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VA Loans in St. Johns County, Florida: Take Advantage of the Zero Down Payment

Did you know that the VA (Veterans Affairs) home loan program has made homeownership more than just a dream for over 24 million people? That's right. So, if financial issues prevent you from buying a house in St. Johns County and becoming a permanent resident, this program may be just what you need.

And why wouldn't you do anything possible to become a St. Johns County resident when this region has 42 miles of beautiful coastline and fascinating historical heritage?

But, before you apply for a VA loan and use it to that end, there are several things you need to familiarize yourself with, including eligibility requirements and the solutions available today. Our article has these and more, so buckle up and read till the end.

VA Loans 101

Statistics indicate that, in 2020, around 2,436 veterans were homeless in Florida alone. That is extremely sad, considering that most of these people risked their lives while defending the US and its citizens. But why are so many veterans homeless?

Various factors cause veteran homelessness. These include a lack of accessible support networks, mental health issues, and physical injuries. Most importantly, veterans are homeless because they lack enough finances to afford decent, sanitary, and safe housing.

However, being a vet today doesn't mean you have to be homeless because you can apply for a VA home loan and use it to buy a home.

VA home loans were introduced in 1944. Their primary purpose is to help service members (active-duty and veterans) and surviving spouses who need financing to afford homes. The VA home loan program has gained astronomical success because it doesn't require applicants to cover a down payment and its eligibility requirements are pretty lenient.

VA Loan Options

Veterans, active-duty service members, and eligible surviving spouses can apply for any of the following VA loans today:

Purchase Loans

VA purchase loans are for veterans that want to buy homes with a $0 down payment, reduced closing costs, and competitive interest rates. But if you are eligible for this loan, you can also use it to build a new or improve the house you'll purchase.

You can buy several properties with a VA purchase loan, including a single-family house, a manufactured home, or a condominium unit in a VA-approved complex. And if you purchase a home that needs improvement or new features, a VA purchase loan may come in handy too.

To apply for a VA purchase loan, find a certified lender, a credit union, private bank, or mortgage company, and follow the stipulated process. Once you have submitted your application, hire a real estate agent and let them help you shop for a good home.

Native American Direct Loans

Suppose you trace your origins back to the indigenous people of North and South America, not excluding South America. In that case, the government considers you a Native American, Alaska Native, or American Indian.

If you are a Native American, you should know that the VA has a loan program whose main objective is availing zero down payment mortgage solutions to people like you. Its name is the Native American Direct Loan (NADL). You can use it to buy, build, or renovate a house on Federal Trust land.

But, before you apply for a Native American Direct Loan, check if your tribal government or any other relevant sovereign body has entered into an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding with Veterans Affairs. An MOU or agreement between the VA and an appropriate tribal government is mandatory.

Lastly, Native American direct loans are solely for indigenous American veterans. If you are a non-Native American, you can benefit from this solution, provided you have a Native American wife or husband.

Applying for a Native American direct loan is relatively easy. Find and contact the Veterans Affairs regional loan center for Florida and follow through with the process.

Cash-Out Refinance Loans

Did you know that you can borrow money against your home equity? The VA's cash-out refinance loan program allows you to do that as long as you meet all eligibility requirements and are prepared to reside in the home you are about to refinance.

So, using the cash-out refinance loan program is highly advisable if you need money to pay off a debt, cover tuition fees, renovate your home, or tackle any other project.

You can get this VA loan option through a private lender like a bank or mortgage company. Simply put, find a suitable lending institution, submit all relevant information, follow the loan closing process, and cover closing costs.

PS - The VA cash-out refinance loan program allows you to replace a non-VA loan with a VA-backed mortgage. Why? The answer is yes if you wonder if that is a good idea. VA loans come with lower interest rates than conventional loans.

Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans

Some call interest rate reduction to refinance loans (IRRRLs) "streamline refinance." Either way, both terms refer to solutions used by veterans and service members to cut monthly mortgage payments or stabilize them.

If you are a veteran with a loan that you need to replace because it attracts high monthly payments, the IRRRL program may be your way out. But, you need to have an existing VA loan to exploit this solution. Moreover, the new loan option you are eyeing should have significant financial benefits.

If the IRRRL loan program sounds like something you need, find a lender, submit all required documents/ information, close the loan, and pay all fees.

VA Loans, Down Payments, and Funding Fees

As the title suggests, we prepared this piece for eligible borrowers that want to take advantage of the VA home loan program's zero down payment policy. Before we go any further, let's explore this offer and what it has in store for you.

Experts recommend putting down 20% on the house. The reason is that a 20% or higher down payment often comes with numerous benefits, including no private mortgage insurance (PMI), better interest rates, and lower monthly payments.

But, paying a 20% down payment on a house is risky and getting it back is nearly impossible. And that is without mentioning that many people today can't afford to put any money down, let alone pay 20% of a property's purchase price! Plus, you may have to compromise emergency funds or take years to save enough.

Raising or putting aside enough money to pay a down payment can be a problem if you are a veteran. That is more so since veterans don't earn much in the US. But that shouldn't stop you from owning a home because VA loan programs don't require down payments.

In other words, the VA gives you access to 100% financing without demanding you put down some money first. So, you don't have to worry about spending the rest of your life without a decent home simply because you can't afford a down payment.

However, the VA's $0 down payment policy isn't the be-all and end-all. The program won't say no if you want to put some money down on your loan. And the higher your down payment, the lesser the funding fee you have to cover.

Now that we have mentioned the funding fee, you should know that the VA requires you to pay it once. The payment lowers your mortgage's cost. But the exact amount you'll pay depends on the loan amount and type.

