Category Archives: Military

Read below for reduced VA Funding Fee!

VA loan in Niceville Florida

VA loans in Niceville Florida

Have you served our country by serving in the military, reserve, or National Guard?  If so, your benefits are about to get better, and I think that’s great!  The VA mortgage loan is a fantastic tool for financing a home.  In fact, if a home buyer doesn’t want to make a down payment, their options are limited to a Veterans Administration (VA) loan (if they’re eligible), a Rural Housing Loan (only available in some parts of the country), or some niche types of loans with limited availability in some localities.

While VA loans are excellent they aren’t free, and cost a little more if you’re using it for a subsequent home purchase.  In fact, if you close on a subsequent VA mortgage this month, your VA Funding Fee will be 3.3% of the loan amount if you don’t make a down payment!  Fear not, it gets better!!

If you close your VA loan on the 1st of October 2011 (or more realistically the 3rd since the 1st is a Saturday) or after, your Funding Fee will reduce from 3.3% to 2.8%!  That’s a savings of .5% of the loan amount, ($1,250 on a $250,000 purchase!!).  If, after reading this, you decide to delay your closing a couple of days to save .5%, I’d be happy to let you take me to lunch!  🙂

Here is an abbreviated table for the VA Funding Fee:

VA Guaranteed Loans – Loan Fee Structure

loans closed on or after October 1, 2011

(abbreviated table)

First Time Use
Down Payment:  Less than 5%  Between 5% and 10%  At least 10%




Second and Subsequent Use
Down Payment:   Less than 5%  Between 5% and 10%  At least 10%




To see the full table, and the release from the Veterans Administration, click here.

For the past 6 years over 60% of my customers have used VA loans. Consider me your VA lending expert!

How can I help you or your friends?


Aren’t you glad you earned V.A. eligibility?

For those of you with V.A. eligibility, let me say thank you.  There is no way to get V.A. eligibility without serving our country, and for that I am grateful to you!  If you have that eligibility you are fortunate indeed.  I came across a situation the other day that highlighted the benefit of a V.A. loan that I think everyone should hear.

“Gerald” called the other day.  He makes a lot of money, near $12,000 a month with his military retirement income, and his current defense contractor income.  However, his credit score isn’t very good.  In fact, it’s about 635, well below the national average. 

If Gerald wanted to buy a home using “conventional” financing he would have to put at least 20% down because no mortgage insurance company would approve him for mortgage insurance with his credit score.  And in addition because of the Loan Level Price Adjustments associated with conventional financing his interest rate would be nearly 5.625% for a 30 year fixed rate.  Ah, but Gerald has V.A. eligibility!!

Gerald can buy the same house with absolutely no down payment, and no mortgage insurance.  Even his V.A. “Funding Fee” is waived because he has a slight service connected disability.   And his interest rate is only about 5.125% on a V.A. loan!

So let’s review his situation:   $400,000 purchase price.
Conventional: $80,000 down payment, 5.625%  and a principal and interest payment of $1,842  -or-
V.A.: $0 down,  5.125% and a principal and interest payment of $2,177. That’s just over $200 more per month to finance $80,000 more!  Gerald, aren’t you glad you earned your V.A. eligibility?

For more on V.A. underwriting and my ideas to fix lending see my post entitled: “Mortgage Solutions using V.A. lending as our guide” by clicking here.

Mortgage Solutions using V.A. lending as our guide

V.A. Loans, those guaranteed by the Veterans Administration, work.  That’s the short of it. See the graph of seriously delinquent mortgages by loan type:

Note the blue line for VA loans.  See how those have been the best performing loans in the industry at least since 2005 through the 3rd quarter of 2010?  Guess what?  V.A. loans do not require any down payment whatsoever!  In fact, V.A. loans are a lot like the sub-prime loans of 2004-2007!

You see, V.A. loans do not require a down payment.  V.A. loans do not have a minimum credit score in order to be financed.  V.A. borrowers can have a bankruptcy discharged within the past 2 years.  In fact, sellers can even pay down a veterans debt in order to help the veteran qualify.  These are very flexible loans.   Perhaps the move to require larger down payments and higher credit scores isn’t the answer.  Maybe improving our loan performance has more to do with underwriting practices.  You see, a VA underwrite is different from the others.  Let me explain how I would fix the nation’s lending problems by detailing some of how a VA loan is underwritten.

1) Let’s consider why a person’s credit score is low instead of only looking at the numerical score.  If the story makes sense and/or if reasons for negative credit can be proven to be beyond the borrower’s control, let’s proceed to an approval.

2) Let’s consider how much money the borrower will have to spend after his or her home maintenance, social security, and state and federal taxes are paid.  And then, let’s consider how many people are in the household.  If they have residual income of a certain amount after the above is considered, let’s move forward with an approval.

