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Home Loans

Hot air balloons landing in Ann Morrison park in Boise

Neighborhood Highlight: Places to Buy a House in Idaho

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As we all know, Idaho is becoming a more and more popular state to migrate to from out of state. The Boise Metro area is usually the target for most newcomers, but there are so many other great places around the Gem State that might surprise you! Whether you are planning on securing a VA Home Loan to move here from another state or just relocating to a different city, these are some of the up-and-coming neighborhoods and cities in Idaho as well as some of the ones we know and love.

Tyhee

Tyhee was rated #2 in Best Places to Buy a House in Idaho by niche.com. This Southeast Idaho town has a median home value of $236,500, and most people in the town own their homes rather than renting. There are a few good public schools in the area, and it is in close proximity to Pocatello and the Idaho State University satellite campus there. The population of Tyhee is around 1,266, so if you are looking for that small-town, rural feel, this is the place for you!

East End, Boise

The East End is becoming one of the most sought-after neighborhoods within Boise’s city limits. It is a more dense suburban area with many families choosing to make it their home. If you don’t want to make the quick 10-minute drive to downtown, East End offers a variety of things to do including bars, restaurants, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities. The median home price here is $430,639 and there are lots of highly rated schools in the area. If you are looking for a variety in style of homes that still offer that suburban feel, you might want to do some research on the East End.

Ketchum

Do you like all kinds of outdoor activities? The Ketchum/Sun Valley area might be the place for you! Located near the middle of the state, this small suburban area is great for people who want the hybrid of a town surrounded by nature. In the winter, the nearby ski resorts are up and running, and in the summer there are many hiking and mountain biking trails available. Ketchum has a median home value of about $621,700 and about 2,800 residents. If you aren’t really the outdoorsy type, there are still plenty of things to do around the area and many highly-rated public schools.

Need a Loan?

If you are a veteran or active-duty looking to move to or around Idaho, give VA Home Loans Idaho a call. Our experienced loan officers will work with you and your unique situation to find the best loan option for you!

A brown and white cottage home with American flags in the front lawn

VA Home Loan Qualifications

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If you are an active-duty or veteran military service member considering buying a home, you might be looking into a VA Home Loan for its many benefits. But the question still comes down to: “How do I know if I qualify?”
If you’re unfamiliar with VA Home Loans, they are backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and serve to benefit active-duty and veteran service members and their spouses. Some of the main perks are no down payment requirement, more flexible credit requirements, and lower interest rates. Read on to find out if you are eligible to apply and qualify for a VA Home Loan.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible to apply for a loan, you must be entitled to a Certificate of Eligibility based on your service in the military. Some of the main ways to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility are:

  • Completing 90 days of active service or six years in the National Guard or Selected Service
  • Meeting length-of-service requirements for both active-duty and veterans

Financial Qualifications

After receiving your application, approved lenders will review your credit, debt, and income to determine both potential interest rates and whether or not you qualify for a VA Home Loan.
Although the VA does not set a minimum credit requirement, most lenders will set their own minimum standards so it is best to contact your lender and ask about their specific requirements. Typically, a down payment is also not required when purchasing a new home.

VA Loan Refinancing

The requirements are a little different when it comes to refinancing. There are two main types of refinancing: Streamline and Cash-Out. Streamline Refinancing focuses more on lowering your interest rates and payments, while Cash-Out allows you to tap into your home’s equity and put funds in your pocket for home improvements or emergency situations.

What Are You Waiting For?

If a VA Home Loan or Refinance sounds like something you might be interested in learning more about, don’t hesitate to contact the team at VA Home Loans Idaho. We will work with you to answer all of your questions and help you find the best fit for your unique situation!

Woman carrying moving boxes

From Securing a Loan to Moving into Your Home: The Step-by-Step Process

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The whole home buying process might seem overwhelming or confusing, but when it is laid out and split up into a few steps, those feelings start to subside. Below, we’ve written a step-by-step guide to help you plan out your next move and take some of the stress off your shoulders!

1: Find Your New Home

Choosing the right home for you can arguably be one of the most difficult parts of the entire process. You need to make sure that it offers you everything you need to have and nothing that you don’t want, while at the same time keeping it within your budget. There are plenty of resources available online to help you choose the right property if you don’t know where to start.

2: Secure Your VA Home Loan

Once you find your new home, the next step is to acquire a home loan. If you or your spouse have served or are presently serving in the U.S. military you may be eligible for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, a special mortgage loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the federal government.
VA Home Loans Idaho is an approved lender, and we have worked to make the process of securing a loan as simple as possible, creating a personalized mortgage option that works best for you.

3: Prepare For the Move

Now that you have a house that you love and a customized loan to go with it, it’s time to prepare for moving day! Think about whether you will need a moving company to help you transfer your possessions to the new house or not, and consider going through all of your belongings to see if there is anything that you can get rid of. One of the best parts about moving into a new home is decluttering and reorganizing your things, so don’t hesitate to start early!

