A Complete Guide to Maximizing Your Benefit

For nearly 70 years, the VA loan program has helped U.S. service members and their families achieve the dream of homeownership. Today, in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown and ensuing foreclosure crisis, this no-down payment loan is more important than ever.

VA loans have emerged as a lifeline for veterans and active duty personnel who understand their unmatched safety and buying power.

The Book on VA Loans takes service members and their families on an insider's journey into VA loans, from credit scores and interest rates to the unique opportunities and challenges of this long-cherished program. Readers get insider tips and expert advice from the country's largest dedicated VA lender, Veterans United Home Loans. They also receive a buyer-friendly education in a sometimes complicated world that can trip up even seasoned real estate veterans.

Featuring simple, straightforward language and voices of previous VA borrowers, this resource helps ensure service members are in the best position possible to maximize the benefits earned by their service.

Military homebuyers have access to one of the most unique and powerful loan programs ever created. The VA Loan program has helped more than 20 million veterans become homeowners since World War II.

Introduction

With the Second World War still raging in Europe and the Pacific, U.S. officials started planning to address the inevitable struggles American soldiers would face upon returning to civilian life.

The government created its concept of a home loan guaranty in 1944, part of a more widespread movement to shift from a wartime economy to a peacetime one. The idea was to provide those who proudly served our country with a simple and streamlined path to homeownership in the wake of the war.

Service abroad made it difficult for some soldiers and service members to build a solid financial profile. A home loan guaranty program would mitigate that concern and help level the playing field for those who spent months and even years fighting for American freedom.

Instead of providing loans, the Department of Veterans Affairs would guarantee a portion of every loan made to a qualified borrower. That layer of protection would spur lenders to issue loans to veterans and active duty service members who might otherwise struggle to obtain financing.

Almost 70 years later, the Department of Veterans Affairs and its VA Home Loan Guaranty Program have helped more than 20 million veterans and active duty service members achieve the dream of homeownership.

Today, the financial flexibility and purchasing power behind the VA loan is more important than ever.

Mortgage lenders have ratcheted up requirements in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown. Industry experts and government officials are working to redefine the concept of sustainable homeownership in America. For some borrowers, that means securing a home loan is becoming more difficult than ever before.

But the VA loan program has helped ensure service members are in a prime position to succeed. VA loans feature flexible requirements and significant financial benefits, chiefly the ability to purchase a home with no money down. In an era of tight credit and cautious lending, that kind of opportunity seems anachronistic. But it's a cornerstone of the program.

So is reliability.

VA loans have weathered the subprime collapse and proved incredibly resilient in the face of foreclosure. In fact, given the fiscal tumult of the last few years, VA loans have emerged as "a model of stability," as Thomas J. Pamperin, a VA deputy under secretary, told a Congressional subcommittee in spring 2010.

To the average service member, VA loans represent the clearest and most cost-effective path to homeownership. They come with an array of benefits that no other lending program can match. They are, in many ways, a lifeline for scores of service members and military families.

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