VA loans offer numerous benefits, from zero down payment to flexible credit guidelines and more. But these government-backed loans also aim to help veterans buy homes that are safe, structurally sound and sanitary.
Every VA purchase loan requires an appraisal, which includes the valuation of the property along with a high-level check of the home's condition. Appraisers evaluate how the home measures up to the VA's Minimum Property Requirements.
It's a broad-based approach not to be confused with a home inspection, which is a more detailed look at the property. MPR guidelines can vary depending on what's common for the area and other factors.
A home with property condition problems isn't automatically a deal breaker. But you may need to ask the seller to make repairs -- or foot the bill yourself -- in order to keep your VA loan moving forward.
Let's explore a few examples of property issues to look out for during your home search.
Is the home safe?
Every homeowner wants to live in a property that's safe. As you're touring homes, take a close look at the property's condition.
While the examples below aren't exhaustive, these are a few things to look out for:
- Broken windows
- Lead-based paint
- Missing handrails
- Exposed electrical wires.
Some of these issues might only require a quick fix, while others could be more involved and costly.
Is the home structurally sound?
Structural issues can get expensive fast. There are certain structural property requirements in place to protect you both physically and financially.
You don't want to get into a home and find out it's going to require major repairs to maintain its structural integrity.
Look for evidence of the following structural issues during your home search:
- Foundation cracks
- Roof with missing shingles, holes or in generally poor condition
- Evidence of wood-destroying insects such as termites.
If you uncover structural issues, talk with your real estate agent about getting repair estimates before making an offer.
Is the home sanitary?
Properties without clean, safe drinking water can be especially problematic for VA loans.
Here are a few sanitary considerations:
- Safe and potable drinking water
- Septic system in good condition
- Free of mold.
Homes with well water or septic systems may require additional scrutiny. Talk with your loan officer to determine whether any additional testing or inspections will be required.
What if the home I love doesn't meet these standards?
Repairs outlined in the appraisal often need to be completed prior to closing. You can ask the seller to pay for them, or possibly pick up the tab yourself. If it's the latter route, discuss that expense with your loan officer to ensure that it won't affect your ability to close.
It's important to understand the VA's Minimum Property Requirements don't guarantee that a home is free of defects. Remember, it's a high-level look at the property. VA buyers should strongly consider investing in a home inspection as well.
But the MPRs can help give veterans and military families peace of mind when it comes to purchasing a piece of the American Dream.
Watch: Veteran Housing Chief Gives Update on Growth of VA Home Loans
NMLS 1907 ( www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org) Veterans United Home Loans is not endorsed or sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs or any government agency; does not reflect DOD endorsements. Equal Opportunity Lender. 1400 Veterans United Drive, Columbia, MO, 65203.