Benefits of VA Loans for Surviving Spouses

Benefits of VA Loans for Surviving SpousesLosing someone that you love is never easy. This is especially true for surviving spouses of service members who chose to live an honorable life by serving our country.

While the loss is difficult for families, the U.S. government does provide benefits, such as VA loans for surviving spouses, that can help you to move forward with your life.

You may be eligible for this type of loan if you survive a spouse that died during active service, or later from a service-related injury. You may also be eligible if you survived a spouse that is classified as being MIA or a POW.

Being eligible to buy a home with this type of loan offers several benefits that make it worth using this opportunity.

VA Loans for Surviving Spouses: Buy a Home With No Down Payment

Whether you are newly widowed, or have been a surviving spouse for several years, you may still have trouble coming up with a down payment. Trying to live on a single income tends to make it hard to save for a home purchase.

Lenders require down payments on homes, to prove that you have the ability to manage your finances, and can handle the mortgage payments in the future.

With a VA home loan, lenders accept your military survivorship status as proof of responsibility, which means that you can get the house that you want even if you have not saved up a large down payment.

Avoid Having to Pay Private Mortgage Insurance

In most cases, you must pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you do not put a 20% down payment on a home. With a VA guaranteed loan, you do not have to make a down payment or pay PMI. Since PMI can potentially cost hundreds of dollars a month,  the savings from this benefit make your mortgage payment more affordable.

Take an Exemption From the VA Funding Fee

Most people must pay a funding fee when they take out a government-backed home loan for service members. This funding fee is meant to offset the cost to taxpayers for providing the backing for loans, and the amount varies, depending upon the type of loan a person takes out, and the branch of military in which they serve.

As a surviving spouse, you get an exemption from having to pay this funding fee. Since the funding fee rates average around 2%, this can save you a substantial amount of money.

Pre-Pay Your VA Mortgage Loan Without Penalties

Certain types of loans require you to pay a penalty fee to the lender if you pay the house off early. Depending upon the arrangement, this can be extremely costly during a time when you want to sell you home to buy a new one.

When you use this benefit, you don’t have to worry about prepayment penalties. This gives you greater flexibility over how you handle your finances and handle events such as selling the home.

As the surviving spouse of a service member, you are afforded certain benefits from the government that can help you buy a house for yourself or to provide shelter for your children.

Obtaining a VA loan is a relatively simple process, but it does require that you complete certain steps to prove your eligibility. The Highly Motivated Truly Dedicated Vercellino Team can help you navigate this process, so you can begin to enjoy the benefits such as being able to get a home with no down payment.

Short Sales with VA Loans

Short Sales and VA LoansAs a veteran or active member of the military, you may opt for a VA loan to receive benefits that help you buy your home, such as being able to get lower interest rates or avoid a down payment. These benefits are possible because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs backs these loans with a guarantee to the mortgage lender that protects them if you default on the loan.

Unfortunately, there are still times when you may need to short sell a home. Alternatively, you may be interested in buying short sales property with a VA loan. You may also be curious about your ability to get a VA loan with this type of home sale on your credit history.

In each scenario, having this type of loan involved changes how things might be done during the buying or selling process. Understanding how things work with a VA loan helps you get started working with us on handling your role in short sale.

About Short Sales

During a traditional home sale, the selling price is typically higher than the what the owner owes on the property. This allows them to pay off any remaining balance on their loan so that they avoid paying two mortgages or dealing with a foreclosure.

However, there are times when a person must try to sell their home for less than what they owe on their loan. These are called short sales. When this happens, the house is usually listed for the current market value. Then, bids are taken from prospective buyers and submitted to the lender for approval.

Without a VA loan, the bank must accept the possibility of losing out on the difference between the price of the house and the amount still owed on the loan.

Needing to Short Sell With a VA Loan

When you have a VA loan in place, a short sale is called a compromise sale. Since the loan has government backing, the lender can receive the full amount of the deficiency between the selling price of the home and the loan.

However, you must meet certain qualifications to short sell a home on a VA loan. For example, you must demonstrate that you have a financial hardship, such as major medical expenses, or the recent death of one of the primary earners in your household.

