With its large military population, Washington State sees its fair share of VA loans. In fact, a recent report showed that Pierce County, Washington was #7 in the country for VA loan usage (among thousands of counties nationwide). It’s a popular program among military members and veterans who are looking for a way to buy a home with little or no down payment.
Borrowers tend to have a lot of questions about this program, and many of them have to do with appraisals and inspections. Today, we’ll address one of the most common questions in this area:
Is a home inspection needed when using a VA loan in Washington?
Home Inspections Optional for Most VA Loans
In a separate article, we covered the difference between home appraisals and inspections within the context of VA loans. To recap: An inspector is primarily focused on evaluating the condition of the home being purchased, whereas the appraiser is mostly concerned with determining the property’s value.
If you want to use a VA loan to buy a house in Washington, you’ll need to have the property appraised. Having a complete home inspection, on the other hand, is usually optional.
So that answers the first question:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs does not require a home inspection for VA loans.
- But they do require that the property undergoes an appraisal prior to being purchased, in most cases.
- Even though it’s usually optional, a home inspection is a cost-effective way to learn about the true condition of the property you are buying. It offers peace of mind.
The appraisal process for a VA loan is slightly difference than the process used for a conventional mortgage loan (that’s not guaranteed or insured by the government). When a VA loan is being used to buy a house, the appraiser will determine the current market value of the property. But he or she will also review the home to ensure that it meets the VA’s minimum property standards.
In that way, the appraiser wears two hats. He or she is concerned with the market value, as with any home appraisal. But there’s also a basic inspection component built into it, to check for minimum property requirements.
Minimum Property Requirements
So what are the VA’s minimum property requirements, or MPRs? There are too many to list here. But they can be found in the VA’s Lender Handbook (Pamphlet 26-7), which is available online.
Many of the MPRs cover basic property conditions that affect either (A) the value of the property being purchased, or (B) the safety of the occupant. In short, the home being purchased must be in good condition with sufficient livable space, and it must present no hazards to the occupant.
Note: This overview applies to basic home-purchase loans. In some cases, borrowers can qualify for VA loans that also provide funding for the alteration and repairs of a “fixer upper” type of property. There are separate requirements for that type of financing.
Appraisers look at a number of checkpoints during their review. This can include the home’s heating and cooling system, the roof, the water supply, electricity and more. If the property being purchased is generally in good condition and livable, it probably won’t raise any “flags” during the appraisal process.
Have Mortgage-Related Questions?
Sammamish Mortgage offers VA loans to home buyers across the state of Washington and the broader Pacific Northwest. Our experts can answer any questions you have about using this mortgage program to buy a house. We can also provide you with a rate quote and estimate of your monthly payments.