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What Buyers Need to Know About VA Loans and Condos

Condos can be a great fit for military buyers, especially for those frequently on the go.

You can absolutely look to use your hard-earned VA home loan benefits to purchase a condo. But there are some things you need to know in advance to help the condo purchase go more smoothly.

Out of the gate, the single biggest question is this: Is the condo you love in a VA-approved development?

Condo approval is key

Unlike single-family homes, condo units must be in developments approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thousands of developments are on the list, which prospective buyers can view online at the VA's website.

Buyers and their real estate agents can also check with their VA Regional Loan Center to double-check a development's eligibility.

Why bother with condo approvals? Well, the VA is focused on ensuring veterans don't wind up in developments that place unfair burdens or restrictions on buyers.

Setting your sights on a condo in an approved development makes life simple. Things can get more complicated -- and time-consuming -- if you want to purchase a condo in an unapproved development.

That's because your purchasing process can't roll forward unless that development finds its way onto the approved list. Your mortgage lender will need to formally ask the VA to approve the development. And this is where a lender that knows VA home loans can make a big difference.

VA officials are looking for specific documents and information from the condominium development, including:

  • Covenants, conditions, and restrictions
  • Homeowners association bylaws
  • Plans, schedules, plot maps
  • Special assessments and litigation statements
  • Meeting minutes from recent homeowners association meetings
  • And possibly more

It can take some time to gather these documents. Once they're sent off to the VA, buyers are usually in for another wait. Condo approval requests can take 30 days or longer, depending on your location and other factors.

Reviewing documents

Even if you're buying in an approved development, it's imperative to take a long, hard look at the same kind of condo documents you'd need in order to seek approval. Check out the covenants and restrictions and make sure you can live with them.

Some developments may have rules governing everything from how you use the property to what kind of improvements you can make to the home and even what you can put in your yard.

Talk with your real estate agent or your lender if you have any questions.

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This article was written by Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United Home Loans and author of "The Book on VA Loans."

The post What Buyers Need to Know About VA Loans and Condos appeared first on Real Estate News and Advice - realtor.com.