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Seven Steps to Getting a VA Home Loan

Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage loans have increased exponentially in recent years due to the downturn in the U.S. economy. This economic slump has resulted in banks tightening lending standards for conventional loans. The increase in VA loans is largely due to the fact that they are easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages and are one of the few mortgage options available for qualified borrowers who do not have a down payment.VA loans often offer lower interest rates than other type of loans and are available for the “full reasonable value” of a given property. Consequently, a down payment is not required as with other government programs such as FHA, which requires a 3.5 % minimum down payment.So what is a VA loan? VA loans are home mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs however they are not a direct lender. The loan is made through a private lender (of your choice) and is guaranteed by the VA as long as guidelines are met. What are the guidelines and who actually qualifies for a VA loan? To follow are the seven basic steps you will need to take to successfully obtain a VA home mortgage loan.Step One: Determining EligibilityMost members of the military – veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard are eligible to apply for a VA loan. The spouses of military who died in active duty or as a result of service-connected disability may also apply. Active duty members qualify after about six months of service.Reservists and National Guard members must wait six years to apply unless they are called to active duty, where they gain eligibility after 181 days of service. However, during war periods members are generally eligible after 90 days of service. In consideration of your status of service, loan applications can differ. Your VA regional office personnel can assist you with any additional eligibility questions.After pre-determining your eligibility, the first step for potential borrowers is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (26-1880) before applying for a loan. At this juncture, you will need to select an accredited VA loan specialist who will assist you in moving forward in the loan process which includes accessing and submitting this eligibility form online.Step Two: The Pre-Approval ProcessBefore embarking on step two of the VA loan process, it is crucial that you have pulled your credit report in advance with all three credit reporting agencies to see where you stand with your FICO credit score. You should thoroughly examine the report for any errors and/or identity theft, taking care of any such issues beforehand. Although Veteran’s Affairs does not require a minimum score for a VA loan, most lenders have internal requirements, asking for a credit score of 620 or higher.After you have completed this important task, you will provide this information to your VA loan specialist. They can answer any questions that you have and help you with determining the loan amount you are eligible for through a pre-approval process. The pre-approval process is required by most realtors before working with you to find a home. It serves to give you piece of mind and a price range that you can afford based on a pre-approved amount.To obtain a VA loan, the law requires that:• The applicant must be an eligible veteran who has available entitlement.• The loan must be for an eligible purpose.• The veteran must occupy or intend to occupy the property as a home within a reasonable period of time after closing the loan.• The veteran must be a satisfactory credit risk.• The income of the veteran and spouse, if any, must be shown to be stable and sufficient to meet the mortgage payments, cover the costs of owning a home, take care of other obligations and expenses, and have enough left over for family support.Your experienced VA loan specialist will be able to further discuss specific income and other qualifying requirements. According to the VA Loan Quick Guide, the VA loan limits generally do not exceed $417,000 (exception in maximum limits with VA Jumbo loans in designated High Cost counties – calculations can vary).Step Three: Decide on a Home & Make an OfferSelect a realtor to work diligently with you to find your desired home. After finding the home based on your personal and financial criteria, you will make your offer. The offer should not be too low or too high, as you want to stay ahead of the pack in bidding but not risk overpaying for the property. After making the offer, you will be required to place a deposit down ($500.00 is customary) on the property.In placing your offer, be aware that there are certain fees such as brokerage and lender fees, commissions or buyer-brokerage fees that the seller may have to absorb as they are disallowed by the VA to be charged to the veteran buyer. This amount may need to be factored into the offer/purchase price to be acceptable to the seller.Step Four: Signing the Purchase AgreementIt is recommended that two contingency provisions: 1) upon financing and 2) upon inspection, are inclusive or amended to the purchase agreement. Fact: A “pre-qualification” letter does not necessarily guarantee financing so you must be covered in the event that it does not go through. However, if you have proceeded as directed in Step Two and you are “pre-approved,” you should be fine. The pre-approval process is a more