Posted on: June 26, 2013
VA mortgage loan officer and military veteran of 35 years Ron Bennett (MLO-57792) shares his insights on how to find a great VA loan officer.
I started my military experience in October of 1975. Little did I know that this experience would help me to assist veterans with their dream of homeownership. The number one quality I feel a homebuyer should look for in a VA loan officer is integrity, and second, knowledge of the VA loan process.
Initial Questions to Ask a Potential VA Loan Officer
In this day and age of purchasing a home, most real estate agents will give you the name of 3 lenders to talk to. Some of the questions you should ask are (1) how long has the loan officer been doing loans?; (2) how long has the loan officer been doing VA loans?; (3) Is the loan officer and the company they work for a Lender Appraisal Processing Program (LAPP) lender? (a LAPP lender is approved to underwrite VA appraisals itself) (4) What is the turn time for getting my loan approved and closed? If you can get these questions answered satisfactorily, you should hire the loan officer to assist you with your dream.
The loan officer should also know the process of getting the certificate of eligibility (COE), and know all about the VA funding fee. A VA loan officer should know how to help disabled veterans find a loan and the reduced fees they may be entitled to.
Your VA loan officer needs to be experienced not only with mortgage loans in general, but with VA loans specifically. VA loan programs require a different understanding than a conventional loan and if mistakes are made during the process you could find yourself being denied a VA loan when you could qualify at another lender. Your VA loan officer should have at least five years of experience with VA mortgages.
Your VA Loan Officer Should be Available to You
Finding a good loan officer also means keeping that loan officer throughout the approval process. Some companies assign you to a “team” which means you’re not sure who you’ll be talking to the next time you have a question. Your loan officer should be yours and should be available to answer your questions on your time.
What Makes a
VA Home Loan Unique?
Loan officers need to know the “ins” and “outs” of VA loans as they are different from all the other loans available to Homebuyers.
First, there is no down payment required for a VA loan. Certain conventional and FHA mortgages have low down payment options but they also have a monthly mortgage insurance premium in addition to the mortgage payment, making the home less affordable.
There are reduced closing costs associated with a VA home loan, at least in terms of the closing costs veterans are allowed to pay. No other loan program protects its borrowers in this way.
Some other facts you should know about a VA loan is that (1) they are only for your primary property, i.e. the home you will live in. (2) Co-ops aren’t eligible for VA loan benefits. Co-ops are rare, but do exist in high-density, high-priced areas, such as New York City. (3) On its own, vacant land isn’t eligible for a VA loan. However, it may be eligible if it’s used simultaneously with a construction loan. And other properties, like modular or manufactured homes, are allowed with VA loans, but some lenders don’t accept them. (4) The VA doesn’t issue the loan but guarantees the loan. This means that the VA provides assurance to the lender that a portion of that loan will be covered should the borrower default on the mortgage.
It Helps if your VA Loan Officer is Also a Veteran
Having spent 35 years in the military, I can talk the same language as my VA clients. I tend to have a little more trust from veterans because I know where they have gone and where they are going. I understand their LES (Leave and Earning Statement) and can determine what a veteran is going to qualify for.
Being in the mortgage industry for over 22 years and in service to this country for 35 years, I have been able to see a lot of happy faces. I hope to see a few more.
I wish you the best in your efforts to find a great VA loan officer.
Ron Bennett (MLO-57792) is a Sr. Mortgage Advisor at Finance of America in Bellevue, Washington. Contact Ron here and visit him on Google+. Ron’s military experience: last rank – Master/First Sergeant (E-8); 35 years of service; U.S. Army.