VA Loan in Orange County | Test Case | Lake Forest, CA

Lake Forest, Orange County VA Loan VA loan financing is going strong in Orange County cities like Lake Forest. With the 2011 VA loan limit for 100% financing in Orange County at $700,000, Veterans in Orange County, CA are able purchase very nice homes with no down payment.  Below is an example of a recent closing in Lake Forest where an Orange County first time home buyer bought a house using a VA loan with no down payment.

Zero Down VA Loan on $620,000 Lake Forest, CA Home

Not all first time buyers are looking for a $250,000 condo. In Orange County, first time home buyers are quite often very well qualified, high salaried, couples or individuals. In this case, Charlie and Suzanne Gunner (names have been changed to protect the privacy of the home buyers) were shopping for a home in the south Orange County cities of Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Ladera Ranch, and Rancho Santa Margarita. There credit was excellent, with FICO scores of 731 and 745. They also had over $25,000 in the bank, along with a 401K.  The Gunner’s had talked to a few Orange County lenders who suggested that FHA financing was the best way for them to go. They were told that VA financing, even though they were eligible since Charlie had served in the Marine’s during Desert Storm, was too difficult and took too long to close. But then they found a local Orange County VA loan expert who was able to lay out a comparison of an FHA loan versus a VA loan for them.

FHA Loan Versus VA Loan

For those Orange County home buyers who are eligible, a VA loan has many advantages over FHA financing, which will save the VA borrower thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

  • VA will finance up to $700,000 in Orange County with no down payment. FHA will finance up to $729,750 in Orange County, but requires a 3.5% down payment. On the Gunner’s $620,000 home, they needed $0 to buy their home, not counting closing costs. With FHA, they would have needed $21,700 for the down payment. Since they only had $25,000 liquid in the bank, the FHA loan would have cleaned them out, and they would have needed to have the seller pay all of their closing costs. With VA, if they were in a competitive offer/counter offer situation, they would be able to pay their own closing costs and still have money left over.
  • VA has a Funding Fee of 2.15% for first time user VA borrowers. On a $620,000 base loan, this equates to a $13,30 VA Funding Fee, which is added to the loan. So the total VA loan amount is $13,330. FHA actually comes out a little better here. FHA has an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium equal to 1% of the loan amount. After factoring the down payment requirement, the FHA UFMIP would be $5,983. While there is some savings, both the Funding Fee and the UFMIP are not paid out of pocket, they are financed into the loan. The result is minimal. Also, for Orange County VA Loan eligible home buyers who have a minimum 10% VA disability (you’ll know if you have it), the Funding Fee is waived. No Funding Fee.
  • FHA has a Monthly Mortgage Insurance added to the payment. The MMI is equal to .9% of the loan amount, divided by 12. On a $620,000 purchase price, the MMI would be approximately $465 per month. VA loans do not have any type of Monthly Mortgage Insurance. This resulted in a savings for the Gunner’s of $465 per month. $5,580 per year, or $61,000 over the 11 years that the FHA loan would have the MMI.

Typical Concerns about VA Financing in Orange County

The Gunner’s were still a little concerned about whether they could buy a home with a VA loan. They had been told that sellers didn’t like VA financing and the Listing Agents tended to shy away from VA financing. Also, there was concern that the VA appraisal process would be more rigorous that on an FHA or Conventionally financed loan. But that is not the case. FHA and VA appraisals are very similar. The primary focus of an appraisal is to make sure the property is worth what the home buyer is paying for it. On Government loans, the appraiser will look a little more closely at safety issues, such as loose wires, peeling lead paint, broken windows, water damage, etc. But most home buyers, especially a first time home buyer, should be concerned about those issues as well. They typically will come up on the Home Inspection report, which is recommended for all home buyers. Also, VA requires a termite inspection report, with all items cleared. Again, this is something that most homebuyers should want anyway.

