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5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home

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Location

Probably the most important factor is where you want to live? Are you moving somewhere in the same town/area or across the country? Are you moving for work, will it be short term or is it your forever home? There are lots of things to consider when looking at potential homes. Once you know the area you want to live in, its important to look at the factors within the area that may affect your decision.

  • Is it a safe neighborhood? Do you feel comfortable and okay with your children being out and about?
  • How far is it from your work? Do you need to drive 20+ minutes each way or is it a quick 5 minute drive.
  • Close to good schools? If you have children or plan to in the future it’s important to see which school district you fall under, if you like it and how far it is?
  • Are there grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and other things close by? Do you want to be living in a booming city or far away from the noise?

Definitely important to consider the location and the impacts of it. If you are closer to work does that mean you’re closer to a noisy airport or far away and far from grocery stores? Think of what you want to be close to and if that’s possible in the area you like.

Family Size

How large of a home do you need? Is it just you and a significant other, or do you hope to grow your family in the future? It’s good to plan ahead and understand what your future few years will look like. This will help you decide what type of home style you want. Something less trendy and more kid friendly, or no kids and super hip and fun.
There are also other things to consider within the home. Do you want every kid to have their own room or do you want them to share? Whatever you prefer there are options out there for you. Some other questions to ask yourself are;

  • Are there enough bathrooms?
  • Do you have space for an office or guest room, if you want one?
  • Can you renovate in the future?

Homes can be very expensive, but the number one regret of homebuyers is not buying a big enough home. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough space for your loved ones.

Personal Needs

Everyone has a different style and prefers different layouts and home types. Recognizing your family’s needs are important. Do you want a nice kitchen and your husband wants a nice garage? Everyone’s values should be on the table and respected.
If you are active, or have a dog, maybe a larger yard is your priority? Or if you are a big cook, have a spacious kitchen. Do you enjoy entertaining? A large open space is helpful. Do you have a lot of stuff? Have enough closets and storage spaces.
Another important aspect depending on the area is parking. Less available in big cities, do you want a lot of parking spaces with a driveway or is street parking okay?
Everyone has their own preferences and it’s important to find a home that can check all or almost all your wishlist needs.

Costs

Pretty self-explanatory, but what is your budget? Does your current lifestyle support the mortgage on your home? Will you be able to afford traveling, shopping, and other expenses you incur. Does your work provide any support on areas to live in and a housing stipend? There are lots of other bills that come with a home; water, power, electricity, etc. Can you pay these as well, not living paycheck to paycheck.
Here at VA Home Loans, we can help you if you are needing the extra money to purchase your dream home.

Do you love it?

Do you think it’s your dream home? Or at least love most of it? If you don’t, keep looking. The house hunting process can be scary and difficult but it’s worth it if you find your dream home by waiting. The housing market moves quickly, so finding a trustworthy and smart real estate agent can be very beneficial. Don’t sit back and let your home get snatched, make smart decisions and review your wants and needs in a home.
Looking at all the factors of a home, you can avoid making some common home buying mistakes. Remember to follow your heart and make your own decisions. It’s easier to afford thanks to a VA home loan. Contact us today if you need help with anything!

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7 Biggest Mistakes New Homebuyers Make

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One of the biggest milestones of life is buying your first home! However, the rewarding experience of purchasing a home can also be quite difficult and extensive. To make sure you get the best value for a home you find desirable, VA Home Loans has created a list of do’s and don’ts to make the process as easy as possible.

Don’t Settle

An overwhelmed home buyer tends to make more mistakes when they are too focused on the idea of buying. Even if you have enough funds, it is not always the best decision to settle for a home that you are not positive about. Because currently buying a home in the Boise metropolitan area has become too expensive for the average consumer, there are still some financial advantages to renting a home. Owning your home comes with external responsibilities and expenses such as major utility bill costs, costly and untimely maintenance, and property taxes. If you are not prepared to take on these responsibilities, buying a home may not be the best option for you.

Don’t Overestimate

Like purchasing clothes at the store or certain groceries, it is not smart to reach for a price that doesn’t make you comfortable. Using a home valuation calculator will help you budget for your future so you don’t make a purchase that will hurt you in the long run. Especially in an exploding housing market, reaching for a price that isn’t feasible for you is one of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make. When looking for a property, make sure to factor in location, the environment of the neighborhood, and your attachment to the property.

