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According to a recent report published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Pierce County, Washington is one of the top-ten counties in the country for VA loans. Pierce County usually sees VA loan limit increases every year in response to rising home prices, but this is no longer the case.
Pierce County appeared at #9 on the department’s list of top counties for VA loan volume, of which there are over 3,100. That’s not surprising, when you consider the relatively high percentage of military people who live in that part of Washington State.
Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs puts out a list of “loan volume” by counties. It shows how many VA-guaranteed home loans were issued in every county of the U.S. It also ranks them based on overall volume for that period.
Pierce County, Washington has made the top ten for the last few years. That’s noteworthy, when you consider that there are several thousand counties in the United States.
There’s a relatively large military population living in Pierce County. This is partly due to the presence of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a combination Army and Air Force installation located in Tacoma. In addition to the active-duty and reserve military members stationed at the base, there are quite a few former military (including retirees) who settled within Pierce County after their service.
The top-three counties for VA loan volume for the last few years were:
Maricopa County is one of the top destinations for veterans who have left the service. San Diego is home to one of the largest Navy bases in the U.S. And El Paso County in Colorado is home to the U.S. Air Force Academy and a number of bases.
In Pierce County, VA loans are a popular form of mortgage financing among current and former members of the U.S. military. And there’s a good reason for this. Here are some of the features and benefits that make the VA loan program so popular among Pierce County’s military population.
These advantages, along with the large military population in the area, are why Pierce County ranks so high among U.S. counties for VA loan usage. It’s a beneficial program, and there are a lot of folks in the area who are qualified to use it.
Technically speaking, the VA does not put a cap or limit on how much you can borrow for a mortgage loan. That’s generally left up to the mortgage lender. But they do limit the “amount a qualified Veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a down payment,” according to the department’s website.
Translation: If you wanted to use a VA loan to finance 100% of a home purchase (with no down payment), you would probably have to stay within the loan limits for the county where you are buying.
But with a new law recently passed, VA loan limits are no longer applicable to veterans. More specifically, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 that became law states that some restrictions on VA home limits will be removed, including loan limits for those who are eligible.
That means that qualified veterans now have no cap on the loan amount they wish to take out without having to put forth a down payment. This gives borrowers more purchasing power because it allows them to buy homes that are more expensive than what previous loan limits allowed with no down payment. Veterans who are looking to buy a home in a pricier market will have more flexibility.
VA loan limits for Pierce County, Washington applied to the entire Seattle metro area, including King and Snohomish counties as well. The amount is based on limits that the FHA sets every year.
Veterans were always able to borrow more than the loan limit set for their location each year. But these “jumbo” loans meant that a down payment was required. Thanks to the elimination of these loan limits for VA loans, veterans who qualify are able to exceed these limits while still taking advantage of a zero down payment option.
The idea of buying a home in Pierce County with no money down is what attracts most borrowers to the VA loan program in the first place. And with the repeal of VA loan limits, the typical home buyer can buy a more expensive home and still avoid having to make a down payment.
Important note: While veterans who qualify for VA loans may no longer be subject to loan limits in 2021, those who have more than one active VA home loan or who have previously defaulted on a VA loan may still be subject to loan limits in terms of whether or not a down payment is required.
Check out our mortgage loan limit tool for conventional, FHA, and VA loans.
The process for buying a home with a VA loan is similar to any other mortgage program. There’s some additional paperwork needed on the front end, such as the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). But the rest of the process is fairly straightforward.
We’ve covered the VA home buying process in a separate blog post. Here’s a quick overview of the steps:
After that, the home will be appraised to ensure that the market value reflects the loan amount. Then you would move through the underwriting process and on to the closing.
At Sammamish Mortgage, we have been offering a variety of mortgage programs to borrowers across WA, OR, ID, and CO since 1992. VA loans are our specialty. If you are thinking of applying for this type of mortgage, we can help. Please contact us if you have questions about using a VA mortgage loan to buy a house.
If you are thinking of applying for a mortgage in Washington State, the loan amount you take out matters a great deal relative to the price of the home you intend to buy. Read on to find out more and to check out our loan limits tool.
Conforming loan limits have increased in Portland, Oregon in 2021 as a result of higher home prices. Read on to find out more and to check out our loan limits tool.