Few Homes Available to Armed Forces Veterans

Chris and Martyka Myers thought they’d found the perfect home.

“I was wowed by it. I walked to the backyard and a big wonderful pool in the back and the house was just beautiful,” Chris Myers said.

The couple says the price was high, but the sellers were willing to drop down the price to $379,000.

“But as soon as I told them about the VA loan -- that portion of the talk -- they basically shut down the conversation at that point,” Myers said.

Members of the Armed Forces, veterans – like Chris Myers – and their families make many sacrifices while serving here and abroad. That’s why in 1944, the U.S. government created a military loan guaranty program to help returning service members purchase homes. The program gives big breaks on fees and down payments to veterans.

But the NBC 6 Investigators found out that four of every five home sellers in Miami-Dade area say they will not consider Veterans Administration financing – closing the door to veterans, if they want to use the benefits the government says they deserve.

Someone trying to get the word out: David Kurz, a Marine for nine years and now a Realtor and president of the local chapter of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals.

“Once we know that they are veterans, the first direction that we point them is toward the VA loan,” Kurz said. “The VA loan is a right for a veteran. They earned the right to use the VA loan.”

The benefits of this program are great: A VA loan requires no money down while others demand 3.5 to 20 percent or more down. And closing fees can be rolled into the VA loan – the others can require closing fees paid separately.

Another benefit is a VA loan has no monthly mortgage insurance called PMI most homeowners see on their statement.

Even though all these sound good, there’s a downside.

“The bad news is that a lot real estate professionals don’t know what is a great program,” Kurz said.

The biggest concern on this program is that VA loan appraisers must certify the home has met certain minimum requirements, such as lack of peeling paint, leaks and mold to mention a few. And that means that some homes sold “as is” may not qualify. Getting homes up to minimum requirements could cost the seller time and money.

But other doubts about VA financing are unfounded, according to Kurz.

Some sellers worry VA buyers don’t have down payments; in fact, they don’t need one. Some say VA loans take longer to close, but the average is two days or sooner than conventional loans.

Another concern is that appraisals come in low.

“It’s not true. As a matter of fact, that’s one of the biggest myths that the VA loan has,” Kurz said. “The VA loan appraisers are done by certified VA loan appraisers.”

Still, there’s almost a stigma in the market place.

“The problem is that we are not a military-friendly community. We don’t have a big based in our town,” he said. “And so if you don’t have a big base in your town, it’s not a focus point.”

The Myers’ experienced that and expressed frustration about how in some areas in South Florida VA loans were turned down immediately.

“Yeah. Flat out…as soon as you get into discussions about the price on the house and you are beyond and you start talking about putting in an offer as soon as you mention VA, they cut it loose,” Myers said.

Realtors say that it’s up to the sellers to decide whether they’ll accept VA financing, and while they may not consider it at first, they may be open to it as time goes by without a buyer.

And they will even if they may have to make some minor repairs to get it up to those minimum requirements.

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