VA Loans Blog

Inflation? What inflation?  Surely you don’t believe your lying eyes!  Let’s look at the numbers and sort this out.

The most apparent sign of inflation is seen at the gas pump. Fuel prices have soared since the beginning of the year. That in turn has resulted in increased pricing for many goods because it costs more to take goods from point A to point B. Here’s an insight into the economy; businesses pass increasing costs whether it be transportation or taxes on to consumers (you). But there’s another sign of inflation and that is the cost of housing.

Strictly speaking inflation relates to the money supply. When the Federal Reserve prints money, which they are doing at record levels, the result is more dollars chasing fewer goods. Perhaps you’ve noticed, housing prices have escalated. Generally, there are fewer homes for sale than usual. Even though the Federal Reserve is inflating the money supply they’ve continued to keep interest rates extremely low. It’s easier to borrow more because these low interest rates will keep payments down. This is a classic example of more dollars (loans) chasing fewer goods (houses).

The Case-Shiller National Home Price Index indicates home prices in major cities nationwide rose 19% year over year as of July 1. Since 2006 home prices nationwide have increased 41%. Is this a bubble soon to pop?

Many economists, especially those tied to real estate firms, say no.

“…Zillow economist Chris Glynn said too much demand and not enough supply means the housing market can’t tumble overnight.   But the double-digit price hikes won’t last forever.

“We’re seeing signs that the market is beginning to cool just a little bit, and by cool I mean house price growth is slowing, not that prices are going to decline,” Glynn said.”~~Marketplace, 08/31/2021

According to the National Association of Realtors it is millennials with good credit scores driving this market. 

At VALoansMN we continue to offer millennials and others great rates at these historically low interest rates. Be prepared if you enter the housing market. Let Brad arm you with a pre-approval letter which will strengthen your offer to buy a home in this hot housing market.

It doesn’t cost anything to talk and talk can sometimes help you make the right decision in such an important step toward home ownership or refinancing.

Posted by Joan Rusco on September 20th, 2021 1:14 PM

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to buy a home using your VA benefit borrowing 100% of the purchase price and NOT PAYING any monthly mortgage insurance fee like that required by an FHA or conventional loan. That is one of the several perks of a loan from VALoansMN. There are others but we’ll take this time to focus on borrowing 100% of a home purchase price with your VA loan.

Here’s some comparison numbers that make your VA loan benefit look even better. An FHA loan only requires 3.5% down. But you’re going to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium equal to 1.75% of the loan amount. That’s not all. You’re also going to pay a monthly mortgage premium based on the loan amount. If the loan is less than $625,500 multiply your loan amount by .008 and divide by 12. For example:

$250,000X.008=$2,000/12=monthly mortgage premium of $166.67

Let’s repeat and emphasize: VA loan holders pay NO monthly mortgage premium. But you will pay an up front funding fee. At least, most people will pay this up front fee. Some don’t and we’ll explain who doesn’t have to pay any fee later. For now, let’s discuss your VA funding fee.

The funding fee paid up front can be rolled into the loan amount so you can actually borrow 100% of the purchase price PLUS your funding fee. Use these numbers to figure your funding fee:

If you put less than 5% down your funding fee is 2.3% of the loan amount. It decreases if you put more money down. 

Money down:  

5-9% the fee is 1.65% of the loan amount 

10% or more the fee is 1.4% of loan amount.

The above figures are for first time users. If you’ve used your VA loan benefit before the funding fee is greater.

No money down the fee is 3.6% of the loan amount.

5 to 9% down the fee is 1.65%

10% or more the fee is 1.4%

Notice the fees for 5% or more for repeat users are the same as for first time VA loan borrowers. 

Our discussion thus far has been about home purchasers. What if you are refinancing? If you’re simply wanting to lower your VA loan rate by refinancing your funding fee is .005 X Loan Amount regardless of prior use or service.

Earlier we suggested not everyone has to pay the up front funding fee. There are numerous exempt veterans. Here’s but a few:

  • Purple Heart recipients
  • Veterans who receive compensation for service related disabilities
  • Veterans who would receive disability payments if they didn’t have retirement pay
  • Surviving spouses eligible for a VA loan

We hope this may give you an accurate picture of the great benefit you receive thanks to your service. We encourage you to call Brad at VALoansMN/Luminate Home Loans to discuss your personal situation. He is here to help you reach you home financing goals.

Posted by Joan Rusco on August 5th, 2021 3:52 PM

If you’re among our clients at VALoansMN who’ve thought of purchasing a home you may also be among those suffering from sticker shock. Home prices have accelerated at an alarming rate. Is it another real estate bubble? What is driving this increase in housing prices? There are several key factors at work and we at VALoansMN have looked at several.

