The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a news release this week trumpeting the continued growth of the VA Loan Guaranty program. The agency backed just under 360,000 loans last year, a 14-percent increase from FY10 and a whopping 168-percent increase since FY07.
But that wasn’t the only good news. The release also noted that VA loans have had the lowest rates of foreclosure and serious delinquency for the past 14 quarters and 11 quarters, respectively, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey.
Those figures are even more surprising considering that about 90 percent of VA loans come with no down payment.
“The continued strong performance and high volume of VA loans are a testament to the importance of VA’s home loan program and a tribute to the skilled VA professionals who help homeowners in financial trouble keep their homes,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki said in the release.
The VA works closely with borrowers and their servicers to avoid foreclosure. Veterans in jeopardy should always contact their loan servicer first, but the VA provides services and staff to help borrowers pursue options like modifications, forbearances and repayment plans. Homeowners can call 877-827-3702 to talk with a VA specialist.
“We are committed to making even more veterans and service members aware of this important benefit and delivering the assistance they deserve when financial difficulties arise,” said VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.
A House bill passed this week would increase access to the VA home loan program for surviving spouses of permanently disabled veterans.
Dubbed the Disabled Veterans’ Surviving Spouses Home Loans Act, the proposed legislation would eliminate the requirement that only spouses of veterans whose death is attributed to a service-connected disability may qualify for a VA loan.
Instead, the bill would provide loan eligibility to spouses of permanently disabled veterans whose deaths are not necessarily attributed to their service-related disability. It passed by a 418-6 vote as part of the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act.
“As we approach Veterans Day, we should ask ourselves if this Congress doing all that can be done for our veterans,” U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the bill’s sponsor, said before the House vote. “This bill maintains our promise not only to the men and women that have served in the Armed Forces, but to their families as well.”
The change would provide loan eligibility to thousands of military spouses.
A series of veterans organizations came out in favor of the bill, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.
More than 18 million Americans have used the VA loan program to become homeowners since 1944. The program has become increasingly important in recent years as lending requirements have tightened.
VA loan volume has increased 135 percent since 2007. Last year, the agency guaranteed 314,011 loans last year, including about 1,000 to surviving spouses.