Many military members have no idea they qualify for the only no-money-down mortgage on the market, but there are specially trained real estate professionals to help.
REALTORS® who earn the Military Relocation Professional (MRP®) certification are specifically trained to guide veterans, eligible surviving spouses, and active-duty service members on how to take advantage of the numerous housing benefits of VA loans, awarded to those who serve and protect this country.
"Less than 15% of veterans have taken advantage of VA loans," said Phil Riek, a real estate broker and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. "There is huge market potential."
There are 1.43 million active-duty service members, said Riek. Of those, 87% are in the continental United States. There are an additional 1.5 million Reserve and National Guard members and 20 million veterans, he said. With drawdowns and budget cuts, Riek says there is a growing number of service members returning to civilian life and many are eligible for housing benefits.
All active-duty service members and those who have been honorably discharged are eligible for VA financing. In addition, most states and counties offer benefits like closing cost assistance and tax abatements, but those benefits go unclaimed because most people do not know they exist.
VA loans require no down payment or private mortgage insurance. They also offer low-interest rates and allow a 4% seller contribution.
"VA loans perform much better relative to delinquency than FHA," said Paul Marek, a mortgage originator in Florida who specializes in VA loans. "I attribute that to the military discipline [service members] exude in taking care of their primary shelter."
Agents who earn the MRP® certification understand the nuances of this loan type and the demands of this lifestyle.
Most active-duty service members relocate every two to three years, according to the MRP® certification core course material. These agents know that active-duty home buyers are highly motivated, because they usually have only 10 days to search for a house. It's up to the agent to navigate the home search under strict deadline pressure while ensuring that low-ranking privates are not unknowingly placed next door to higher-ranking sergeants.
VA loans can be used to purchase a single-family home or a multifamily income property of up to four units, as long as it's owner-occupied. These loans can also be used to build a house, make repairs, refinance, and adapt the home for special access.
While many veterans might think their benefits have expired or are exhausted, it's best to double-check. Your MRP® can guide you on recent benefit updates or point you in the right direction to see if your eligibility has changed.
For details about our military specific real estate services, visit our Military Relocation Support Center.
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