First, we have to acknowledge the economic laws of supply and demand. When demand is greater than supply home prices are pushed upward. We have to go a bit deeper into this equation to get a better understanding.

Second on our list of factors is the lack of supply. Why aren’t there more houses on the market? A recent Housing Market Index (HMI) report sheds some light on this issue. HMI is the result of a survey of national home builders and they tell us there are serious building material shortages resulting in fewer new homes being built.

According to builders the number one shortage of materials is appliances. 95% of builders say there is a shortage of appliances. Most say it’s a serious shortage. Next is framing lumber. 94% of the nation’s builders say they can’t get enough framing lumber and because of this demand prices for lumber are through the roof. Our third material shortage say the builder is Oriented Strand Board. That’s an engineered wood product used in sheets. 92% of builders report there’s a short supply of this needed material. The list continues with shortages of Plywood, windows and doors, trusses, copper wiring, plumbing fixtures and more.

These shortages have resulted in some of our housing shortage. But, while we see a home building shortage we don’t see a corresponding shortage of demand. The result reflects back on our original economic treated stated in paragraph number 2 above. Housing prices are accelerating due to a strong demand and a shortage of houses for sale. 

Is it a bubble? There is no indication we are repeating what occurred in 2007-8 when housing prices collapsed. That was primarily driven by faulty policies foisted on lenders by the federal government. Remember liars loans? The good intentions of federal policy makers encouraged lenders to make loans available to almost anyone despite their financial well-being. So, the short answer is: we see no similarities between recent real estate bubbles and what’s happening today with housing prices.

Posted by Joan Rusco on July 1st, 2021 7:58 AM

Imagine how one simple action can change your future. We know of such a case and we’ll share it straight ahead. But first it’s time to take a look at what the heck is going on with housing and mortgage rates.

Anyone house shopping today can’t fail to notice how quickly houses are disappearing from the market place. A home is put on the multiple listing service one day and is gone the next. That his occurring in almost every community in the country. Not only are these houses selling quickly, they are selling for prices well above what they were just one year ago. The price increases are due to the economic laws of supply and demand. When either the supply is low or the demand is high the price of any good, even houses, will increase. When demand is greater than supply it too will put upward pressure on prices. In the housing market today we have both a limited supply and an increase demand. There’s one other important factor which might add to the current housing boom. The cost of borrowing money remains extremely low.

Just a few years back we at VALOANSMN saw a rush of house refinancing when rates had dropped to five percent. Today, rates are even lower, in fact, they are much lower. You can thank the Federal Reserve for that. The FED continues to print money and buy government bonds. This demand from the FED keeps bond prices elevated and when bond prices go up the interest rate they offer goes down. We’ll save the explanation ofE why this happens for another time but, for now, just know the FED is the borrower’s best friend.

So what does this mean to home shoppers? In a word it means competition. When more than one buyer wants a home it means you’d better be in good financial shape when you make your offer. When a home seller has more than one offer to consider what can make (or break) your chances of success? The answer takes us back to our opening statement; imagine how one simple action can change your future.

As a home buyer you must have an appealing financial package to present to a home seller. What is this appealing package? It includes a statement from a lender that you are completely qualified to purchase the home at the price you’re offering to the seller. The simple act of picking up the phone and calling Brad at Luminate Home Loans/VALOANSMN might change your life. Brad can help you put together that appealing financial package. Not only that, he will write a letter to the home seller stating your case. This letter is sometimes referred to as a pre-qualification letter or form. Do not fear your financial past. If you’ve had trouble, tell Brad, let him work with you to improve your situation. The simple act of a phone call may be a major step forward in your life’s journey. Here’s the number to get you started on the simple step toward success in today’s frantic housing market:


Posted by Joan Rusco on June 1st, 2021 7:50 AM

Well, just when you thought the real estate and mortgage market couldn’t get any crazier, it does. First let’s look at your prospects of using your VALoansMN mortgage to buy a home.

We are definitely in a sellers’ market. That’s good news and not so good news. The good news is if you are now a homeowner wanting to move up, down or sideways you’ll likely get more money for your house that you would’ve just a few months ago. The not so good news is, you’re now a buyer and you’re going to have to find a house to buy.  While your house has been going up in value so have the homes you may want to buy. If you’re buying, you’d better have all your ducks in a row.

The first thing you want to do is call Brad at Luminate Home Loans. That’s the company umbrella where you’ll find VALoansMN. Brad is a VA loan specialist. We don’t mean he just “does” VA loans. We mean he specializes in them. He knows the ins and outs. He knows how to get it DONE. Why is this the first thing to do? Because you’re going out into a sellers’ market to buy your next (or first) home and you’d better be prepared. By preparation we mean you’d better be able to show the seller of the home you want that you are qualified to buy it. A seller wants to know that on the day of closing their money will be there. Brad can help you with this. It’s called “pre-qualification”.

