5 Things veterans should know about buying a home

July 24, 2018 - 11:18 am

By Neil A. Carousso, Special to ConnectingVets.com

Corporal DaMel Williamson (Ret.) made a common mistake about 8 years ago after he was honorably discharged from the Marines and was looking to buy a house.  

“I had a son in 2010. That was the next thing on my brain: I needed a house,” said Cpl. Williamson, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  

His initial mistake was getting a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan through a bank rather than a Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan – a benefit of which active duty veterans who serve 90 consecutive days during wartime, like Cpl. Williamson, are eligible. Other eligible veterans include those who have served 181 days of active service during peacetime, vets who served more than 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves and spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.

Cpl. Williamson says he knew about his benefits, but when he looked for information, he wasn’t able to find the difference between VA loan and FHA loan.

“He could have easily went VA, he could have easily had a lower rate, he could have easily saved the money per month by not paying the PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance),” said Michael Aharoni, who founded VetsEDU after his grandfather, an Army veteran, passed away in November 2015.

“He had the whole military funeral and something just clicked inside my head and I wanted to do something to give back to him to give back to the brave men and women that protect us every single day,” says Aharoni. “You fought for us, you fought for our country, you deserve the benefits that you receive.

VetsEDU now operates in 16 states, partnering with veteran and military groups. It is the largest non-profit military real estate educational organization in the nation.

Aharoni’s goal is to pass legislation to make home buying education a requirement for veterans to protect them from realtors and banks who may not be motivated to have veterans in their best interest.

When Cpl. Williamson achieved his American Dream of home ownership, Aharoni brought him on the board of VetsEDU to educate his peers on what he mastered.

“I just get them to understand that they are eligible and won’t be lost like I was trying to get a FHA [loan] when you have this great thing in your pocket,” said Cpl. Williamson.

5 Things Veterans Should Know about Buying a Home:

  1. Not every bank is equal: VetsEDU Founder Michael Aharoni says banks have a VA approval process and some are better than others in honoring those who served and scaling back unnecessary fees.
  2. Not every realtor is equal : Veterans should work with realtors who are certified as Military Relocation Professionals, they have the experience and understand the ins and outs of a VA Loan.
  3. Not every house is equal:  There are minimum requirements of homes to be approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Aharoni says a basic rule of thumb is that homes with little renovations needed are likely to be approved.
  4. You can secure a VA loan with low credit and income: The VA Loan is “much less strict than your conventional loan,” says Aharoni who helps veterans with low credit and income meet the basic requirements and stay on top of payments with an action plan.
  5. VA Loan is the easiest to close and be accepted.: “The VA Loan is probably the fastest loan to close,” Aharoni said, adding it may only be 30-60 days before the loan closes. Veterans put no money down on the VA Loan, but some sellers ask for a good-faith deposit that will go towards the closing cost if the seller wants to see proof the veteran has the financial wherewithal to hold up his or her end of the deal.

You can learn more about VetsEDU and contact Michael Aharoni for more information through their website, VetsEDU.org.