There are compelling reasons to choose short-term mortgages and long-term loans. Nevertheless, the best way to decide is to consult with a WA State home finance and real estate professional.
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.
In This Article:
- Pierce County Ranks High in VA Loan Volume
- What Makes This Program So Popular
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.
Pierce County Ranks High in VA Loan Volume
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, AZ
- San Diego, CA
- El Paso, CO
- (Pierce came in at #9)
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.
What Makes This Program So Popular
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.
- No down payment. Eligible borrowers can buy a home with no money down, up to a certain loan limit. There’s a lot to be said for buying a house without the burden of an upfront investment. This is arguably the biggest benefit for borrowers.
- No mortgage insurance. Borrowers who use this program to purchase a home can often avoid paying the extra insurance that’s typically required on a low-down-payment loan. This can reduce the monthly payments.
- Relaxed requirements. VA loans are partly guaranteed by the U.S. government. This gives lenders additional protection from potential default. As a result of this government backing, the basic qualification requirements for VA loans are generally more relaxed than those for conventional mortgage products.
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.
VA Loan Limits for Pierce County: Done Away With
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.
Overview of the Mortgage & Buying Process
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:
- Determine that you meet the basic eligibility requirements.
- Obtain your Certificate of Eligibility from the VA.
- Get pre-approved for a certain mortgage amount.
- Begin searching for a home that meets your needs.
- Make an offer to buy the property.
- Go back to your loan officer with a signed purchase agreement.
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.
Have Financing Questions?
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.