Kevin Durkin's Blog
There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.
Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.
What is a VA Loan?
VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.
Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed
VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.
Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.
Who is eligible?
There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.
If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:
You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime
You’ve served 181 days during peacetime
You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard
Your spouse died due to their work in the military
There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.
Applying for a VA Loan
There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.
Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender. If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.
Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.
Having your own home fitness center provides a convenient place to work out. You don’t have to worry about fitting in exercise during gym hours or having to wait your turn to use the treadmill or rowing machine. With your own gym, you can work out whenever you want and use your fitness equipment as needed. The following tips can help you design an upscale fitness center that allows you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.
The first decision to make is where to put your fitness center, which depends in part on the layout of your home. You can put your home gym in your basement or a back area of your home if you prefer having it in an out-of-the-way place where your workouts won’t disturb family members. If your home is surrounded by nature, consider putting your home fitness center in an upper part of your home that provides inspiring views while you work out.
The flooring in your home gym should provide shock absorbency and durability for safe workouts. Rubber tiles or rolls are highly shock-absorbent and durable, making them a common choice for home fitness centers. Foam tiles and soft PVC tiles are more comfortable to stand and move around on, but they do not offer as much shock absorbency to protect you from injuries if you do high-impact exercises.
Choosing equipment for your home gym depends on the kinds of exercises you like to do. You can include larger pieces of equipment, such as rowing machines, treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. Other types of equipment to consider include a weight bench and weights, a yoga mat, a balance ball and resistance bands. Keep in mind that there are many brands of luxury home fitness equipment available.
Adding a state-of-the-art sound system to your fitness center can provide you with an easy way to listen to music that helps you stay motivated during your workouts. For lighting, consider using a mixture of natural lighting from windows or skylights and artificial lighting, such as recessed lights or light fixtures with ceiling fans to improve air circulation in your home gym.
Your home fitness center doesn’t only have to include traditional gym equipment. If you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise, consider adding an indoor pool to your gym. You can include an indoor pool that’s specially designed for doing laps and add features to it, such as a heating system for comfort or underwater LED lighting for swimming at night without having to put overhead lights on.
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Although your real estate agent will be doing all the "heavy lifting" when it comes to marketing your home, your frame of mind and attitude can have a surprising impact on the success of his or her efforts.
This is especially true in regard to sprucing up your home and keeping it in tip-top condition for showings.
Your agent will do their best to bring prospective buyers to your home and offer you suggestions for making the best impression on house hunters, but it's up to you to implement their ideas. Those recommendations could run the gamut from keeping your lawn looking impeccable to applying a fresh coat of (neutral color) paint to areas that need it. Admittedly, it can be difficult to keep your home looking immaculate for every real estate showing, but "near perfection" is a goal worth aiming for!
Staying positive and optimistic in the face of setbacks, fast-approaching deadlines, and missed target dates can be difficult, but it's essential for fueling your motivation. If you, as a home seller, begin to feel discouraged and pessimistic, you may begin to label priorities as "not that important" or put things off that really need to be addressed now.
If you've been updating and maintaining your home on a regular basis, your to-do list might be shorter than home sellers who have been saying "We'll take care of that next year!" Problems develop when "next year" never comes and projects keep getting bumped to the future. If you're determined to put your best foot forward in the real estate market, there's no time like the present!
Since preparing your house to be listed can feel overwhelming, the secret is to prepare a priority list and tackle one task at a time. It can also be helpful to get feedback from your real estate agent on what improvements and changes will produce the most impact. A seasoned agent will be able to quickly size up the condition and appearance of your home, and let you know what issues need to be addressed first. Their experience, objectivity, and trained eye will help you identify cost-effective solutions and be able to present your home in its best light.
Although a good real estate agent will leave no stone unturned when it comes to effectively marketing your home, they will appreciate and be energized by the fact that you have pride in the appearance of your house and property. There are a lot of ingredients that go into the successful staging and sale of a home, but you can help keep the momentum going by doing a little extra painting (where needed), cleaning, and clutter reduction.
"Accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative" should be your watch words from the day you decide to list your house until the moment the sale of your home has been signed, sealed, and delivered!
The homebuying process sometimes can be tough to navigate. Fortunately, we're here to help you achieve the optimal results throughout the homebuying cycle.
Now, let's take a look at three questions that every homebuyer needs to consider as he or she pursues a home:
1. What is my "dream home" definition?
If you know what you want to find in your "dream home," you may be better equipped than ever before to streamline your home search. Thus, it generally helps to establish a list of home must-haves and wants to guide you along the homebuying journey.
As you check out a broad range of houses, don't forget to update your list of home must-haves and wants too. By doing so, you may be able to further accelerate your home search.
2. What can I afford to pay for a home?
The prices of homes vary based on location, size and other factors. As such, you may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage to ensure you know exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can be fast and simple. If you meet with banks and credit unions, you can learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal.
Of course, you should ask plenty of questions any time you meet with mortgage specialists. This will enable you to evaluate myriad mortgage options and choose a mortgage that complements your finances perfectly.
3. How can I quickly and effortlessly achieve my homebuying goals?
The homebuying journey differs from buyer to buyer. However, homebuyers who work with real estate agents typically can boost the likelihood of achieving the best-possible results during the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the housing market. He or she can teach you about the real estate sector and help you narrow your home search. Also, a real estate agent is unafraid to be honest with you and will offer unbiased recommendations to ensure that you can make an informed homebuying decision.
Let's not forget about the comprehensive assistance that a real estate agent can provide throughout the homebuying cycle, either. A real estate agent will keep you up to date about available houses that match your homebuying criteria. In addition, he or she will set up home showings that enable you to check out residences in-person. And once you discover your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to acquire this house.
Furthermore, a real estate agent is ready to respond to any of your homebuying concerns and questions. As a result, a real estate agent will allow you to quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying journey.
When it comes to buying a house, there is no need to worry. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the support you need to make your homeownership dream come true.