4: Move In and Enjoy!

After all of that preparation, the big day is finally here. Hopefully, you have already gotten almost everything packed up and ready to go, which should make this a pretty stress-free day. One of the most important things to remember on move-in day? Have fun! The great part about relocating to a new house is that you now have a blank canvas, and you get to customize it however you want.

If you are looking to purchase a new home in Idaho, contact us today! At VA Home Loans, our top priority is your priorities. We want to make sure there is complete transparency throughout the VA loan process, and we are here to help guide you every step of the way.

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!

An array of solar panels on the red roof of a house.

6 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

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When it comes time to sell your home, getting top dollar is crucial. By upgrading and renovating while you’re still living in your home, you can guarantee to get the most for it when you sell.

1. Smart Technology

Most people looking to buy a new home want it to be upgraded with technology that enhances safety and functionality. Smart technology does both of those things, and is becoming cheaper and more readily available. Some examples of “smart” devices include:

  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart door locks
  • Smart cameras
  • Smart fire and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Smart home hubs (Amazon Echo, etc.)

By incorporating smart devices into your home, you are able to control everything from blinds to kitchen appliances and more. Because all of these can be connected to your smartphone, you can have total control of your house from anywhere in the world.

2. Expanding

Bigger homes tend to sell for more money. If you are able to knock down a few walls to open up space or add an extra room, it could significantly raise the value of your home.

3. Redoing Your Front Yard

Curb appeal is important. You want potential buyers to fall in love with your house before they even go inside. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are tons of small improvements you can make that will make a huge difference. Whether it’s redoing the grass or adding a walkway decorated with plants and flowers, making your front yard look nice will give a convincing first impression.

4. Update Your Appliances

New, clean-looking appliances will not only make your house more beautiful but also increase its value. This could mean adding a stainless steel refrigerator and dishwasher or simply upgrading appliances to the newer models. If you are not particularly artistic when it comes to interior design, hiring an expert in the field or looking for ideas online can be a good way to get inspiration. The rule of thumb when it comes to appliances is to make them match. Installing new appliances made out of the same material with a similar look and style will make your kitchen more eye-catching and your house more valuable.

5. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Lowering your home’s energy costs will save you money while you’re still living there and provide a key selling point. You can install high-efficiency windows that help insulate the house and bring down the electric bill. If you’re looking for a lower-cost option, you can switch out incandescent light bulbs for LEDs or add more insulation around your house. Currently, the popular energy-saving option is solar panels. While they are not exactly cost-efficient at first, they can significantly lower your electric bill and significantly boost property value.

6. Upgrade the Fundamentals

How old is your water heater? Garbage disposal? Electric box? These are things that most people don’t think about but will help you get more money for your home. When the fundamentals are old, buyers often negotiate the price down so they can use the extra money to replace them. If they haven’t been replaced in a long time, now is the time to do it!
While some of these options can be pretty expensive, active military and veterans can refinance with a VA Home Loan and invest that money back into the home. If you have any questions regarding VA Home Loans, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Large, brown wood house with green grass

Your Priority List After Moving In

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Assuming you’ve secured a VA Home Loan and are about to move into your new home, chances are that there are going to be a few things that you need to change, update, and fix before everything is set up how you like it.
Moving into a new home can be very messy with a sea of boxes piling up and what seems like deliveries coming every hour. The best way to stay organized during this time is to make a priority list of what needs to be done once you move in.

First

If you didn’t do it before you moved in, the first things you should do are:

  • Transferring utilities – sometimes, utility companies can get behind on transferring their services to you, so it’s good to do your research ahead of time.
  • Setting up internet and TV – the same goes for internet; there are online tools to help you pick a new internet provider or transfer your old one over to the new house.
  • Changing your address – make sure you have submitted an application to the post office so that your mail gets forwarded to your new house before anything gets sent to the old address. Also, don’t forget to update your information with the DMV!

These first steps should be at the top of the priority list to make sure that you have everything up and running so you can move on to the next steps!

Second

Now it’s time for the bigger things. Electrical, plumbing, and other core components of the house should be next on the priority list. While their functionality was (hopefully) checked before you moved in, there might be some things that you want to change or update if you’re planning any kind of remodel in the future.
If you are not highly educated on the practice, the best thing to do is to call an electrician or plumber and explain to them what your plan is to get an idea of what they would have to do to make it a reality. This is an important step to get done so that you don’t have to move everything around after you get settled in your new home.

Third

These are the smaller things that do not require immediate attention. Painting, updating fixtures, and putting the finishing touches on the house fit into this category – this is the opportunity to personalize your new home and make it the way you want. Because you already have the foundation of the first two steps done, this is where the real fun comes in!