3) Let’s have all appraisers selected by one single entity just like V.A. appraisers are selected.  Let’s not farm out our appraisals to the lowest bidder.  Let’s not use appraiser’s who are outside of the subject property market area.  And let’s make all appraisals also include an assessment of the property condition.  If the local appraiser being paid a fair wage, selected via a random process, gives a satisfactory condition report and a substantiated opinion of value that supports our purchase price, let’s move forward with an approval.

I have closed hundreds of V.A. loans, and the experience has taught me a lot.  In fact, I consider myself to be somewhat of a V.A. expert, and I’ve always thought V.A. underwriting just made more sense than conventional or FHA underwriting.  I don’t suppose I have all the answers, but when I see data like that in the chart above it makes me think that perhaps we should learn from the data and then make decisions instead of the other way around.

If you, or someone you know needs a V.A. loan, contact me via the link above my picture.  I’d love to put my experience to work for you!

Celebrate our Veterans on November 11

Here is a memory of my Dad’s service to our country: On Sept. 17, 1972 when I, Bart was only 1 year old, my Dad (Dave Swan) performed a risky rescue attempt of two downed F105G pilots in the seas just south of Haiphong harbor.  His story is detailed in Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue by Galdorisi and Phillips, 2008.  The following paragraph is an excerpt from the book and reflections by my Dad.

The Air Force were hitting targets in the hills north of the Haiphong area when Lt. Swan in Big Mother 70 (another name for the H3 helicopter) and Lt Lockett in Big Mother 61 received word of an F-105G Wild Weasel in trouble and making for the water.  Lt. Swan reached the downed pilot within 45 seconds of impact and released the rescue swimmer who fought unsuccessfully to free the motionless pilot face down in a seated position 15 feet under the water.  Big Mother 61 reached the other motionless pilot and Lt. Lockett released his rescue swimmer who was picked up once Lt. Lockett decided the place was to hot.  Shore batteries had opened fire, with surprising and immediate accuracy.  Lt. Swan followed Lt. Lockett and released his swimmer for a rescue attempt of the same downed pilot.  The swimmer attempted the 50 yard swim in rough seas to the downed motionless pilot without success. The swimmer was picked up but had to be released due to the hoist jamming.  Lt. Swan considered landing in the water [the H3 had this capability] but the high seas rendered the option very poor indeed.  Lt. Swan held his position as the shrapnel rapped into the helicopter.  Lt. Lockett flew into the bursting shells to complete the rescue of the swimmer but the swimmer’s position was lost.  The aircraft set up a racetrack pattern in and out of the impact area searching for the swimmer.  Several passes were made through the forest of splashes and finally after 15-30 minutes the swimmer was located.  Lt. Swan lowered Big Mother 70 to within a foot of the wave tops, and with the tail wheel submerged in the sea, the swimmer slipped in to the horse collar and was taken out of the area and brought on board. 

For our country’s selfless heroes, and especially my Dad, I am very proud.  Thank you!

Would you like to be a real estate baron?

Now is the time!  There is a wave of people moving to the Northwest Florida area.  I (Bart) am associated with a couple of different organizations that are tracking and preparing for the projected growth of our area, and the numbers look good!  I am a member of the Okaloosa County “Transition Council” which has meetings on a regular basis to be sure the area businesses are prepared for – and welcome, a large influx of people.  I wanted to take a few minutes to give you some of the statistics and projections I have access too.  As I said, this may be a great time to buy real estate, as the population is coming.

Okaloosa County is facing unprecedented growth within the next few years.  The congressional 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) identified Okaloosa County military installations for an increase of approximately 4,500 military personnel; with their families the total population influx will be 10,000 by 2016. 

The majority of this growth will saturate Okaloosa County within a six month period in 2011.  That’s only about a year and half from now!!  These people are going to need housing.  BRAC is bringing people for primarily 2 new missions in our area. 

The Army 7th Special Forces Group Airborne (7th SGFA) will bring approximately 2,200 active military personnel.  With their spouses and children we expect just over 6,000.  The majority of these folks will arrive between April and September of 2011.  Because their newly built facility will be just south of Crestview, it is expected that most of them will want to live in Crestview.  However, these are (for the most part) fairly high ranking enlisted personnel with myriad income incentives.  In other words, they’ll have incomes that may support their living wherever they wish, be it Crestview, Baker, or Niceville/Destin.

The Air Force Joint Strike Fighter Initial Training Center (JSF IJTS) is anticipated to bring approximately 2,300 active duty personnel to Eglin Air Force base.  With their spouses and children we expect just over 4,800 people to be arriving between March 2010, and September 2016.  Many of these folks will be permanently stationed here, and will be pilots or associated maintenance people.  Either way, they’ll also have the income to purchase or rent fairly high end homes.