extensive check performed by your VA loan specialist on your financial background and credit rating. After completion, your lender will provide a conditional commitment on the amount of your loan.A home inspection can be a critical contingency provision, giving you the option to back out if repairs are costly and substantially decrease the fair market value of the property. Fact: VA fee appraisers are not required to step on the roof for inspection nor do they have the specialized knowledge that a certified home inspection can provide.The VA appraiser’s job is to ensure that the home lives up to minimum property requirements. He/she establishes fair market value for the home and a Certificate of Reasonable Value is issued. However this VA appraisal does not take the place of a detailed inspection of the property. Although optional, it is highly recommended that your offer be contingent upon a detailed home inspection.Step Five: Offer AcceptedContact your lender immediately and let them know that your offer was accepted. Congratulations! You are on your way to homeownership! If you have not done so already, you will need to provide the last two or three years of tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. He/she will help you complete your application and submit it to processing and approval.Subsequently, the lender will order a VA appraisal and the certified home inspection. Your VA loan specialist will complete the appraisal and perform a complete review and verification of your credit, income and assets to give a “clear to close.” This will initiate the date, time and place where you will close to sign all necessary documentation to have the title transferred to you.Step Six: VA Funding FeesThe VA funding fee is an essential component of the VA Home Loan Program. This basic one-time funding fee must be paid to the VA by all but certain exempt veterans. First time users of the VA loan benefit program with no down payment requires a 2.15% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.5% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.25% fee.For subsequent users of the VA loan benefit, no down payment requires a 3.3% fee and a down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.5% fee. And a down payment of 10% or more requests a 1.25% fee.The category of Reserves/National Guard first time users with no down payment requires a 2.4% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.75% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.5% fee. For subsequent users for the category of Reserves/National Guard, no down payment requires a 3.3% fee. A down payment of at least 5 percent but less than 10 percent requires a 1.75% fee, and a down payment of 10% or more requires a 1.5% fee. The funding fee may be paid in cash or it may be included in the loan.The following persons are exempt from paying the funding fee:• Veterans who would be entitled to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities if they did not receive retirement pay.• Veterans who would be entitled to receive compensation for service-connected disabilities if they did not receive retirement pay.• Surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from service-connected disabilities (whether or not such surviving spouses are veterans with their own entitlement and whether or not they are using their own entitlement on the loan).More good news! Unlike FHA and conventional loans (with less than 20% down), VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.Step Seven: Approval & ClosingIf your lender is authorized for automatic processing under VA’s Lender Appraisal Processing Program (LAPP), upon receipt of the VA appraised value determination the loan can be approved and closed without waiting for VA review. For loans that must be further reviewed by the VA, the lender will send the application to the local VA office, which will notify the lender of its decision.After receiving VA approval, you (and your spouse) will attend the loan closing. Your lender or closing attorney will go over the terms of the loan and its requirements and where and how to make the monthly payments. You will sign all necessary documentation and the property will be then be transferred to you. You have completed the seven steps to getting a VA loan and are now a homeowner!VA Loan Program Benefits – Now and in the FutureThe VA loan program is effectively the U.S. governments’ and the American people’s way of saying “thank-you” to those who are actively serving or have served in the military. The benefits of the VA loan program extend beyond getting a home loan, as they can also be used for refinancing and fixing up an existing home.Another advantage of a VA loan is in the assistance offered to borrowers who might be struggling. If the borrower of a VA loan cannot make their mortgage payment, the VA will negotiate on behalf of the borrower. They have a dedicated nationwide staff committed to helping veterans who are experiencing financial difficulties. These financial counselors can help borrower s negotiate repayment plans, loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosure.We are keenly aware that many of our troops will be returning from overseas in the near future and that there are veterans who have served our country in the past now looking for a home. Be assured that VA accredited lenders are honored to work on your behalf, in financing your home and the bright future that you and your family so richly deserve.

