I recently refinanced my mortgage to a 15-year VA loan at 3.25%.
You read that correctly.
A 15-year fixed VA loan at 3.25%.
My mother doesn’t believe it. She thinks I must mean 6.25% or 8.25%, because those are the mortgage rates she is most familiar with.
In fact, that’s me in the picture back when I was a young soldier man. That’s 1986 to be exact. And I bet 15-year fixed mortgage rates were probably well over 10% in 1986.
They aren’t today.
But that’s not what I want to write about. Today I want to talk about three things I learned that will help any veteran wanting to take advantage of today’s incredible rates by refinancing their mortgage into a VA loan.
These are three things that could have helped me shave a few days off my closing (it was still pretty fast, but I had to wait a few weeks for these three things to get completed). Knowing ahead of time would have helped.
So here we go. Three things I learned that will help veterans get a VA loan FAST.
- You can’t find a copy of your DD-214. Your DD-214 is absolutely, no questions and no exceptions, required to qualify for a VA loan. It’s your discharge paper, and you need a copy of it or you won’t close the loan. So, when I went down to my basement and rummaged through my stuff only to come back upstairs empty-handed, I was worried. What if I couldn’t get a copy before my 45-day rate-lock expired? What if I had to pay a lot of money for a copy? What if I never got a copy? Would I never be able to get a VA loan again? I was afraid. Needlessly. All I had to do was go to the National Archives site for requesting a DD214. I filled out the form online, mailed the receipt of confirmation (you can also fax it), and got two copies of my DD-214 in the mail in about two weeks. Free. That’s right. I didn’t have to pay some service to “expedite my DD-214.” It took two weeks and was totally free. My advice – get a copy now of your DD-214, and you’ll have it when you want to take advantage of your VA loan.
- You need a well water inspection. Yes, I have a well. It’s a long story. My whole subdivision is still on well water, although almost the entire rest of the population of my suburban Detroit town is on city water. Whatever. If I want a VA loan, I have to have a well water safety test completed. Again, this is something I had no idea about and could have had ready to go as soon as I knew I wanted to get my VA mortgage. All I had to do was contact my local county health department and pick up a water sample testing kit. The test was free and now I know where to go if I ever want to test it again. I probably will do an annual test of the water just to make sure it’s still good. It’s good now, which is good for me.
- You need a VA pest inspection. Anyone who wants to get a VA loan will have to have a wood-borne pest inspection completed. They look for termites and ants and other critters that eat wood and can cause havoc on a home’s foundation and walls. Most licensed pest inspectors are qualified to do the inspection and should have the required form you’ll need to give to your mortgage lender, but make sure of this when you schedule your appointment. You’ll also need a copy of the receipt for the inspection, so make sure the inspector gives you one – and don’t throw it away! I got lucky and found an inspector online that was very reputable. He turned out to be one of my neighbors and also does business with several of the team members here at Quicken Loans.
So there you have it. Three things that can make getting a VA loan easier. Three things I learned that might help you get your VA loan faster. Learn from my mistakes and frustrations, my veteran friends. If you have well water, find out which local health organization will do your well water safety test. Find your DD-214 or order one right away if you don’t have a copy. And finally, find a good local wood insect/pest inspector and keep your receipt.
That’s it. If your rate is higher than today’s rate, I recommend talking to someone about that. My mortgage rate is now 3.25%.