Don’t Ignore the Market

Ignoring the housing market in the area you want to buy is one of the biggest mistakes a new home buyer can make. If the housing market is skyrocketing, it may not be the right time to buy a home because deposits and interest rates could be higher. If the market is just too expensive, it is beneficial to look into the rental market. However, rental rates often rely on the market too. Although purchasing a home in a competitive market is not always a deal-breaker, it is crucial to learn the market before you make your decision.

Don’t Let Emotions Take Advantage

Because the home buying process is so extensive, it is easy to let emotions get the best of you. Every home you tour will have its disadvantages so being too picky or too relaxed with your choice can affect your future. Don’t risk passing up a logical choice or making a premature jump into an uninformed choice.

Find an Agent

Finding a real estate agent when buying a home is best when you need a little help throughout the process. Similar to selling a home, agents have a lot more connections that will speed up the search. To ensure you purchase your desired home at an advantageous price, hire your own agent!

Budget Correctly

Accounting for other expenses is pivotal during the home buying process. Finding a mortgage calculator will help you budget your housing expenses, and if you hire an agent for your search they will likely help you calculate your monthly costs. It’s a great way to project a long-term budget based on your current salary, but it doesn’t factor in the other expenses that come with owning a home such as utilities, regular maintenance, and home improvements. VA Home Loans can not stress the importance of budgeting for the future.

Receive a Professional Home Inspection

Professional home inspections are a small investment but often see a large return. Although the house you are closing in on may look good externally, there could still be underlying issues within. A home inspector will inform you of current and future repairs that may need to be done. This will allow you to budget for the future so you know exactly what improvements are due in the near future and what issues require immediate maintenance.

Home Loan Specialists

VA Home Loans specializes in home loans for service members. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or not, if you qualify, you can use the benefits earned through your military service to get a loan for $0 down. If you have questions about the world of VA Home Loans, contact us for a consultation to determine if a VA Home Loan is right for you and your family.

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The Military Spouses Guide to VA Loans

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This article is meant to give some guidance to the military spouses who are responsible for going through the home buying process while their significant other is away.

Yes, Military Spouses Can Obtain VA Home Loans

When many people think of obtaining a VA loan, they assume you have to personally be in the military to get one. The truth is that military spouses are actually able to cosign on a loan and can help the couple qualify for a larger loan! While the non-military spouse can co-sign, the loan still operates just like any other loan. The VA itself does not have a minimum credit score for a loan, however most lenders do. If you are a veteran, active duty, or military spouse looking to improve your credit score, you can contact the Veterans United’s Lighthouse program. It’s a program devoted to:

  • Identifying and correcting errors or credit reports
  • Educating you of the steps you can take to improve your credit score
  • Developing goals to ensure you can reduce the debt you owe

The best part about it? It’s available at no cost to you!

If you are a military spouse wondering about your eligibility for a loan, VA Home Loans Idaho is more than ready to answer any questions you have.

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Streamline Finance Vs. Cash-Out Refinance

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As life goes on, changes are inevitable. Changes in income, marital status, and other life events can change the way you look at your mortgage payment. This is why understanding the difference between your refinance options after you’ve purchased a home is pivotal to making the right decision for you, which is why the VA Home Loans team is here to help you distinguish the difference!

Streamline Refinance

Streamline refinancing is a very desirable option due to the potential for lower interest rates and monthly mortgage payments. Commonly known as a VA IRRRL, this refinance option allows you to have extended loan periods which gives you more time and flexibility to pay it off. This is one of the most popular refinancing options because it limits the amount of paperwork and stress that is involved with the process adjusting your mortgage!

Cash-Out Refinance

With a more conservative approach, the cash-out refinance option is another popular choice. This alternative allows you to replace your current loan with a new one, as well as allowing you to liquidate cash out of your home equity. There are infinite options you can do with a VA-backed cash-out refinance, such as using it to pay off medical bills, pay for school, make home improvements, and more. While looking into this option you should know that lenders typically look for a credit score of around 650, as well as needing you to certify that you will refinance. The plus side is, as long as you meet all of the respected guidelines, you can finance your closing costs. Using money from your home equity to pay off high-interest credit cards statements could potentially save you loads of money, which is why this is such a sought after alternative!

