VA Loans Easier for Moms and Dads on Active Duty

Ft. Hood range operation

New law expands VA loan occupancy requirements for moms and dads away on active duty. Now, dependents of single or dual-active parents serving away or overseas can occupy their family's home to satisfy long-standing VA rule.

A new addition to the VA occupancy guideline may be good news for single parents, and families with parents serving overseas. VA borrowers have to meet owner-occupancy requirements to qualify for the government-backed mortgage program. But, with a new law, now active-duty military members can meet this requirement if their spouse or their dependent child occupy, or intend to occupy the family home in their parents' or spouse's place. As for a dependent child, the legal guardian or attorney-in-fact must certify the intent of the child to act as the owner-occupant until the parent(s) return.

The recent improvement to VA occupancy guidelines is part of a new law signed by President Obama on August 6, 2012 called The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (H.R. 1627). Before this bill became law, the occupancy guidelines typically required that the VA borrower must move into a home purchased with a VA-backed loan within 60 days. Those serving away on active duty would likely receive an extension of up to 12 months if needed. A spouse of a military member away on active duty could occupy the home to fulfill the VA requirement.

Many single parents, and couples who both serve in the military, may have found the previous occupancy rule a hurdle when trying to use VA home loan benefits. If they were serving away from home for more than a year, the former occupancy rule may have prevented them from buying a home with a VA loan altogether. With dependents as occupants, VA loans are now more feasible for certain parents active in the military.

The signed legislation makes other improvements to veterans' benefits and VA loans, including:

  • Increased Eligibility for Surviving Spouses
  • Expiration canceled for ARM and Hybrid ARM VA loan products
  • Funding Fee Waivers given to Disabled Vets based on Pre-Discharge Rating
  • Higher VA Loan Limits Restored in certain High-Cost Areas through 12/31/12

Valery Behr, military community liaison for dedicated VA lender Veterans First Mortgage®, says, "VA loans have always been intended to help military members achieve the dream of homeownership. And, these recent improvements may help make that dream a reality for more veterans."

If you're a parent in the military serving away from home, you may want to take a second look at your VA loan benefits. For additional information on VA loan improvements, visit the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or contact a VA-approved lender.

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