by Jarret DiToro | Updated July 29th, 2016
If you’re a veteran, you may want to make a quick spot check to ensure you’re receiving the full value of the VA benefits to which you’re entitled. Among the most valuable of these are mortgage benefits which, when properly accessed, have a staggering average lifetime value of $42k.*
Benefits apply to vets who own homes as well as those who do not.
Skim to the benefits that best apply to you.
I am a veteran and DO NOT own a home
The VA has been helping veterans buy homes less expensively since 1944, offering the following tremendous benefits:
- 0% down payment: Many people think they can’t buy a home unless they’ve saved tens of thousands for a down payment. While this may be true for most people, it is not true for qualified veterans. Vets can access this program to buy a home with 0% down. With rates as low as they are now, you’ll likely be surprised at how much house you can afford when buying vs. renting. See if you qualify >
- Reduced payments and lower interest: The federal government guarantees VA mortgages, allowing approved lenders to offer lower rates. In fact, between rates that average a little under half a point less, and the fact that vets do not have to pay private mortgage insurance, VA loan payments on a $250k mortgage average about $3,100 less than a conventional loan. See VA rates >
- Prequalification: Getting prequalified is the best way to start testing the home buying market. It costs nothing to do it, but lets you know exactly how much house and what benefits you actually qualify for. Plus, touring homes with a prequal letter from a VA lender in your pocket will make sellers sit up and take you more seriously as a potential buyer. Start the Prequalification process >
I am a veteran and DO own a home
Benefits for veterans who already own a home fall into two categories:
- I previously purchased WITHOUT getting VA benefits: The good news for those who didn’t tap into their benefits when they bought a home is that they still can. Even better news is that the average savings for those who refinance from a conventional mortgage to a mortgage with VA benefits is a healthy $3,100 a year. Just think about how far an extra $3,100 a year can go. See how to transition to a mortgage with VA benefits >
- I already have a VA mortgage: One of the most powerful features of a VA mortgage is the possibility of easily reducing your existing rate by making a “Streamline Refinance” or IRRRL. This is a simple process that can be completed without an appraisal and without any out-of-pocket expenses. It’s far simpler than the original loan because you don’t need another Certificate of Eligibility. Effectively it’s a scan for lower rates, and if a lower rate is available, a reduction of your payment to that lower rate. See if an IRRRL can reduce your current rate >
* Average value calculated on a $250,000 mortgage, and come from an average rate reduction of .5% (worth $840 annually), and the elimination of PMI (worth $2,292 annually until equity threshold.