Home Loans

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Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About VA Home Loans.

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The VA home loan was created in 1944 to help returning veterans purchase a home without needing a down payment or credit. This allows the home buying process to be simple and pain free. This is not just simply for veterans but also designed for all military personnel. To get more information on eligibility click here. Now on to the top 5 things you should know about VA home loans.

#1 Are You Qualified for a VA Home Loan in the First Place?

There is a lot of research to be done on VA home loans but one of the most important things that you should know is whether or not you are eligible to receive a VA home loan in the first place. In order to qualify you need to be one of the following;

  • Veteran
  • Active duty personnel
  • National guard member
  • Some surviving spouses

Before you spend lots of time researching your options, you need to figure out if you fall into one of these categories before proceeding in the qualification process.

#2 Do You Need a Down Payment for a VA Home Loan?

Good news, after you become qualified there is no down payment required to receive this loan to find your new home. This is one of the biggest advantages to a VA loan because most loans require a down payment of some sort but with a VA loan it is automatically a $0 down payment. Which means you can get started right away on finding your new home,

#3 Can You Move Houses With a VA Home Loan?

This benefit is forever. If you ever plan on moving your VA home loan can go with you. This is not a one use kind of deal, you can use your VA home loan again and again to find a new home in a new place. You can always apply for a VA home loan even if you have used it before. Guess what, you can use it again. If you move or just have outgrown your current home, a VA home loan is always here to help.
People often ask the question if they can still buy a new home today with a VA loan if they already used it. And the answer is, yes! You can. This benefit never expires depending on your eligibility.

#4 Is a VA Home Loan the Best Loan?

VA home loan rates are lower than conventional loans by about 0.25%. These loans also come with lower foreclosure rates as well. Overall VA home loans are the way to go when trying to find a new home. What makes the VA home loan more unique from other VA benefits is that this is a benefit that is available through private companies instead of just the government. Which creates a relationship with local companies that know the area of where you are trying to buy the best.

#5 Can VA Home Loans Be Used for Unconventional Homes?

There are way more than just five things that you should know before looking into a VA home loan but these are some of the top contenders that you should know for sure before applying for a VA home loan. The last but certainly not least key information that you should know is that VA home loans are only accepted for certain types of homes. A few examples are;

  • Condominiums
  • Manufactured homes
  • Modular homes
  • New construction

These are all of the housing options when you use a VA home Loan to buy a new home. With these options also comes limitations to look into so you can make sure that your dream home is also within your dream budget.

VA Home Loan Process: Follow These Steps

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Obtaining a home is not as hard as it may seem. You need to have satisfactory credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA home loan. Follow this guide if you are wanting to buy a new home using a VA home loan.

1. Approved VA Home Loan Lender

First, you will need to find a lender or institution like Finance of America that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to get you going. Get yourself someone who is an expert in the loan process. Having someone who is a dedicated VA home loan specialist will make for a quicker and smoother process, than someone who only does it on the side.

2. Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

Basically, this certificate is proof that you meet all of the requirements to qualify for a VA Loan. If you are interested in finding out if you meet these eligibility requirements you can follow this link for a breakdown. You can apply for a certificate of eligibility online, by mail, or the recommended route, your VA home lender.
Here is the PDF if you were to mail in your COE.

3. Finding The Perfect Home

Maybe the hardest part of the process, but it’s also the part that makes it feel the most real. Discuss a “VA Option Clause” with your real estate agent when negotiating a purchase agreement. You want all of your bases covered with the real estate agent you choose, so having yet another professional who specializes in VA home loans can come in handy.
Try not to get too dizzy with all of the paperwork, make the house hunting process fun. Browse local listings, speak with real estate agents, and watch HGTV for inspiration.

4. Apply for a VA Loan

Get your bank statements, pay stubs, and all other necessary forms of paperwork for your lender. The average benchmark number lenders set for an approved credit score is around 620. While it’s not impossible to get a VA home loan with bad credit, it may set you back since most lenders want someone they view as very low risk.