The continual defense-related industrial growth has helped our area sustain a relatively strong economy.  The Federal government’s continued employment and sending of thousands of people to our area will continue to have a very positive economic affect.  Will you be properly positioned to take advantage of this? 

Give our office a call and let’s talk about how you can be on leading edge of preparedness.

We’re providing a professional approach to mortgage finance!  How can we help you?

Weekly Update from Baker and Lindsey, Inc. | Niceville Office

Happy Independence Day!  As we look over the first half of 2009 it’s easy to focus on the volatility that grabbed the headlines week after week.  But this weekend is a powerful reminder that America has survived and, in fact, thrived through adversity for more than 230 years. Thanks to the diligence, wisdom and perseverance of the American people, we will navigate today’s challenges to reemerge stronger in the years to come.

We couldn’t be more proud of our support of the American dream.  Many people have inquired with us recently about purchasing their first home.  This has been made possible through housing that is more affordable now than at least since 1971 when the National Association of Realtors began calculations using their Housing Affordability Index.  I have been over this index many times in past newsletters.  Recent local numbers are posted at our website, available by clicking here.

We were able to help Ashley Davis accomplish the American dream with the purchase of her first home.  Her story was told on the front page of the Northwest Florida Daily News, and you can view the article by clicking here.

We are deeply grateful for our ability to help Veterans purchase homes.  Over 50% of our closings over the last 2 months have been for active, retired, and disabled Veterans using a V.A. loan.  I have a deep respect for Americans that have volunteered to serve our country in this way, and as such always work extra hard for these selfless individuals.  We’ve recently helped several individuals who are coming to the area to support the mission of the Joint Strike Fighter, and we are looking forward to the working with individuals with the Army 7th Special Forces Group that is coming from Fort Bragg.  If you or someone you know is looking for a V.A. loan please direct them to our coupon located at LocalAdLink by clicking here.

Please enjoy this Independence Day, remembering the hard fought battles that allow for our continued freedoms.  These include military battles, political battles, and finally (and most importantly to me) battles for our families – raising a generation of service to others and country above self.

We’re providing a professional approach to mortgage finance!  How can we help you?

Concerned About Jet Noise?

Concerned about jet noise?  That’s become a huge topic lately, especially in Northwest Florida! If you missed my newsletter last Veteran’s Day then you may not know I grew up a military kid. There were fast, loud military jets flying over my head while I was growing up and it always thrilled me! I can remember swinging on a swing set when I was in 7th grade imagining that I was flying straight up with my afterburners forcing me into my seat. Is there anything we as Americans can be more proud of than our country and the men and women that fight for our freedom? I think not!

Of course freedom comes with a price, and sometimes that price includes listening to loud jets as they repeatedly fly overhead training to defend us. Sometimes the noise from Eglin Air Force Base makes the windows in my house shake; but my heart always swells with pride (and envy) as I know some stud is sitting on top of that flame throwing rocket waiting to take off and conquer the air in a way I could only dream of. It’s more exciting than bull riding on steroids!

Northwest Florida was immensely fortunate to be the recipient of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Training Center as part of the BRAC decision in 2005. Most of us have been eagerly anticipating the huge economic boost provided by the several thousand people moving to our area, the large amount of military construction needed, and the notoriety this move will give our area. However, there are a few that are not at all happy about the JSF coming because of “noise concerns”. The city of Valparaiso has decided to sue the Air Force (twice that I know of) to stop the JSF from coming to our area. Thus far, the lawsuits have slowed the arrival by a couple of years, and have potentially jeopardized the arrival of the JSF at all. Valparaiso cites concern that the jet noise will cause Valparaiso to become a “ghost town”. I believe Valparaiso will become a ghost town faster if there is no jet noise than if there is. Our economy (most notably Valparaiso) has for generations relied on the Air Force and it’s employment.

Last night at the City of Crestview courthouse, Okaloosa county commissioners met to decide what to do with regard to these “ill-advised” lawsuits. You can read about their decisions in the local papers. If you’d like to support the program I know of at least 2 ways you can do so. Come to Uptown Station on the 13th of March between 10 and 2 for BBQ from Chris Hughes (pre-order your $5 BBQ by calling 651-7447 by March 10), and an opportunity to sign your support to a huge billboard, and/or answer the quick poll on Congressman Jeff Miller’s webpage asking “Do you support the Air Force’s decision to locate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Eglin Air Force Base?” by clicking here. I hope you support the Air Force’s decision. Our local economy needs this program and we need to support the men and women that train and fight for our freedom! I have attached a resolution passed by the Board of Directors of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce for your review. Today the Federal Government will release plans for use of the Economic Stimulus Plan’s money to bolster the housing industry. I plan to provide details on this plan in next week’s newsletter.

We’re providing a professional approach to mortgage finance! How can we help you?