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How VA Loans Can Help You Buy a Home

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For over 80 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have helped millions of veterans buy their own homes. If you or someone you know has served in the military, it’s important to learn about this program and its benefits.

Here are some key things to know about VA loans before buying a home.

Top Benefits of VA Home Loans

VA home loans make it easier for veterans to buy a home, and they’re a great perk for those who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, some benefits include:

  • Options for No Down Payment: Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment. That’s a huge weight lifted when you’re trying to save for a home. The Associated Press says:

“. . . about 90% of VA loans are used to purchase a home with no money down.”

  • Don’t Require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Many other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI. VA loans do not, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • Limited Closing Costs: There are limits on the types of closing costs you pay when you qualify for a VA home loan. So, more money stays in your pocket when it’s time to seal the deal.

An article from Veterans United sums up how remarkable this loan can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

Bottom Line

Owning a home is the American Dream. Veterans give a lot to protect our country, and one way to honor them is by making sure they know about VA home loans.

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Buying Tips

Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade

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Summer is officially here and that means it’s the perfect time to start planning where you want to vacation and unwind this season. If you’re excited about getting away and having some fun in the sun, it might make sense to consider if owning your own vacation home is right for you.

An Ameriprise Financial survey sheds light on why people buy a second, or vacation, home (see below): No Caption Received

  • Vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life (81%) – Having a second home to use as a vacation spot can be a special place where you go to relax and take a break from your daily routines and stressors. It also means you won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay when you go there.
  • Better weather (49%) – Buying in a place where there may be nicer weather can be a great escape, especially if it’s cold or rainy where you usually live. It lets you enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures, even when it’s not so nice back home.
  • Rental income (41%) – You can rent it out to other people when you’re not using it, which can help you make some extra money.
  • Primary residence in the future (33%) – You can eventually move into the home full-time during retirement. That means you can enjoy vacations there now and have a getaway ready for your future.
  • Having a venue for gatherings with family and friends (25%) – It would be a special spot where you can have parties, regular family trips, and create fun memories.

Ways To Buy Your Vacation Home

And you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a vacation home. Bankrate shares two tips for how to make this dream more achievable for anyone who’s interested:

  • Buy with loved ones or friends: If you’re okay with sharing the vacation home, you can go in on the purchase price together and pool your resources to make it more affordable.
  • Put a savings plan in place: This will require patience and persistence but consider adding a vacation home savings plan to your budget and contributing to it monthly.

Finding Your Dream Spot with a Little Help from an Agent

If the idea of basking in the sun at your very own vacation home sounds appealing, you might want to start looking now. Summer’s when everyone’s trying to buy their slice of paradise, so it’s best to start early.

Your first move is to team up with a real estate agent. They know all the ins and outs of the area you want to be in, and which homes you should look at. Plus, they can give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about having a second home and how it can benefit you. The same article from Bankrate says:

Buying real estate in a new area — or even one you’ve vacationed in for many years — requires expert guidance. That makes it a good idea to work with an experienced local lender who specializes in loans for vacation homes and a local real estate professional. Local lenders and Realtors will understand the required rules and specifics for the area you are buying, and a local Realtor will know what properties are available.”

Bottom Line

If the idea of owning your own vacation home appeals to you, connect with a real estate agent.

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Buying Tips

What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs

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There’s no denying it’s gotten more challenging to buy a home, especially with today’s mortgage rates and home price appreciation. And that may be one of the big reasons you’re eager to look into grants and assistance programs to see if there’s anything you qualify for that can help. But unfortunately, many homebuyers feel like they don’t know where to start. 

A recent Bank of America Institute study asked prospective buyers where they lack confidence in the process and need more information. And this is what topped the list:

53% said they need help understanding homebuying grant programs.

So, here’s some information that can help you close that gap.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

As the Mortgage Reports explains:

“Down payment assistance (DPA) programs offer loans and grants that can cover part or all of a home buyer’s down payment and closing costs. More than 2,000 of these programs are available nationwide. . . DPA programs vary by location, but many home buyers could be in line for thousands of dollars in down payment assistance if they qualify.”

And here’s some more good news. On top of all of these programs, you probably don’t need to save as much for your down payment as you think. Contrary to what you may have heard, typically you don’t have to put 20% down unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender. So, you likely don’t need to save as much upfront, and there are programs designed to make your down payment more achievable. Sounds like a win-win.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

It’s also worth mentioning, that it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for many of these programs. That means whether you’re looking to buy your first house or your fifth, there could be an option for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few of the down payment assistance programs that are helping many buyers achieve their dream of homeownership, even now:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and Veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

If you want more information on any of these, the best place to start is by contacting a trusted real estate professional.

They’ll be able to share more details about what may be available, including any other programs designed to serve specific professions or communities. And even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, they can help see if there are any other federal, state, and local options available you should look into. 

Bottom Line

Affordability is still a challenge, so if you’re looking to buy, you’re going to want to make sure you’re taking advantage of any and all resources available.

The best way to find out what’s out there is to connect with a team of real estate professionals, including a trusted lender and a local agent. 

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Buying Tips

Worried About Mortgage Rates? Control the Controllables

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Chances are you’re hearing a lot about mortgage rates right now. You may even see some headlines talking about last week’s Federal Reserve (the Fed) meeting and what it means for rates. But the Fed doesn’t determine mortgage rates, even if the headlines make it sound like they do.

The truth is, mortgage rates are impacted by a lot of factors: geo-political uncertainty, inflation and the economy, and more. And trying to pin down when all those factors will line up enough for rates to come down is tricky.

That’s why it’s generally not worth it to try to time the market. There’s too much at play that you can’t control. The best thing you can do is control the controllables.

And when it comes to rates, here’s what you can influence to make your moving plans a reality.

Your Credit Score

Credit scores can play a big role in your mortgage rate. As an article from CNET explains:

You can’t control the economic factors influencing interest rates. But you can get the best rate for your situation, and improving your credit score is the right place to start. Lenders look at your credit score to decide whether to approve you for a loan and at what interest rate. A higher credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate, maybe even better than the average.”

That’s why it’s even more important to maintain a good credit score right now. With rates where they are, you want to do what you can to get the best rate possible. If you want to focus on improving your score, your trusted loan officer can give you expert advice to help.

Your Loan Type

There are many types of loans, each offering different terms for qualified buyers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says:

There are several broad categories of mortgage loans, such as conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Lenders decide which products to offer, and loan types have different eligibility requirements. Rates can be significantly different depending on what loan type you choose.”

When working with your team of real estate professionals, make sure you find out what’s available for your situation and which types of loans you may qualify for.

Your Loan Term

Another factor to consider is the term of your loan. Just like with loan types, you have options. Freddie Mac says:

When choosing the right home loan for you, it’s important to consider the loan term, which is the length of time it will take you to repay your loan before you fully own your home. Your loan term will affect your interest rate, monthly payment, and the total amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan.”

Depending on your situation, the length of your loan can also change your mortgage rate.

Bottom Line

Remember, you can’t control what happens in the broader economy. But you can control the controllables.

Let’s connect to go over the things you can do that’ll make a difference. By being strategic with these factors, you may be able to combat today’s higher rates and lock in the lowest one you can.

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in these article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.