Memorial Day is a special date on the calendars of U.S. military Veterans. It’s a day to commemorate the sacrifices of those who gave their last full measure in service of their country, and it is often very personal for Gold Star Families and Veterans who recall the family and friends they lost in defense of our country.
At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we proudly administer benefits earned by those brave Americans who have served us all so honorably in uniform. While I am an appraiser by trade, I am also retired from the United States Marine Corps with more than 20 years of service to our nation. As the Chief of Valuation of Loan Guaranty Service, I have a special role, and I am humbled to serve my fellow Veterans and to lead appraisers for VA.
The VA home loan benefit traces its lineage to the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known widely as the G.I. Bill. The law was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, just over two weeks after Allied Forces began an invasion of Europe on D-Day.
This is a benefit earned by Veterans through selfless sacrifice and service to our country. Since the inception of the VA home loan, VA has guaranteed more than 24 million loans worth more than $2 trillion.
In 2020, the VA home loan guaranty program is more popular than ever. How popular? As of May 2020, 3.4 million active VA-backed loans, worth over $800 billion, are helping Service members, Veterans, and certain surviving spouses achieve a part of the American dream: homeownership.
Moreover, VA-backed loans consistently outperform other mortgages. According to Ellie Mae’s Origination Insight Report, VA loans comprise about 11% of the marketplace. In fiscal year 2019, VA saw over 624,000 loans. Fiscal year 2017 had a high of more than 740,000 loans. So far, this fiscal year, we are heading toward another record year.
The VA home loan is unique, even among all the other great VA benefits earned by Veterans. Veterans, Service members, and certain surviving spouses eligible for the guaranty can purchase their home with no down payment. The guaranty also helps ensure borrowers obtain the lowest interest rates available while also limiting closing costs to those eligible borrowers who qualify for the benefit.
In addition, having the VA home loan guaranty means that the borrower does not have to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). The cost savings for borrowers using the VA home loan benefit are truly exceptional and they are unmatched in the industry.
Our network of VA appraisers is more than 6,800 strong, ensuring that VA can provide appraisal services for Veterans throughout the United States and its territories. From the wilds of Alaska to the islands of Guam, Samoa, and Puerto Rico, VA appraisers work hard to help borrowers with VA guarantees purchase homes anywhere Veterans choose to live inside the United States. VA has had the pleasure of having some of the best appraisers in the industry. Many of these VA appraisers are Veterans themselves and take pride in helping their fellow Veterans purchase homes of their own.
Appraisal Independence is the cornerstone to our success. As I have traveled around our country meeting the great VA panel appraisers, it is not uncommon for me to learn that many have served on our panel for 30 or more years. This loyalty speaks volumes about our program and the Veteran clients we serve.
Our program cannot accomplish its mission without the great stakeholders of appraisers and lenders who assist Veterans to either obtain or retain a home. If you are a Veteran, don’t let anyone talk you out of using your earned benefit. Choose VA! For more information on how those eligible for the home loan guaranty can use it to purchase a home, visit VA’s website. If you’re interested in becoming a VA appraiser, you can find information on joining our team.
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