VA Loan PreApproval

Once the Gunner’s were comfortable with the fact that a VA loan was in their best interest, they moved forward with getting PreApproved. The process was quick, but thorough. They needed to provide two years tax returns and W2’s, one months paystubs, two months bank statements, copies of their drivers license and social security cards, as well as Charlie’s DD214. The Orange County VA lender was able to quickly retrieve the VA Certificate of Eligibility, run credit, and get the initial “Automated” loan approval. The Gunner’s annual gross income of $130,000 easily qualified them for a purchase price of $670,000, even with the $600 car payment they had.

The lender also had an in house VA Underwriter review the file, providing an underwritten loan approval. The whole process only took a few days. But now, the Gunner’s were ready to get serious about finding a home.

Time to Buy an Orange County Home

The Gunner’s also found a great Orange County Real Estate agent familiar with VA financing. Within weeks they had viewed several homes before finding a great home in Lake Forest, offered at $630,000. After a week of counter offers, they went into contract to purchase the home for $620,000 with the seller paying $10,000 in closing costs. The VA loan closed in 30 days. Closing was very smooth, primarily because the Gunner’s had done their research and had been PreApproved before making an offer on a home. The Gunner’s are now happily in their beautiful Lake Forest home. They are doing a few minor upgrades, which they are able to do because of the money they saved by choosing a VA loan.

Authored by Tim Storm, an Orange County, CA  VA Loan Officer – Please contact my office at Home Point Financial for more information about an Orange County, CA home loan.  949-640-3102. MLO 223456

Contact us for your Orange County VA Mortgage:

Call our office today and see how we can help you and your family. Ask for your Free First Time Home Buyer Report.

tstorm (at)


Orange County VA Loans | Seller Concessions vs Closing Cost Credit

Orange County VA loan borrowers need to understand the difference between Seller Concessions and a Seller Credit for Closing Costs. Most loan programs will allow for the seller to pay some or of buyers closing costs, but VA goes a step further. VA allows for Seller Concessions.

What is a Seller Concession?

According to the VA, a Seller Concession is anything of value added to a transaction by the seller or builder for which the buyer pays nothing additional and which the seller is not customarily expected or required to pay or provide.  Below are several examples of Seller Concessions.

  • Payment of the buyer’s VA Funding Fee – this can be large for Orange County VA home buyers
  • Prepayment of the buyer’s property taxes and insurance. These are items included in “prepaid” expenses.
  • Gifts such as a television set or microwave.
  • Payment of extra points to provide permanent buydown of the interest rate. For example, if it is customary to pay 1 Origination and 1 Discount for a 5% rate, but the seller pay 2 additional Discount points to buy the rate down to 4.5%, that would be a Seller Concession.
  • Provision of escrowed funds to provide temporary interest rate buydowns – like a 2-1 Buydown program.
  • Payoff of credit balances or judgements on behalf of the buyer.

Seller concessions do not include:

  • Payment of the buyer’s non-recurring closing costs
  • Payment of points which are typical for the market

Imagine that. If an Orange County Veteran wants to purchase a home but first needs to pay off credit card debt, he or she could negotiate to have the seller pay off the debt as part of the purchase.

There cannot be more than 4% in Seller Concessions. But remember, you will not need to include normal discount points or buyer’s closing costs as part of the 4% limit.

Talking With an Orange County VA Loan Expert is the First Step

The first step is always to talk with a local Orange County VA loan officer. Your VA loan officer should be able to answer most questions, prepare detailed loan scenarios, and walk you through the VA loan PreApproval process.

Authored by Tim Storm, an Orange County, CA  VA Loan Officer MLO 223456– Please contact my office at Emery Financial Group for more information about an Orange County, CA home loan.  877-786-4243 x 7.

Contact us for your Orange County VA Mortgage:

Call our office today and see how we can help you and your family. Ask for your Free First Time Home Buyer Report.

877.786.4243 x 7 | tstorm (at)


VA Home Loans Remain Unchanged for Orange County Borrowers

While other loan programs continue to go though multiple guideline changes, the VA loan program has been mostly unchanged for Orange County VA home loan borrowers. FHA and Fannie Mae have recently tightened their guidelines. VA has not.

