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Why are VA loans 0% down?

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are available to current and previous U.S. military service members and their spouses for financing a home. The loan is given by an independent mortgage company or bank, and the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a portion of the loan will be paid back if the borrower defaults. That guarantee makes VA loans less risky for lenders and it is what allows it to be offered without a down payment requirement by your mortgage lender.

Are VA loans a good deal?
Like all loans, it depends on you and your financial situation. There are some benefits to VA loans that many people may want to take advantage of while other veterans may find a different type of loan works better for them. The chief benefits of a VA loan are:

  1. You don’t need a down payment
  2. You don’t need a perfect credit score
  3. You can have a higher debt-to-income ratio
  4. You don’t need to pay monthly mortgage insurance
  5. There’s no limit to the loan amount
  6. It can be used to purchase a second home with no down payment (it’s called the VA bonus entitlement)


The catch
With all good deals, there’s a catch. For VA loans, you’ll have to pay a small funding fee (2.3% if you put 0% down) to offset the loan program. This is a one-time fee that will be paid at closing or rolled into the mortgage amount (which will increase the monthly payments and interest paid over the life of the loan). This fee is waived for anyone with a service-connected disability.

Should you get a VA loan?
Whether a VA loan is right for you depends on your unique financial situation. If you have money for a down payment, you may be better off getting a different type of loan. Contact your local loan officer and together you can go over your options and pick the best one for you.

What are mortgage points and when should you buy them?

After negotiating the price of a new house and being approved for a home loan, some people opt to purchase mortgage points to lower the interest rate and save on the overall cost of their loan.

Mortgage points are a fee a borrower can pay their mortgage lender to lower the interest rate on their home loan. Each point lowers the interest rate around 0.25% and costs 1% of the mortgage amount. The points are paid for when the loan closes. A full point, multiple points, and even fractions of points can be purchased.

When Should You Buy Mortgage Points?
There’s a “break even” point on mortgage points. It’s when you’ve saved more in payments than you paid for the points. Typically, it takes a few years for that to happen. Do the math for your mortgage and make sure you’ll be in your home at least as long as it’ll take for you to break-even.

When Shouldn’t You Buy Points?
Generally speaking, if you have enough cash to purchase mortgage points, you may be better off putting that money towards your down payment instead. A larger down payment could get you a lower interest rate, reduce the amount you’d pay for mortgage insurance (or eliminate it all together), or reduce your monthly payment.

Mortgage points are a long-term strategy to save money, so if you don’t plan to be in your house long they may not be worth the cost. If you’re interested in mortgage points, talk to your local home lender. They can run all the scenarios to see how best to pay off your loan.

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