5. Processing

Not so fun part, but after you submit your application it needs to go through processing. This means processing your credit and income information to ensure that you qualify. This also includes an inspection of the home that you are considering to make sure that it meets the VA minimum property requirements.

6. Approved to Move!

After the institution reviews your assets, income, and credit, you’ll be granted your VA loan! You will have to sign a few more papers, and then pay some closing costs. The property will also be transferred to you, and keys will be given. Once you’ve finished everything, feel free to enjoy your new home.

VA Home Loans Can Offer a Helping Hand For the Holidays

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More is less… except during the holidays! Everyone is out and about, enjoying the seasonal activities. For some, this means more time spent at winter festivals and outings. For others, this means extra trips to see friends and family or maybe even a getaway for the weekend with a significant other. However, someone has to open up their home to all of their travelling loved ones, right?

Well, in case you happen to be the hostess with the mostess, there are resources available to you in order to provide the full winter experience at your house for the holidays.

Home Ownership for Veterans

After being away from family for so long, many veterans choose to spend the holidays with as much warmth and joy from loved ones as they can. Fortunately for veterans, this means new memories can be made in their very own homes.

Many veterans begin their life after service with uncertainty. This may cause them to pursue renting or leasing for months or even years because of the flexibility it can offer during this transition period. Fortunately, those feelings of being unsettled will subside. They may even translate into a desire to put down roots.

Buying a home is usually the first step in that process. While the home buying process can be overwhelming for any interested individual, couple, or family, there is an incredible opportunity available to veterans in the form of VA home loans. This financing option gives veterans additional benefits, like no down payment and no required mortgage insurance, you can’t find in any other loan program. There is also the option to just update your existing home with renovations covered by a VA home loan.

Hosting for Veterans

Once a property has been decided on, purchased, and moved into, that’s really when the fun begins. Your home is now a landmark for all of the great things to come: game nights, dinner parties, brunches, and casual nights watching the sunset. Most importantly, you will be able to enjoy the holidays in the comfort of a place you can truly call your own. Regardless of whether you are a veteran or not, the holidays are a perfect time to share moments with loved ones. Speak with an expert in VA home loans today to get things moving on your forever home.

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.

A Home pin with american flag behind it.

Veterans and Active Military: Finding Your New Home

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The US is regularly plagued by natural disasters and crime. From California fires to hurricanes along the coast, there seems to be nowhere safe to go. Crime rates can be high in the US too; feeling safe in your home is important especially when trying to rejoin American society. If you or someone you love is a US veteran or active military member and has experienced the loss of a home, then we can help you. We will also go over low-crime-areas so that you can feel extra comfortable in your decision of choosing where to go next.

Naturally Safe

The last thing you want to have happened is to come home after service and have your home ruined by mother nature. It may be tempting to stay in the current state and find a new place to stay but in the event the natural disaster happens again, you don’t want to lose another home. Here are some amazing states that are considered the safest from natural disaster damage:

  • Montana
  • Maine
  • Colorado
  • Vermont
  • Minnesota

Publicly Safe

Not only are natural disasters a scary situation but being in fear of your community every day is a whole other beast. Especially for veterans suffering from PTSD, walking on eggshells every day is too much anxiety to handle. There are several states that you can make home so you can sleep easy every night knowing that your potential state has low crime. Here are the top safe states of 2019:

  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Idaho

After Choosing

As you can see some of the states do overlap in safety for both variables. If you have made your choice of where to live, then you may need some assistance in locking down your dream home. A great resource for veterans and active military is a VA home loan. You can get a home loan for $0 down, which is only one of the many benefits a VA home loan has to offer.

VA Loan Benefits

  • No required down payment percentage
  • No monthly mortgage insurance premiums
  • The lowest average interest rate of all loan types
  • No prepayment penalty

Feel Safe

Whether you’ve lost your home or are simply looking for a safer place to live, knowing you have another perk from your military service is sure to ease your nerves. A VA home loan can help you financially and mentally so you can confidently plant your feet in a place you know is safe.

