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VA News Latest news in VA Home Loans
January 11, 2008
→ VA offers housing grants to disabled vets

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A change in federal law allows certain seriously injured veterans and service members to receive multiple grants for constructing or modifying their homes, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced.

Before the change, eligible veterans and service members could receive special adaptive housing grants of $10,000 or $50,000 from VA only once. Now they may use the benefit up to three times, so long as the total grants stay within specified limits outlined in the law.

"Veterans seriously disabled during their military service have earned this benefit," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "This change ensures that every eligible veteran and service member has the chance to use the maximum amount afforded to them by our grateful nation."

To ensure all previous recipients are aware of this opportunity, VA has mailed more than 16,000 letters to eligible veterans, reaching out to those who used only a portion of their grant or who decided not to use the grant even after initially qualifying.

The response over the past year has been dramatic, with more than 4,600 applications received thus far. Of these, approximately 3,900 veterans have been determined eligible under the new law, and more than 200 grants already awarded.

VA has averaged about 1,000 adaptive housing grant applications per year during the past 10 years. Since the program began in 1948, it has provided more than $650 million in grants to about 34,000 seriously disabled veterans.

To ensure veterans' and service members' needs are met and grant money is spent properly, VA works closely throughout the entire process with contractors and architects to design, construct and modify homes that meet the individuals' housing accessibility needs.

Eligible for the benefit are those with specific service-connected disabilities entitling them to VA compensation for a "permanent and total disability." They may receive a grant to construct an adapted home or to modify an existing one to meet their special needs.

VA has three types of adapted housing grants available. The Specially Adapted Housing grant, currently limited to $50,000, is generally used to create a wheelchair-accessible home for those who may require such assistance for activities of daily living.

VA's Home Loan Guaranty program and the Native American Direct Loan program may also be used with the SAH benefit to purchase an adaptive home.

The Special Housing Adaptations grant, currently limited to $10,000, is generally used to assist veterans with mobility throughout their homes due to blindness in both eyes, or the anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands or extremities below the elbow.

A third type established by the new law, the Temporary Residence Adaptation grant, is available to eligible veterans and seriously injured active-duty service members who are temporarily living or intend to temporarily live in a home owned by a family member.

While the SAH and SHA grants require ownership and title to a house, in creating TRA Congress recognized the need to allow veterans and active-duty members who may not yet own homes to have access to the adaptive housing grant program.

Under TRA, veterans and service members eligible under the SAH program would be permitted to use up to $14,000, and those eligible under the SHA program would be allowed to use up to $2,000 of the maximum grant amounts. Each grant would count as one of the three grants allowed under the new program.

"The goal of all three grant programs is to provide a barrier-free living environment that offers the country's most severely injured veterans or service members a level of independent living," Peake added.

Other VA adaptive housing benefits are currently available through Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service's "Independent Living" program, the Insurance Service's Veterans Mortgage Life Insurance program, and the Veterans Health Administration's Home Improvement and Structural Alterations grant.

For more information about grants and other adaptive housing programs, contact a local VA regional office at (800) 827-1000 or local veteran service organization. Additional program information and grant applications, VAF-26-4555, can be found at http://www.homeloans.va.gov/sah.htm.

November 30, 2007
→ Valuing Properties during Periods of Declining Market

Source - Department of Veteran Affairs

PURPOSE: The purpose of this circular is to reaffirm VA’s requirement that the appraised value, for a property that will become the security for a VA guaranteed loan, must reflect the current fair market value. VA has historically required VA fee appraisers to provide a value estimate in accordance with VA’s regulatory definition of reasonable value (38 CFR 36.4301), “that value which represents the amount a reputable and qualified appraiser, unaffected by personal interest, bias, or prejudice, would recommend to a prospective purchaser as a proper price or cost in light of prevailing conditions.” During periods of rapidly increasing or declining real estate values, it may become more difficult to establish an estimate of the current fair market value.

→ Appraisal of Proposed or Under Construction Properties from Model Homes

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

PURPOSE: To announce that appraisers are now authorized to use model homes, in lieu of construction exhibits (plans and specifications), to appraise “Proposed or Under Construction” properties, as defined in Chapter 10 of the VA Lender’s Handbook.

