Author: I Am Benchmark

Month of the Military Child

Our nation’s military families make a lot of sacrifices for our country. The Department of Defense designated the month of April in 1986 as ‘The Month of the Military Child’ to commend the sacrifices and devoted support of service members’ children.

There are over one million active-duty dependent children living worldwide. These military children are resilient, remaining steadfast during deployments and frequent moves across the country and the world. According to the Department of Defense Education, on average a military child may move six to nine times during their school career.

At Benchmark, we are proud to support military families. Join us in recognizing these incredible kids and their contributions to our country!


Check out some of the incredible stories of our team giving military families an amazing homebuying experience across the country!

Two hands in a handshake, symbolizing agreement, congratulations, or relational warmth.

New VA Loan Changes start on January 1st, 2020

Effective on January 1st 2020, there will be several changes to the VA loan program.

Effective on January 1st 2020, there will be several changes to the VA loan program. The VA loan is a mortgage loan program that provides many great benefits for veterans and their families. With the passing of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, several changes are coming that every v

The VA loan is a mortgage loan program that provides many great benefits for veterans and their families. With the passing of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, several changes are coming that every veteran considering applying for a VA loan needs to be aware of.

Removal of the Loan Limit

As of January 1st 2020, the VA will no longer cap the price of a home with no money down when purchasing a home with a VA loan, if the buyer has full entitlement . Previously, buyers in higher cost markets were sometimes unable to get VA loans that matched the price of their desired home. With this change, veterans looking to buy with a VA loan will be able to compete with conventional buyers. VA applicants will still have to qualify for the loan and meet the income and down-payment requirements.

Purple Heart Funding Fee Exemption

Another big announcement regarding the VA Loan is the elimination of the funding fee for any active duty Purple Heart recipients.

VA Funding Fee Increase

The VA funding fee will see a slight increase in January 1st 2020. Under the new provisions, the fee will be bumped from 2.15% up to 2.30%. Some will be exempt from this increase, such as those with service related disabilities.

 To learn more about the changes to the VA loan, and to better understand your options and benefits, it is crucial to consult with a Benchmark VA Home Loan Specialist. They have studied the VA loan inside and out, and understand how to get veterans the most from their hard- earned benefits. Schedule a consultation today, and start learning from the experts about the VA Loan program.

Benchmark never quits.

M. Fusaro, Benchmark Veteran client

M. Fusaro

There wasn’t even a doubt in our minds nor did we ever question who we were going to use as our VA Lender. Sheri from Benchmark took care of us on our first home purchase, so we knew the second would be just as easy. Any question we had, day or night was answered to the quickest capability via text, call or email.

As a veteran, I’ve personally witnessed my brothers and sisters in arms being underserved. That’s not what we experienced with Sheri. From day one we were welcomed and walked through the lending process. And during closing, in the presence of Sheri and our realtor, the closing department showed high praise for Benchmark.

The thing that stood out the most was Sheri’s responsiveness and genuine empathy. While I know we were not her only clients at the time, she made us feel as if we were. She was prompt, easy to talk to, and it was apparent she is an expert in the field. We had a complicated application with multiple homes and Sheri found us the best and most financially sound Package.

We never look back wondering if there would have been an easier way without Sheri.

X. Sampson, Benchmark Veteran client

X. Sampson

Choosing Benchmark came at the recommendation of my realtor. Sheri and her team did not disappoint. Every question or concern was answered promptly and honestly. My preappoval and home selection was all done while I was deployed. When I came home I had a family emergency and Benchmark had a notary come to my location to finished the closing. They are the kind of company where everyone knows who you are. The easiest and most efficient process I’ve done which is mind-boggling since buying a home is such a large purchase. Military or not Benchmark is a stellar company with honest people.

E. Cartwright II photograph in front of his new house

E. Cartwright

I Eugene Cartwright II, would like to thank Aaron Rue and everyone at Benchmark who helped my wife and myself with the process for getting us in our new home. I applied for my VA loan and Aaron really helped throughout the process. I would encourage any Veteran that’s looking to purchase a home, to talk to Aaron Rue and the wonderful people at Benchmark. I served in the Air Force in Desert Storm and proud to say that as a Veteran I am thankful and grateful for Aaron and the way I was treated. I was able to qualify for $0 down and $0 at closing through the VA program. My wife and myself are proud home owners and it’s all thanks to Aaron Rue @ Benchmark.

Can I Still Get A VA Loan With Bad Credit?

Unfortunately, it depends on the situation and reasons, so there is no simple answer for bad credit. A few potential reasons could be that you have experienced a divorce which led to a bankruptcy, mismanaged your finances, experienced job loss, or any other financial hazards.

Your credit is calculated from many moving parts. The good news is that your credit score is constantly changing! If you take steps to improve your financial habits, you may also gain an improved credit score in addition to greater peace of mind.

At Benchmark, we don’t leave you to figure it out all on your own.

You are working hard for the chance to buy your dream home. Shouldn’t your lender ,at least, work just as hard?

Knowing what improvements to make when improving your credit can be tricky. That’s where we can help. For example, while some factors apply to everyone, there will be others that only apply to you.

Some strategies you could use to positively impact your score very quickly are:

  1. Keep credit card balances low: I like to call this the rule of 30. Your balance accounts for 30% of your credit score. You want to make sure that your utilization ratio is less than 30%. For example, if you have a credit limit of $1,000, your balance should NEVER exceed $300. If you are already over that, pay it down to where it is less than 30%. By far, this is the mistake that most people make.
  2. Pay your debts: This is not always as simple as it seems, but this accounts for 35% of your score. Something to keep in mind is that paying off new debt has a greater impact than paying off old debt. If you have a newer open credit card, pay that balance first.
  3. Clear up any mistakes: Did you know that as many as 4 out of 5 people have errors on their credit reports*? The odds that you may be one of them are high at 80%. While you can pull your own credit for free once a year, credit reports can be difficult to read. At Benchmark, we review your credit report with you to ensure your credit’s accuracy. If errors are found on your report, you have the opportunity to correct them.
    *https://www.cbsnews.com/news/4-in-5-credit-reports-have-errors/

Ratio of used credit and payment of debt combine to account for 65% of your score. The next biggest factor is time, or the length of your credit history. If you are trying to improve your credit, it is important that you do not close your credit card accounts. This hits you on two categories: one is your credit utilization ratio ,or how much you owe, because the ratios will not be calculated properly on closed accounts (you’d have debt, but no extra credit limit), and the other is on length of credit history, because a closed account does not report a length of time.

Chart of credit status and new mortgages
Image source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/4-in-5-credit-reports-have-errors/

Overall, there is no single quick technique to improve your credit score. It’s best to simply live within your means, by not spending more than your income. If you’d like more information, give us a call. We can help you get a more personalized view of your credit, and help you decide what you can do to improve it.

At Benchmark, we will put together a custom action plan to help you achieve your dream of owning your own home. Call 1-800-VET-EASY, or get your Certificate of Eligibility to get started today!

J. Tilley, Benchmark Veteran client

J. Tilley

Bret was extremely helpful in not only getting things done on time, but also ensuring that I understood what all was going on as a first-time buyer. I appreciated his work ethic and willingness to take a couple extra steps to make sure my loan went through. If I ever buy another home in the Wichita area I will definitely be going back to Bret and Benchmark Mortgage.- J. Tilley U.S. Air force