Deciding which mortgage refinancing option is best for you is a tough decision, which is why VA Home Loans wants to give you some helpful insight. If you have any questions or need clarification, don’t hesitate to call us today for more information!

White and brown home with for sale sign.

How to Get Started on Buying a New Home

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If you’ve never had to look at buying a new house, it can be somewhat of a confusing process. There are certain steps you have to take, and some of them have to be done in a certain order. If you’re a military veteran and are looking at purchasing your first home, read below about the steps involved to start seriously browsing.

Determine Your Price Range

The first step in deciding on a home is to figure out what your price range is. While you may be able to secure a loan, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to pay it off eventually. A good way to get a general idea is the Affordability Calculator. This tool will give you a good idea of what price range you should be looking in. This is also a good time to consider how much of a down payment you can afford because typically you will have to make a down payment of 5-20%. Veterans who receive a VA Home Loan, however, aren’t responsible for a down payment.

Discuss Loan Options

The next step is to be approved for your VA Home Loan. VA Home Loans are for active and retired service members as well as their spouses. They are easier to acquire than a conventional loan due to fewer qualification requirements, and because they don’t require a down payment are much more helpful to the veteran borrower. This makes it so many more veterans are able to purchase a home. You can get an online quote on the VA Home Loan website, or you can contact an officer to speak about your options.

Hire a Realtor

It can be very important to find a good realtor when you’re looking for your home. With a realtor, you can be very involved in the process, or somewhat hands-off if you’d like. You can give them a list of qualities you want in a home and a general location, and they’ll find you a list. Or, you can bring the realtor homes you like and they can help you with negotiation and other purchasing activities. Finding the right realtor to work with can be hard. Luckily, there are sites that have reviews for realtors, which can help in slimming down the pool. There are many realtors that have a background in military service, so if that’s something you are looking for, there are plenty of options. It’s always a good idea to meet with a realtor to decide if they’re the right fit for you, though!

You’re Ready for Your New Home

After you’ve determined your price range, secured your VA Home Loan, and hired a realtor, you’ll be ready to find your new home and make an offer on it. Buying a home can be a stressful process, but calling VA Home Loans of Idaho to discuss your loan options as a veteran can help ease that stress. Give them a call today and discuss your loan for your new home!

A sunny day at a condo complex that has a pool with square, white condos.

Using Your VA Home Loan to Buy a Condo

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When it comes to a VA Home loan, there are many different styles of home that you can choose from. A single-family house is not for everyone, so if your dream is to live by a beach in a condo or downtown in the city life, you can do that! Condos are known to be less maintenance than a house as well as more affordable. When it comes to using the benefits of a VA home loan, you need to make sure that the places you are looking at fall under the qualifications required for this loan. Another thing to keep in mind is that not every complex or company accepts this loan.

The Requirements

There are specific requirements that need to be met in order for a condominium to get approved.

  • For newly constructed condos at least 75% of the units must be sold first.
  • In pre-existing projects, 50% of the units must be occupied in order for a VA Loan to be considered.
  • The development must consist of more than one unit.

These are a few of the requirements for condos that already accept a VA home loan. When it comes to developments that are not already approved for these loans, there is a way that you can go about getting your loan approved. You first need to ask your loan officer to contact the development and get approval. Here are a few steps that need to be taken when trying to get this loan approved.

  • Declarations of covenants, conditions, and overall restrictions
  • Current financial and litigation statements
  • Minutes from a homeowner association meeting
  • Homeowners bylaws

Note that a development is not required to provide these documents, therefore, they are not required to approve a VA loan. It is up to their discretion.

Different Forms Of Approval

There are different ways that developments are approved to accept a VA loan:

HUD

The Housing and Urban Development Department, also known as HUD, is the department that holds all of the financing for VA loans. If you are looking at a condo that is already HUD-approved, then your chances are high for getting accepted to become a tenant.

Accepted

These condos are already pre-approved by the VA which means that they also accept VA financing. Make sure you look into development that is already accepted and or approved that way you won’t have to go through the difficult process of trying to get somewhere approved.

