Here’s How Veterans and Military Members Can Get Home Improvement Loans

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You might have heard of home loans for veterans and military members that provide an easier path to homeownership. But many eligible military families might not know they have several options to borrow for home improvement projects too.

These home loans can help veterans and active-duty military members secure the cash they need to renovate the home they live in or the home they’re buying. Here are the options for getting home improvement loans for veterans and military members.

VA loans for home improvements

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guarantees two types of loans that can be used to improve a home: a cash-out refinance loan and a renovation loan.

These loans provide the benefits of VA-backed home loans. They typically don’t require a down payment or mortgage insurance, and they limit the amount a borrower can be charged for closing costs.

Both of these home loans for veterans and military members are funded by private lenders and backed by the VA. Borrowers must find a lender offering the loan they want and apply for it. Here’s more about each one.

1. Cash-out refinance loan

The VA’s cash-out refinance loan allows you to replace an existing mortgage with a new VA-backed loan to turn home equity into cash. It can be an affordable way to finance a remodel or improvement, according to the VA.

Like other VA loans, a cash-out refinance loan is funded by a private lender and backed by the VA. If you choose to take out a VA-backed cash-out refinance loan, you’ll get a new loan with a higher balance than your existing mortgage. Your refinanced home loan funds will be used to pay off your previous mortgage, and any remaining funds you requested will be given to you as cash.

To get a VA-backed cash-out refinance loan, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility to prove to lenders that you’re eligible for VA-backed loans. You also must live in the home you refinance and meet all other eligibility requirements set by the VA and your private lender.

2. Renovation loan

Veterans and military members also can take advantage of VA-backed loans for home improvements.

With a VA renovation loan, you can finance 100% of a new home purchase and get a second loan for up to $35,000 to pay for renovations, according to MilitaryVALoan.com. The funds used for renovations should improve the home to meet the VA’s minimum standards for financing. Once the initial renovations are complete, the secondary loan will be rolled over into the primary VA-backed loan on the home.

Because you’re taking out two loans, seeking a VA renovation loan can add to the timeline and process of buying a home. Buyers will need to plan and estimate necessary repairs to apply for a renovation loan.

Securing one of these home loans for veterans and military members will mean meeting the same eligibility requirements laid out for most VA-backed loans.

States offering home loans for veterans and military members

In addition to VA programs that offer borrowing benefits to veterans and military members, some states run similar funding programs. Here are three states that offer home improvement loans for current and former service members.

Alaska

Funded by the state government, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) offers home loans veterans and military members in the state can take advantage of.

  • Veterans programs through the AHFC provide several benefits for active-duty military members and those who’ve served in the past 25 years. Qualified veterans can get a 1.00% interest rate reduction on the first $50,000 borrowed.

  • AHFC renovation loans can be used to improve a home at purchase, to improve a home you currently own, or to refinance a home loan to get cash for renovations.

California

Veterans and military members in California can get a home loan through CalVet, which offers below-market interest rates and has low or no down payment requirements. These home loans for veterans have expanded eligibility to any current or former service member who has served at least 90 days of active duty.

California residents can get an additional CalVet home improvement loan, which comes with a term of up to 25 years and funds between $5,000 and $150,000 in home improvements at a competitive fixed rate. These loan funds must be used for a qualifying home renovation that will improve the basic livability or energy efficiency of the home.

Texas

The Veterans Home Improvement Program in Texas is offered by the state’s Veterans Land Board and offers 10-year loans for up to $10,000 and 20-year loans for up to $50,0000. These home loans for active-duty military members and veterans carry a base interest rate of 4.33% and a discounted rate of 3.83%.

To qualify, you must be a Texas resident and meet the eligibility requirements for military service. Current active-duty military and Texas National Guard members qualify, as do some veterans and surviving spouses.

Non-military home improvement loans

Not every veteran or military member will be able to find a lender willing to offer a VA-backed home improvement loan. Some may not live in a state that provides similar financing. While it’s unfortunate that not all veterans will be able to take advantage of these loan benefits, the good news is they aren’t the only options to pay for home improvements.

Here are a few traditional loans you can consider using to pay for a home renovation or project:

  • Title I property improvement loans are guaranteed up to 90% by the Federal Housing Administration and offered by private lenders. These loans can be used to borrow up to $25,000 in secured debt for a single-family home or $7,500 in unsecured debt.

  • Home equity loans or lines of credit allow homeowners to access their equity to pay for home improvements. Because this debt is secured by your home’s value, it often offers lower rates.

  • Unsecured home improvement loans can be used to finance renovations. Unlike the other loans listed here, this unsecured debt won’t be tied to your home’s value. But that also means you’re likely to pay higher interest rates than you would on secured debt. Loan amounts, costs, and terms will depend on the lender you apply with, so carefully shop for the best options.

Finding home loans for veterans and military members to use on home improvement projects can take some legwork, but they’re out there. Military families should carefully review their options to choose the best and most affordable option.

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