Over a Decade of VA Experience

Helping Military Families Throughout Los Angeles

5 Reasons an Experienced VA Agent is Important For Military Families

1. Brenda understands the unique needs of veterans and service members

In the home-buying process, an agent will help you establish search criteria such as square footage, number of bedrooms, price range, and school district. But for many veterans, housing needs require more in depth experience.

An agent experienced with military clients, like Brenda, can help find the right home, with a special eye toward a veteran’s specific situation. As a VA-savvy agent, Brenda can help disabled veterans find housing grants or a home with adaptive renovations so that they can live independently in a barrier-free environment.

2. Brenda’s prepared for an accelerated buying or selling timeline

Active-duty service members may have to relocate more often and more quickly than a civilian, and that sometimes means buying and selling on tight timelines. Brenda can streamline the process for her military clients who are moving to the area, frequently performing a walk-through of homes via Skype and video for clients who may end up purchasing a home sight unseen.

And it’s not just about buying—if you have to sell your home quickly, a military-friendly agent can help get it done quickly without leaving profit on the table.

3. Brenda can steer you toward a knowledgeable lender

Most lenders will say they do VA loans, but those who lack experience often don’t understand the special circumstances or documentation required. It is important that the circumstances and documentation be factored into the process from the very beginning so that the purchase or sale closes on time and as stress free as possible.

4. Brenda understands the VA appraisal process

In many purchase situation, buyers understand that they may need to make some repairs to the home after purchase to get it move-in ready—from replacing electrical systems to repairing or replacing a worn roof. But to qualify for a VA loan, the house must meet a set of VA-designated Minimum Property Requirements.

While most buyers—and sometimes even agents—are focused on a home’s bells and whistles, as a VA specialist, Brenda, has an eye for spotting the red flags that might need to be addressed before a VA loan can close, from broken window panes and rotten exterior wood, to torn flooring or missing light fixtures.

Property condition problems aren’t automatic deal breakers, but repairs will often need to be made to keep the deal moving forward.

5. Brenda can double-check that a condo or townhome is VA approved

Agents who are unfamiliar with VA procedures may be unaware that a condo community has to be “approved” by the VA, which means the organization has vetted the community for the following, among other elements:

  • Homeowner association bylaws
  • Financial statements
  • Any pending litigation
  • Occupancy numbers

While you can find the list of approved properties on the Department of Veterans Affairs website, a real estate agent who doesn’t regularly deal with veterans may not know to look.

The good news is in certain situations and with enough lead time, VA knowledgeable lenders may be able to help buyers get an unapproved condo development on the approved list. Talk with your lender for more details.

What is a VA Appraisal?

VA home loans are low-cost, flexible and borrower-friendly. But Sellers are responsible for a number of items in a VA transaction that might not be mandatory during a regular sale.

Here is a list of some VA appraisal guidelines, Brenda can walk you through the VA sales or buying process in more detail as well.

Is your property accessible to VA buyers?

In truth, whether or not homes meet guidelines is often a hard determination to make. VA appraisal guidelines leave much to the individual appraiser’s interpretations of what is “safe, structurally sound and sanitary.”

With that added veil of VA vagueness, how can sellers ensure that their homes are VA loan compliant?

Is the Roof Compliant?

VA appraisers are not required to climb onto the roof. They’re not asked to examine every shingle or roof joint.

Instead, the VA simply asks its appraisers to estimate (from the ground) whether the roof has an “adequate remaining life.” That’s a judgment call to be made by the VA appraiser. Obvious problems like torn shingles, missing shingles, leaks, or gaping holes will probably necessitate repair or replacement.

TIP: Prior to selling, do a visual inspection of your roof. Are there noticeable sags, ripped shingles or bulging seams? If so, any appraiser (VA, FHA or conventional) will probably demand repair or replacement.

Is My Paint VA Compliant?

Pre-1978 homes are more likely than newer homes to contain lead-based paint. Chipping, cracking, peeling or flaking paint in a pre-1978 home is a mandatory safety concern, and must be repaired prior to VA loan approval.

