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An Experience with the VA Home Buying Process

  • Date: 2013/01/27 (Rev: 2018/05/13) Thomas C. Weiss - disabled-world.com
  • Synopsis : Information for veterans and people with disabilities regarding the experience of purchasing a home in America.

Main Document

The process of buying a home, whether you experience a form of disability or not, is involved. For Veterans, People with Disabilities, and other populations there are certain programs that may be pursued to assist with the purchase of a home in America. As a veteran, I am pursuing the VA Home Loan program in order to purchase my first home.

With no real idea of where to begin, I searched for information through a variety of sources such as government websites, realtors, friends, family members, and other sources. What I discovered is that that buying a home involves a series of steps that must be followed in order and that the learning process is a continuing one. The first thing on the to-do list was to start taking a look at my own financial state and figure out what I could afford to pay in a house payment.

Location, Friends, and Acquaintances

Once that was established, it was time to move on towards deciding where I want to live, as well as what kind of VA Home program eligible housing was available in the area I want to live in. Looking around at areas to live in and homes on the market was simply something that gave me an idea of what my options were. It also gave me a fair idea of the cost of homes available in various areas, as well as some idea of who to deal with and who not to.

One of my friends, it turns out, is a former realtor and worked for a realtor in the area I want to live in. While my friend does not work in the real estate field anymore, the person they worked for is still a realtor in the area so I have an, 'in,' where finding a home is concerned. Clearly, networking has become a vital part of my effort to purchase a home in the city of my choosing.

Credit, a Bank, and Pre-qualification

The next step, according to the realtor, was to pull a credit report and get pre-qualified for a home based upon that credit report. What this meant was that I would need to approach a bank and work with them to get the pre-qualification letter I would need for anyone selling a home to take me seriously. If a person's credit does not rate trustworthiness, obtaining such a letter is exceptionally difficult. While I do not have an 800 credit score, I am fortunate enough to have a good enough credit score to now have a pre-qualification letter in front of me.

In the pre-qualification letter the bank stated that it is pleased that I considered it for my mortgage needs and is pleased to offer me financing. The bank stated that it has reviewed my preliminary information and that I have been pre-qualified to proceed with the application process after I select a property to purchase. The letter also states that final approval is subject to my submitting further documentation. What further documentation? According to Pam, the bank representative, I am required to submit the following:

  • One month's proof of income
  • Three months of bank statements
  • The last three years worth of tax returns

The pre-qualification letter goes on to say that all of this is dependent upon my ability to pay for the house I have chosen and that I must turn in all required documentation. The letter states that I must have insurance, such as fire, flood, and hazard insurance coverage. The letter ends by saying that I must receive a, 'Good Faith Estimate,' on the home I choose, and that the letter itself is good for a period of 180 days. A Good Faith Estimate is an estimated value of the home, performed by a third party.

A Home and Choices Made

Sitting in the realtor's office I put the house, 'under contract.' What this means is that I had to put down some earnest money, which is money that shows the seller I am serious about buying the home. It means I sat down with the realtor and went through 16 pages of a written contract on the house, describing the details of the sale. Placing the house under contract means that I put in an offer on the house.

The bank I am working with for mortgage financing pre-qualified me for more money than the house is worth initially. I chose a home that is $20,000 less than what I might have chosen. Why did I do this? I did this because I chose the home that serves my purposes, is in the place I want to live, has the features I desire - such as a walk-in shower, and because the home has very clearly been cared for. While I was searching for a home to buy, it was not a number I was looking for, it was a home I could envision myself being happy living in.

As for what happens next, it is time to be patient and find out if the seller of the home will accept my offer. It is time for me to gather all of the paperwork the bank needs in order to finance this home. There are other homes in the area I want to live in for me to look at if this particular home for some reason does not work out. At this time I cannot find any reason why this home would not sell to me.

I have chosen a home in the area of my choosing; it is Ranch style and makes it far easier to access. The seller has certain responsibilities; such as making sure the home is up to the advertised VA Home Loan standards, while I have the responsibilities described. What this means is that the seller must make sure the house meets VA standards, not accessibility ones. The home; however, is one that is all on the same level, has a wide hallway, doorways that I can get a wheelchair through if I need to, and the shower is certainly accessible and has grab bars in it.

Veterans, People with Disabilities, Seniors, and others need a home to live in; I am no exception. After living in apartments for most of my life, I have reached an age where a home of my own has become very appealing. When I was younger, the ability to move around at will was more desirable, but at this stage in my life living in one place for many years to come is something I prefer. With some patience, fortune, and help from friends and associates, a home is a real possibility for those who pursue a one of their own.

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