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VA Existing Property Condition Screening Checklist for 2024

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Purchasing a home is a significant milestone, especially for veterans who can take advantage of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

However, before making this considerable investment, it's crucial to ensure that the property meets certain standards to ensure the health, safety, and marketability of the home.

The VA Existing Property Condition Screening Checklist provides a comprehensive overview of these standards. This guide will break down the key points to help you navigate the process.

Are site hazards or nuisances present?

When buying a home, especially with a VA loan, checking for any dangers or annoying issues around the property is important. These problems can affect how safe and comfortable you feel in your new home.

Some homes are too close to busy roads or airports, making them very noisy. Others might be near gas or oil pipelines, which can be dangerous if there's a leak or explosion. Homes near high-voltage electric lines might also be risky because of the strong electromagnetic fields.

There are also concerns about the land the home is on. For example, if there's an old fuel tank buried in the yard, it needs to be cleaned up properly to avoid polluting the soil and water.

Even though the VA doesn't list every possible problem like radon gas, mold, or asbestos, these issues can still make a home unsafe. Sometimes, the government might even say an area is too dangerous to live in because of these kinds of hazards.

Before you decide on a home, it's a good idea to get a professional to check for these dangers. This way, you can fix any problems before moving in or decide to look for a different home if there are too many risks. This is not just about following VA loan rules; it's about making sure your home is a safe place to live.

A veteran and real estate agent inspecting a property with a checklist

Does private road access meet standards?

If the home you want to buy with a VA loan is reached by a private road, there are rules to make sure the road is okay:

  • The road must have a legal agreement that allows everyone to use it forever.

  • It needs to be kept in good condition. This is usually done by a homeowners' association or an agreement among the people who use the road.

This makes sure you can always get to and from your home without problems and that the road won't fall into disrepair.

Is the crawl space adequately accessible?

The crawl space under the house needs to meet certain rules:

  • You must be able to get into the crawl space easily to check for problems.

  • It should have vents to keep air moving and avoid moisture buildup.

  • It needs to be clean and free of trash or debris.

  • There should be enough room to do any repairs or maintenance, usually at least 18 inches high.

  • Any water or dampness in the crawl space has to be fixed to prevent mold and wood rot.

These rules help make sure the home's foundation is dry, safe, and well-maintained.

Is the heating system safe and functional?

For a home bought with a VA loan, the heating system has to work properly and be safe:

  • It must keep the house warm enough for comfort.

  • If there's a wood stove or solar heating, there should also be a regular heating system as a backup.

  • Homes with only non-vented heaters or fireplaces need a special check by an HVAC professional, and the buyer must know about it.

This ensures the home stays warm safely and efficiently.

How is property grading and drainage?

The land around the house needs to be checked for two things:

  • The ground should slope away from the house. This stops water from collecting around the walls and causing damage.

  • There shouldn't be any standing water on the property because it can lead to problems like pests or mold.

Making sure the land is set up this way helps keep the home dry and prevents water damage.

Is the electrical system safe and operable?

The electrical system must be checked to ensure it's both safe and working properly:

  • All parts of the system should function correctly without any issues.

  • There shouldn't be any exposed or dangerous wiring.

  • The system must be capable of safely handling the home's electrical needs.

This is important to prevent electrical fires and ensure all your appliances and lights work as they should.

Does the plumbing system function properly?

The plumbing must be in good working order:

  • All parts of the plumbing system should work correctly, with no leaks or problems.

  • The system must safely provide water and remove waste.

This makes sure the home has clean water and a sanitary environment, which are key for a healthy living space.

Is the roof in acceptable condition?

For a home bought with a VA loan, the roof must meet certain conditions:

  • It should not have more than three layers of shingles.

  • If there are problems or more than three layers, the old shingles must be taken off before fixing the roof.

This ensures the roof can protect the home from water and weather damage effectively.

Are paint and shared utilities compliant?

When buying a home with a VA loan, there are rules about paint and utilities:

  • For homes built before 1978, there shouldn't be any chipped or peeling paint because of lead paint risks.

  • If the property has multiple units, like in a duplex, there must be separate controls for utilities for each home. Shared areas like laundry rooms are okay.

  • The property must allow easy access to utilities for maintenance without having to go through someone else's space.

These rules help keep the home safe from health hazards like lead and make living easier when utilities are shared.

Is a pest inspection required?

You also might need to check for pests like termites or wood rot. Here's when you need a pest inspection:

  • If the area is known for termites, you'll need an inspection to make sure the house doesn't have them.

  • If the appraiser sees signs of pests, like damaged wood, you'll need an inspection.

  • Some places have a lot of pests, and for those, the VA has maps that tell you if you need an inspection.

If pests or rot are found, they have to be fixed before you can buy the home. This rule helps make sure the home is safe and won't have big repair bills later for things like termite damage.

Additional FAQs about Property Conditions for VA Homebuyers

Here are answers to some common questions VA homebuyers might have when considering a property, ensuring it meets all necessary standards for safety, comfort, and functionality.

Can a property be located near an airport?

Properties near airports are subject to additional inspections to assess noise and safety hazards, which might affect livability.

Are detached improvements within an easement valued?

Detached improvements located within an easement, such as a high-voltage electric line easement, will not receive value in the appraisal process due to the potential risks and restrictions associated with their location.

What is required for abandoned underground fuel storage tanks?

Abandoned underground fuel storage tanks must be remedied according to local, state, or federal requirements to prevent environmental contamination and ensure safety.

Does the VA have a policy on radon and other environmental hazards?

While the VA does not have specific policies on radon, mold, asbestos, and other environmental hazards, properties may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for health and safety risks.

What standards must the furnace/heating system meet?

The furnace or heating system must be adequate, safe, and operable to ensure comfortable living conditions, with alternative heating sources requiring a conventional backup.

What are the requirements for a property's electrical system?

The electrical system must be adequate for the home's needs, safe, and fully operable, with no exposed wiring or unsafe conditions.

How are individual water and sewage systems evaluated?

Properties with individual water and sewage systems typically require tests to comply with local health standards, with a connection to public systems preferred when feasible.

What are the guidelines for swimming pools?

Swimming pools must be clean and maintained to ensure safety and health; if an appraiser cannot see the bottom of the pool, it must be cleaned.

How are shared wells regulated?

Shared wells require permanent easements for access and maintenance, along with a recorded well-sharing agreement, to ensure water availability and safety.

Are pit privies allowed?

Pit privies may be permitted in areas where they are customary, subject to local health authority approval, ensuring they meet health and sanitation standards.

Bottom Line

Purchasing a home is a significant milestone, especially for veterans who can take advantage of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

However, before making this considerable investment, it's crucial to ensure that the property meets certain standards to ensure the health, safety, and marketability of the home.

From assessing potential site hazards to ensuring the functionality and safety of the home's heating, electrical, and plumbing systems, each aspect plays a critical role in determining the suitability of a property for a VA loan.

Understanding these requirements not only helps in making an informed decision but also ensures a safe and comfortable living environment.

For personalized assistance and expert guidance through the VA home buying process, consider reaching out to MakeFloridaYourHome.

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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