Brevard County is an appealing destination for service members and veteran home seekers due to the array of great deals on properties. The military is also a prominent part of Brevard County, with various military installations. If you are eligible, a VA home loan can enable you to purchase a home in Brevard County without down payment at closing.
Are you a Hometown Hero? Find out your eligibility for the Hometown Heroes Loan Program in Brevard County, Florida.
What is a VA Loan?
A VA loan is a mortgage loan that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs guarantees. A financial lender such as a mortgage provider, bank, or credit union issues the loan. This home loan program targets active military members, veterans, reservists, and eligible surviving spouses.
You can use the VA home loan to purchase a single-family home, multi-unit properties, condominiums, new construction, and manufactured homes as your primary residence. The VA home loan aims to provide 100 percent financing to eligible veterans and military personnel and enable them to own decent homes with no down payment.
The VA does not originate the loans. However, it stipulates the eligibility rules, issues minimum requirements and guidelines under which the loans are provided, and financially guarantees the loans that qualify under their housing programs. While the private lenders adhere to VA standards when issuing the loans, there are some additional requirements you may have to meet to qualify.
Types of VA Home Loans
There are 4 different types of VA loans:
VA Purchase Loan
A VA purchase loan is the standard loan or mortgage typically issued under the VA home loan program. It enables you to purchase a home in Brevard County with zero down payment. With a VA purchase loan, you can secure better mortgage terms than you would with a traditional mortgage provided by private lenders.
Note that the terms of a VA purchase loan will vary depending on the lender. As with other types of mortgages, with the VA purchase loan, you can choose a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage. There are two types of VA purchase loans:
VA Direct Home Loan – With the VA direct home loan, the VA acts as the mortgage lender. You work directly with the VA to apply for and obtain the loan, which offers better terms than loans from private lenders.
- VA Backed Home loan – With the VA-backed home loan, the VA guarantees the loan you obtain from a private lender.
VA Cash-Out Refinance
So long as you are eligible, you may also use a VA loan to refinance a mortgage. With a VA cash-out refinance, you can take up to 100 percent of the equity in your home to cater to other alternative uses, including medical bills, education, or debts.
You can use this VA loan for home improvements or burnish a savings or investment account. As such, the VA cash-out refinance option enables you to tap into the value of your property and access greater borrowing power.
VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan
A VA interest rate reduction refinances the loan, also referred to as a VA streamline refinance, is aimed at helping you reduce your monthly loan payment on an existing mortgage by reducing your interest rate. This loan option can stabilize your payment by switching to a fixed-rate mortgage.
VA Renovation Loan
A VA renovation loan enables you to receive funds to purchase or renovate a property and finance home improvement costs. However, not many financial lenders provide VA loans.
The Benefits of a VA Home Loan
VA loan have many advantages over other home loan programs. These are the primary benefits of VA loans:
Zero Down Payment
The most significant benefit of the VA home loan program is the zero-down payment aspect. For conventional and FHA mortgages, you are typically required to pay a minimum down payment between 5 to 3.5 percent of the home value. If you are eligible, you may purchase up to Brevard County's conforming loan limit without incurring a down payment at closing.
It can take veterans and service members many years to save for the down payment of a decent home in Brevard County.
Due to the federal backing, VA loans pose less risk to lenders and require a minimal upfront investment from the borrower. Like other government-backed loans, the federal government guarantees that it will cover the losses if you cannot make payments and the home goes into foreclosure.
Financial lenders can offer you more favorable terms than conventional mortgage programs, such as no down payment at closing. The ability to own a home without a down payment means that you do not have to stockpile and scrape for years to get a home of your own.
No Private Mortgage Insurance
With a VA home loan, there is no mortgage insurance required. Coming up with a down payment is already tough enough with conventional mortgages.
You also must purchase mortgage insurance if you cannot put down a sizeable down payment (usually 20 percent of the purchase price). You don't have to worry about these costs with a VA loan. A VA loan only comes with a mandatory funding fee which goes to the VA.
You Can Use A VA Loan Multiple Times
A VA home loan is not just a one-time benefit. There is no limit to the number of times you can use a VA home loan. You may be able to utilize a VA home loan for a second home through the "bonus entitlement" or "Tier 2 entitlement" benefits.
While you cannot use a VA home loan for a second home purchase (vacation home), you can use it for a second primary residence. This refers to a home where you spend more than six months a year. You must have enough income and entitlement to qualify for both homes to be eligible.
