You might be living under a rock if you haven't heard about the 10 Year treasury at an all-time low and the federal reserve cutting interest rates. Or, far more likely, you're just not a numbers and data nerd like me with a vested interest in all things finance. Luckily, if you're a prospect or existing homeowner, one thing is certain, and that's a win for you in this economic time. Breaking this further down into how it applies to your earned VA Home Loan benefit, there are two subsections that need to be explored: purchase and refinances.


New home purchases

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What these amazing low rates mean for you is more purchasing power. For example, a $400,000 30-year home loan at 4.5% is a whopping $231 MORE every single month than it would be at 3.5% ($83,000 over the full lifespan of the loan). An alternate way to look at this is that you can purchase a $450,000 at the 3.5% rate for the same monthly cost as a $400,000 loan at 4.5%. That's an increase in $50,000 upfront purchasing power for the SAME MONTHLY COST. If that doesn't scream raining money to you, I don't know what can.

Refinances

If you already have a VA home loan and just had some sort of feelings about missing out on this amazing opportunity, the good news is you can still capitalize on this opportunity through a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL, also known as a streamline refi). Just like anything else, there are myths floating around out there, and you know I'm going to break through them.

You do not have to be currently living in the home you wish to refinance. If you have a home that was once your primary residence, which is the only kind of loan the VA writes, then you qualify for a VA IRRRL (but NOT a cash out refi and NOT switching from conventional to VA when it's not owner-occupied). It really is that simple. Easy peasy!

If you're looking at a transition but living in the home right now, you are NOT obligated to extend your plans to live in the home for any certain period of time. Just like any VA loan, there are absolutely no minimum residency requirements.

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A refinance is exponentially easier than a purchase transaction. No appraisal or inspection is required for a streamline refi. You DO need to be able to prove an ability to repay, so employment verification is required. Lower documentation requirements all around make for an easier process, however. Bank statements, pay stubs, proof of homeowners insurance and a current mortgage statement are what you can expect your lender to ask for.

Expectation management is important. Expect a slower closing turn time than your traditional 30-day purchase loans. It is not a sign of incompetence on the lender's behalf, it is simply a prioritization. When compared to a purchase contract that is tied to multiple parties for timelines to move, the urgency for a refi comes secondary. No one's earnest money deposit and moving schedule is driving the need, and there is a lot more skin in the game on a purchase deal. Expect to see a 45-day rate lock on your refi and know that it's nothing personal.