FHA and Fannie Mae Tighten Condo Financing Guidelines

FHA and Fannie Mae recently tightened their guidelines for financing on condominiums. FHA, which has an extensive approved condo list in Orange County, recently started requiring that projects on the list be “recertified”, a costly and time consuming process. Also, projects that were not previously on the list will need to go through a full review and approval process, which will take even more time and more cost. Plus, there is no guaranty that a project will be financeable. Even Fannie Mae is requiring a much more thorough look at condo projects. Each lender has their own approved condo list for Conventional loans, making lending on condo’s very tricky. VA is the only program that continues to have a valid project approval list. This is a big advantage for Orange County VA home home buyers interested in a condo. If they specifically look at VA approved condo projects, they will have an advantage over FHA and Fannie Mae home buyers. The key is to know how to find Orange County condo projects on the VA approved list.

Fannie Mae Lowers the Debt to Income Ratios

In December 2009 Fannie Mae decreased the debt to income ratios used to qualify borrowers. Although the “guideline” ratios rae still 28/36, it was possible to get a home buyer approved with a debt ratio of 60% in some cases. Now, Fannie Mae will not allow ratios over 45%, unless there are strong compensating factors. In ases with strong compensating factors, they will allow a ratio of 50%. This dramatically effected the amount borrowers can qualify for. VA guidelines remain unchanged, with some borrowers getting approval with debt ratios as high as 60%.

FHA Increases the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium

FHA increased the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium to 2.25%. The UFMIP is similar to the VA Funding Fee, which on a typical transaction is 2.15%. The great thing about VA loans is there is no a Monthly Mortgage Insurance, which FHA has. Fannie Mae also requires Mortggae Insurance if the down payment is less than 20% of the property value. There is talk that FHA may increase the Monthly Mortgage Insurance beyond the current .55%. (versus VA, which is 0%).

So while all of these changes have taken place, the VA loan program has held steady. Orange County mortgage rates on VA loans are also very low, as are interest rates for most programs. Compared to Fannie Mae, VA is actually very competitive. Fannie Mae has “pricing hits” that begin when the loan to value is over 60% and when the FICO is less than 740. The pricing hits can really add up if the FICO score drops under 660, or if the property is a condo over 75% loan to value. If the loan is a cash out refinance, be prepared to pay extra for a high rate. VA does not have pricing hits and will even allow a VA cash out refinance to 90% of the properties value. Imagine the following scenario: cash out to refinance on a condo for a borrower with a 660 FICO score at 80% loan to value. (Fannie Mae won’t even go over 80% on a cash out refi, and FHA won’t allow over 85%.)

The first step an Orange County VA eligible home buyer needs to take is to talk to an Orange County VA lender who can answer questions and prequalify you for a loan before you begin looking at homes.

Authored by Tim Storm, an Orange County, CA Loan Officer MLO 223456– Please contact my office at Emery Financial Group for more information about an Orange County, CA home loan.  877-786-4243 x 7.

Contact us for your Orange County VA Mortgage:

Call our office today and see how we can help you and your family. Ask for your Free First Time Home Buyer Report.

877.786.4243 x 7 | tstorm (at)


Orange County VA Home Loan Limits for 2010

The Veterans Administration recently announced the VA 100% financing loan limits for Orange County, and the limit was reduced. In 2009 an Orange County VA eligible home buyer could purchase a home with $0 down up to a price of $737,500. In 2010 the limit has been reduced to $593,750.

The reduction on the loan limit should not have much of an effect for most Orange County VA home buyers. Since they are still eligible to purchase a home of almost $600,000 with no down payment, the decrease will barely be felt by 99% of buyers.

Orange County VA Home Buyers Can Still Get Loan Over $593,750 * 2011 increased to $700,000

Although the limit has been reduced, Orange County VA home buyers will still be able to buy homes valued at greater than $593,750 with a VA loan. The high-balance VA Jumbo mortgage program started in 2008. VA eligible home buyers just need to come up with a down payment equal to 25% of the difference between the 100% financing limit and the purhase price of their home.

