VA Loans

William Severson

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What You Should Know

Our nation is indebted to those who have served in our armed forces, and the Wisconsin VA mortgage is one way to reward their contributions. These home loans for military veterans and active duty service members have helped millions enjoy the benefits of home ownership by making it easier and more affordable to get a mortgage.

Wisconsin VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (formerly Veterans Administration),and have some of the best around. To learn more, call (608) 216-70758 or simply fill our a no-obligation Online Application today!


0% Down Financing
VA loans are one of the few ways you can buy a home with no down payment. Because the VA guarantees these military home loans, the lender doesn’t need any cash up front as a hedge against default. Result: 100 percent financing, the entire amount of your home purchase, up to fairly generous limits

No Mortgage Insurance
Another major advantage is that of VA loans don’t require mortgage insurance. On most mortgages, borrowers have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) if they make a down payment of less than 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. That means additional annual fees equal to about one-half to one percent of the loan amount.

Because of the VA loan guarantee, no additional insurance is necessary. The VA loan program insures the loan for you. Result: You not only get a mortgage with no down payment, you get one with no PMI either. How’s that for a deal?

Low Interest Rates
Wisconsin VA home loan rates are very competitive with those offered on conventional mortgages. Because the loans are guaranteed, that reduces the risk for VA home loan lenders, who are willing to charge lower rates as a result. You’ll often find that VA 30-year mortgage rates can be anywhere from a quarter-percent to even a full percentage point lower than other mortgages for borrowers with a similar credit and financial profile.

VA Loan Limits
There is no limit on how much you can borrow with a VA home loan. However, there is a limit on the VA Loan Guaranty, which effectively caps how much you can borrow without making a down payment. Those VA loan limits, which are identical to Wisconsin conventional mortgage limits, are $424,100.

You can borrow more than that, but you’ll need to put up some of your own money as a down payment on the portion that exceeds local VA loan limits.

Low Closing Costs
With a VA home loan, your closing costs are limited. VA mortgage guidelines state that borrowers may pay only those closing costs deemed “allowable and customary.” These include the appraisal, credit report, property survey, flood or other hazard insurance, title fees and the VA funding fee (more on that later).

Other fees MUST be paid by either the lender or seller – they cannot be paid by the borrower. These include attorney fees, brokerage fees, loan application fees, lender appraisals, document preparation, loan closing or settlement fees, rate lock fees and many others.

Lower Credit Score Requirements
Borrowers with diminished credit may have an easier time qualifying for these military loans than for other types of mortgages. VA mortgage guidelines do not require a minimum credit score, but individual lenders will have their own standards.

Some VA home loan lenders will approve a mortgage for borrowers with a FICO credit score as low as 580, though 620-640 is the more common minimum.

Borrowers with no established credit history may be able to meet the qualifications for a VA loan by demonstrating a record of timely payments on recurring expenses such as rent, utilities or cell phone bills.

VA mortgage guidelines have shorter waiting periods following a foreclosure or bankruptcy than most other types of loans. Homeowners who have been through foreclosure can re-qualify for a new VA loan in as little as two years. Those with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may apply for a VA home loan as soon as two years after the discharge date, while those with a Chapter 13 may qualify after as little as one year of making timely payments on the bankruptcy obligations.

Allowable Uses for VA Loans
A VA mortgage loan can be used for a wide range of purposes related to home ownership. You can use one to buy a single-family home, a unit in a residential condominium or a manufactured home and lot.

A VA cash-out refinance lets eligible veterans and service members borrow money for any purpose, including home repairs and improvements, or as a military consolidation loan to pay off existing bills. There’s also a VA Energy Efficient Mortgage that lets you borrow up to $6,000 for energy efficiency improvements on top of what you need to purchase or refinance your home.

There’s a VA Streamline Refinance option that makes it easy to refinance an existing VA loan to a lower mortgage rate. Eligible veterans can also use a VA mortgage loan to refinance another existing mortgage, even if the current mortgage is not a military loan.

ARM or Fixed Rage Options
Wisconsin VA home loans are available as either fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). The most popular option is the VA 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, while 15-year loans offer lower rates and are often used for refinancing. Also available, but less common, are fixed-rate loans with terms of 20 or 25 years.

VA adjustable-rate mortgages are available as hybrid ARMs, where the initial rate is fixed for a period of 3, 5, 7 or 10 years before adjusting, or as a standard ARM, where the rate resets every year. Rate resets on VA ARMs are typically based on current rates for 1-year U.S. Treasury bonds.


Another benefit of VA home loans is the VA Streamline Refinance. Also known as a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), this offers an expedited way to refinance an existing VA loan to a new loan at a lower rate.

In general, all you need to qualify is to 1) currently have a VA home loan 2) be current on your mortgage payments and 3) had no more than one late payment over the past year. That means no income verification, income documentation or home appraisals.

In addition, the new loan must either have a lower monthly payment than your current loan, or be to refinance from an ARM to a fixed-rate mortgage. It’s a good choice when VA mortgage rates today are lower than what you’re currently paying.

You can even do a VA Streamline Refinance if your home has fallen in value, leaving you underwater on the mortgage (owing more than the property is worth).


A VA cash-out refinance allows you to borrow against your home equity to obtain funds for any purpose you wish. These are sometimes referred to as military consolidation loans when they’re used to pay off other debts. But you can also use the funds for home improvements, investing in a business, paying for college or other big-ticket expenses.

You can also use a VA cash-out refinance to refinance a non-VA mortgage into a VA home loan.

The VA allows you to tap up to 100 percent of your home equity in a cash-out refinance, so you can still do one even if you don’t have a lot of equity to work with.

A VA cash-out refinance can be a particularly good way to borrow against your home equity if today’s VA mortgage rates are lower than the rate you’re currently paying. However, if rates are higher than what you’re currently paying, you might want to explore other options, such as a non-VA home equity loan (see below).

The Wisconsin VA Mortgage has a number of options whether you’re buying a new home or refinancing an existing home. To learn more, call today at (608) 960-4451 or simply fill out the no-obligation Online Application!