But that's not all. With dedicated law enforcement agencies and a top-tier healthcare delivery system, it's a notable destination to work, live, and play.
And being home to the "backbone" of Navy aviation, formally known as Naval Air Station Whiting Field, this little paradise feels like home to active-duty service members, reservists, and veterans, to whom home ownership is easy to achieve here. How? It's easy – by qualifying for a zero-down VA Loan!
Are you a Hometown Hero? Find out your eligibility for the Hometown Heroes Loan Program in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
What are VA Home Loans
VA Loans are zero-down mortgages guaranteed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs but offered via participating lenders such as banks to help service members, veterans, and surviving military spouses own a home.
Created in 1944 by the US government, these home loans help service members purchase homes without having excellent credit or a down payment. And it has continued to provide a lifeline for many veterans and active service members facing high credit scores and down payment requirements by enabling them to refinance or purchase a home for their families.
Different Types of VA Loans
VA loans come in different varieties, offering qualified veterans multiple powerful home financing options. They include:
VA Purchase Loan
Veterans and Service members can use VA Purchase loans to purchase homes with zero down payment. This VA loan allows Veterans and Service members to buy single-family homes, manufactured homes, multi-unit properties, and even new construction. However, in hindsight, the policies and guidelines can vary from one lender to another.
VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)
The VA IRRRL also referred to as VA Streamlines, is one of veterans' and service members' most sorted out loans. They are simple, low-cost refinance loans, which often don't require credit underwriting, income verification, or an appraisal.
This loan is only exclusive to veterans and service members with an existing VA loan to help them enjoy a lowered interest rate by either refinancing it to a new VA mortgage or turning it into one with a fixed rate rather than an adjustable rate. That way, veterans get to realize their full financial benefit.
VA Cash-Out Refinance
The VA Cash-Out Refinance enables eligible service members to refinance their mortgage deals and take out cash from their home's equity. It's pretty different from the VA IRRRL because it's open to veterans and service members with or without current VA loans.
VA Energy Efficient Mortgage
This loan allows veterans to borrow additional money, which they can use to pay for energy-efficiency home improvements as either part of a home refinance or purchase. Nonetheless, you can't use this option to buy appliances, window air conditioning units, or other impermanent additions.
Native American Direct loan (NADL)
The Native American Direct loan is designed for eligible borrowers that are native service members with ties to homes on their tribal land. Unlike other options, this loan type isn't entirely issued through any lender but is given directly by the VA.
VA Jumbo Loan
A VA Jumbo loan falls under a non-conforming loan and is accustomed to VA loans that surpass traditional conforming loan limits. While there are no caps on the mortgage size, lenders will still have to evaluate the risk to determine where they draw the line, just like other higher-risk loans.
VA loans tend to have more forgiving credit requirements than many other mortgage programs, despite lenders having the privilege to set their qualification requirements.
These loans are juicy and palatable as they don't require you to make a down payment and boast lower interest rates than many other mortgage loans that offer similar terms. Despite being proposed for veterans and service members, not all who have served in the Armed Forces qualify for a VA loan.
Instead, you'll need to meet at least one of the following criteria to be deemed eligible:
You have actively served for at least 181 days during peacetime.
You have actively served for at least 90 consecutive days during wartime.
You have served with the National Guard or Army Reserves for over six years or under Title 32 for 90 days (30 days must be consecutive).
- You are the spouse of a service member who lost their life from a service-related disability or active service. There are additional requirements the spouse must meet to qualify. For instance, they cannot have remarried before taking the VA loan, although exceptional situations exist.
Other Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for a VA loan, lenders inspect a few additional requirements, including:
Certificate of Eligibility (COE) - The VA issues a certificate verifying that you've met minimum service requirements and qualified for a VA loan.
Credit Score - The VA sets no specified minimum credit score, so credit requirements vary with the lender you pick.
- Property Type - The home you wish to acquire must be your primary occupancy property. Furthermore, you can't use your VA loan to acquire vacation homes and investment properties.