Example VA eligible Purchase  for Placentia, CA

For example, if Mike Smith is looking to purchase a home in Placentia for $693,750 (for this example, $100K over the 100% financing limit), then Mike would need to have a down payment of $25,000. That is not bad. That works out to a 3.6% down payment, plus there is no Monthly Mortgage Insurance.

Example of VA Purchase in Tustin, CA

Just for another example, let’s assume that Jill Monroe, a VA eligible home buyer, is looking to purchase a home in Tustin, CA for $650,000. That is $56,250 over the 100% financing limit. 25% of $56,250 is $14,062. Jill would need to come up with $14,062 for the down payment, only a 2.1% down payment.

Southern California VA Loan Limits for 100% Financing

County Name Single Family Home

LOS ANGELES $593,750
ORANGE $593,750
RIVERSIDE $417,000
SAN DIEGO $437,500
VENTURA $486,250


The first thing to do is check with an Orange County VA Expert Loan Officer who can put together multiple loan scenarios based on your goals and qualifications. Orange County VA loan PreApproval is very important, especially prior to making an offer.

Authored by Tim Storm, an Orange County, CA Loan Officer MLO 223456– Please contact my office at Emery Financial Group for more information about an Orange County, CA home loan.  877-786-4243 x 7.

Contact us for your Orange County VA Mortgage:

Call our office today and see how we can help you and your family. Ask for your Free First Time Home Buyer Report.

877.786.4243 x 7 | tstorm (at)


VA Loan Cashout Refi for Orange County Borrowers

Orange County homeowners with a VA loan are finding there are big advantages to the VA Cashout refinance program. This program actually does not require the loan being refinanced to be a VA loan, as long as the borrower is eligible for a VA loan.  The biggest advantage of this program over most other cashout refinance programs is that the borrower can borrow money up to 90% of the properties value, while a Conventional loan allows cashout up to 80% loan to value, and FHA allows cashout up to 85% loan to value.

What is the Difference between a VA IRRRL and a VA Cashout Refi for Orange County Borrowers?

Orange County borrowers need to keep in mind a few of the differences between the popular IRRRL, or VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan,  and a VA Cashout refinance.  The IRRRL program is strictly a “Rate and Term” refinance, and the current loan needs to be a VA loan. Also, income is not verified, and in most situations, there is no appraisal. (Although there have been some changes to the appraisal requirements and some lenders are tightening up this program.) The VA considers any refinance that is not an IRRRL to be a cashout refinance. This means that if an Orange County VA eligible borrower wishes to refinance from a Conventional (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) loan, then even if they will not pull cash out, VA still considers it a cashout refinance and it must be underwritten as such.

VA Loans Are Flexible with FICO Scoring

Another big advantage for a VA cashout refinance versus a Conventional cashout refinance is the relative flexibility towards FICO scoring. For VA eligible borrowers with FICO scores under 700, if may make more sense to go with a VA loan even you only plan to pull cash out to 80% loan to value. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have instituted pricing “addons” which increase the fees and rate for cashout refinances when the FICO scores drop below 740. If your score FICO drops below 700, the pricing hits really start to add up. With VA, the pricing hits for low FICO’s are minimal.

VA Guidelines Regarding a Cashout Refinance

The actual VA guidelines allow for cashout to 100% loan to value, but finding a lender who will allow this will be difficult. Lenders tend to stay with the 90% rule, although there is some flexibility if the borrower is not actually getting cashout and the loan to value is over 90%. This is something that should be reviewed by an experienced Orange County VA loan officer prior to paying for an appraisal.

Authored by Tim Storm, an Orange County, CA Loan Officer MLO 223456– Please contact my office at Emery Financial Group for more information about an Orange County, CA home loan.  877-786-4243 x 7.

Contact us for your Orange County VA Mortgage:

Call our office today and see how we can help you and your family. Ask for your Free First Time Home Buyer Report.

877.786.4243 x 7 | tstorm (at)