How VA Benefits Improved in the Year 2020

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On June 22nd, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act into law to help returning veterans assimilate into civilian life. Since then, VA benefits have gone through several changes and extensions while helping about 22 million veterans buy homes and many more get a college education.

Since 1944, there have been several updates made to VA benefits. Since then, the most significant updates took place in 1970, with the removal of all termination dates, and 1992, with the program’s extension to members of the National Guard and military reserves.

However, on January 1st, 2020, there were more changes made to the VA benefits program. These changes came from the signing of the Blue Water Navy Act, on June 25th, 2019, by former President Donald Trump. The new law expanded benefits to Veterans exposed to the dangerous Agent Orange chemical weapon during the Vietnam War. Additionally, the law also brought changes to the VA home loan program by removing its loan limits and funding fees.

What were some changes made to VA Home Loans?

As the new act became law in January 2020, several changes were made to the VA home loan program. One of the changes brought on by the new law was the change to the funding fee, which increased for active duty service members from 0.15% to 0.30%. While at the same time seeing a decrease for reservists and members of the National Guard.

Active duty service members who earned a purple heart due to their heroic actions can waive their funding fee. The only requirement is that they close on their property while still on active duty. In contrast, disabled veterans who were already exempt from paying the funding fee did not see any changes due to the new law. All of these funding fee changes will last at least until the year 2022.

One of the most significant changes that came out of the new law’s signing was removing VA county loan limits for first-time VA loan borrowers. The removal of loan limits allows borrowers to purchase properties in more expensive areas as long as they can make their monthly payments. Whereas before, the loan limits used to depend on the county’s cost of living.

The removal of these loan limits is only for first-time borrowers; therefore, applicants with more than one loan are still subject to their county’s loan limits. Before the new law, loan limits were around $484,350; however, after the new law, loan limits increased to $548,250 in 2021. Additionally, since the loans are given out by lenders and not the VA itself, these lenders can still set their loan limits. One such lender is VA Home Loan Centers, which currently has a loan limit of up to $5 million for applicants who can afford the monthly payments.

Furthermore, Veterans who are Native American also saw their loan limits get removed by the signing of this new law. Hence they can now build or buy a home on Federal Trust Land without having to adhere to the previous loan limit of $417,000.

What are VA Home Loans?

VA home loans are government-guaranteed loans that have existed since 1944 and serve as a reward for members of the U.S. military. These loans are exclusive to veterans, active-duty military, and qualifying spouses. However, to be eligible for the VA loan, military members must meet specific service requirements. These requirements include:

-       Must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty service during wartime or 181 days during peacetime.

-       Serve at least six years while in the National Guard or the military reserves.

-       Eligible spouses must have lost their veteran spouse while in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.

In addition to these military service requirements, there are property, income, and credit requirements to be eligible for the VA home loan.

Once the applicant meets all of these eligibility requirements, they will be able to take advantage of the various benefits that come from VA loans. These benefits include zero down payment requirements, Low-interest rates, no mortgage premiums, no-prepayment penalties, and lower monthly payments. Also, VA loans exist as both 15 and 30 year fixed mortgages.

Conclusion

These 2020 changes to VA loans improve an already excellent home loan program. The signing of this new law also reinforces the governments’ support for military members by easing their path towards homeownership.

Phil Georgiades is the CLS for VA Home Loan Centers, a government-sponsored brokerage specialized in the administering of VA loans. Phil has over 22 years of professional real estate experience. To learn more about whether a VA loan is right for you or if you want to apply for a VA mortgage loan, call us at (877) 432-5626.

photo by DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini, U.S. Army, Wikimedia

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