Whether your new home needs a little or a lot of work, following these general steps when moving in will help you efficiently get your projects done. If you are considering refinancing or purchasing a new home, contact us today and we can help make the transition easier!

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How VA Home Loans Have Changed Over Time

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With a new decade comes new things for VA home loans. In this new year, we are seeing many changes for veterans and their families. In the past, VA home loans have had certain restrictions that are now being changed to best fit the lives of veterans. But what is changing? And how is it going to help the veterans?

The Changes

One of the biggest changes in this new year is loan limits. There used to be loan limits on VA home loans, but as of 2020 those no longer exist. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 went into effect at the beginning of this year. This act has made many different changes, including changes to VA home loans specifically. It adds to the improvement of all veterans included in these benefits, but also allows for no limits to these loans. This does not mean that anyone can get any size loan they want. Veterans will still have to go through the correct circumstances in order to receive the amount desired. For example, you still need to have a sufficient income in order to receive the desired loan amount. Another thing is that the funding fee is going to increase depending on your down payment. But with this new act in place, it allows for more funding which only helps our veterans not only in Boise, Idaho but also across the nation as well. These changes are positive in the VA home loan world, but for more information on this contact a specialist today to get all of your questions answered and your quote started.

The Need To Know

There are a few things that you need to know along with the recent changes regarding VA home loans. Things are different depending on the area that you live in and the amount that you are allowed to borrow. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to this type of loan:

  1. You must have a minimum credit score of about 620 for most VA home loans to approve you.
  2. You’re either active duty military or a veteran, honorably discharged.

These are not the only things to keep in mind when looking into this type of loan, so make sure you check local requirements and national requirements to see if you qualify.

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 large two-story home, surrounded by hedges, sits behind a large front yard. A For Sale sign is in the bottom left corner.

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Home

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You did it! You secured your VA Home Loan, and now you’re ready to shop around…but do you know what you’re looking for?
Buying a home is a huge commitment, and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration while shopping. With nearly half of homebuyers experiencing regrets after their purchase, the last thing you want to happen after you get those keys is to realize you forgot something during your hunt for the perfect home!
Here are just a few things to take into consideration when making the big decision!

Family Size

How many people do you have living in your home? Is that number likely to increase in the near future? Do you have or want pets that you will need to accommodate?
These are just some of the first questions you should think about when looking at the size of your future home. After making sure you have enough space for all of your family, there are more details to look at:

  • Are there enough bathrooms?
  • What are the zoning laws if you need/want to expand?
  • Do you want a spare room for an office, library, or guest room?

The number one regret of homebuyers is not buying a big enough home. By planning ahead, you can make sure you have enough space for all of your loved ones!

Location

It may seem like a no-brainer, but your location is so, so very important! When looking at the locations of potential homes, a few factors to consider include:

  • Is it a safe neighborhood?
  • Is the commute manageable? Is the time likely to increase, and is that a problem?
  • (If you have children…)What kind of school district is it in?
  • Does it have nearby amenities like parks and a good gym?

Being realistic about these factors can make or break the location of a home. You never want to buy a home for its short commute only to have it multiply tenfold within five years when you hadn’t expected that kind of time extension.

Personal Needs

Recognizing your family’s needs and wants when buying a home is important. If you have an active family or a dog, having at least one big yard is a requirement for your home. If you cook a lot, having a well-planned kitchen is key. Do you enjoy entertaining? A large living and dining area is a must.
Another need that a lot of people forget to take into account is storage availability. Is there built-in shelving? Are there enough closets? Do you have a garage, a driveway, or street parking?

How Much Work Is It?

Are there “just a few” improvements you feel the need to make to create your perfect home? Is it as simple as adding a little paint or building a fence for your yard? Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew with the renovations! Even DIY fixes can add up, and when you need to call in professionals for plumbing, wiring, and repairs, those costs can add up quickly. Different rooms come with different costs, so knowing what those are can be critical.
Kitchen renovations are especially difficult and expensive; not only do you want to make sure plumbing and wiring are done correctly, but you also face the extra cost that you likely have only one kitchen, so will need to find other meal alternatives until the room is completely finished. Factoring these costs into your initial home budget is essential if these are changes you feel need to be made for you to be happy in your home.

Do You Love It?

Finally: if you do not love your home and see potential in every corner, then it may not be the home for you. The housing market can be scary sometimes, especially with how quickly things are going in Boise, but taking your time to find the right home can mean the difference between the perfect home and major regrets you just can’t change. Don’t let the market bully you into buying too soon; but also know that if there’s a home you love and it meets all your needs, including your budget, you should put in an offer. You never know if that chance will come again!

By taking into account all important factors when buying a home, you can be sure to avoid the biggest mistakes other homebuyers have made when making their decision. Remember: it’s your home, and it’s never been easier to afford than with a VA home loan!

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.