If you believe that you need to short sell your home, then you will need to initiate the process by contacting your loan servicer. You may be asked to provide proof of financial hardship and to complete a Compromise Sale Agreement application.

Buying a Short Sale Home

The decision to purchase a short sale home provides some advantages, such as being able to get the best price on the house that you want. However, VA loans are only issued for houses that meet specific appraisal standards. The house that you want to buy must be in livable condition, and this means that some repairs may need to be done before you can get approval for the loan.

Getting Approved for a Loan After a Short Sale

Your ability to get a VA loan with a short sale on your record depends upon several factors. If you were up-to-date on your mortgage payments, then you may be eligible for a loan shortly after closing on the sale. However, there may be a waiting period of up to two years if you were late on the payments, or have a previous foreclosure in your history.

While short sales do complicate the home buying or selling process, there are times when they are necessary and potentially beneficial. Always ask your mortgage specialist about how short sales could affect your VA loan eligibility, so that you can make the best informed decision for your situation.

Veterans – Now is the Time to Buy a New Home!

Buy a New Home - Now's the Time!

The decision to buy a new home is a huge one, and it is possible that you’ve been sitting on the fence for quite awhile now.

Although we always encourage veterans to give the home buying process a lot of thought, it also hurts us to see someone let an opportunity go to waste.

Waiting too long to buy a house can sometimes put you in a bad position.

For example, you could wait so long that the house you want increases in price. Right now, the market is ripe for you to pick out a house.

Lock In a Lower Home Price

With the current housing trend, you can only expect to watch the prices rise. Waiting to make your move could mean that you have to spend thousands more on a house.

Although home prices are rising everywhere, this is an especially big concern in the more desirable parts of the Phoenix area. Both new and older homes in areas that are experiencing rapid population growth are going for higher prices every day. If you have your eye on a certain location, then consider how much more a house could cost there in the next few years.

Start Building Equity Now

Equity is the amount of your home that is considered yours once the debt is taken into consideration. There are two ways to build equity for a new home.

Your equity increases when the house goes up in value. Since home prices are rising, buying today puts you on the winning side of that equation. The other way to build equity is to reduce your debt. The payments that you start making this year go toward your debt, which means that you will have more equity in your home by the end of the year.

Take Advantage of Stable Interest Rates

Home mortgage loan interest rates fluctuate from time to time. When you consider the cost of a house, even a point of interest extra can result in you spending much more money on your payments over the years.

Currently, the interest rates in Arizona are stabilized to one of the lowest points that they have been at for years. While we wish we could say that they will stay that way, the truth is that they will eventually rise. If you’ve been waiting to buy a new home until the interest rates go down, then we have to tell you that the time couldn’t be better for locking down a low rate.

Capitalize on Higher VA Loan Limits

As a veteran, you can also benefit from VA loans that currently offer you higher limits on a home than you could get in the past. Being able to secure the financing for the home that you truly want means that you can also benefit from being able to use your military benefits. VA loan limits can also go down, so this is an opportunity that you don’t want to waste.

There is no time like the present for making a decision that brings greater happiness to your life. Buying a new home does take time, so get started today to build a brighter financial future for tomorrow.

2019 VA Loan Limits in Arizona

2019 VA Loan Limits in ArizonaVA loans are designed to make it easier for current service members and military veterans to qualify for buying a house.

Since these loans are offered to anyone who fits the eligibility requirements, you get to enjoy benefits such as being able to skip making a down payment. You can also negotiate the interest rate on your loan and avoid paying mortgage insurance premiums.

Yet, every good thing comes with a few stipulations. VA loan limits are one area where we find people tend to have a lot of questions. After all, no one wants to be told that their dream house costs more than the VA loan will cover.

There are also changes this year to the limits that could affect your home buying process. Being aware of the current limits and how the process works helps you make the best decisions as you start looking for a house.

How Are VA Loan Limits Determined?

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not set the limits for these types of loans. Instead, the loan limits this year are the same as the conforming mortgage loan limits that are set by the Federal Finance Housing Agency.

You should know, however, that there are limits on how much liability the VA will assume for a loan, and this does have an effect upon how much money a lender offers veterans.

How Often Do the VA Loan Limits Increase?