Loose Credit Requirements
Most VA lenders look for a credit score of at least 620. Conventional mortgages often have to meet a higher credit score threshold, especially if you want favorable interest rates. With VA loans, you can access 100 percent financing and reasonable interest rates with less than stellar credit.
Less Stringent Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio Requirements
Generally, VA lenders require that you don't spend more than 40 percent of your monthly income on significant debts like credit cards, student loans, or mortgage payments. However, it is possible to have a higher DTI ratio and still access a VA home loan.
Some VA lenders can go up to 55 percent or more based on your credit history and ability to satisfy additional income benchmarks. This aspect of VA loans offers extra flexibility that can allow you to maximize your purchasing power.
Curbed Closing Costs
You cannot escape closing costs, regardless of the type of mortgage product. VA home loans limit the costs and fees that eligible borrowers can pay during closing. You can ask the seller to incur all mortgage-related closing costs and up to 4% of the home purchase price for insurance, prepaid taxes, judgments, and collections.
VA Home Loan Eligibility in Brevard County, Florida
You must meet some criteria to be eligible for a VA loan. To qualify, you have to be one of the following:
An active-duty military service member. You must have served at least 90 continuous days.
A U.S. military veteran. The minimum lengths of service requirements depend on the time period you served.
A National Guard member. You must have served at least 90 days of active duty.
A Military Reserve member. You must have served at least 90 days of active duty.
- A surviving spouse of a military service member who died during active service.
You may still be eligible for a VA loan if you were discharged from the military due to any of the following reasons:
- A service-related disability
- Certain medical condition
- The convenience of the government
- Early out
- Reduction in force
To obtain a VA loan, you also need to meet the requirements set by the financial lenders. These requirements may include minimum credit score and income requirements. The property you seek to buy with VA loans should be your primary residence, not an investment or vacation home.
Note that you cannot purchase just any property using a VA loan. An appraiser approved by the VA has to ensure the property meets the minimum property requirements set by the VA. The property's value must also align with guidelines issued by the government.
To obtain a VA loan, you must receive a VA certificate of eligibility (COE). The COE is a verification of your status as an eligible military service member or surviving spouse. You can procure this document from the VA online.
How to Apply for a VA Loan
Follow these steps, if you're ready to apply for an VA home loan in Brevard County, Florida.
Request a VA COE
To apply for a VA loan, you must first request a VA home loan COE (VA Form 26 -1880) to show the lender that you are eligible based on your duty status and service history. Before requesting your COE, you have to gather the necessary information and documentation. Below is an overview of the required information based on your military service status:
Veteran – A copy of your discharge or separation documents(DD214)
Service member – A statement signed by your personnel office, adjutant, or commander. The statement of service details your name, social security number, and the date your started military duty
National Guard member or Reserve member - A copy of your DD214
- Surviving spouse of a veteran – Veteran discharge papers (DD214), copy of your marriage certificate, and veteran's death certificate
On their website, you can request your COE online through the VA's e-benefits portal. You may also obtain your COE through your financial lender via the VA's Web LGY system. You can consult your lender regarding this option. Alternatively, you can obtain your COE through the mail by filling out a Request for a COE and mailing it to the address indicated on the form.
Shop for a VA Lender
With VA loans, you can shop for the best terms and interest rates just as you would with a conventional mortgage. Not all VA lenders are the same, and the actual mortgage terms depend on the lender.
Every lender has unique business goals, targets, and specialties. Looking at more than one lender and comparing qualification requirements, mortgage rates, and fees is advisable to get the best possible deal.
Choose and Apply for the VA Loan
The next step in the VA loan application process will depend on the VA loan you seek and the lender. To apply for a VA loan, you will typically need the following documents:
DD214 and Certificate of Eligibility
Copies of your W2 statements
Copies of your pay stubs
Documentation of other assets(financial investments, savings accounts, checking accounts, trust funds, etc.)
- 24 months of tax return documentation if you are self-employed
Once you apply for your chosen VA loan and meet the lender's standard for approval, you can determine the amount of money you may be able to borrow. Pre-approval also gives the seller of the property confidence you will obtain the funds necessary to complete the purchase.
Appraisal, Approval, and Closing
Your lender will request a VA appraisal of the property. An appraisal estimates the market value of the property. It also ensures the property is decent, safe, and sanitary.
