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Ask McEnearney: What is the difference between a VA loan and a conventional loan?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is the difference between a VA loan and a conventional loan?

Answer: If you are considering purchasing your first home, you may have heard about the different types of loans available to buyers looking to finance their purchase. Let’s talk about two that are frequently used — Conventional and VA.

Conventional loans are fairly typical and are able to finance most types of properties. A VA loan, on the other hand, is available only to those who have served in a branch of the military. Their entitlement is determined by their years of service.

Conventional loans are flexible, and almost all properties are eligible to finance with a conventional loan. This means that even if you are purchasing a vacation home, or investment property, this loan is available to you. A VA loan, however, can only be used on a primary purchase of a home. You would need to take out a conventional loan for any second purchases you might make.

Many who have the option for a VA loan choose that because a VA loan allows you to purchase with either a zero down payment or a minimal down payment.

Also, a VA loan does not require monthly mortgage insurance. There is also no minimum down payment or private mortgage insurance. Conventional loans usually require at least a minimum of 3% down and often times more, and also, private mortgage insurance is required with a down payment of less than 20%.

For many, a VA loan is not an option. However, for those who do have eligibility, it is a great way to purchase your first home. VA loans can often be assumed by a future buyer on your home, which is another added benefit. It allows you to pass along an excellent interest rate, which can be a selling point for your home in future. Of course, there are other caveats and requirements, so this should be explored fully before attempting to utilize this VA benefit.

Mortgage loans are tailored to the specific needs of the buyer. Both VA loans and conventional loans are excellent products. For more information about these types of loans and other mortgage loans, we have great lenders who we can recommend to you.

Nancy Donovan (NMLS #483536) of Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group contributed to this article and many of our buyers have worked with her. For a more in-depth discussion on all the types of loans available to you, give her a call at 703-408-8252. And as always, please reach out to me if you would like to discuss your options for buying or selling a home in 2023!

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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Time flies when you’re having fun! The T.C. Williams High School Class of 1973 will hold its 50th reunion July 21-23, 2023 in Alexandria. All graduates and their adult nears and dears are welcome. Events include a Friday evening icebreaker, Saturday dinner dance, and a Sunday brunch. For more information:, 770.789.3534.

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