This year is an exciting one for anyone interested in applying for a VA loan. That’s because 2019 brings another increase to the baseline limit.

While the limits are assessed every year, it is never a guarantee that they will go up since they tend to follow the housing market and status of the economy. They have even gone down in some years, which means that it is best to utilize the higher limit now while you can.

What Is the Current Limit on a VA Home Loan?

In 2018, the limit for a VA loan was $453,100. This year, the current limit for most of the United States is $484,350. This represents a 6.9% increase from the previous year!

Keep in mind that there are certain high-cost counties that are given higher limits due to the rising cost of houses in those areas.

Are VA Loan Limits the Same Throughout Arizona?

You can expect to see the same limits throughout the state. The majority of the counties affected by higher limits are in states such as Colorado and Alaska where the cost of living is higher. There, the higher limits help offset the more expensive loans that homebuyers in those counties must request.

With the housing market in Arizona stabilizing, you can find many homes that fall within the designated limits.

Is It Possible to Buy a House Above the Limit?

There are certain times when you may need to buy a house that is above the VA loan limit for Arizona counties. For instance, you may need to maintain a certain standard of living or prefer a specific location.

In these cases, you still have options for buying your dream home. Typically, you will need to be willing to make a down payment to cover a portion of the additional cost that the limit does not cover.

The limits placed on VA loans are there to help lenders feel comfortable making you a loan. Now that the limits are higher than ever, this is the best year to start looking for your new Arizona home.

Tips to Getting Your VA Loan Accepted

Tips to Getting Your VA Loan AcceptedThe home buying process is fraught with frustrations, and nothing feels worse than having your offer on your dream home get rejected.

While you may have heard that VA loan is less desirable to sellers than other types of loans, the truth is that there really isn’t a difference to most people, who simply want to sell their property to the most eligible buyer.

However, there are some easy things that you can do to make yourself stand out in a competitive buying market.

As you continue to the next phase of your home purchase, you can use these tips to help get your VA loan accepted.

Choose to Work With a VA Home Loan Specialist

When you think about it, you likely prefer to use a specialist for services that require specialized techniques such as medical treatments, and you need to treat your home purchase with the same level of care.

A VA home loan specialist understands all of the nuances that go with using this type of loan to buy a home.

You will experience less stress and quicken the buying process when you work with someone who knows what they are doing and how to explain important information to the seller.

Your Loan Specialist Will Reach Out to the Listing Agent

Communication is key through each phase of the home buying process, and your loan specialist will forge a relationship with the listing agent.

Reaching out to the person selling the home allows your loan specialist the opportunity to open up a discussion about VA loans; that can clear up any questions the listing agent may have about the process.

Often, this is the game changer when it comes to getting a VA loan accepted, since it clears up misconceptions, and makes you stand out as a trustworthy veteran who has worked hard to be able to buy a home.

The VA Loan Officer Will Provide a Copy of Your Approval

During the process of acquiring your loan, the mortgage banker develops paperwork that demonstrates your ability to secure a loan and make regular mortgage payments.

Your VA loan officer will send a copy of the DU/LP findings, along with your pre-qualification certification form, to the real estate agent in charge of selling the house.

When there are multiple offers on the table, if yours is the one that already has the details in place, it is more likely be chosen.

Make a Personal Connection

Up until this point in the home buying process, everything has felt fairly impersonal. Now, you have the chance to reach out and truly demonstrate that a real live person is behind the officer.

Write a letter to the seller that lets them know that you are a veteran who has served their country and deserves to have their dream of owning this home come true.

As you do, let them know what you love about the house and a little bit about your plans for the future. When the seller sees you as a special person who has served their country, it makes it easier for them to envision selling their house to you.

Highly Motivated – Truly Dedicated

Your VA loan is an asset for buying your house, and you worked hard to earn the benefits that accompany getting approved for your loan. Our loan specialists are highly motivated, truly dedicated experts in VA loans, and are ready to help you make sure that your offer is the most attractive one on the table.

Who Pays Closing Costs on a VA Loan?

Who Pays Closing Costs on a VA Loan?As a veteran or active duty military member, VA loans are often the solution to your concerns about being able to afford to buy a home.

While you can look forward to enjoying benefits such as no down payment and more lenient credit standards with these government-backed loans, you must still be prepared to pay for the VA loan closing costs.

