12 Things To Know About VA Loans in California

VA loans are hands down the best mortgage program out there, whether you’re looking to put 0% down, 20% down, or anything in between. Today’s post explores what you should know about VA loans if you’re able to take advantage of this program.

Thank You For Your Service

VA Loans, By The Numbers. You will learn, I will teach you!

The number one thing any service member or veteran needs to know about VA loans is that every single mortgage professional I’ve met that’s eligible for a VA loan, uses the VA loan.  Hands down, it’s the best mortgage program there is, as evidenced by the fact that those that do mortgage for a living, that are eligible for a VA loan, consistently use the VA loan themselves. VA loans are also my personal favorite mortgages to originate, as a mortgage loan officer. This remains true even if you have a down payment – 20% down with a VA loan will be a better deal, 9 times out of 10, than 20% down with a conventional loan.

The number two thing is that no one is going to do VA loans better than a fellow veteran. Here’s my old resume from my time with Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children:  

Chris Mason Military

The number three thing it would behoooooove you to know is that the first step to homeownership is mortgage preapproval, which is free, and does not require a hard credit check. Please click here to schedule a free consultation, or click here to skip directly to the necessary paperwork on our secure server – In either case, I promise that I will respond faster than the VA disability claims system.

The number four thing veterans need to know about VA loans is that companies that “specialize” primarily in VA loans, often with a hyper-veteran-focused company name, are analogous to the car dealership right outside the base gates that “specializes” in financing new Dodge Chargers and F-150s for terminal E-3s and E-4s with terrible financing and junk fees. Watch out! The VA loan program has a legal fees limit, and most of these firms max it out to exactly that limit on every transaction. 

The number five thing to know is that proper planning prevents poor performance. In order to take advantage of the 0% down benefit of the VA loan, you must first legally wed the thicc exotic dancer that you “fell in love with” last Tuesday at 1:42 AM right before “last call.” Otherwise, the down payment required will be 12/5 12.5%. Oakland to Reno is 4 hours, San Diego to Vegas is 5.5 hours, and Sacramento to Reno is only 2.5 hours. 

The number six thing to know is that the one and only potential downside of VA loans is the VA funding fee, which is charged by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You will note from my resume above that I’m good at dodging bullets and IEDs, but that means I personally don’t get to dodge the VA funding fee (nonetheless, it’s still the best mortgage available even with that fee). If you have a Purple Heart, or receive VA disability benefits (with or without the Purple Heart), then you likely will not have to pay the funding fee. Your VA loan certificate of eligibility will note if you are funding fee exempt, you can obtain that document here or here.

The number seven thing worth noting about VA loans is that, as of a few years ago, there are effectively no size limits with 0% down for folks using their VA loan benefit for the first time. Assuming your income supports it, you can buy a $2m house with 0% down. The old rule stating that “just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should” applies here. 

The number eight item to know is that the VA will not let you buy a severe “fixer upper” with a VA loan. VA loans are for properties that are more-or-less turnkey move-in ready that show no evidence of active termite or pest infestation. Oddly enough the Marine Corps, in my experience, had zero qualms about such things when it came to the barracks, but that’s another rant for another day. If you want to go over this in more detail, please schedule a free consultation

Your Ninth General Order of Using the VA Loan is that if you encounter a Realtor that is a negative nancy about you using your VA loan benefit here in the fine state of California, or in “this market,” please terminate them immediately and with extreme prejudice. If you’re active duty Space Force, please deploy the orbitally launched nuclear weapons that most certainly do not exist. If they say you have no “skin in the game” with 0% down, tell them it’s time to play ISIS, and throw them off of the roof of the next split-level house they show you (please do not actually do that). Not only your skin, but your blood and tears as well, have very much been “in the game,” your down payment isn’t a dollar amount or a percentage, it’s your years of service that guaranteed them the right to question your “skin in the game” to begin with. Bottom line: Find a new Realtor the moment you get any pushback about using the VA loan in California. If you need a good connection, please schedule that free consultation, and we will connect you to a competent Realtor, in your area, that does not hate America and freedom. 

Item number ten to be aware of with the VA loan is that it’s available to all branches of the “Uniformed Services” of the United States. This of course includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. In addition, it includes the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, and even Starfleet! Plot a course for a free consultation, Guardians and oceanographers (???), and engage at Warp 9!

Fact number eleven is in regards to your FICO score. That used Mustang at a 24% interest rate you got as an E-4 didn’t do your FICO score any favors, and you missed a payment on that engagement ring you purchased right after recruit training? Not necessarily a problem with the VA loan. For non-VA loans, you need to have your credit dialed in like it’s iron sights at the 500 yard line (…not that you GenZ vets would know anything about that), but for a VA loan, your credit score is more like hand grenades: if it starts with a 6, that’s close enough, and you’re good to go and will get a great interest rate. TYFYS.

#12: Marines can’t count. When I went to carry the one, the crayon obfuscated it.

Admin note: We offer VA 0% down one-time close ground-up new construction loans for custom-built dream homes, for both “normal” sized loan amounts, as well as “jumbo.” Aside from the down payment, this is accurate

Chris Mason, loan officer at America’s Home Loans, has built a solid local reputation helping first time homebuyers, refinancers, and real estate investors obtain optimal and fast mortgage financing to help them accomplish their goals .

He prides himself on offering unparalleled support and treating every client like an INDIVIDUAL and not a NUMBER.

Chris joined the Marines at the age of 17 where he then served over eight years, including as an infantryman in the First Battle of Fallujah. He retired as a Sergeant of Marines and then attended U.C. Berkeley where he graduated with honors with a degree in Business Administration. From there, Chris started his career in the mortgage industry working for larger lending institutions. He opened the El Cerrito branch of America’s Home Loans in 2014 so that he could provide the type of client service he felt was missing from bigger lending institutions.

Chris believes in the American Dream and derives great satisfaction from putting first-time homebuyer families into their first homes and first time investors on a pathway towards financial freedom.

Chris Mason, Loan Officer
NMLS 1220177 | CA DRE 02080854
(415) 846-9211
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