How to Battle Discrimination Against Veterans and VA Loans
The Ugly Truth
There is a very disturbing and ugly pattern of discrimination against VA Loans that happens in the real estate industry and that must change. Veterans that qualify for VA home loan benefits are having difficulty getting offers accepted to buy a home. The reason they are not being considered? Because they are using VA financing.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that sellers do not like VA Loans or Veterans, and I am not implying that the real estate agent that represents the buy has anything specifically against Veterans, but I am telling you that these real estate agents will not consider accepting an offer because of the type of financing, not the person trying to buy the home.
Why the Discrimination?
Guidelines change all the time in our industry, and the VA home loan is no exception. There was a time when the VA home loan had certain restrictions that would not allow the Veteran to pay certain closing costs associated the the purchase of a home.
The burden of these costs typically fell on the seller. It is understandable that this could cause some reluctance on both the seller, and the agent’s part to accept these offers. I guess what makes me most upset is that these guidelines have been changed for years.
While there are still costs that the Veteran is not allowed to pay, lenders have the ability to cover all of these closing costs through the loan. By taking a slightly higher interest rate (and I mean slight!), we are able to pay all costs for any Veteran trying to buy, or refinance a home. Problem solved.
My greatest frustration comes from the fact that real estate agents do not even bother to learn about the VA home loan, and how it directly benefits our military personnel. It is almost impossible to show gratitude equivalent to the sacrifices that our military men and women make to keep us safe. The VA home loan benefit is one small way to try to get close.
Who is Affected by This Discrimination?
The VA home loan benefit offers far more flexible qualifying guidelines than other mortgages, including higher loan limits, shorter waiting periods after financial hardship, and best of all – NO DOWN PAYMENT!
Requirements for VA Loans
Wartime Eligibility – Veteran service during wartime periods:
- WWII: 9/16/1940 to 7/25/1947
- Korean: 6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955
- Vietnam: 8/5/1964 to 5/7/1975
You must have at least 90 days on active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If you served less than 90 days, you may be eligible if discharged for a service connected disability.
Peacetime Eligibility – Veteran service during peacetime periods:
- 7/26/1947 to 6/26/1950
- 2/1/1955 to 8/4/1964
- 5/8/1975 to 9/7/1980 (Enlisted)
- 5/8/1975 to 10/16/1981 (Officer)
You must have served at least 181 days of continuous active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If you served less than 181 days, you may be eligible if discharged for a service connected disability.
Service after 9/7/1980 (enlisted) or 10/16/1981 (officer)
If you were separated from service which began after these dates, you must have the following to qualify for VA Loans :
- Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 181 days) for which you were ordered or called to active duty and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
- Completed at least 181 days of active duty and been discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1171 (Early Out), or have been determined to have a compensable service-connected disability;
- Been discharged with less than 181 days of service for a service-connected disability. Individuals may also be eligible if they were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances for the convenience of the Government.
Gulf War – Service during period 8/2/1990 to date yet to be determined
If you served on active duty during the Gulf War, you must have:
- Completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, or
- Completed at least 90 days of active duty and been discharged under the specific authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1173 (Early Out), or have been determined to have a compensable service-connected disability, or
- Been discharged with less than 90 days of service for a service-connected disability. Individuals may also be eligible if they were released from active duty due to an involuntary reduction in force, certain medical conditions, or, in some instances, for the convenience of the Government.
Active Duty Service Personnel
If you are now on regular duty (not active duty for training), you are eligible after having served 181 days (90 days during the Gulf War) unless discharged or separated from a previous qualifying period of active duty service.
Selected Reservists or National Guard
If you are not otherwise eligible and you have completed a total of 6 years in the Selected Reserves or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and 2-week active duty for training) and
- Were discharged with an honorable discharge, or
- Were placed on the retired list, or
- Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable service, or
- Continue to serve in the Selected Reserves
Individuals who completed less than 6 years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.
Un-Remarried Surviving Spouses and Spouses of POW or MIA
- Are an un-remarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability, or
- Are a spouse of a serviceperson missing in action or a prisoner of war
Note: Also, a surviving spouse who remarries on or after attaining age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible for the home loan benefit. However, a surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, must apply no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. VA must deny applications from surviving spouses who remarried before December 6, 2003 that are received after December 15, 2004.
Eligibility may also be established for:
- Certain United States citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in WW II.
- Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with WW II service, and others.
What’s the Solution?
Education is the solution. If you are eligible for VA home loan benefits, make sure that your real estate agent is familiar with the guidelines of VA financing, and willing to fight for you. Battling the ignorance of uneducated real estate professionals, and sellers, is something we have to do one person at a time.
If you are having a hard time getting your offer accepted, it may be VA discrimination, and you may need to find a better home buying team to fight for you.