimination Complaint form.
28) I Can’t Find A House – Do I have any alternatives?
Those with VA loan eligibility or pre-approval may, depending on the location, have trouble finding new homes for sale. Fortunately, there are alternatives. In many areas, the VA can offer repossessed homes available for purchase to qualified buyers. You may also wish to inquire about state programs. Much the same as your veteran educational benefits, individual states offer veteran programs independently of the your federal benefits. Contact the VA office in your area to learn what may be available. Every state has different options, you may find just what you are looking for! Don’t forget that the qualifications and requirements may also differ from federal guidelines.
29) VA Foreclosures – Can I use a VA loan to buy a repo house? Does the VA have any such homes?
It’s true, the VA does get control of properties with VA loan foreclosures. VA foreclosures are offered to the public in the same manner as repossessed HUD and USDA Development homes. If you are interested in one of these foreclosed single family houses, check the government website http://www.homesales.gov/ to see what might be available in your area. There are many different agencies offering homes on the website. Eligible buyers should contact a broker to have the Offer to Purchase And Contract of Sale VA form completed and submitted. All the routine eligibility and credit terms apply, as with any housing purchase. Check with your lender if you are unsure of the terms and conditions of purchase.
30) Improving Credit – How can I help myself before applying for a VA home loan?
Because your VA loan eligibility depends on your debt ratio, it’s a good idea to start thinking about fixing your credit long before actually filling out loan paperwork. The best way to help yourself out is to follow the advice of a credit counselor, but you can also take steps on your own to increase your eligibility for a VA home loan. Eliminate as much credit card debt as possible. If you can get yourself down to a single card and stay that way for six months, you will be well on your way to improving your debt ratio and your credit rating. Remember that the maximum debt ratio allowed for approval is 41%, and that your credit rating is also a factor. If you are within a few months of paying off a major debt such as an automobile loan, do so as quickly as possible. You’ll most likely need to allow for credit reporting agencies to “catch up” with your newly paid off cards and loans.
31) VA Homebuyer’s Help? – What sort of advantages or help does the VA offer in the homebuying process?
When applying for a VA home loan there are some advantages to having the VA on your side during the home buying process. Did you know that VA loans offer limitations on closing costs? The VA also offers leniency to qualified VA borrowers who are having temporary financial problems. Other benefits of a VA home loan include long terms of repayment, prepayment rights (with certain guidelines) and under the right conditions, no downpayment required. You are also entitled to get an accurate assessment of the reasonable property value of your proposed purchase. These are just a handful of the added benefits of applying for a VA home loan.
32) Homebuyer’s Help Part 2 – Will the VA give me help if my property is poorly built or defective?
The VA has a great many ways to assist those seeking a VA mortgage, but there are also restrictions. When you purchase a home using a VA home loan, the VA does not offer guarantees that your home is free from defects. While the VA does conduct an appraisal of the property, this should not be misconstrued as an ‘inspection’ or approval of the condition of the property. The VA does not order builders to correct problems or defects in the construction of your home. It’s the buyers responsibility to seek expert advice about the condition of a property before purchase. Additionally, the VA cannot offer legal counsel of any kind. The buyer is responsible for being informed about rights and responsibilities with regard to new property purchases. When in doubt, hire a lawyer or an expert in property evaluation.
33) “Farm Loan”? – Can I buy a farm with a VA loan?
A veteran generally cannot get a VA loan to purchase a farm with one notable exception. If the farm has a residence where the veteran intends to live. There is no ‘farming requirement’ for this kind of purchase, but if the veteran does intend to operate a farm business as a major source of income for loan qualification purposes, it’s required to show that the business can turn a profit. There are other options available to veterans who wish to operate a farm. The Farmers Home Administration does show preference to veterans, and can be used as a way to finance veteran-owned farm operations.
34) Foreign Purchases – Can I purchase outside America?
The VA does not allow veteran mortgages for properties outside the United States. The VA does allow purchases in “American territories and possessions”. These areas include Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa , Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. If your proposed purchase is in one of these areas, you should be able to apply in the usual ways, but check with your VA rep for any special requirements or conditions based on the laws which cover lending in those territories. (Our company, http://www.valoans.com, only originates VA home loans for properties in the United States.
35) What If I Die Before Paying Off My VA Loan?
Unless mortgage life insurance is purchased, the responsibility of a veteran mortgage passes to the spouse or the veteran’s estate in the event of his or her death. There is a continued obligation to make payments, but don’t forget the VA’s “Leniency Policy” with regard to forbearance for qualified borrowers who fall on temporary hard times. Mortgage life insurance can take care of this issue once and for all, but it is not offered through the VA. You’ll need to find a qualified private insurance company to make these arrangements. The terms of such insurance may vary from agency to agency.
36) Selling My VA Loan Property – Once I sell my property, am I released from my VA loan obligation?
Some people may assume that selling the property purchased with a VA loan releases them from obligation to the VA loan. This is not automatic! The borrower must notify either the VA or the lender and request that liability be transferred to the new owner. The borrower needs to request a ‘release from liability” notice from the VA. There is an exception to this policy for those with loans closed before March 1, 1988. In these cases no notification is required, but it is a very good idea to request a release from liability from the VA anyway.
37) Mortgage Payments – What happens if my mortgage is sold to another mortgage company?
Chances are you will make payments to different lenders over the course of your VA mortgage. Selling mortgages from lender to lender is common, and sometimes a VA mortgage payment is sent to the old loan holder because notification of the new owner of your loan and your payment became crossed in the mail. If this happens, you may receive a notice of non-payment from the new loan holder. Don’t delay in contacting the new owner of your VA mortgage to straighten up the problem. While it is technically up to the two lenders to fix the matter, your credit rating and payment schedule could be affected if you don’t act accordingly.