Your lender will review the appraisal and your income and credit information and determine if they will approve your loan application. Once your lender approves your application, they will work with you to select a title company or relevant entity to transfer ownership of the property after clearing your closing costs, including the VA funding fee.
Brevard County VA Loan Limits
Unlike the conventional conforming loan limits for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgage products, VA loans are not confined to a rigid frame. Individual counties determine VA loan limits. There are also particular loan limits depending on the state or territory.
The loan amount that you may qualify for will depend on the current VA loan limits and program incentives. The 2022 maximum zero-down VA loan amount limit for Brevard County, Florida, is $647,200.
VA Funding Fee
If you're using a VA loan to purchase, build, or renovate a home, you must pay a funding fee to the VA. The VA funding fee is a one-time fee that serves to lower the cost of VA home loans for U.S. taxpayers since the program doesn't require a down payment or private mortgage insurance. The only exception is if you are exempt from such as fee because you receive VA disability compensation.
You pay the VA funding fee when you close your VA home loan. You can pay the fee in full during closing or include it in your loan (refinancing) and pay it over a period. Your VA funding fee will depend on several factors, including the loan type, loan amount, and down payment amount.
Exciting Things to Do In Brevard County, Florida
If you fulfill your homeownership dream in Brevard County through the VA home loan program, there are numerous fun activities that you and your family can enjoy on the Space Coast.
Visit the Brevard Zoo
Brevard Zoo is a world-class zoo and a popular attraction for people of all ages. More than 900 animals from around the world call the zoo's lush open-air habitats home. There is no shortage of exciting activities to engage in at Brevard Zoo.
Brevard Zoo is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. You and your family can enjoy animal encounters, feeding gentle giraffes, kayaking, paddle boating, train rides, and ziplining at the Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures. The small children can have wholesome fun at the petting zone and the toddler water park (water play area).
Check out the Historic Cocoa Village
Historic Cocoa Village offers something for everyone with its fantastic blend of modern and historical times. Historic Cocoa Village hosts a number of attractions, restaurants, shops, and seasonal events such as Arts and Craft Fairs, Mardi Gras, Farmer's Market, live concerts at the gazebo, and more. This is a key place to visit in Brevard County.
On the modern side, you can enjoy a wide range of entertainment, dining, and shopping venues. These include art galleries and antique malls. You can also check out Cocoa Riverfront Park, which boasts an outdoor amphitheater, a water-play area, and a playground. Historic Cocoa Village hosts special seasonal activities like winter ice skating.
Visit the Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Brevard County and the State of Florida. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers great public tours and many fun things. The complex is organized based on Mission Zones, where tours and attractions are grouped by chronological era.
You can explore the beginning of space exploration to the current ongoing space missions. Depending on your planning and timing, you can experience a shuttle launch, stand under massive rockets and meet veteran astronauts.
The Kennedy Space Center has features and amenities, including the Astronaut Memorial, The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, The Space Shop, and the Rocket Garden.
Have Fun at Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is a top tourist and family-friendly destination in Brevard County. Cocoa Beach city is easily the most recognizable city on Space Coast. This authentic beach city has a great combination of sea, sun, and space for you and your family to explore.
You can always find activities that are fun for everyone, such as tasty beach grub, space adventure at the Kennedy Space Center, and endless activities on the beach and in the water like surfing and parasailing. A landmark you should check out is the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier, which is decked out with fishing spots, restaurants, and beach equipment.
Enjoy Jetty Park Beach and Pier/ Campground
The Jetty Park Beach and Pier/Campground is a 35-acre island by the Atlantic Ocean where you and your family can share a unique experience. This one-of-a-kind campground is situated inside Port Canaveral, where you can enjoy surfing, bicycling, kayaking, and beach walks.
It is not uncommon to see Rocket launches from Canaveral Air Force Station, the arrival and departure of cruise ships and submarines, and marine and wildlife. Jetty Park offers various camping options, from RV camping to tent camping, with numerous amenities, including pavilions, playgrounds, parking locations close to the beach, and restrooms. Jetty Park is open every day from 7 am to 9 pm.
Overall, if you are an active-duty member or veteran, the VA home loan program can help you access a zero down payment mortgage to purchase a decent, safe, sanitary home in Brevard County. You can obtain various VA loans to realize your homeownership, each designed to serve different purposes and needs. Regardless of the VA loan type suitable for your situation, you stand to gain from all the VA home loan benefits detailed herein.