Lead-based paint constitutes an immediate hazard that must be corrected, unless testing shows that lead is not present in the paint at a level above that permitted by law. – VA Lender’s Handbook

TIP: When selling an older home, check both the interior and exterior for chipped or cracked paint. Scrape and repaint problematic surfaces to bring your home up to VA appraisal standards.

Are My Handrails VA Compliant?

Decks need a sturdy railing to meet VA appraisal standards.

The VA Lender’s Handbook doesn’t provide specifics. Rather, the VA allows each appraiser to determine if a stairway or deck-related safety threat exists.

In most parts of the country, VA appraisers defer to local building codes when evaluating stair and deck safety. Others will have their own standards for rail safety. Generally speaking, most stairways should be accompanied by a sturdy handrail, and decks should be guarded with a reasonably-high rail.

TIP: If you suspect your handrails or deck railing will be a safety concern, get a copy of local building codes from your office of planning and development. If your property is not covered by local building codes, review the CABO Dwelling Code for applicable guidelines.

What About Water Damage?

Rest assured that VA appraisers keep an eye out for water damage. If discovered, any of these issues could necessitate repair:

• Rot
• Excessive dampness or pooling of water in the crawl space or basement
• Poor site drainage
• Faulty gutters

TIP: Whether you’re selling or not, it’s always smart to keep water out of your home. To keep a home accessible to VA buyers, you’ll need to re-direct water away from your home and repair any water-related damage.

Insufficient Heating

Homes that employ the use of a wood stove as the main heat source must have a secondary heating system that can maintain a minimum temperature of 50 degrees in plumbing areas of the home.

Inadequate Electrical Systems

Appraisers will pay attention to whether a home provides acceptable electricity for lights and has the correct equipment to deliver results.

Broken Windows

Because broken windows affect both the heating bill and the home’s perception within the neighborhood, all broken windows must be repaired.

Termite and Pest Control Problems

Prior to approval, sellers must provide section one termite clearance, as termites can eliminate a home’s candidacy in the VA loan program. Additionally, appraisers must report any evidence of fungus growth or dry rot if found.

Pre-Qual’d versus Pre-Approved

Buyers and Sellers are often confused by the difference between mortgage loan pre-qualification and a home loan pre-approval. Even some loan officers and real estate agents will use the terms incorrectly, so here’s what you really need to know about each one.

Pre-Qualification

A mortgage loan pre-qualification is simply an estimate of how much house you can afford and how much money a lender would be willing to loan you. The best time to get a pre-qualification is right at the beginning of your home buying process, before you even start looking at houses. This involves providing information on your income, assets, debts, and a potential down payment amount. Your lender will then provide you with a general figure in writing of how much he thinks you could afford to pay for a monthly mortgage with all associated costs. There is no commitment on the buyer’s end to work with that lender in the future. This estimate is just helpful in helping you figure out if buying a home is a viable option, and if so, what your price range would probably be.

 

Pre-approval

Getting pre-approved means that you have a tentative commitment from a specific lender for mortgage funding. In this case, you provide a home loan lender with actual documentation of your income, assets, and debts. This process typically requires an application fee as well, since the bank will run a credit check and work to verify all your employment and financial information. Once you are approved, your lender will give you a letter of commitment, stating how much money the bank is willing to loan you for a home purchase. With a pre-approval in hand your offer will be taken more seriously.

Shopping Around or Second Opinions

It is important to understand, however, that even a pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will be approved for a mortgage loan. The funding will only be given when the property appraisal, title search, and other verification occurs related to a specific property. Neither are you stuck with the lender once you’ve been pre-approved; you can still obtain a mortgage from a different lender. If you do stick with the same lender that pre-approved you though, the loan process will be much shorter once you find the right house.

What is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist®?

SRES® designees are certified senior specialists, knowledgeable about financial & emotional challenges seniors may face.

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