Memorial Day 2020 was a few days ago and our thoughts were centered on those who served in the military and who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us.

The more that we and our government can do for our living veterans and those who currently serve in our country’s armed forces, the better.

Did you know that the VA home loan program can be used by veterans and active duty military personnel as well?

To obtain a VA-backed loan, the home buyer will apply for a home loan through a private lender (like a bank, mortgage company, or credit union). The VA will guarantee part of the loan, which will result in favorable loan terms, one of which is buying with no down payment required.

Other benefits include: no mortgage insurance, no pre-payment penalty, lower closing costs, funding fee flexibility and easier qualification requirements.

In order to purchase a home with a VA home loan, the home buyer must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which is proof to the lender that he or she qualifies for the loan benefit.

It is also very important to review your income, expenses and monthly budget to make sure you’re ready to to buy a home and able to afford additional expenses of home ownership (i.e., home insurance, property taxes, association dues, maintenance and repair costs).

Once you give yourself the green light, it’s time to choose a lender and a real estate agent. Different lenders offer different interest rates and fees, so you really have to shop around for the loan terms that are best for you.

The same goes for real estate agents – you really have to shop around. Some agents offer special incentives to their buyer clients, like a home warranty that covers appliances, heating, air-conditioning, water heater, plumbing and even electronics.

Once you have your lender and real estate agent lined up, the fun part begins – shopping for your dream home. And, just like 94% of today’s home buyers, you can start searching for your home online. While most folks flock to Zillow and Realtor.com, many agent websites allow you to search all homes that are for sale.

Thank you to all who currently serve – and have served – in our armed forces to help keep us safe and free.

Larry Stoller is a broker and Realtor with Real Estate Five of the Lowcountry. Larry@RealEstateFive.com, RealEstateFive.com, SunCityOpenHouses247.com