TAMPA, Fla. — The VA loan is a benefit that U.S. military members and their families have earned for their service to our country.

For many, it’s been crucial when moving to a new duty station or finding a forever home. 

However, today’s housing market isn’t doing our service members any favors if the VA loan process isn’t widely understood. 

What You Need To Know

  • VA loan confusion is causing a disadvantage for veterans when it comes to buying a home

  • A Tampa realtor says there are three big misconceptions when it comes to using the VA loan:
    • The seller has to pay the buyer’s closing costs
    • The appraisal is difficult
    • The VA loan takes longer to close

  • None of these are true

In today’s aggressive real estate climate, if an agent isn’t well versed in the VA loan process it can backfire for our veterans based on how the agent educates their sellers.

Sunny Alexander is a Tampa realtor. 

Both she and her husband served in the U.S. Army and say the military has opened a lot of doors for them. 

Sunny likes to help other military families find their homes, but is noticing a trend when it comes to the VA loan.

“They’re amazing families who’ve sacrificed so much and it is heartbreaking to see them not get a chance on a home just because of the misconceptions of the VA loan. They deserve the best,” she said.

Sunny feels so strongly about this that for our interview she brought two reinforcements, her own home builder and a veteran buyer and seller.

“Just found out recently that she did use a VA loan. So that is a testament to the fact that it’s seamless. I didn’t even realize that it was a VA process. We closed on time, no appraisal issues, and everything was great,” said Starling Homes builder Jason Starling. 

However, that has not been the case for Army veteran Brandi Torres and her family. 

Her husband is on active duty and it’s time to sell their home in Tampa and move their family of six to Austin, TX.

“The first realtor that we spoke to, when we told her that we were choosing to use our VA loan, she said ‘well you’re not going to be able to buy here. You’re going to need to rent for 6 to 12 months to see what the market does’ and she didn’t speak to us anymore,” Torres explained.

They were insulted.

They’ve used their VA loan at least three other times and nothing negative has ever happened.

Right now, their home in Tampa is about to go on the market for $700,000.

“We’re not new to the Army, we aren’t a young family, we are both established in our careers, we’re dual-income family and so for someone to assume that we didn’t have funds available or anything like that, it was disheartening,” she said.

New legislation for the VA loan came out in 2019, but Sunny says a lot of agents, especially ones with smaller military populations, aren’t up to date.

“The veteran, as long as they qualify, their debt to income supports it, they can get up to 2 million or even higher for a VA loan,” she said.

Sunny believes there are three big misconceptions about using the VA loan.

1. The seller has to pay the buyer’s closing costs. 

2. The appraisal is difficult. 

3. The VA loan takes longer to close. 

She says none of these are true. 

“The veteran gets a lower interest rate, there is no down payment, the veteran is a strong buyer. Basically, the foreclosure rate on a VA loan is 1.98% compared to conventional foreclosure rate of 2.47%,” she said.

For veteran buyers who don’t have a lot of cash on hand, she suggests looking at new constructions or homes where the seller had aggressively priced the home and are now chasing down the market.