Frequently Asked Questions About VA Loans

Closing costs on VA Loans, like conventional loans, can vary. They can be dependent on a variety of items including title insurance, appraisal, closing agent fees and any regulatory or recording fees. Also, like the majority of mortgages Veteran Affairs loans require an escrow account be set up for the borrower’s property taxes and insurance. These accounts collect a portion of the taxes and insurance that are pre-paid at closing. These pre-paid items are closing costs, but are dependent on the borrower’s insurance rates and the property taxes in the area the home is located.

Please note, Florida Veterans with a 100% disability rating may be exempt from property taxes. First Choice Loan Services will not collect an escrow for taxes at closing when the Veteran is exempt. Please visit this page link for information on disabled Veterans’ benefits.
The VA Loan program does not typically require a down payment when purchasing a home. 100% financing is available and there is not monthly mortgage insurance on a VA Mortgage.

Veteran home buyers will still have closing costs associated with their home purchase and VA Home Loan. However, the VA guidelines allow for the home seller to pay up to 4% of the purchase price towards the Veteran home buyer’s closing costs. We can advise you or your real estate agent on hot to properly write the home purchase contract for the seller to play closing costs. Doing this will minimize the Veteran home buyer’s cash required to close on the home.
The maximum VA Loan amount in Florida is $424,100 except in the high-cost counties of Monroe and Collier where it is $529,000 and $450,800 respectively. If you need a larger loan amount please look into the VA Jumbo Loan option which allows for a larger loan amount with a minimal down payment.

The amount each Veteran borrower can qualify for is dependent on their income from jobs and other sources and their debt payments on things like credit cards and automobiles. As mortgage originators that specialize in VA Home Loans, we can help you determine the maximum amount you can qualify for under the Veteran Affairs mortgage program. Click here to get started.
The funding fee is charged by the Department of Veterans Affairs, not the lender, and is part of the federal laws that created the VA Loan Program. The funding fee is typically added to the loan amount and does not require the Veteran borrower to pay it up front. The fee varies depending on whether the borrower has previously had a VA Loan and/or if there is a down payment on the property. It also varies for VA Streamline refinances. Veterans who have a disability rating are exempt from the VA funding fee.
Typically a VA Mortgage takes 30-45 days from the time you sign a home purchase contract, however, this can be shorter or longer depending on your specific circumstances. It is usually dependent on the amount of time it takes to obtain the proper documentation required for the loan to be approved.
The VA appraisal system randomly selects approved appraisers who work in the area of the home purchase. Most VA-approved appraisers are regular full-time appraisers who perform appraisals for other home loan types as well. They are independent and licensed 3rd party appraisers hired to assess the value of a home. Their role is to protect the Veteran borrower, the VA and the lender in making sure the home is not being purchased for more than it is worth. They also check to make sure the home meets the VA’s minimum for safety and quality guidelines, meaning that the home is finished out, functional and operational.
A VA Mortgage, when compared to conventional home loan financing, has several benefits:
•No down payment is required – 100% financing
•No private mortgage insurance (PMI)
•The Veteran home buyer’s closing costs can be paid by the seller (up to 4% of the loan amount)
•Lower minimum credit score requirements
Streamline Refinance Loans available when rates drop below your current rate
The COE is a document issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs that certifies you are eligible for the VA guarantee on a VA Loan. You may be able to obtain your COE at a Veterans Affairs office in your area, or you can send a written request to the Veterans Affairs service center in Winston Salem, NC.

However, as an approved VA mortgage lender we have access to the VA’s automated system for obtaining Certificates of Eligibility. When we are originating your loan we’ll most likely be able to pull your COE from the online system.
Eligibility for a VA Home Loan depends whether you are on active duty or have been discharged from the Military, as well as how long and when you served. For specific details please visit the Eligibility Requirements page of this website or contact us and we can assist you in determining your eligibility.
Just because you are eligible for a Veteran Affairs mortgage does not necessarily mean you are qualified. Qualification requires that the lender assesses your income, debts and credit history in order to determine that you meet the VA Loan underwriting guidelines. Getting pre-qualified doesn’t take long and we will be able to let you know what your maximum loan amount can be. This way you will know what price range of homes to shop for in.

