Vail Daily column: Can vets get help with home ownership? |

Vail Daily column: Can vets get help with home ownership?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

My brother just got back from the Middle East and has now served long enough in the military that he can leave (retire?). I have talked him into coming back to live in Eagle County, but he says he will only come if he can afford a home for him, his wife and baby girl. I know it is expensive to live here, but is there any help for him since he did serve his country? Or can he get any loan with a low down payment?

Dear Sister of a Vet,

I am so glad you brought this up! There are Veterans Affairs loans that citizens currently in the military, retired from the military, National Guard members, reservists and some spouses of deceased military personnel, can often qualify for. These loans are 100 percent loans (no down payment), usually do not require as high of a credit score, and do not require mortgage insurance (which reduces your monthly payments). Of course, you need to qualify and can do so my getting a certificate of eligibility.

My advice is to find a knowledgeable Realtor that has one or more great VA lenders in their portfolio, that they can recommend to you. Lenders that have done VA loans will know all the ins and outs and will help you qualify, and close sooner. The VA loan usually takes a little longer, so an experienced lender is a big help to shortening the process, when possible.

You also need to have your Realtor help your brother find a home with features that will qualify and a willing seller that will absorb a few more closing costs then a conventional loan would need.

Amazing Statistic

The Veterans Affairs administration attempts to help the veteran by greatly protecting them through the appraisal and inspection process. This year, the National Association of Realtors, for the first time, published the “Veterans and Active Military Homebuyers and Sellers Profile.”

In this publication, they stated that the average age of an active military homebuyer, making their first home purchase, is 34 years old, and that this is six years younger than the average non-military first-time home buyer. I would like to say that the aid of the VA loan may be partly responsible for this amazing statistic.

Check Availability

There are many other great loans, but I would highly recommend that your brother ask the lender of his choice to check out the availability of a VA loan for his purchase, once you get the lenders’ names and numbers from your Realtor. Once your brother is pre-qualified, he can go shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck to all of you.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or http://www.SkiAnd