There are plenty of myths associated with VA loans, many of which are completely untrue and unfounded. One of these myths is that VA loans can take forever to close.
While the average VA loan takes longer than other loan programs to close, they don’t take forever to close – in reality, according to Ellie Mae’s October 2020 Origination Report it took an average of 54 days for a VA loan to close. This includes everything, from applying for a mortgage to getting the keys to the home.
In terms of home buying, 52 days is hardly forever. Overall, all purchase loans took an average of 51 days to close in the same 90-day period. When you’re getting some of the best rates available while avoiding a downpayment, one extra day is hardly a concern.
But why does a VA loan take longer, and is there a way to speed up the process? Here are some of the factors that could speed up — or slow down — your VA home buying experience.
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The first thing any home buyer should do is get prequalified and preapproved. These two are similar, but they play different roles. Prequalification is the first step in the process, and it gives you an estimate on how much home you can afford.
Preapproval is more in-depth than prequalification. After finding the right lender, you’ll provide them with some more information and they’ll give you an accurate estimate of how much home you’ll be able to afford.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should try to shop below what your preapproval is. This will keep your finances from straying into a dangerous territory, and it can save you stress and time down the road.
Finding a home
The unfortunate reality of today’s housing market is that there just aren’t enough homes to keep up with demand. This can stretch your home buying process on for a long time, and it can be discouraging.
You should have a good idea of what your price range is after you get prequalified, and, if you shop well, you can have a decent list of possible homes ready by the time you get preapproved. You may even have a home in mind before you begin the entire home buying process, which can also save you some time.
But there’s guarantee that any home will work out. Bidding wars are too common, and every bidding war has a loser. If you miss out on a home, this is going to set your timeline back.
Agreeing on a timeline with the seller
After you agree to buy a home from a seller, you will agree on a purchase date and a move-in date (which could be the same).
One misconception with home buying is that people selling their homes are ready to move out now. While some are, plenty are not. You might agree on a price with the current homeowner, but you could end up having to wait an additional week or two – and possibly longer – until you actually get the house. If you’re set on a specific property, understand that this might happen.
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The VA appraisal
There are plenty of horror stories surrounding VA appraisals. It’s true that your appraisal can be slow and horrible, but that isn’t always the case.
To be safe, expect the VA appraisal to take around 10 days to complete. Your lender is going to hire a VA appraiser, and not all appraisers are approved for VA homes. Also, the VA has tighter standards for what’s acceptable in an approved home. A seemingly perfect home can get slowed down by the VA appraisal. Because this is all out of your control, the best thing to do is plan for the worst.
The worst case scenario with a VA appraisal is that the home requires fixes. Fixes take extra time and money, two things you’re trying to avoid.
Financially, you can always as the seller to reduce the cost of the home to cover the required repairs and fixes. You can also pay for these yourself – likely the quickest way to get through the process. If the repairs are extensive, this could mean a lot of money and plenty of time. You can always walk away from the home if it isn’t right.
The length of your VA loan could take longer than most
While Ellie Mae’s average time to close is 54 days, that means plenty of homes take longer to close. With some factors completely out of your control, you should prepare for the possibility of a longer loan.
On the flip side, your loan could close much quicker than the 52 days. To increase your chances of this, be sure to have everything ready. Prequalification and preapproval are important steps, and the sooner you begin those, the sooner you can begin your journey toward a new home.
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