The VA home loan benefit is one of the oldest and most popular military benefits–those who serve a minimum amount of time in active service may qualify to apply for a VA mortgage with zero money down, flexible credit guidelines, and the ability to refinance the VA mortgage at a later time.
But the VA mortgage is not the only veteran-friendly home loan option. Depending on the state you live in, you may find a state-operated veteran home loan program that can help you on the road to homeownership.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) is an independent state agency helping low- to moderate-income borrowers obtain affordable housing. These programs include veteran-friendly home loan programs designed to help first-time buyers and experienced home owners alike. The general terms for these loans include:
- Fixed-rate mortgages
- 30-year loans
- Government-backed loans supported including USDA-RD, FHA, and VA home loans
- Loans feature purchase price ceilings and income requirements
- Applicants must meet credit score requirements–640 or higher for VA loans
Not all the OHFA options are right for veterans, but many are. There are some general program eligibility requirements that all applicants must meet depending on the nature of the loan and other variables.
In general, OHFA programs have FICO score requirements and will require home buyer education; there are additional rules including:
- Applicants in most cases must have no ownership interest in a primary residence within the last three years
- Applicants must be purchasing a home in a “target area”’
- Veteran applicants must have an Honorable discharge
All buyers who are accepted for OHFA programs must attend home buyer education courses which are not considered complete until “after the homebuyer submits their loan application with their loan officer.” Homebuyer Education is not required for borrowers who are only registered for the MTC Basic program.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency Ohio Heroes Program
This home loan option is intended for those in public service including military veterans. The list of eligible applicants for Ohio Heroes program include:
- Active duty military members (including surviving spouses)
- Reservists (including surviving spouses)
- Police officers, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMTs and paramedics
- Nurse practitioners, nurses (RN and LPN) and STNAs
- Teachers (pre-K through grade 12), school administrators, and counselors
This type of home loan is offered through participating lenders–OHFA does not lend money directly but works in association with a network of lenders to help veterans and other public servants find affordable mortgages.
This program accommodates USDA, FHA, conventional, and VA home loans. As with most VA loan programs, borrowers must be purchasing a primary residence and agree to occupy within 60 days of closing (in most cases). Income caps and purchase price limits apply.
Ohio Housing Finance Agency Down Payment Assistance
VA mortgage loans feature a zero down payment option, but for those who choose to make a down payment there are some definite perks aside from saving more money over the lifetime of the loan by paying interest on a smaller principal loan amount.
If you apply for an OHFA home loan program you may also qualify for the Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance plan which offers help with a down payment for either 2.5% or 5% of the home’s purchase price.
VA borrowers who put five percent down or ten percent down may be eligible for a reduced VA Loan Funding Fee as a result; that is one reason some choose to put money down.
Your Choice! Funds may be applied toward home loan payments, closing costs or “pre-closing expenses” and the assistance is forgiven after a minimum period–if you sell the property or refinance it before the minimum time period ends, you are required to repay this down payment assistance.
Ohio Finance Agency Next Home Program
Some low-income and moderate-income borrowers are not first-time home buyers. This is especially true for many veterans and currently serving junior enlisted troops. The OHFA Next Home Program is for these applicants. The program offers low-interest fixed-rate 30-year mortgages (including VA loan options) for those who are not first-time buyers.
This program allows you to apply for Your Choice! Down Payment Assistance (see above) but you are not required to use this assistance if you have your own down payment sources or choose not to make a down payment on your VA loan.
How To Apply For OHFA Programs
OHFA works with participating lenders to provide these services; if you need help finding a participating lender in the state, call 888.362.6432 for assistance.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
|State-Run Veteran Friendly Home Loan Programs||State Veteran’s Benefits|
|VA Home Loan Options||Best States with Veteran Benefits|
|Best VA Loan Lenders||Ohio Veterans Benefits|