Before you speak with a local VA home loan specialist you can get a quote online if you want to buy or refinance your home. With a VA home loan, you can save up for furniture, relocate easily, and recover from disasters straightforwardly.

In State Specialist

As you noticed, Idaho is one of the safest states in terms of crime rate. For information on moving to Idaho and purchasing a home using a VA home loan, Devin Fahrner will be your best resource. She is an experienced mortgage loan officer that understands your situation and can guide you in the right direction for an Idaho VA home loan. See why Idaho is one of the best states to live in for military personnel, veterans, and military families.

Beautiful home for veterans with a VA home loan

What To Look For In Your New Home

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Whether you are buying for the first-time, relocating, downsizing, upgrading, or anything in between, there are certain things to keep an eye out for as you shop the market. Some of these come down to preference but others can serve as indicators for the quality and state of the home.

Checklist for Home Buyers

Once you’ve secured your VA home loan approval, having a mindful awareness of these checklist items can help you narrow down your selection in the home buying process.

Decide On Dealbreakers

Before looking at a single home, you should think about what you are and are not willing to live with. Developing a clear list of deal breakers through brainstorming will be a huge asset once you begin touring properties. It will also be important to rank these because, more than likely, you will have to compromise some desires for other needs. Your perfect home is out there. It just might need a little negotiation and/or adaptation.

Location & Property

We can’t say it enough: location, location, location. The location of any new home is very important for home buyers to consider. Thinking over which areas and neighborhoods will suit your family, lifestyle, commute, and goals best can narrow down the house hunt, making the most of your time.
It is also important for home buyers to think about what the expectation for the property is going to be. Things like yard space, gardens, driveway, landscape, and other surrounding elements are crucial to finding you the right home.


Floorplans are the foundation of the home. They will dictate what your morning routine looks like, where you’ll spend the majority of your time in the home, and ultimately how satisfied you are with your investment. Because of this, fluidity matters. Thinking through the utility of the space as it stands as well as any changes you might make to the floorplan can make the decision of whether to buy or pass for you.

Nuts and Bolts

Nothing is worse than taking a huge step toward purchasing a house, getting the appraisal completed, and finding out that the functional infrastructure of the home just is not up to par. Before you fall in love with a home, you can maximize your time by asking questions about things like plumbing, heating, cooling, ventilation, and even insulation. Be mindful of weird noises, sounds, or smells as your tour the property and always ask questions.


Beyond the nitty gritty, there is also comfort to consider. Depending on when you visit the property, the sun may or may not be doing the property favors. That being said, lighting has a lot to do with how we function in our homes. So, make sure that your home has both the lighting fixtures you want and the natural lighting you need.


Finishing touches on a home don’t need to be an afterthought. Rather than taking a home ‘as is’, you should take into account what detail work is not meeting your expectations. If this list is overwhelming, it may not be worth the extra work on your part. Keep in mind that some sellers may fix these on top of any bigger repairs decided on after the home inspection. Finishing details to keep in mind might be:

  • Molding
  • Backsplash
  • Hardware
  • Tilework
  • Fireplaces

Need For Renovation

If there is a need for renovation, tally up costs you anticipate and be conscious of the additional investment you may need to make. Often times, there are home loans that integrate renovation costs into the loaning structure. Especially for veterans, there are specific VA home loans are geared toward putting quality of life at the forefront with renovation incorporations available within the terms of the loan.

A Dog in front of fireplace, with american flag in mouth

Considering a VA Home Loan?

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VA home loans are a beneficial and affordable method for veterans or active duty military to purchase a home. Before you go and apply, consider what you would like most in your future home before you jump into an empty one. Find trusted realtors and lenders that will help you in your search to find a beautiful Boise veteran home.