Breaking Down Sales and Marketing

Revisiting the Sales and Marketing ConversationBack in October 2015 we shared an article called “5 Ways Marketing Departments Help Salespeople Catch Butterflies.” Recently a tenfold article was shared with us, titled “What is the Meaning of Sales & Marketing and Their Advantages?” and, I have to say, it does a pretty awesome job of breaking down the differences, responsibilities, and links between sales and marketing roles. Why revisit this now? Because it has never been more apparent that the relationship between sales and marketing is still just as misunderstood as ever, especially with advances in marketing technology.Setting the Record StraightMany in the business world, especially those who rely on sales and marketing for success, don’t actually have a concrete grasp on exactly what sales and marketing are. Yes, the two are linked, but they are not one and the same. Sales departments rely on marketing; marketing departments and strategies exist to feed sales (notice I didn’t say “make” sales). You wouldn’t engage in marketing if you had nothing to sell, and your sales strategy would be much less informed and successful if not for your marketing efforts. Yes, many old-school salespeople (or go-getter small business entrepreneurs) are quite capable of drumming up business on their own, and may even have some tried-and-true marketing tactics up their sleeve – but few have the time, skill, or technological resources to effectively capitalize on the true potential of their market.A common mistake made by older, more established businesses is to assume that salespeople are skilled at marketing and that marketing people are skilled at making sales. In some cases this may be true, but certainly not across the board. While trying to conserve capital, many of these companies will attempt to combine their sales and marketing departments, essentially tasking their employees with two job descriptions, and that’s usually a bad move. It’s no accident that more recently established companies, tech giants, and organizations that employ a large number of millennials are killing it with their marketing efforts.Breaking It DownAs the tenfold article explains, some of the key responsibilities of a sales team include:

Follow Up

Relationship Building

Closing

Retention

The mark of a great salesperson is the ability to cultivate a personal relationship. Many consumers who have stayed loyal to the same brand, dealership, or salon for years will say that they appreciate the personal attention they receive there. It is not a marketing employee’s responsibility to follow up with a salesperson’s existing customer once the lead has been handed off, nor is it their responsibility to convert a lead to a sale, “close the deal,” or make sure the client remains a client for many years. Short of having an outstanding relationship with a skilled salesperson, product quality and excellent overall experience are the main things that will bolster client retention.On the marketing side, primary efforts are:

Awareness

Engagement

Conversion (from anonymous to known)

Retention

It is not a salesperson’s job to generate awareness or buzz about their brand, product or service. If they are expected to use their energy to make sales by nurturing leads and relationships, then how can they also be expected to have the time to do the leg-work up front that brings those leads to the table in the first place?The marketing department creates awareness, builds engagement by creating information that will invite audience members to take action, and targets and tracks engagement by motivating audience members to provide contact information or initiate a free trial or consultation (converting them from a cold prospect to a known lead or potential buyer). It is important to note here that the retention function of a marketing department doesn’t really overlap the retention efforts of a sales team.On the sales side, client retention refers more to the salesperson’s efforts to use the client relationship to continually check in with the client, attempt to engage them in further discussions about additional products or services they may be interested in, and seek referrals to the client’s friends and family members. On the marketing side, however, retention refers to maintaining a higher level of consistent engagement (through targeted marketing based on buying preferences, interests and history) so that the customer relationship doesn’t end at the initial purchase. Those email newsletters you receive after becoming a customer somewhere are not random – they have a purpose and are often tailored to things you’ve viewed or expressed interest in. A sales team simply doesn’t have the insights, time, or often the resources to execute these types of strategic campaigns.The Fine-Tuned Coexistence Of It AllThe ideal sales and marketing relationship is a symbiotic one. Marketers and salespeople work together to determine what consumers need and how to deliver it. Sales and marketing should motivate, inspire and feed one other. They should collaborate and coexist. In the hierarchy of the business food chain, sales and marketing should not be seen as rivals or equals, but counterparts. One truly cannot exist without the other, but their skill sets are not the same – especially today, where advances in technology require the modern marketer to have a very specific, honed, and competitive set of skills that most sales people simply do not need to have.For this reason many marketers are introverted, analytical, and deep-thinking individuals. Whether they’re crunching numbers and analyzing data, compiling reports on trends and conversion rates, or writing awesome ads and creating beautiful websites and collateral material, they are required to intensely focus on what works, what doesn’t, and adjust their creative efforts accordingly. Usually a marketing department will have creatives, analysts, and more tech-oriented people (who dive into the numbers and algorithms behind advanced marketing tools).In contrast though, many salespeople are extroverts – they light up a room, they have excellent “people skills,” can easily relate to others, and have the ability to pick up on social cues that might actually help them close a sale. Oftentimes salespeople have a broader focus, preferring to spend their days with appointments and meetings – activities that build relationships – rather than sitting behind a desk doing what a marketing department does best. For this reason, many salespeople have administrative assistants to help them with follow-up, paperwork, appointment setting, phone calls, proposals, and calendar management. This type of functional assistant role is less widespread in the marketing realm.Share Your ThoughtsBe sure to read the full article (and let us know how it compares to our post ) for additional insights on the relationship between sales and marketing teams. Join the conversation: in your experience, what have been some key components of a successful sales and marketing partnership?