Also, Realtors and home sellers will usually request a pre-qualification letter before entering into a contract to sell a home to you. By getting pre-qualified you will be prepared to make an offer on a house when you find the one you want to buy. Click here to get started with pre-qualification.
VA Home Loans can have co-borrowers, however, usually, only the spouse of a Veteran or another Veteran can be co-borrowers on a VA Mortgage.
It is not necessary to have a house you want to purchase before getting pre-qualified. In fact, it is actually preferable to get pre-qualified before you find a house. When you go through pre-qualification we will be able to let you know what price range you should be looking for houses in. You can click here to get started with pre-qualification.
If your current loan is a VA Mortgage you may be able to lower your interest rate and payments with a VA IRRRL loan, also known as a VA Streamline Refinance. If you have a conventional or another type of loan you most likely can utilize your VA eligibility to refinance as well. For more information please visit the Refinancing page of this website.
If you have used your VA eligibility to buy or refinance a home in the past, this does not prevent you from obtaining another VA Mortgage. However, your previous VA Mortgage may need to be paid off before you can re-use your eligibility. Please contact us to review your specific circumstances.

If your plan is to sell your home that currently has a VA Loan and buy your next home with a VA Loan right away, then we can perform a “rapid restore” of your VA eligibility. We’ll set up and underwrite the mortgage for your new home purchase. Then as soon as your current home sells and pays off your VA Loan we’ll use the closing statement to get your eligibility restored in the VA system which will enable us to get a final approval on the VA Loan for your new home purchase.
VA Mortgage Loans can be used to purchase most properties, however, the property must always be intended to be used as the Veteran’s personal residence. These include single family homes, condos, and townhouses. Condominium projects must be VA Approved, please contact us if you need help determining if a specific project has been approved.

Manufactured housing and mobile homes can be more difficult and will be dependent on the lender’s specific requirements. First Choice Loan Services is currently able to originate VA Mortgage Loans for manufactured home purchases or refinances.
Generally, the VA Loan program does not allow the borrower to get extra money for remodeling or improvements to a home they are purchasing. There is a program available that provides for additional money if you are making energy efficiency improvements to the home.
Usually, the builder of a new home will have to finance the construction and only requires a deposit from you. Then once the home is built you can use your VA Mortgage to close on the purchase of the new home. If construction financing is not available from the builder, we typically recommend using a construction lender to finance the building process. Then when the home is complete use your VA Loan to pay off the construction loan and put in place permanent 15 or 30 years fixed rate financing.
Most large lenders do offer VA Home Loans, however, we have found that many times community banks and credit unions do not offer VA loans. First Choice Loan Services, a Berkshire Bank Company is an approved VA Loan lender. The VALoansFlorida.com team with First Choice specializes in originating VA Mortgages for Veterans throughout Florida.
VA Loan interest rates are affected by financial market conditions the same way conventional loans are. The rate on a VA Mortgage will depend on the current market and the specifics of your home purchase. First Choice Loan Services is a division of federally chartered Berkshire Bank, which enables is to offer highly competitive interest rates on Veterans Affairs mortgage loans. Rates offered on VA Loans with 100% financing for home purchases are typically similar to conventional loan rates with a 20% down payment.
VA Home Loan guidelines require the review of the borrower’s credit history over the past 12 months, as well as the current credit score. If in the past you have had late payments or other credit issues, but have been on time with your payments for the past year we may be able to obtain a VA Loan approval. If you have a credit score that is just below the minimum score required, we can usually help you with some recommendations that may increase your score enough to meet the requirement.
Bankruptcy does not necessarily disqualify you from obtaining a VA Mortgage, however. there are some additional requirements. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the borrower must wait 12 months from the discharge date before they can obtain VA financing. With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the waiting period is 24 months from the discharge date. The Veteran borrower must also have positive credit history since the bankruptcy filing with no additional late payments or collections.



VA Loan Specialist Shirley Mueller

Working as a loan originator since 2003, Shirley has helped over 1200 Veterans with VA Home Loans. She has helped Veterans in almost every situation, including deployed personnel returning home or those with PCS orders. Shirley also helps disabled Veterans who...

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