Amenities of a VA Loan

You have found your dream home for 0% down. You can’t wait to move-in and start your life. However, not all houses come with amenities. Consider the amenities you may want to purchase to spruce up your new home before residing in it. Some of the items to consider are a fridge, washer/dryer, microwave, dishwasher, and other furniture. Luckily you do not have to spend a fortune on these in the beginning because the VA home loan does offer a VA rehabilitation loan that can help you renovate these amenities later on. Why not just start with the rehabilitation loan? For the initial loan to be approved tacking on additional requirements may increase the processing time. If you have fallen in love with an older home and are excited to put your personal mark on the home, then the VA Renovation/Rehabilitation Loan is worth considering.
For more VA Home Loan info, Devin Fahrner is your local Boise VA home loan specialist that can offer advice when considering the initial loan and other loans associated.

Realtors & Lenders

Find yourself a Realtor who is familiar with VA home loans so that they can help you find homes that accept VA in the first place. You would not want to fall in love with a house you can’t have. Not only finding a Realtor is important, but also a Lender to move you through the process smoothly. Devin Fahrner is a VA lender that is authorized to conduct business in Idaho and has direct experience as a wife of a retired Air Force serviceman. She is a great example of the type of lender you would want to place your trust in for learning about the benefits of a VA loan. You may find connections through your local community about realtors and lenders that are familiar with each other. This can aid in the searching and processing of a VA Home Loan.

Sounds Like A lot of Work

It’s not. The VA home loan may sound like an intimidating process, but our Idaho VA loan specialists are here to make your life easier. With the large influx of people moving to Boise, the hardest aspect of getting your perfect veteran home would be choosing from the many housing options the area has to offer. Save yourself from dialing a bunch of extensions and being tossed around by larger companies that may not be in your same time zone and speak with someone who can relate and cater to your needs. For VA home loans it’s important to find a specialist that will make the experience more personal.

A clean kitchen from a home purchased with a VA Home Loan

VA Loans for Home Renovation

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The VA offers endless resources for veterans and active military members. Some of these resources go unused by military servicemen – active, reserve, or retired. Especially as regular life begins to resume, we tend to forget about the continued support offered by the federal government through the VA.

One of these underutilized offerings are VA home loan. While the home loan sector has plenty of options available with a range of opportunity, the offerings from the VA are arguably unmatched because of its direct relationship with the federal government. As such, current and former military service members are able to access some of the lowest, most flexible rates, payments, and terms on the market.

Veteran Benefits Update

In April 2018, the Veteran Benefits Administration updated their policies and practices with regard to veteran benefits and home loans. This occurred in response to increasing interest from the military population as well as housing market demands.

“The Aging housing stock in the United States has contributed to the increased demand for alteration and repair loans. Due to the condition of this aged housing, homes are often sold as “cash or conventional financing” which does not allow Veterans to use their VA earned benefit. This guidance will allow Lender’s to make VA-guaranteed loans to Veterans who wish to purchase or refinance a home that is in need of alteration and/or repair. The terms alteration, repair, renovation, and improvement are interchangeable for the purposes.”
Veterans Benefits Administration, Circular 26-18-6

More opportunity was then accounted for within the VA guidelines on loan capacity, which can be found in the Circular 26-18-6 publication.

VA Loan Capabilities and Eligibility

A major misconception about VA home loans is that they can only be used for purchasing or refinancing. This, then, limits what military borrowers feel they are allowed to do. VA home loans can do much more, though. Some loans have cash-out options allowing borrowers to pay for outside costs or reinvest in their home. There are also supplementary terms that can be added to traditional VA home loans that provide specific support for borrowers pursuing home improvement actions. These are then known as renovation, or rehabilitation, loans.

Because rehabilitation loans are just an extension of normal VA home loans, they have the same eligibility requirements or qualifications. As a result, former or active military are given easier access to loan opportunities to purchase and improve their properties.

