Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day - Thank You Veterans! Special Interview with Michael J. Frueh, Director of Loan Guaranty Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Did you serve in the Military?  Did your spouse serve in the Military? Thank you to our armed services who protect our country! I am grateful to each and every one of you who have served. In honor of Memorial Day, here is a special excerpt from the VA Loan chapter in my book, How To Get Approved for the Best Mortgage without sticking a Fork In Your Eye. This is a piece of a 30 minute interview with Michael J. Frueh & Mark Connors. 

Interview  With Veterans Benefits administration
Michael J. Frueh is the Director of Loan Guaranty Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mark Connors is Lender Liaison for loan policy and valuation loan guaranty services at the Loan Guaranty Service of the Veterans Benefits Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Elysia: Hi, I’m Elysia Stobbe and I’m here at the Department of Veterans Affairs today interviewing two of their top brass with some great questions for VA homebuyers. If you could introduce yourselves please.
Michael J. Frueh: Hi, I’m Mike Frueh. I’m the Director of the VA Loan Program here in D.C.
Mark Connors: Hi, I’m Mark Connors. I’m the Lender Liaison in D.C.
Elysia: Great! So, we put together a few questions we thought would be helpful for either first time users of their VA Home Loan benefits or anybody who’s actually used it before and maybe had questions and had any kind of challenges. The idea is to make it smoother for the veteran as they purchase a home. So, the first question I have is for Mark. What is something that lenders forget to tell people that are looking for VA loans or interested in using their VA loan benefits?
Mark Connors: Well, actually I don’t know that I would say what they forget to tell the veteran, but rather what they forget to ask the veteran and just a simple, have you served? Or are you a veteran? Or do you know if you qualify for the VA home loan program? That is something that we would encourage everybody in the industry to ask the veterans, have you served? Do you know if you may be eligible for the home loan benefit? Because it doesn’t do the veteran any good to find out after they have purchased a home that they qualified for the home loan benefit.
Elysia: So, you think there’s probably a portion out there that just by the loan origination process, and, when they’re doing the application, that the lenders aren’t asking those questions?
Mark Connors: Absolutely, yes, and again we encourage lenders or Realtors® that that’s the question that we would like to get across more than anything.
Michael J. Frueh: I agree and there’re even veterans out there that have used the benefit in the past that have bought a home before that don’t know that they can use it again. So it’s not just a single-use program. There’re probably a lot of real estate agents out there, and lenders, that don’t know it’s available multiple times throughout a veteran’s life. That’s something that we’ve been trying to overcome with education. Letting people know that this is a comprehensive benefit that can help veterans at any stage in their life. It’s not a first time home buying program; it’s an anytime you want to buy a home buying program.
Elysia: Do either of you have any inspirational stories about the VA and what it’s done to help Veterans?
Michael J. Frueh: I have one that I always think about. The home loan benefit is actually three benefits. One, it helps veterans purchase a home: purchase a home that’s geared for their success, so that they’re not stretching too much to buy a home they can’t afford, they’re not putting too much money down in down payment so they have money in reserves. Two, we have a group of people that help veterans keep their homes if they have problems. Three, we help severely wounded veterans adapt their homes, so they can actually live independently in the home where they want to live, so they’re not forced to live in home hospital care or nursing care.
The second benefit, retaining a home-- we have 150 people around the country that are there to help veterans when things happen. One veteran in particular in Arizona got cancer and he couldn’t go to work, so he couldn’t make his mortgage payment. He had a family. He talked to us, we said we know what’s going on, we’ll talk to your mortgage bank, don’t worry about your home, worry about getting well. So, we talked to his bank, the bank said, don’t worry while he’s going through treatment, we’ll defer his payments and we’ll work with him later to try to get caught up. He wrote a letter that I still have today, that said of all the stuff he was worried about, his cancer was the least of his worries. His biggest worry was that his wife and his children wouldn’t have a home to live in because he was going through this treatment. He said the amount of worry we took out of his life probably helped him overcome the cancer. He was a success story, got better, went back to work, reinstated his loan, and lived in his home. He said that the big worry we took out of his life totally transformed his attitude at the time.
Elysia: That’s a great story.
Michael J. Frueh: It made me feel good.
Mark Connors: Mr. Frueh talked about three parts and the way he likes to say it is easy to remember, so our mission is to help veterans obtain, retain & adapt. Perhaps another inspirational story is the 20th million loan.
Michael J. Frueh: We just hit our 21st million loan yesterday. Two years ago this October we hit our 20th million loan. Our 20th million loan didn’t go to a veteran or a service member; it went to a surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is a woman named Beth Carpenter who lives in Springfield, Virginia with her little boy. Her husband passed away while he was in service. So, she’s going through all the grief that people go through for losing a spouse and her son had just lost his father. Someone had told her here’s a benefit you have as a surviving spouse. You can still use your husband’s VA home loan benefit to buy a home without a down payment.
By telling her that, it was her Realtor® I think that let her know, she actually looked for a home and found a home that she couldn’t have bought otherwise that she was able to buy without a down payment. Our Under Secretary, myself, and several other people went out to her house to celebrate when she had moved in to say we’re very happy we’re able to help her and her family get a house. But she was the 20th million, so there were 20 million others before her, including surviving spouses; and, again she wouldn’t have known about it if someone didn’t bring it up, and say “Oh your husband served, maybe you qualify for this benefit.” It’s even more reason to get the word out to ask that question.
Elysia: It’s just like you were saying earlier, so not only “have you served” but, “have you or your spouse served?”
For more VA Loan Guarantee information see the following websites:

***Please keep in mind this is only an example for illustration purposes.  These interest rates may not be available and/or you may not qualify for this loan type.

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