Author: I Am Benchmark

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.

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

C. Lewis, Benchmark Veteran client

C. Lewis

From the first conversation until closing, Kevin was amazing.  He went above and beyond to ensure that our loan was processed and ready prior to closing with no issues.  His professionalism and knowledge about VA loans is what comforted my wife and I that we were in good hands.  This was our forth home buying experience and by far the best, once we chose Benchmark as our lender.  Thanks again for making our dream home experience a great one!

VA Loan Benefits for Disabled Veterans

All eligible veterans and active duty service members can take advantage of their VA loan benefit, but those with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for additional benefits when buying a home.

VA Funding Fee Exemption

The VA funding fee is a percentage of the loan amount that veterans using their VA loan must pay to offset the taxpayer cost of the VA loan program. Veterans who receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability do not have to pay this fee. The fee is 2.15% for regular military using the VA loan for the first time with no down payment. On a $250,000 house, that could mean savings of $5,375 if you qualify for the VA funding fee exemption.

Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans

The VA offers a grant program to assist with constructing, modifying, or purchasing a specially adapted home for veterans with certain service-connected disabilities. Typically, those with service-connected injuries including loss of or loss of use of both arms and/or both legs, blindness in both eyes, certain severe burn injuries, loss of or loss of use of both hands, and certain severe respiratory issues are eligible to receive a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaption (SHA) Grant.

The grant can help cover the costs of modifying your home to accommodate your disability, such as modifying rooms, walkways, flooring materials, ramps, walkways, and much more. You can learn more about the grant program and check your eligibility here. Because it is a grant, the money does not have to be paid back.

Property Tax Exemptions

Nearly every state has some form of property tax exemption for disabled veterans, but eligibility and benefits can vary widely across counties and states. Talk to your loan officer, tax advisor, or local municipal tax accessors office to see if you might qualify.

Understanding Your Benefits

An experienced loan officer who specializes in VA loans can help you navigate the VA loan process. The Veterans Home Front by Benchmark is committed to making your VA loan experience easy through our easy Certificate of Eligibility service and first-class service that ensures our veterans receive the American Dream of home ownership they deserve.

Ready to get into the perfect home? Check your eligibility to get started.


Patriotic Family enjoying a cookout in their picturesque back yard.

VA Loan Closing Costs

A VA Home Loan, you may be aware, offers up to 100% financing for eligible veterans and military service members. This means that the Department of Veteran Affairs VA Loan program allows qualified borrowers the ability to purchase a home with no down payment and no required mortgage insurance.

However, up to 100% financing does not mean that there are no out of pocket costs for veterans using their VA Home Loan benefit. Most home purchase transactions have closing costs: typical expenses in a mortgage and real estate transaction outside of the purchase price of the home. These closing expenses might include things such as VA funding fees, loan origination fees, VA appraisal fees, credit report fees, insurance and real estate taxes, discount points, and title costs.

The good news? It is common practice in negotiations for the seller to pay for some closing costs and there are protections in place to limit the total cost of allowable origination fees charged to the buyer.

Here is an overview of some common costs associated with purchasing a home using your VA loan benefits.


VA Funding Fee

The VA funding fee is established by the Department of Veteran Affairs to help offset the cost of the VA loan guaranty program to taxpayers. The fee is a percentage of the loan that can vary depending on factors including your military category, whether it is your first time using your VA loan benefit, and whether you make a down payment.

The current funding fee for regular military personnel making no down payment on a first-time VA loan is 2.15%. Veterans who receive VA compensation for a service related disability, or a surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service related disability, do not have to pay a VA funding fee.


Loan Origination Fees

A loan origination fee is charged by mortgage lenders to cover the administrative costs associated with processing your loan. The lender may charge up to 1% of the loan as a flat origination fee, or the fee may be itemized at no greater than 1% of the loan. No matter how the origination fees are presented, the lender cannot charge you more than 1% to cover the cost of loan origination and processing.


VA Appraisal Fees

A VA appraisal is a required part of the VA loan process where an appraiser determines the value of the property. The cost of the appraisal depends on the location of the subject property and the type of residence but typically ranges from $475-$700.


Credit Report Fees

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will pull your credit report. Typically, the cost is around $50, but this can vary based on the lender.


Insurance and Real Estate Taxes

At closing, lenders will often collect advanced payments on your required homeowners insurance policy and property taxes. This is commonly referred to as an ‘escrow account.’ Holding the funds in a third-party escrow account helps ensure the buyer’s ability to afford to pay the property taxes and home insurance on their new home, which is important for lenders to help mitigate potential loan risks.

Many states offer property tax exemptions for fully or partially disabled veterans. Consult with your tax advisor to see if you may be eligible.


Discount Points 

Discount points are fees paid to the lender at closing to reduce your interest rate. This is also commonly referred to as “buying down the rate.” Lenders will often quote you with the current mortgage rates and discount point options, which fluctuate daily.


Title Costs 

During your home loan process, a title company will complete a title search to verify that there are no outstanding liens or legal claims against the property. Most lenders will also require title insurance, an insurance policy that covers the lender’s interest in the property if any liens are discovered after closing.