VA Home Loans: Rehabilitation

VA Rehabilitation Loans are typically used when a property is not completely move-in ready. These loan agreements may require more processing, which will tack on additional time and energies before the borrower can begin residing on the property. However, they can also serve to save the borrower money in the long run based on financial investment, renovation costs, and even property value.

Lender Oversight

It is important to remember that the process is different than a traditional renovation experience. The lender initiates and oversees the renovation process on behalf of the borrower. Because the lender is the general authority on the completion of work, they are in charge of supervising the contractor. This ultimately expedites the renovation process as opposed to the lengthier improvement repairs attempted by homeowners themselves. Lenders are also able to ensure that time is not wasted and the work is accomplished in an efficient manner.

Home Renovation Loan Options

As is the case with nearly every loan, there are term and agreement options that need to be carefully discussed and selected by the borrower. Some areas of adjustment that relate specifically to rehabilitation loans are:

  • Loan type
  • Minimum property requirements (MPR)
  • Contractor requirements
  • Repair/renovation operations
  • Notice of Value (NOV)

Understanding the opportunity and value of these variables will allow every borrower to have a satisfying loan experience. Working with loan professionals that understand industry standards as well as Veteran Affairs and military member needs will provide you with the expertise you need for a smooth transition into your new or renovated home.

Two Story Colonial House with American Flag

What Do VA Home Loans Offer Veterans?

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Buying a home is a careful, considerate process. In addition to the measures taken to keep the process controlled, there is also the added stress of financial burden and complicated loaning processes. Although, there are alternatives for home loans! On top of that, the veteran home loan experience has actually been simplified and organized into a very cohesive, flexible system.

VA home loans are not offered by every institution. However, it is because of this that the many institutions offering VA home loans are in competition with one another. This gives veterans a spectrum of loan options with adjustable features to suit their needs.

Unfortunately, a small minority of veterans are taking advantage of these loan opportunities. Loan institutions averaged 431 veteran home loans during the 2018 Fiscal Year. Of the 610,512 loans offered among all lending institutions in 2018, the average loan was $259,725 but almost half of these institutions offered more than this average.

While 600,000+ may seem like an exceedingly large amount of participating veterans, there are still an overwhelming amount of veterans not looking into VA lending options during their home loan search. This could be a result of a lack of awareness or even misconceptions about these lending alternatives. Below, we have listed some of the unmatched benefits that come with VA home loans.

Qualifications for VA Loans

Much like any lending experience, the qualification process tends to be an extensive one. For veteran home loans, there are more flexible terms.

Veterans and active military members are given a little more leniency as far as credit scores are concerned. The threshold for credit is much more permitting.

Ultimately, those interested in VA home loans just need to complete a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and wait for approval to continue with the lending process. Speaking with your lending officer or representative about what documents are required for their specific institution will get the ball rolling much quicker.

Down Payment

There is no down payment required for qualifying veterans or active military service people. Down payments are easily of the biggest concerns for homebuyers. They tend to put stress on the buyer with a hefty chunk of change that is immediately absorbed. Veterans and active military members, however, do not need to be concerned with this because of the safety net that VA home loans provide. As long as the loan requirements are met, they are able to start a life in a new home now – not after years of saving up for just the down payment.

Interest Rates

There are homebuyers not pressured by the down payment element of the home buying process that exists in today’s world but, typically, these buyers do bare the financial weight of high-interest rates. For military members, interest rates are also protected. While there is not a set interest rate cap, institutions generally keep VA home loan rates much lower than traditional or FHA loans.

Foreclosure Protection

There are clearly some preparatory benefits but foreclosure measures are often an afterthought for home buyers. No one anticipates for hard times to hit but they do happen occasionally. VA home loans also provide homeowners with the peace of mind that there is a secondary security measure for them to fall back on when the unexpected becomes reality.

Fine Print

There are quite a few fine print elements of every home loan that come up as surprises to potential home buyers. Fortunately enough, many of these are simplified or completed excluded in veteran home loans.

