United States Military Veterans have a plethora of home loan advantages and benefits available to them. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan guaranty program was expanded and extended by the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008.
Home loan refinancing is available for up to 100 percent of the home’s appraised value. Maximum guarantee amounts were temporarily increased for loans closing January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011. Until September 2010, the VA is allowed to continue to guaranty adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and hybrid ARMs (HARMs).
An ARM provides a low interest rate at the beginning of your home loan, but, depending on your ARM agreement, can increase or decrease at a given time based on several economic factors. HARMs, on the other hand, are a hybrid that involve an initial fixed interest rate mortgage typically for a specified number of years, then migrate to an ARM.
Disaster relief advice is available for loans guaranteed by the VA. You must contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at (800) 621-FEMA (3362) to start the disaster application process. Register with FEMA for maximum disaster assistance. In addition, contact your local veterans groups like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or other veterans groups to see if assistance is being offered.
The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program offers grants to service members with service-related disabilities to either construct an adapted home or modify an existing home that meets their disability needs. The purpose of the program is to provide a fluid environment to enable a veteran to live a relatively independent lifestyle.
An eligible servicemember may receive a VA SAH grant for up to 50 percent of the cost of the home. The current maximum amount allowable by law is $63,780 until October 1, 2010, which is the annual date benefits are adjusted. If you have questions about the SAH grant program or eligibility, check out the VA website under direct loans or feel free to contact Brian Bixler, Chief of Specially Adapted Housing at (202) 461-9546.
Eligible Native American veterans who want to build, purchase or improve a home on Native American trust lands may be provided a VA direct loan. Some requirements include that your tribal organization must be VA direct loan program participant and that you must be an eligible veteran or have a service-connected disability for which you were discharged, or be an unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran.
Manufactured home loans are also available to veterans through the VA. The VA guarantees up to $20,000 of your available entitlement, which is different than the amount you can borrow. Your Certificate of Eligibility determines the maximum amount you can borrow.
Foreclosure prevention is a benefit provided by a VA financial counselor who can intervene on the servicemember’s behalf. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides eligible vets with a lower interest rate for one year, forbearance, or foreclosure or eviction prevention for nine months. For more information about any VA home mortgage or other VA housing benefits, call a VA financial counselor at (877) 827-3702.