Who pays closing costs? 

Closing costs may be paid by the buyer, the seller, or shared. It is common practice for sellers to pay some, or all, of the closing costs, but it is not required. With the help of your real estate agent, you can negotiate any closing costs and seller concessions into your offer.

Under the VA rules, the seller can pay for up to 4% of the total loan amount in ‘concessions’. As defined by the VA these concessions are “anything of value added to the transaction by the builder or seller for which the buyer pays nothing additional and which the seller is not customarily expected or required to pay or provide.” Items subject to the 4% rule include the buyer’s VA funding fee, prepayment of property taxes and insurance, gifts such as a TV, extra discount points, or payment of the buyer’s credit balances. So in addition to customary closing costs associated with the loan, you can negotiate with the seller to pay up to 4% of the loan in seller concessions.

Closing costs must be paid at the time of closing. The VA funding fee is the only closing cost that is allowed to be financed into the loan amount.


In Summary

Though this is not a comprehensive list of closing costs, it does give you an idea of the types of expenses you might face when purchasing a home. The good news is that your lender is required to provide a Good Faith Estimate of charges you will likely occur at closing. Closing costs are a normal part of every home buying experience when financing a home.



Do you have questions about closing costs or your VA loan benefits? 

Contact us by filling out the form below, and one of our VA Loan Specialists will be in contact. Thank you for your service!

M. Rivenbark

We were looking to make a new start in Tennessee! When we found Becky Rockwell with Benchmark, we found a treasure in the mortgage world! We decided to use my VA loan on the third and final house! What a great experience! With Becky at helm, Rachel and Christie made the whole experience seamless! The purchase went off smoothly! If we could, we will recommend anyone to use Becky Rockwell for your mortgage needs! Thank you ladies for all the hard work!

Field Report from Sevierville, TN

Field Report: Future Retirement Income as Qualification Factor

Can I use my future retirement income to qualify for a VA loan?

If you are planning to retire from the military, you may be able to use your future retirement income to qualify for your VA home loan. The lender will need to document that your future income will be sufficient to qualify for the loan amount you are seeking.

In order to use your future retirement pay, you must document a specific start date and a specific rate of pay. To do this, the lender will often request a letter on official letter head signed and dated by your commanding officer stating your approved retirement date and your monthly retirement amount.

Check out the ‘Field Report’ below to see how we qualified an Active Duty Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force based on his future retirement income!

The Scenario

Active Duty Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force applied for a purchase VA Loan. He had been turned down by another lender for unstable income because he was less than 12 months away from Expiration of Term of Service (ETS) and not yet receiving retirement income

The Obstacle

The individual could not qualify based on his active duty pay and his planned retirement was not until 4 months later.

How We Overcame

We requested an official letter stating his retirement date and this amount of his monthly retirement, which was signed and dated by his Commander.

The Result

Benchmark was able to close the loan 95 days prior to his retirement income starting!


Ready to use your VA Home Loan benefit? Take the first step and Check you Eligibility with our free COE tool.

A. Hill

Alex Wall has gone above and beyond to help me with my home loan that I purchased few years back. Even though it has been years since I purchased my home he still checks in and sees how the house is going. Benchmark Mortgage is really great company to get a loan through because they will sit and talk to you about any questions you may have. They give you advice on your loans and purchases. As a veteran, they gave me quite the discounts and helped me achieve the monthly premium that I wanting.

You can not go wrong with using Benchmark Mortgage as a lender.

A. Hill

Field Report: Arizona to Nebraska while on Active Duty in Texas

The Scenario

The veteran borrower previously lived in his owner-occupied property in Arizona, technically a departing residence, which he had been renting out for 18 months. He was currently renting while on active duty in Texas, when he received PCS Orders to Nebraska and decided to purchase a home there.

The Obstacle

Rental income was needed in order to offset the mortgage payment (PITI) on the property in Arizona, so we could qualify for a mortgage on the property in Nebraska. He had a lease agreement on the property in Arizona, but we could no longer use it. We could have used that rental income to offset the payment of the PITI, If the borrower had departed the previous residence fewer than 12 months ago. In this scenario, he had been gone for 18 months, which means that a full tax cycle had passed. In order to use any of the rental income, we would need to claim it on the tax return, however, the borrower had not claimed the rental income on his 2017 tax return.

How We Overcame

We decided that the best solution to the problem was to have the borrower “amend” their 2017 tax return to claim the rental income. Remember that perception is reality. Although it may not have been fun to have this conversation with the veteran client, it was necessary to make the deal work. Veterans are resilient! What may have been a huge inconvenience to some, was viewed as his being spared the hardship of not being able to buy a home. Our veteran client was happy to comply, and promptly had his 2017 taxes amended.

The Solution

Due to the borrower amending their 2017 tax returns, it now showed a $400 per month loss to the borrower’s income. Our underwriter had already verified that he would still be qualified for the loan (even with a loss of up to $750), so he was within tolerance. We approved the loan, and the veteran client was able to purchase his home. Finally, we closed on schedule, with all parties coming away happy and satisfied.

Benchmark brings you home.