What To Know About Buying A Condo With A VA Loan
VA loans are home loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These unique mortgages allow eligible servicemen or women, veterans, and some military spouses the opportunity to buy a home using benefits reserved exclusively for military members. These benefits include a $0 down payment, no PMI (private mortgage insurance), and lower interest rates. Buying a condo can be an excellent choice for those who qualify for a VA home loan. However, it must be approved by the VA. Let’s look at what is considered an eligible condo for a VA loan.
What’s Considered A Condo By The VA?
The VA defines a condo complex or planned unit development as a common interest community; this means that all residents there share land and common areas like playgrounds and parking lots.
There are many factors to consider when deciding if a condo is right for you. Here are the most common pros and cons of condo ownership.
- More affordable than single-family homes
- Often located in desirable locations
- Offer many amenities that appeal to many military families, like-
- Tennis courts
- Recreation centers or clubhouses
- Parking lots
- Fencing around the grounds
- Entrance gates
- Door security
- Security cameras
- Service members who are younger or live alone may prefer condos for less maintenance
- The proximity to neighbors is ideal for those looking to meet new people
- No outdoor maintenance required
- Condo complexes often have a homeowners association (HOA) to handle most of the siding and roofing expenses
- Less space and resale value
- No land ownership
- Like apartments, you often share a wall which means sharing noises and smells
- Condos may not come with a yard or much storage
- Condos may have limited parking
- HOA rules and regulations can be an obstacle for some homeowners
- HOAs are often expensive, adding hundreds of dollars per month to your housing costs
Buying A Condo With A VA Loan
When it comes to buying a condo, you should be aware that there are some differences between condos and single-family houses when it comes to the VA home loan process.
Firstly, the condo complex must be VA-approved. If you’re considering a particular condo, make sure that the condo complex or development’s HOA has applied for and received VA approval. This is to protect the interests of both the VA loan holders and the government, which backs the VA loans. Any complex you’re considering will have to meet the requirements set by the VA. When in doubt, ask your real estate agent to verify.
What Can Make A Condo HOA Ineligible for VA Approval?
The VA ensures a condo complex is a good fit for those eligible for VA loans by holding the complexes to more stringent standards. There are several reasons why the VA might disapprove of a condo complex, including:
- If an HOA’s bylaws give the HOA authority over who you can sell the condo to and when (also known as Right of First Refusal), it will not meet VA approval
- The VA may withhold approval if a condo complex or development has low owner-occupancy rates. The general rule is that 50% of the units must be owner-occupied, meaning they’re not rentals or owned by investors. This rule is in place due to the high rental rate of condos
- In addition to the 50% owner occupancy rule, the VA also requires that at least 75% of the people who own the units remain current on their HOA fee payments.
- The VA may also have a cap on the fees an HOA can charge
- If development is new, the VA will simply wait to approve it until at least 75% of the units are sold
- Does not meet safety and livability standards
VA Home Loans With MHS
Buying a home can be overwhelming, but if you break it down step-by-step, it can feel much more manageable. For military families and veterans, it’s essential to work with a lender who understands the ins and outs of buying a home for military families. Having a lender who is also an expert in the VA Loan process as well as employees who are veterans like Military Home Spot Lending (MHS Lending) is a game-changer.
Learn more about the VA home buying process here.