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Rent vs. Own with a VA Loan

Buy or rent?

Rock-bottom home prices and low interest rates help make owning a home with a VA loan more affordable than renting.

In Trulia's Rent vs. Buy Index, it was reported that it's cheaper to own than rent in 98 of 100 largest U.S. cities. While home prices have been falling, rent has been rising. Today, it can cost 15 to 20 percent more to rent in some areas.

Falling home prices and historically low interest rates may make now the best time to buy a home. And, a VA loan can help military borrowers achieve this dream. Additionally, 3 great features of VA loans support why owning beats renting in most housing markets.

1) VA loans have relaxed qualifying

Straightforward qualifying standards for VA loans help lenders determine whether an applicant is a satisfactory credit risk. According to VA guidelines, borrowers can have no higher than a 41 percent debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. The VA also provides lenders with a handy residual income table, which shows the exact amount borrowers must have left over after regular monthly expenses to afford their loans.

And, since the VA doesn't require a minimum credit score for qualifying, lenders are known to approve VA loans for people with lower credit scores if they can show they are able to pay back the loan.

2) No down payment required for a VA loan up to $424,100

You can get a VA loan with no money down up to conforming loan limits. In most cities across the country, the conforming loan limit is $424,100, but can be higher in high-cost areas. For example, an eligible borrower could obtain a home in Orange County, California for over $600,000 with no cash down. most VA-eligible borrowers don't need to worry about coming up with a down payment either. Most other loan programs require 3.5 to 20 percent down payment. The federal guarantee provides added security on a VA loan, so lenders don't need a down payment.

3) Make "green" upgrades and finance them into your VA home loan

A property purchased with a VA home loan is yours to improve. The VA even has a program for financing "green" home improvements right into your VA loan. Qualify for up to $6,000, even more in some cases, to make your home more energy efficient.

For more information about renting vs. owning with a VA loan, contact a VA-approved lender.