In most cases this expense is the buyer’s responsibility, but you can consider these options to make paying this part of your home purchase easier to fit into your budget. 

How Closing Costs Differ With VA Loans 

Closing costs is a bit of a catchall term that is used to describe a wide range of fees and expenses that can be charged during the purchase of a loan.

For example, discount points may be purchased to lower the interest rate on the loan. You may also be required to pay fees for an appraisal, pest inspection and a credit report by the lender. A portion of the property taxes and homeowners insurance may also be required at closing.

While watching these fees add up is unsettling if you are not prepared, the VA does have guidelines in place to ensure that they are fair. For instance, the lenders can only charge one percent of the loan for the origination fee. 

Roll the Funding Fee Into the Loan 

One of the most important VA loan closing costs to know about is the funding fee. This fee is paid to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it is meant to help offset the costs that the government incurs when loans default.

The amount that you will need to pay is determined by several factors that include your military service status, the amount you are putting down on the home and whether or not this is your first loan.

If you are unable to pay the funding fee outright, it can be rolled into your loan. Just keep in mind that this will influence the monthly mortgage loan payments. 

Negotiate for the Seller to Pay the Closing Costs 

The VA also allows for the seller to pay all of the closing costs that are associated with the loan.

This includes the

  • origination fee
  • credit report
  • appraisal fee
  • title insurance

If the seller is not interested in paying all of the closing costs, it is possible to negotiate for them to cover at least a portion of them. 

Request Seller Concessions 

Under the VA loan guidelines, you are also able to negotiate for the seller to pay up to 4 percent of any closing costs that are unrelated to the loan as well as other expenses.

For instance, the seller could pay the prepaid insurance and taxes cost. You can also ask the seller to give credits for items that you ask them to leave with the home such as a distinctive piece of furniture or special lawn equipment.

Although this pay not pay the closing cost directly, it can help to offset any funds that you must use from your personal account. 

Closing on a home is a complicated process that does require financial payments on your part. As you get ready to start looking for a home, be sure to begin with the end in mind.

Be sure to let our loan officers know about any questions that you have about the closing costs on VA homes so that you can be prepared for the last steps in your home buying journey.


Home Loans for Veterans – Take Advantage of Your Benefits

Home Loans for Veterans - Take Advantage of Your BenefitsMilitary families often face challenges when it comes to the home buying process, such as struggling with poor credit or trying to come up with a down payment.

Fortunately, home loans for veterans help to alleviate this burden by providing financial accommodations that pave the way to buying a new house.

While you may be modest about your veteran status, being willing to accept recognition for your sacrifices allows you to take advantage of these benefits as you search for the perfect new home.

Stop Worrying About a Perfect Credit Score

The Department of Veterans Affairs only backs the loans instead of issuing them, which means that they are not concerned about checking credit scores.

For this reason, VA loan lenders tend to be more relaxed about the credit scores that they require from people using this benefit.

You will also find that they are more forgiving of blemishes on your credit report from the past, such as foreclosures, provided that you can explain how you have improved your financial responsibility.

Home Loans for Veterans: Get Into a Home Faster With No Down Payment

The rising costs of houses today has made it extremely difficult for many military families to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment. Home loans for veterans are available with zero down payments required for qualified buyers.

While you can still put down payment if you’d like, being able to skip saving up money for years allows you to ditch the rent cycle and get into a new home right now.

Enjoy Cost Savings That Help You Afford a Better House

A huge part of your home buying budget involves planning to pay for the interest on your mortgage, closing costs for your new home and the monthly mortgage insurance.

Home loans for veterans help you get lower interest rates than you would get with a conventional loan, and you will have the opportunity to negotiate your closing costs.

In many cases, you will not have to pay the closing costs and the associated fees at all.

When you take these savings into account, along with the ability to opt out of mortgage insurance, you can have a considerably larger amount of money to put toward paying the mortgage on a better house.

Pay Off Your House Early with No Penalties

For non-military families, paying off a home loan early can still be costly, since prepayment penalties are often in place to protect lenders from losing years of interest at once. If you plan to pay off your house early, having a VA loan protects you from prepayment penalties, so that your dedication to paying down your debt is worth it.

