VA loans can be competitive if people look in the right place

DUPON, Wash. -- Crystal Ramirez is a proud service member.

The 32-year-old has already served in two different wars for our country, but she's never owned a home.

“The older side of DuPont I've always liked the community -- very friendly, a lot of kids,” Ramirez said.

A VA loan is the channel to become a first-time homeowner -- and using a VA loan has its perks.

“Literally you can get in for zero down, not only for the down payment, but the seller can actually contribute all of your closing costs,” broker Dick Beeson said.

Beeson, with RE/MAX, has closed hundreds of VA loans in his career and he says people using VA loans are setting themselves up for failure if they are looking in places like Seattle or Bellevue.

“You couldn't give them enough compensation to make it worthwhile for a seller,” Beeson said.

The most important advice Beeson can give veterans is to look in specific locations.

“Lakewood, Parkland, Spanaway, Puyallup. If you go a little further south, you have Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater,” Beeson said.

And in those places, sellers not willing to accept VA loans are cautioned.

“I look at the seller and say, do you want to exclude 60% of the possible marketplace for your home?" Beeson said.

Beeson says sellers need coaching because of misperceptions. They think the VA loan will make them do a lot more to their home than they normally would.

Experts say the appraisers doing VA loan inspections do not pick apart a home as much as sellers think.

“The bigger problem is just getting them there, the lag time was six weeks; that's what really took so long,” Beeson said.

The state recognized the delay and has since sped up appraisals for VA loans.

Scott Collins, with Veterans Lending Group, says the key is to find realtors and lenders that are experts in the field.

If someone is only doing a few VA loans here and there, it might be a more difficult process because they don't know the ins and outs.

Ramirez says her experience is an example that VA loans can go smoothly. She closed on her DuPont home in 33 days.

“For me I am really blessed it happened pretty quick,” Ramirez said.

She hopes other people who have served their country will get the same experience.

“At the end of the day you are going to only benefit a veteran who does need a home, it's very important,” Ramirez said.