Regarding limits, VA loans generally have none, and qualified veterans are free to request as much as a lender can offer without a down payment. However, the limits may still apply, particularly if your full entitlement is impacted by losing a previous VA loan to foreclosure or having several other active VA loans.
In such instances, lenders consider the county loan limit, in our case, Santa Rosa's County Loan Limit, to see how much you can get before factoring in a down payment. Nonetheless, most applicants looking to get VA loans are lucky to enjoy full entitlement. And with full entitlement, there is no loan limit for you.
You can only enjoy full entitlement if;
You have never taken advantage of your VA loan entitlement.
You've previously used your entitlement to refinance or buy a property and paid the loan periodically and in full.
You paid off the mortgage without having to sell off the property.
- You have an adjacent VA loan that you have fully paid off.
Can You Use the VA Loan More Than Once?
Yes, you can. Practically, there is no limit on how frequently you can use a VA loan – whether you wish to take it once or severally is all up to you. As soon as you've earned the VA loan benefit, you can use it as you please. In addition, you can reuse the VA loan multiple times and have more than one active VA loan simultaneously.
VA funding fee
This is a one-time payment that a Service member or veteran pays on a VA-backed or VA-direct home loan. It's proposed to lessen the cost of the loan for US taxpayers as the mortgage program doesn't necessarily demand monthly mortgage insurance or a down payment.
Besides helping reduce the burden on veterans and taxpayers, the VA funding fee helps keep the program alive to benefit veterans and service members of future generations. It is usually payable directly to the VA.
Best part? It's possible to roll the funding fee into your overall mortgage amount. Additionally, the closing costs are limited by the VA, and often, the lenders pay most, if not all, of such expenses.
Some veterans and surviving spouses are exempted from paying the funding fee entirely. They include veterans receiving compensation for a service-related disability and eligible surviving spouses. Only the VA gets to decide who is exempted from the funding fee.
Benefits of a VA loan
The VA loans swank tons of benefits, making them one of the most potent and sort-out forms of loans within the veteran community. Some of these significant financial benefits include:
Lowered Interest rates
As earlier mentioned, VA loans feature impressively low fixed rates, saving you a lot of money throughout the life of your loan and every month.
Relaxed Credit Requirements
While excellent credit goes a long way to helping you secure home financing, it's not mandatory, and veterans can still enjoy mortgages at competitive interest rates even with poor credit.
Suppose you're bouncing back from a short sale, foreclosure, or bankruptcy; you may find VA loans pretty forgiving. However, credit score requirements can vary, but the minimums are typically lower than what you'd need when looking to apply for a conventional mortgage.
With a no-limit policy, eligible veterans can take advantage of this program repeatedly as they please – the benefit never expires.
No Prepayment Penalties
Unlike some mortgage programs, you are free to consider your future refinancing and home purchasing options without fretting about a prepayment penalty. That means you can pay off your home loan at any point within the term and not incur a prepayment penalty.
No Down Payment
This is, to a great extent, the selling point and most significant benefit of VA loans. Veterans and service members can quickly become homeowners without spending years saving for a lump-sum down payment, like with other mortgage programs.
Applying for a VA loan in Santa Rosa County, Florida
The application for a VA loan is quite simple. You start by contacting and talking with a trusted lender that deals with VA loans and understands them in and out, then proceed with the following steps:
Get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) - The COE is required to ascertain that your military service cuts it for VA mortgage eligibility. Obtaining this certificate is pretty straightforward – the lender can obtain it on your behalf, or you can request it yourself by mail or online.
Become Pre-approved - This is a crucial step before making an offer to purchase your dream home. By being pre-approved, you have better insight into your buying power, and you can also show listing agents and sellers that you have what is required to close the deal.
Shop for a House - When acquiring your new home, ensure it meets the VA specified property requirements – a home that's structurally sound, sanitary, and safe.
