Home loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to have the lowest serious delinquency and foreclosure rates in the mortgage industry. Veterans have also taken advantage of their home loan benefit in record numbers, as VA loan originations reached their highest total in eight years.
"The continued strong performance and high volume of VA loans are a testament to the importance of VA's home loan program and a tribute to the skilled VA professionals who help homeowners in financial trouble keep their homes," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki.
Last year, VA helped 72,391 Veterans and Servicemembers who were in default on their mortgage loan retain their homes or avoid foreclosure, an increase from 66,030 from the prior year. At the same time, foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans dropped by 28 percent.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey, VA's foreclosure rate for the last 14 quarters and serious delinquency rate for the last 11 quarters have been the lowest of all measured loan types, even prime loans.
In fiscal year 2011, VA guaranteed 357,594 loans, an increase of nearly 14 percent over last year. There are currently over 1.5 million active VA home loans. The program makes home ownership more affordable for Veterans, active duty Servicemembers, and eligible surviving spouses by permitting no-downpayment loans and by protecting lenders from loss if the borrower fails to repay the loan.
Much of the program's strength stems from the efforts of VA employees and loan servicers nationwide, whose mission is to ensure all Veterans receive every possible opportunity to remain in their homes, avoid foreclosure, and protect their credit from the consequences of a foreclosure.
"We are committed to making even more Veterans and Servicemembers aware of this important benefit and delivering the assistance they deserve when financial difficulties arise," said VA's Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.
For Veterans and Servicemembers who have trouble meeting their mortgage obligations or anticipate problems in the near future, VA first recommends contacting their loan servicer.
Depending on the situation, VA's loan specialists can intervene on a Veteran's behalf to help pursue home-retention options such as repayment plans, forbearances, and loan modifications. Veterans and Servicemembers can also call VA toll-free at (877) 827-3702 to speak with a VA specialist concerning foreclosure avoidance.
Veterans may obtain a certificate of eligibility and sign up for eBenefits through the web portal at www.ebenefits.va.gov. The Department of Defense and VA jointly developed the eBenefits portal as a single secure point of access for online benefit information and tools to perform multiple self-service functions such as checking the status of their claim.
Servicemembers may enroll in eBenefits using their Common Access Card at any time during their military service, or before they leave during their Transition Assistance Program briefings.
Veterans may also enroll in eBenefits and obtain a premium account by verifying their identity in-person at the nearest regional office or online depending on their status, or calling VA's toll free number at 1-800-827-1000.
Since 1944, when home loan guaranties were first offered under the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 19.4 million home loans worth over $1.1 trillion. To obtain more information about the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, please visit the program's home page at www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans.