VA loans and Foreclosures?

3 Replies

Good Morning BP,

I am new to Bigger Pockets (first month newbie) and in my "baby steps" stage of learning as much as I can about various RE investing techniques and tactics before I take my first plunge. As I head toward winding down my military career (15 years active so far) and begin setting plans for the future after retirement, I feel as though I am coming to the game late, so please forgive any "silly" questions that might have been addressed in previous forums. 

We have never used my VA loan and are looking to use it on our next move (in 18 months) for our primary residence. As I'm learning about VA loan benefits, I have seen some conflicting information. We are wanting to get into something 10-20% below market value + make some improvements (A la Brandon Turner's advice in his latest book). My question is - Can I use VA loan to buy a Foreclosure? Is there a requirement/limit on how much "fixing, i.e. improvements" allowed? Thanks-

If I remember correctly and assuming things haven't changed, VA loans are similar to FHA loans in the aspect that they require a house to be move in ready (yes....I know about 203k loans but) meaning that they don't allow for hardly any repairs that are required for livability. This even includes things like peeling paint and cracked sidewalks sometimes. Hopefully someone else will chime in on this. The parameters may well have changed since I last looked at a VA loan.

@James Fox  Thank you for your service.

@Bill Hamilton is correct. You can use your VA loan benefit to buy a 1-4 unit residential property. You have to owner occupy the property for at least 1 yr. The property has to be in a condition that it can be occupied right away. You can buy a property in foreclosure, as long as the condition is not such that it needs rehab before it can be occupied.

Hubby and I were to mil-to-mil, and we bought our first owner occupied house in England.  When assigned back in the US, we used funds we'd saved up (tax free from deployments, bonus installments, tax returns, extra duty pays, the 10% savings plan on offer during deployments, etc.) to start buying rental homes.  The number of acquisitions, often fixers, went up when we began to market to pre-foreclosures (that I found in the local public newspaper).  I got out of service and worked real estate full time, while hubby remained on active duty.

We moved back to the UK for 10 years and determined that if we wanted to keep buying houses, we had to buy from across the pond, using boots on the ground in the States. Lastly, we bought another owner-occupied house with one of our VA loans. All this to say, that the VA required at least 5 years of serviceable life on the roof. We did have to sign a confirmation that we would owner-occupy for a year (as stated above). We looked for a multi-unit to occupy, but we didn't find one in time. We'll be able to use the other VA entitlement in the future, or could combine the two VA entitlements into a bigger property, down the road (and after we sell or refinance the current VA).

Serial moving has worked well for us, too, because we can get owner-occupied rates when we buy.  We occupy for a year and then move to another house, turning the past house into a rental.