One of the benefits of having served in the United States’ armed forces, whether as a reservist or in full-time service, is being eligible for a Veterans Administration -- VA -- loan. The VA doesn’t do the actual lending; they guarantee a portion of the loan that's issued by a private lender. The guarantee results in the lender offering better terms for the borrower, and qualifying is easier than for a conventional loan. A former or active member of the Air National Guard must meet specific criteria before applying for a VA loan.
Qualify to apply for a VA loan by serving in the Air National Guard for six years and leaving with an honorable discharge or retirement. Mandatory reassignment to the ready reserve or other standby service, with an honorable discharge, also satisfies the service requirements. If you served on foreign soil, the service term for eligibility is less. Get your Certificate of Eligibility, VA Form 26-1880, from your service personnel headquarters or apply online. Submit the completed form to a nearby VA Eligibility Center.
Apply for a VA loan if your service term was shorter and if your discharge was due to hardship, an action by the government such as a reduction in the number of forced needed, a medical condition or a disability that’s service-connected.
Speak with lenders that offer VA loans and ask for their terms. Interest and fees vary, so work with a lender offering favorable terms. You’re not limited in the number of lenders you speak with. Ask if the lender is approved by the VA’s Lender Appraisal Processing Program to speed the process.
Establish your loan parameters with the lender when it processes your credit score and verifies your income, assets and monthly costs. Down payments are not required for VA loans, and you won’t be asked to pay mortgage insurance. Get a preapproval letter for a loan amount.
Look for a house that fits within your financial limitations. Use a real estate agent who knows how to navigate the intricacies of a VA loan. Check that the purchase contract contains a “VA Option Clause” that allows you to withdraw from the transaction without losing your deposit, especially if the house doesn’t appraise or you’re not final-approved for the VA loan.
Wait for the VA appraiser to evaluate the house and submit his data to establish the value of the house against the loan amount. Expect the lender to review all the documentation of the evaluation and your credit worthiness before approving your loan, unless it has VA authorization to do automatic processing immediately after receiving the appraisal.
Attend the closing, the time and date of which are set by the lender. Sign all the paperwork and leave knowing that you are a homeowner who’s earned the housing benefit by serving in the Air National Guard.
Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.