Unaccepted

If a development is not pre-approved by the VA then that means they are not available for VA financing. Meaning that they have never tried to go through the approval process or they might have been denied in the past. This is when you can decide to try and go through the process of getting this development approved or not.
These different forms of approval and disapproval will be listed somewhere in the information given from the development itself. This is a breakdown of what all the different status levels mean and where they stand when it comes to accepting VA loans or not.

A grey two story house with lit up windows is viewed from the street; behind it is the early morning sky.

Why Now is the Best Time to Buy a New Home

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With a few key changes coming into play in 2020 thanks to the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, having access to a VA home loan can make all the difference in the world for service members and their families. Buying a home can be intimidating, but there’s no time quite like the present to make those dreams a reality!

February is Historically One of the Best Months to Buy

With the benefit of the usual slight drop in market pricing over the winter still being in effect, and February beginning to see the early gradual growth of spring listings, this month could offer some benefits that others might not, especially with the recent trends in Boise and Eagle. By utilizing a Veterans home loan in Boise, you could be closer than ever to your dream home.

Trends Indicate Prices Will Continue to Rise

With the influx of people moving to Idaho not likely to decrease any time soon, the market trends indicate that home prices will only continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Compared to 2018, December’s median listing prices in Boise saw an increase of over 15 percent. Now may be a good time to view a home as an investment: using a VA home loan in Idaho, you could get something a little lower in price, make the needed improvements, and come out with a profit if you needed or wanted to resell!

Idaho is Still Growing

Idaho’s population is constantly growing; whether it’s people moving to escape to peaceful country life, or those who are coming to Boise, Eagle and the surrounding area for a taste of city living without the overcrowding and high cost of living of larger cities, our beautiful state has much to offer. It’s not just individuals seeing the draw of the Gem State; companies are eyeing the Treasure Valley as the new up and comer! Amazon and Pioneer Square Labs (a Seattle startup) are relocating to the area, joining the big hitters like Micron, Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft, bringing amazing employment opportunities along with them. If you are looking for a new job, the low unemployment rate and rapidly increasing job pool could provide you with one more reason to look at relocation into a new home!

There are many reasons why now is a great time to buy a new home, and with a VA home loan, it has never been easier for servicemen and women to start a new life. Get a quote today; you never know when your dreams are just around the corner!

VA Benefits for Our American Heroes

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For serving our country our veterans and service members are given benefits outside of the general public. Not everyone joins the military with the expectation that they are going to be receiving government benefits. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular and important benefits for veterans. Our American heroes deserve these options for keeping our country safe.

Life Insurance

Veterans have the option to receive Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI). This replaces the SGLI. You can sign up to the amount you had during service if you had the SGLI. It is overseen by the VA, but is administered by the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. The coverage is issued in multiples of $10,000 up to $400,000, but cannot be more than the SGLI they had during service.

Home Loans

Instead of having a regular mortgage, veterans, active military members, and service member families can have a VA home loan. This enables the purchase of a home without a downpayment. You can receive long-term financing with 3 different choices; purchase loans, interest rate reduction refinance loans and cash-out refinance loans. Now in 2020, without a loan limit, veterans can receive a larger VA home loan and purchase the home of their dreams. Speak with a VA Home Loan lender like Devin Fahrner if you would like to explore your options in Idaho.

Disability Benefits

Veterans with service-related injuries or illnesses may be entitled to receive VA disability compensation. It is a monthly tax-free payment for veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military. The amount received can range anywhere from $133 to $3400 a month. This amount can be increased depending on the severity of the disability. Remember to always provide as much paperwork as you can to receive the right plan.

Education

Financial aid for education is one of the many benefits that veterans can choose to partake in. The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides up to 4 years of education benefits to servicemembers and veterans. It isn’t subjected to just college either. The bill provides assistance for business technical or vocational courses, correspondence courses, apprenticeship/job training, flight training, and licensing & testing programs. Some states have gone farther in offering more benefits for veterans too. Check out these states with more military education benefits.

