Is there help for Veterans wanting to Refinance?

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I'm a military veteran and having a difficult time making my high mortgage payments. Is there any special help available for me?

Yes, indeed there is. Veterans of Iraq and other military service can take advantage of recent changes that make the VA's loan guarantee program more flexible for borrowers. The VA Streamline Refinance program allows loans of up to 100 percent of the value of a home. Maximum loan amounts vary from one part of the country to another. Before these increased maximums, VA loans were capped at $144,000.

The changes are specifically designed to assist veterans with sub-prime mortgages so they can refinance into a safer, more affordable VA loan.

During wartime, an active-duty member of the military needs only 90 days of service to qualify for the program. The requirement for a reservist or National Guard member is six years, unless the member is called to active duty, in which case the 90-day requirement applies.

Jim Brown, CEO of Veteran Mortgage in Everett, Washington, says many reservists don't know that they qualify.

The VA charges an upfront funding fee, but the fee is waived for veterans who have a 10 percent disability or more. Borrowers must have a stable income and reasonable credit history, though guidelines are generous and flexible, according to Brown.

Experts at point out one advantage over FHA and other loans. The VA does not require mortgage insurance on loans that exceed 80 percent of the home's value.

Not all mortgage brokers and lenders can offer Veterans Affairs loans, but many do.

Maria Smith-Alvira


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