Take Advantage of This Benefit for a Lifetime

Many people think that this is just a onetime benefit. However, you can continue to reapply for this type of loan as needed for the rest of your life.

Whether you are ready to upgrade to a larger home for your growing family or need to downsize, you can take advantage of a VA home loan at any time.

As a veteran or active member of the military, you have worked hard to serve our country and protect the freedom of every U.S. citizen. Now, you have the opportunity to take advantage of benefits that you have earned through your time in service.

Other than proving your eligibility, the application process for a VA loan is much like the other types of loans, so go ahead and get started planning to save money on your new home today.

Can I Get a VA Loan If I’m Self Employed?

Do you own a business and want to buy your own house? Wondering if you can get a VA loan if you’re self-employed?

Self-employment can pose unique challenges when purchasing a house. The income of self-employed individuals can be less consistent compared to those receiving fixed monthly salaries.

Because of the inconsistency, lenders often scrutinize the application of self-employed home buyers. Applicants are required to submit a least 2 years of income tax returns and business documents to get a VA loan.

You are considered a self-employed when you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You are the sole owner of the business
  • You own at least 25% of the business
  • You are working freelance
  • You are a contract worker

Lending policies and guidelines of VA loans for self-employed veterans are different for each lender.

Can I Get a VA Loan if I’m Self Employed?
Self Employed in the Family Business

If you are working for a family-owned business, you will not be considered as self-employed unless you own 25% of the company. This ownership should be confirmed by a third-party figure. In addition, you are required to submit tax returns for 2 years and the business should have been active for at least a year.

Self-employed individuals should also understand that lenders only consider the income which you pay in tax. Any amounts that are not documented are not counted.

Freelance Workers and VA Loans

It is possible for freelance workers to get a VA loan. With modified paperwork requirements, lenders can give you a positive feedback. Individual tax returns and all applicable income documents for 2 years should be submitted.

In self-employment, stability is only considered if the business has been operating for at least 2 years. In addition, a profit and loss statement for the current year is required if the taxes have not been filed.

Documents Required for Self-Employed Individuals

The challenge is being able to show the lender that your business is on a solid financial ground. For self-employed qualified military borrowers, heavy paperwork is required to process your VA loan.

To gauge your income trajectory, lenders will look to at the two-year income documents. This will determine if you have the ability to repay the loan. A major red flag in your application is when your income decreases each year. In most cases, the lender will require you a written explanation of the drop. If the descent is huge, your application will be declined.

Lenders need a healthy amount of information to decide to give you the loan in addition to the usual requirements listed on the VA loan application. To apply as a self-employed veteran, you need to dig up these required documents:

  • Current financial statement – this should include a year-to-date profit and loss profit
  • Two consecutive years of individual income tax returns
  • Two consecutive years of business tax returns – this is required for corporation or partnership
  • List of your partners or stockholders


Yes, you can get a VA loan if you’re self employed. Collecting the required documents may sound exhausting, but it is reasonable for lenders to get as much information as possible to show that your business is reliable and sustainable.

Jimmy Vercellino and his team can help you get the paperwork needed to get your loan approved, guiding you through the process. Call today and let’s get started!

How Long Does It Take to Raise Your Credit Scores?

How Long Does It Take to Raise Your Credit Scores?

Having good credit is important for many reasons. Unlike in the past when credit scores were only used to determine approval for loans, today they’re used for many other things.

Some of these include potential landlords, auto insurance rates, homeowner’s insurance rates and even potential employers. Your credit scores play an important part in determining if you’re approved for a mortgage.

Unfortunately, raising credit scores takes a lot longer than it does to lower them. Get the facts about credit scores here.

What Determines Credit Scores?

Your credit scores are determined by five different factors, each of which plays a different role.

  • Payment history – 35 percent – This means how you are about paying your bills on time both now and in the past couple years.
  • Credit utilization – 30 percent – This is the amount of your available credit you have used up in comparison to the total amount available.
  • Length of credit history – 15 percent – This is how long you have had credit accounts. The longer you have accounts, the more it helps your scores.
  • Credit mixture – 10 percent – This is the different types of credit such as credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, etc.
  • New credit – 10 percent – This is the amount of new credit that has been opened recently.