November 8, 2007
→ The Veterans Housing Opportunity and Benefits Act of 2006

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

PURPOSE: The purpose of this circular is to make a clarification regarding the maximum loan amounts for Native American Direct Loans.

October 16, 2007
→ Updating Specially Adapted Housing Records

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

PURPOSE: The purpose of this circular is to advise Loan Guaranty personnel of the importance of keeping accurate and timely Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) records in The Appraisal System (TAS). In addition, there are also some new requirements for the Loan Guaranty report that tracks seriously injured veterans and service members designated as participants in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT).

October 11, 2007
→ Claim Adjustment on a Modified Loan

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

PURPOSE: The purpose of this change is to extend the rescission date of the basic circular so that stations continue to provide guidance on VA’s position with respect to this procedure.

→ Continued Forbearance on Loans Affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

PURPOSE: The purpose of this change is to extend the rescission date of the basic circular so that stations continue to provide guidance on VA’s position with respect to this procedure.

→ New Procedures for Submission of E-Appraisal Reports

PURPOSE: The purpose of this change is to extend the rescission date of the basic circular so that stations continue to provide guidance on VA’s position with respect to this procedure.

September 17, 2007
→ Manufactured Home Appraisal Report

PURPOSE: The purpose of this change is to extend the rescission date of the basic circular so that stations continue to provide guidance on VA’s position with respect to this procedure.

→ New Appraisal Report Forms and Instructions for use

PURPOSE: The purpose of this change is to extend the rescission date of the basic circular and to update a Lender's Handbook reference and

August 30, 2007
→ Can I use the VA loan to refinance or get cash out on my current mortgage even if it’s currently not a VA loan?

Ginnie Mae Eliminates home loan limits for Americans who have served.

Source – Ginnie Mae Washington, DC – The Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) today announced that, effective on September 1, 2007, it is eliminating the restriction on the size of mortgage loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that can be used as collateral for Ginnie Mae securities. Currently, Ginnie Mae limits the size of VA-guaranteed loans that can back Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to the conforming loan limit of $417,000.

Approximately 30 percent of the loans that back Ginnie Mae MBS are guaranteed by the VA. Unlike the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) program, the VA program does not include a limit on the size of the guaranteed loan.

"We expect this change will expand the availability of low-cost financing and increase homeownership opportunities for America's veterans, particularly in high-cost areas, by encouraging lenders to make more VA loans," said Michael J. Frenz, Executive Vice President of Ginnie Mae.

For example, although 10 percent of the nation's veterans live in California, less than one percent of the VA loans in the Ginnie Mae securities portfolio issued during the last two years were to California veterans, because loan limits were below most house prices in the state.

"Now, more than ever, America's veterans and their families have a greater chance to make their dreams of homeownership a reality, thanks to today's action by Ginnie Mae," said Judith Caden, Director of Loan Guaranty Service at the VA. "This change is another example of our joint commitment to ensure VA benefits keep pace with the needs of our veterans in today's housing market."

"This is an outstanding initiative that will greatly benefit veterans and their families who reside in high-cost areas, and who continue to make significant contributions to the growth and prosperity of our nation every day," said George Lisicki, the national commander of the 2.3 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. "This is what 'Supporting the Troops' is all about."

Ginnie Mae will continue to require that the amount of cash down payment, plus the amount of the VA guaranty, equal at least 25 percent of the value of the home. *

*Ginnie Mae will continue to require that the amount of cash down payment, plus the amount of the available VA guaranty, equal to at least 25% of the lesser of the purchase price or the Notice of Reasonable Value.

August 7, 2007
→ "Any Qualified Veteran" as the Borrower on VA Appraisals

PURPOSE: The purpose of this circular is to advise program participants of a new policy for VA appraisal reports.

June 15, 2006
→ Specially Adapted Housing

Source - Department of Veterans Affairs

The President signed P. L. 109-233, the Veterans Housing Opportunity and Benefits Act of 2006. This circular explains provisions for implementing Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant use, which is a portion of the new law.