Benefits in 2020

Keep an eye on military benefits as they are constantly changing. Just recently the VA Home Loan limit changed. So who knows how many more benefits will see a change in 2020. If they are anything like the home loan limit change, then surely military benefits are changing for the better. Hopefully, you’ve learned which benefits you would like to use. There are many benefits for the men and women who have served our country, and they deserve to live a life outside of the military that is comfortable and safe. If you’re interested in finding out more about VA Home Loans, contact Devin Fahrner of VA Home Loans Idaho for more information.

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VA Home Loans: What to Expect in 2020

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As one of the major benefits given to military veterans, it’s important you are kept up to date on the latest changes to VA home loans in 2020. If you plan on purchasing a home in 2020 with the help of one, then keep reading to see how 2020 is changing the way VA home loans affect you, the qualifier.

2020 VA Loan Funding Fee Change

In June 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law but won’t be active until January 2020. With it comes several changes for VA Funding Fees.

Fee Changes

Temporary (2 year) change to the VA Funding Fee with an increase from 0.15 to 0.30% for Veterans and servicemembers.
VA Funding Fee will slightly decrease for National Guard and Reserve Members.
The Fee change will not impact Veterans with service-connected disabilities, some surviving spouses, and other potential borrowers.
Active Duty Service members who have earned a Purple Heart can have the fee waived if closing on their home while serving on active duty.

No VA Home Loan Limits in 2020

In 2019, a VA loan borrower who did not have a down payment was subject to receiving the guarantee price limit of $484,350 for a home loan. Now in 2020, to expand the benefits for more veterans, they are not capping the size of a loan a veteran can receive if they have no down payment. Thus, veterans can start scouting higher-value homes to live in.
Native American Veterans will benefit from this as well. The new law will remove the loan limit of $80,000 for a Native American Veterans using their entitlement for a direct loan to purchase or build a home on Federal trust land.

Financial Health

While these new changes for VA home loans are beneficiary, lenders will still be cautious. You still have to make the necessary amount of income to qualify. The doors may have opened for more veterans to pursue more homes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easily attainable if you lack the sustainability and financial health to afford it. For veterans who can afford a higher mortgage, the loan process has now become a lot easier in 2020.

Future VA Home Loans

The waiting game of purchasing a home when the “time is right”, may be over now. You can now look forward to starting a fresh life in 2020. For new veteran homebuyers, this is an exciting time. With the restrictions being lessened in January, we can only look forward to what is to come for VA home loan borrowers. If you are curious about qualifications or need help getting started, give Devin Fahrner, a mortgage loan officer who specializes in VA Home Loans in Idaho, a call.

A suburban home bought with a VA Home Loan

Prepayment Penalties are No Problem

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Because of their service to this country, there are many support systems in place for veterans. The problem is that many veterans don’t know what is offered to them. Veteran Affairs provided a huge element of support for veterans when VA Home Loans were enacted in 1944 as an addition to the GI Bill of Rights. However, most homebuyers – veterans or not – have a hard time deciphering which loan will be best for their situation.

All too often, veterans do not take advantage of the benefits of a VA home loan because they do not understand what is actually provided within them. There are plenty of advantages worked into the VA home loan structure but one that can provide freedom and flexibility for their lifestyle is: no prepayment penalties.

Prepay Away

As is the case with most home loans, there are certain rules that lending organizations require the borrower to abide by. It is primarily structured this way so that the lender is ensuring a certain amount of revenue from interest-based on the term of the loan. However, organizations offering VA home loans can not penalize veteran-borrowers for paying back their loan before the term states.

How Is This a Benefit?

While prepayment might not seem like a big deal, it really is. Being able to pay back your loan before the term is up allows borrowers to relieve the financial burden that loans can instill. More importantly, it allows home loan borrowers to relocate, upgrade, downsize, or just find a home better suited to their needs without having to wait out a loan term.

This can grant veterans the opportunity to adjust to their lifestyle as time goes on. Maybe that means they can continue to grow their family with children or pets, build a business in or out of their home, relocate to a more accommodating neighborhood, move to a new state for work, or renovate the home their already and sell for profit. The opportunities are endless and would not be possible in a traditional home loan experience.

Other Home Loan Benefits

There are plenty of other benefits for veterans a part of VA home loans so speak with a home loan expert on what the VA can offer to you as you continue on your home buying journey. Be sure to ask which type of VA home loan will work best for you and your needs.