How to Improve Credit Scores

Since there are various things that have gotten your credit scores to where they are, there are also various things that need to be done to improve them. One of the most important things to do is make sure your monthly bills are paid on time each month. If you have small debts, do your best to pay them off as soon as possible because that will improve your credit utilization.

Do not open any new accounts if you’re trying to improve your scores. Do not apply for several credit cards because the hard inquiries on your credit report can also lower your credit scores.

How Long do Certain Things Stay on My Credit Report?

Many people don’t realize that negative things on a credit report can stay on and affect credit score for years. A few missed payments or an account sent to collections may be corrected quickly. However, being corrected quickly does not necessarily mean they are removed immediately from your credit report. Below are some of the causes of bad credit report scores and how long these things stay on your credit reports.

  • Accounts in collections or charged off – Stay on seven years from the date the lender reports the first missed payment. If you make payments during the seven years, it’s still going to be on your report, but it won’t have such an impact.
  • Late payments – These may be on the credit report for up to seven years from the date of the first missed payment…even if you pay the past-due amounts. For example, if a payment was missed in September 2013, it would come offer your report in September 2020.
  • Bankruptcy – Depending on the type of bankruptcy, it can remain on your credit report anywhere from seven to ten years.
  • Repossessions, foreclosures or similar negative accounts – These also remain on your credit report for up to seven years from the first late payment.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Credit Scores?

The time it takes to improve the actual credit score depends on why the score got to that point. For instance, if your score was low because of too much credit, the score will go up in a couple of months once you get some of the balances paid down. If the scores were low due to bankruptcies and collections, it can take years. Even though your credit isn’t perfect yet, your scores can go up just by continuing to pay the accounts down.

For instance, a score of 680 from late payments can go up to 780 in nine months even though it stays on your account for three to seven years. A foreclosure may stay on your report for seven years, but your score may go from 680 to 780 in three years. The important thing is to always try to make regular payments to work on the scores.

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors Systematically

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors Systematically

Did you know that your credit report could have mistakes that even you’re not aware of? According to a Federal Trade Commission study, approximately 20% of the consumers studied had errors on the report from at least one of the major reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Could you be one of these consumers? Take advantage of the free credit report the federal government entitles you to each year and find out. Here is valuable information on what to look for and how to dispute credit report errors.

What Kind of Errors Should I Look For?

While some may have more importance than others, any inaccuracies can affect your credit numbers, which can play a role in determining your creditworthiness to lenders and creditors. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the following areas are worth double checking.

• Identity – Verify your name, address, social security number and phone number. This area is where you may find indications of identity theft or incorrect information that belongs to another individual. Names may get mixed up if they’re similar or have Jr. or Sr. after them.
• Account Status – closed accounts still showing as open; reports erroneously listed as delinquent or late; debt listed more than once but with different names and incorrect dates on when the account was opened, or payment was made.
• Data Information –same account but listed multiple times under different creditors or a correction that was not actually entered.
• Balance – incorrect credit limit or current balance.

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Fixing errors on your credit report is the responsibility of the creditor who sent in the information and the credit reporting agency, but it must be reported by you. You must submit a report to both the agency and the creditor listing what you believe to be incorrect as well as copies of documentation proving the information. You must include your name, address and all pertinent information.

Send the information certified mail “return receipt requested” so you know they received the news. Agencies typically correct the mistake within 30 days unless they feel change is unnecessary. Once the change is made, they’ll send you a free copy of your report, which does not count as one of your annual free reports.

Get Your Free Copy to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Checking your credit report will not only help you find mistakes but can also make you aware of possible identity theft as early as possible. The sooner you’re aware of the problem, the quicker you can get it fixed. It’s effortless to get your free copy online. You also have the choice of which agency’s report you want to view. To dispute credit report errors you simply need to fill out a simple online form and specifying which statement you want.


An inaccurate credit report can affect you in many ways and cost you extra money. This can result in paying more in interest than they should or being overcharged on auto loans, credit cards, insurance premiums and various other financial obligations. The best way to know your information is correct is to get your free report. If there are mistakes, dispute credit report errors as soon as possible and verify that they get corrected.