Military home-buying challenges

What you need to know about your VA loan benefit in this market

By Marguerite Cleveland on March 8, 2018

A huge benefit of serving in the military is the Veteran's Administration (VA) Loan Program. The program allows eligible veterans to purchase a home with no down payment and no requirement for private mortgage insurance, which can up the cost of a monthly mortgage payment.

In this market, there is a perception among many sellers that a VA loan is less desirable than a conventional loan. Here are a few ways to make your VA loan offer more desirable and how to avoid a costly mistake by not understanding what a VA inspection is.

There are many ways you can make your offer more appealing to sellers. Here are a few tips from Jared Russell, realtor/broker with the Russell Home Group, Keller Williams South Sound, and a retired soldier (, 760.590.7549).

To avoid a costly mistake, make sure you understand what a VA inspection is.

"It is unfortunate that the name for a VA appraisal is called a VA Inspection," said Eric Herbel, a broker with RE/MAX Professionals (, 253.988.6262). "This unfortunate phrase results in two major misunderstandings in the real estate market: one misunderstanding by sellers, and one misunderstanding by buyers.

"Sellers, when they hear the phrase ‘VA Inspection,' believe that the appraisal for a VA loan will be more stringent," he continued. "Sellers believe that the VA appraiser will treat their home differently than would a conventional loan appraiser or an FHA loan appraiser. For this reason (and unfortunately, this is exacerbated by too many real estate agents), sellers will be less inclined to accept offers from VA buyers. This directly, and very negatively, affects the chances of a VA buyer getting an offer accepted by a seller.

"Buyers, when they hear the phrase ‘VA Inspection,' believe that they are getting an appraisal and some kind of inspection," Herbel added. "This could not be further from the truth. The average VA ‘inspection' lasts all of 20 minutes. They measure the exterior of the home. They visually inspect the siding, the roof, and each of the rooms. However, they do not go up onto the roof. They take a photo of the crawlspace. However, they do not go into the crawlspace and explore the entire perimeter. And most importantly, they do no electrical inspection; they do no plumbing inspection; they do no inspection of appliances; they do no roof inspection; and they do no attic inspection. A real inspection, completed by a licensed, experienced and honest inspector, typically takes anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size and complexity of the home. VA buyers should rarely, if ever, waive their right to complete a full inspection before buying a home. Wouldn't it be great if we all just called it what it is -- a VA appraisal!"

In a tough market for buyers, a licensed, experienced real estate professional can help you navigate the waters and use your benefits to find the home of your dreams.