- Proceed to Make a Purchase Offer - Pick a house within your price range and then go through a VA Appraisal and Underwriting procedure for the lender to determine and confirm that you qualify for the loan. As soon as the VA appraises your loan, close the deal and move in already!
Is Using Your VA Loan to Buy a Home in Santa Rosa County, Florida Worthwhile?
Short answer? Yes! Santa Rosa is undoubtedly one of the most exciting counties in Florida state, given all it has to offer for those coming to visit or living there altogether.
From striking outdoor attractions to energy-packed, down-to-earth institutions, there's a lot to try and experience here. A few great examples include:
Wild Willy's Adventure Zone
Located on Highway 98 at Fort Walton Beach, this Amusement Park guarantees a to-die-for kind of thrill. It is an ideal family fun center with an indoor arcade, rollercoaster, and a mini-golf.
Are movies your thing? Spin, toss, roll and play at the park's state-of-the-art arcade, which boasts over 65 games to choose from and play. Experience a 4D movie adventure that you can't afford to miss.
Being a typical adventure zone, Wild Willy's makes an ideal destination for your family or friends who would love to create life-long memories and bonds for years to come.
Gulf Breeze Zoo
Gulf Breeze Zoo is a 50- acre zoo located in Woodlawn Beach, neighboring Gulf Breeze and Navarre. It features over 900 exotic wild animals, including Western lowland gorillas, hippos, rhinos, and orangutans that you can view through an amazing African preserve train ride.
The zoo is renowned for promoting habitat conservation, wildlife conservation, and captive breeding programs. Activities include hand-feeding some of the animals and so much more!
Blue Mountain Beach
Like hitting the beach occasionally with your loved one or family? Blue Mountain Beach is the perfect destination for you. It's a famous low-key vacation beach featuring turquoise water and beautiful white sugar sand.
With authentic blackened shrimp street tacos, grilled avocado, gulf seafood, and pork carnitas, it's a perfect place to take your watery taste buds for a wander. That's not all. There are also live music performances and if you crave a classic pub experience, hit the Blue Mountain's Johnny McTighe's Irish Pub just across the street.
Crab Island and Sandbar Adventure
If you are ready to experience moments that will last a lifetime, then the Crab Island and Sandbar Adventure are for you.
Located at 288 Harbor Blvd directly behind THE BOATHOUSE, Crab Island Sandbar Adventure is a truly unique journey – you get to climb on board a floating tiki bar and set sail to Crab Island, viewing the beautiful scenery and enjoying the cool breeze. While here, you can swim, snorkel, visit floating restaurants, and much more.
Escapology Escape Room Destin
Looking to double the thrill? You can't miss visiting Destin's top-rated real-life escape rooms. Located near Sandestin at Miramar Beach, this attraction has games that you can play in private teams of 2 to 6 players, making it the perfect destination to try with friends.
Find clues, crack the puzzles, unlock the locks, and escape. It's also family-inclusive in that anyone between 9 and 40 can participate and experience ultimate fun.
Situated on Emerald Coast, this is the World's Greatest Alligator Park and home to over 100 live alligators you can visit to watch, feed, learn about, and, if you have the guts, even hold.
Suppose hunger strikes while here, grab some mouth-watering food at Fudpucker's restaurant, which is located directly above the beach. In a single word, the experience here is nothing but surreal.
Big Kahuna's Water Park
Big Kahuna offers abundant opportunities to have the time of your life within its environs. The adventure park includes multiple attractions, granting you a majestic view while getting your heart pounding.
With an array of slides, rides, and more attractions, expect Big Kahuna to offer nothing but the utmost fun.
Ready to Move to Santa Rosa County, Florida?
As seen in this post, owning a home in Santa Rosa County, Florida, is easy, especially for a veteran or service member like you. All you require is applying for a zero-down VA loan, and that's it!
So, why wait any longer? Follow the steps above and become the freshest homeowner in Santa Rosa County, Florida, today!