Since 1944, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been helping military service members become homeowners with its VA loan program.
The flexible, no-down payment loan program has helped more than 22 million service members move into the home of their dreams.
“Without my VA loan, the money down would have been a killer,” said Brentwood resident and Air Force veteran Chad Sachs. “The VA loan helped my family tremendously.”
While some think VA loans may have been put on the backburner in today’s competitive market, they are still a viable and advantageous form of financing for those who have served our country. The easiest way to take advantage of the opportunity VA loans present is to have a realtor and lender who are experienced representing veterans and understand the VA loan process.
Realtor Laura Nelson of Keller Williams Realty has helped represent many veterans in East County become homeowners.
“I take the time to educate my clients,” said Nelson. “First, I make sure that they know all of the ins and outs of the process. I also set their expectations and let them know how we can structure their offer to make it as strong as possible for a seller to take into consideration.”
According to Nelson, VA loan-savvy realtors can not only structure offers more effectively but can also communicate with the selling agents of the house to negotiate, educate and ease any concerns that the sellers may have.
“Being in the real estate business for more than 15 years, I have seen the ups and downs of the market,” said Nelson. “Communicating with and educating clients is very key to success in my business. I do not like being left in the dark, and I know my clients don’t either.”
While working with an experienced realtor is important, finding a lender who specializes in VA loans is essential.
Stonecrest Lending in Oakley specializes in, among other things, VA loans for veterans.
“At Stonecrest Lending ... we have done hundreds (of loans) and continue to work with our veterans every day,” said Laura Cunha, branch manager.
Cunha and her team were also key participants in helping to build the Oakley Veterans Memorial.
According to Cunha, VA loans are always going to be the most favorable option for veterans. They provide the best rates, are the easiest loans to qualify for and are a lifetime benefit to the veteran – not just a one-time use.
VA loans offer 100 percent financing up to the county limit, but Cunha is hopeful that with new legislation, there will soon be no more county limits for VA financing.
“In Contra Costa, that is $679,650 for a single-family home,” said Cunha. “The financing available goes up to $1,500,000 with a small down payment. “
There are many myths when it comes to VA loans, the first being that VA loan financing has changed.
“There is a misconception that there are changes to this financing,” said Cunha. “What changes is the real-estate market.”
Another belief is that the seller must pay for the closing costs.
According to Cunha, when it is a sellers’ market, like it is now, there are not a lot of sellers giving a credit to cover closing costs. Since the veteran cannot pay for a few of the fees, realtors take this option off the table.
“The lender can always pay for the closing cost fees through a lender credit therefore not needing any funds from the seller,” said Cunha.
Other misconceptions include contracts.
“Unfortunately, sellers are not given the facts when it comes to accepting an offer with VA financing,” said Cunha. “Should a contract with a buyer using VA financing fall apart, the appraisal stays with the veteran, not the seller.”
The termite report is another concern for many sellers. According to Cunha, it is required, but only the inspection fee needs to be paid by someone other than the veteran. All repairs are negotiable between both parties.
Stonecrest Lending is located at 2170 A Main St., in Oakley, and has VA loan workshops available for Bay Area realtors and veterans.