Most home loans lenders use the following measures as a safeguard for the lender, borrower, or both: mortgage insurance, uncapped closing costs, and prepayment penalties. For qualified applicants, none of these apply because veteran borrowers are not expected to pay for mortgage insurance, the VA actually restricts what lenders can charge in closing costs, and veteran borrowers are also not penalized for early repayment of their loans. All of these act as support for veterans and active military members in order to offer a more simplified, less expensive loan experience.

Clearly, there are many details even in veteran home loans but the general process has been streamlined as much as possible. Speaking with loan representatives with as much experience as possible will keep you informed and updated about any changes and options.

Why VA Loan Refinances Are Some Of The Best Deals Around

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The benefits of Veterans Administration (VA) home loans don’t stop with the purchase of a property. Veterans and service members have access to streamlined refinancing that can save them money every month and provide cash for home improvements, debt consolidation or major purchases. Veterans who have conventional loans can even refinance into a VA loan to take advantage of the benefits they earned.
Are you considering a VA loan refinance? Then you need to know the answers to the frequently asked questions below.

What is Refinancing?

Refinancing a mortgage simply means paying off an existing mortgage using a new one. Since time and expense are involved in a mortgage refinance, there must be a benefit to the borrower. Common benefits of refinancing include a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, cash out for home improvements and cash out to pay off higher interest debts. Closing costs can be substantial – with the exception of VA home loan refinances. The VA’s streamlined process allows veterans and service members to refinance with little cost or inconvenience.

What is VA Loan Refinancing?

Refinancing VA loans provides borrowers with the opportunity to save money without paying heavy closing costs. The cost savings result from the streamlined process. The streamlined process begins with the borrower completing a pre-qualification application. This application verifies the borrower’s eligibility for a streamlined process and determines if the refinance has a benefit to the borrower. If the loan has no benefit, the application process stops. The prequalification also determines if the borrower has sufficient income to afford the new loan, which is particularly important in cash-out refinances.
How does the VA Loan Refinancing Application Process Work?
The VA streamlined refinance program serves only those who previously qualified for a VA loan, so the process proceeds quickly with little paperwork. Most applications require no appraisal, which saves time and money while increasing the chances of approval. The loan officer will complete the application and collect needed documents, including driver’s license, proof of social security number, homeowners insurance and the current note. The borrower signs the legally required disclosures and the application process is complete. Approvals generally take about two weeks.

What is an IRRRL VA Refinance?

An interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL) refinance provides veterans and service members the opportunity to refinance their VA loan into another VA loan at a lower interest rate. IRRRL refinances become popular when interest rates decline. In choosing whether to proceed with an IRRRL refinance, borrowers calculate the savings each month and compare it to the costs. If the time it takes for the savings to outweigh the costs is shorter than the time the borrower plans to stay in the home than the IRRRL provides substantial long-term savings.

What is a Cash out Refinance VA Loan?

The VA allows cash-out loans of up to 90% of the home’s value. For example, if a home’s value stood at $100,000 and the loan balance plus refinance fees came to $80,000, then the borrower could cash out a maximum of $10,000. Cash-out refinances work best when the funds are deployed for home improvements or to pay off much higher interest debt, such as credit cards. Home improvements increase the value of the property, so the borrower regains the equity once improvements are completed. When used to pay off high-interest credit cards, the borrower saves on interest payments and reduces overall debt far faster than without using the cash-out refinance option.

Refinancing into a VA Loan

Qualified veterans who have conventional loans are often surprised at how much money they can save by refinancing into a VA loan. VA loan interest rates are very competitive, and the refinance fees are much lower than conventional loan programs. As a result, all veterans with conventional loans should compare refinancing VA loan against a conventional refinance.
The VA loan program has helped millions of military and veteran families achieve homeownership. By taking advantage of refinance options, veterans can gain even more benefits. VA loan refinances provide veterans with a fantastic opportunity to reduce expenses, make home improvements and manage debt for a financially secure future.