How to Start an Online Business Step by Step

To start an online business is not an easy task to perform. There are so many things to prioritize in its whole process to make sure that it will bring great results in the end. It needs to be provided with a sufficient and excellent set of investments to make sure that it will be very exciting and really satisfying. But always remember the fact that money is not enough to provide a business with an amazing startup.1. How to Write and Sell your own eBooksAn online business must always be supported with several eBooks that are containing unique contents and useful information for the consumers. Such items can help a businessman to enhance the reputation of an online business more effectively. The best way to write an eBook is to rely on excellent references and to ask for the assistance of a reliable SEO company. Selling eBooks will become much easier to accomplish when conducted in a trusted online store like Amazon.2. Promoting the Business with Social Media Such As Facebook, TwitterA business will never be so popular in the market and trustworthy for consumers if it was not provided with a set of high quality advertisements that are showcasing its set of products and services. Businessmen should always try their best to advertise their businesses more effectively to achieve increased traffic and revenue. One of the most convenient and effective ways to do that is to utilize the power of social media. Create interesting sales pages and fan pages in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote a business more effectively without spending a lot of money.3. Part-time or Full-time Online Income StreamOne of the most effective ways to fund a business as the time passes by is to rely on the advantages of part-time and full-time online income streams. It’s easy to create a set of special accounts for these online income streams. Such things can really help businessmen to allocate their reserved financial assets more efficiently on the daily needs of their businesses.4. How to Sell eBooks on Your Own WordPress WebsiteAll types of WordPress Websites can be used by businessmen to sell their unique eBooks online without spending a lot of effort. But what is the most effective way to perform this process while aiming to gain higher rate of income? Well, the best answer to that question is to add a PayPal account in a very responsive WordPress website which has an excellent amount of traffic every day.5. Guide To Selling eBooks on Google, eBay and FiverrGoogle, eBay and Fiverr are examples of the most reliable search engines in the internet nowadays. The most effective way to sell eBooks on the stated search engines is to rely on the performance and features of the dependable online stores and sales pages that are available in its search results pages. Mastery of the idea of online marketing and creating several accounts in search engines are included in the list of best strategies that businessmen can use to sell eBooks faster in Google, eBay and Fiverr.6. ClickBank Success GuideClickBank success starts with the process of mastering the uses and advantages of ClickBank in online marketing as an affiliate. It becomes more useful in the process of promoting a business when used to prove to online consumers that the online payment process for the products of a business is totally safe and secured at all times.7. How to Success in Internet MarketingSuccess will never be impossible to achieve in the field of internet marketing if a businessman has a very responsive website to use in the promotion of an online business. A responsive website can provide an online business with a very high rate of traffic every day which can be converted into a huge number of real buyers through a perfect traffic conversion process.