Smiling girl using laptop near mother in military uniform at new home

Additional Benefits of VA Loans

VA's $0 down payment policy sounds pretty enticing. But the program has more to offer than that. If you doubt that, consider the following benefits of VA home loans:

No Loan Limits

Did you know that the VA has no set loan limit? That means you can borrow any amount, provided your lender is willing to put it at your disposal. The amount you'll get from a lending institution depends on your credit score, debts, income, etc.

What's more, if this is your first time getting a VA home loan, you have full entitlement. That means the VA will guarantee as much as 25% of the loan without capping the amount you can borrow or demanding a down payment.

No Usage Limits

The other big selling point of VA-backed home loans is you can apply more than once as long as you are still eligible. That means you can use the VA home loan program to get as many mortgages as possible in your lifetime.

There's more - borrowers can have two VA home loans simultaneously and use them to finance different principal residences! But that only happens in particular situations. For example, a service member may enjoy that after receiving a PCS (permanent change of station) order that forces them to relocate to a different duty station.

Reasonable Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates are surging and will likely keep spiking for a while. Although you can do nothing to reverse that, you don't have to pay exorbitant mortgage rates, especially if you are eligible for a VA home loan.

Today, VA home loan interests are considerably lower than most conventional mortgage rates. For instance, the rates for 30-year fixed-rate VA-backed mortgages are currently slightly below 5%. On the other hand, a traditional 30-year fixed loan's interest rate hovers around 6%.

Seller Concessions

Don't fret anymore if you were worried about saving enough to pay the closing costs upfront. The reason is that the VA permits seller concessions. That means the person selling you a house may help you cover taxes, insurance, credit balances, judgments, processing fees, etc.

Currently, the VA seller concession rule allows sellers to pay amounts that don't exceed 4% of the total loan on your behalf.

What Do You Need to Get a VA Home Loan?

The VA home loan program uses the following to identify eligible participants:

Service Requirements

The VA's minimum requirements vary depending on whether the applicant is an active-duty service member, a veteran, a National Guard member, or a reserve member.

For example, if you are a veteran, you can only be eligible once the program ascertains you served 24 or more continuous months between the Gulf War and the present.

Certificate of Eligibility

A Certificate of Eligibility, or a COE, is a document lenders use to check if a particular applicant meets all stipulated VA qualification requirements. So, you can only get a COE from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you don't have a COE, request one right now from the eBenefits website. Before you do that, note that you may need to submit specific documents or information, depending on whether you are a veteran, service member, or discharged National Guard member. Therefore, go through the VA guidelines first.

Credit Score

Your credit score is so important to financial institutions because it enables institutions to assess financial risk and your ability to repay loans. The VA hasn't set a minimum credit score for home loan applicants. However, most private lenders finance applicants with 620 or higher FICO scores.

That being said, a poor credit score doesn't necessarily bar you from accessing VA home loans. Some lenders may be willing to stoop lower if factors that were out of your control, like a service-connected disability, undermined your score.

Why Should Veterans Use VA Home Loans to Move to St. Johns County?

Research has it that outdoor activities lead to better mental health in Veterans. With that in mind, service members can enjoy the following when they buy homes in St Johns County:

Water Sports

If you enjoy watersports, you won't want St. Johns County when you move here. Why? First, this area has countless top-tier swimming sites and pools, including the Solomon Calhoun Community Center, Palencia Olympic Pool, and St. Augustine Beach.

Besides swimming, you can enjoy numerous other watersports in and around St. Johns County. These include kayaking, rafting, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Not to forget, St John's County has many beautiful, pristine beaches like Crescent Beach, Butler Beach, and Vilano Beach. That makes this region a haven for watersport enthusiasts.


St Johns County boats many coveted hiking trails, ranging from the Moses Creek White Trail and Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area Trail to Ancient Dunes Nature Trail and Crescent Beach. You can visit these scenic spots any time after moving to St. Johns County.

And if you think hiking isn't for veterans, it's time to reconsider. This outdoor activity is very useful in helping service members transition from harrowing wartime experiences to everyday civilian life.


Golf players often reap numerous physical and mental health benefits, including improved blood flow, brain stimulation, decreased anxiety, and better sleep. That is why veterans are highly encouraged to try out this sport.

If you are an avid golfer, about to become one, or just as a fan, moving to St. Johns County won't undermine your ability to revel in golfing. That is so because this area has many courses and clubs; St Johns Golf & Country Club and Slammer & Squire Golf Course, to mention a few.


Exploring new places is good for you. Once you become an explorer, your physical well-being improves, and you enjoy better mental health and avoid boredom.

St. Johns County has various places you will love to explore after buying a home in the region. The topmost include the historic and charming St Augustine town, the infamous World Golf Village, and the sparkling Vilano Beach.


Sea shells are beautiful and thought-inspiring. A collection can turn your home into an exciting place guests will love to frequent. Plus, if you are sufficiently skilled, using shells to decorate tools, ornaments, picture frames, etc., won't be a problem.

If you love shelling or plan to try out this fantastic activity, you'll be glad to know that the beaches in St. Johns County are chock-full of ocean treasures like seashells.

Here's to Living in St Johns County

If you've made up your mind and are ready to move to St. Johns County, don't let anything stand in your way, especially financial constraints. Remember, we have said that you can use a zero down payment VA home loan to buy property in this region, provided you are eligible.

We hope you'll love the ambiance, sites, and residents of St. Johns County, and they'll love you back. Cheers!

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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