Brad can guide you through this process over the phone. He’ll ask you questions about your financial situation, your job history, your income, your debts. He puts all this info together and he can tell you how much of a loan you can qualify for. He will give you a pre-qualification form or letter which you give to your real estate agent. The agent will bundle that up with your offer to buy a house and present it to the seller. A good real estate agent will supplement this paperwork by telling the sellers’ agent why you should be the one to get the home. There’s a reason for this and we’re going to share some real estate secrets here.

Let’s say you’re a home seller and you get more than one offer (this is likely to happen in today’s market). One of the offers the buyer is using a conventional mortgage and putting down 40 or 50% in cash. The other buyer is using a VA loan and financing 100% of the purchase price. Which buyer, in your opinion, is the more qualified to buy the home? Here’s our answer and the answer we hope you’re real estate agent would have. Both buyers are qualified because on closing day what comes to the seller is ALL CASH. The VA loan represents a buyer who has served the country. The VA loan comes from a lender just like a conventional mortgage except the VA loan has backing from the federal government. That protects the lender from loss. So the one buyer may have a conventional mortgage and money in the bank but the VA Loan buyer is, to some degree, being backed by the Federal Government. 

When you select a real estate agent to represent you in this sellers’ market make sure this person is a believer in the use of VA loans. Make sure they can tell that seller why YOU are the one that should get the home. It may make the difference between two (or more) almost identical offers.

Now, pick up the phone and call Brad who is a loan officer that is a believer in VA Loans, who knows how to get it done and will be a major player on your home purchase team. Here’s his number: 612-240-9922. He’s waiting on your call.

Posted by Joan Rusco on April 26th, 2021 1:59 PM

Seems appropriate we would be writing this on March 4th because we at VALoansMN have a story to tell which is based on our continuing to March forth.  No doubt you have noticed there’s a new name associated with us now-laminate Home Loans.

There’s a lot of background rumination  behind this change but it boils down to this:  we’re watching out for you. Any change we might make is based on the ability to better serve the needs of our Veterans and Active Duty Personnel. When VALoansMN began service well over a decade ago it was to help qualifying individuals navigate the ins and outs of using a VA guaranteed loan to purchase or refinance a home. In those days we thought a  mortgage rate of 5% was fantastic. It was, in those days. So much has changed.

We’ve moved on from those early days and today we are part of Luminate Home Loans. While our history shows a long journey we think the path to your success in getting a VA loan has shortened. We know how to navigate that path and we think make it easier for you. Not only easier, but much more rewarding.

wilThose record-breaking rates of years ago are gone, replaced with even lower, much lower, rates. VA loan rates, like all mortgage rates move up and down but they fluctuate in a rather tight band. In recent days we’ve seen a slight move upward but this move is hardly noticeable in a monthly payment.

We’ve also moved on by becoming licensed to serve VA mortgage needs not only Minnesota where it all began, but now in the Dakotas, Iowa, Florida and Arizona. If you’re planning your own move make sure and check with us so we can bring our home town service to you no matter your new location.

Finally, please update your contact information for us at VALoansMN. Brad is till your go-to guy for everything involving home loans. His phone number remains 612-240-9922. The email (we love getting emails from you) is  

As you march forth in your life we’re here beside you waiting to help with anything involving home finance. We’ve enjoyed our trip together so far and look forward to even better things ahead.

Posted by Joan Rusco on March 4th, 2021 10:11 AM

It’s a long and winding road we travel to get to this new year. Many are saying adios, good-bye, sayonara and finally, get lost 2020. But there’s another and much brighter side to the year just passed.

First among the bright spots of 2020 is the medical technological miracle resulting in the development of a vaccine against Covid 19. Think about this: historically the optimistic predictions on creating anti-viral vaccines say it would take years. The vaccines now becoming available to tame this Covid pandemic took just months. That’s life affirming!

Secondly, and a major focus of our attention, is what has happened to V.A. mortgage rates. At VALoansMN we were offering record breaking loan rates in the upper 3 per cent range at the beginning of 2020. Today, thanks to an accommodating Federal Reserve which apparently is willing to keep the money presses churning, rates are a full percentage point below what they were just one year ago. This is economically reaffirming which allows us to maintain, perhaps even raise, our standards of living.

Given these two developments does 2020 seem all that bad? We at VALoansMN think not. Sure, that long and winding road through the past year had some pot holes. That’s true especially for our veteran brothers and sisters who were not fortunate enough to see their paychecks still coming despite government’s economic shutdowns. Those of us able to maintain our jobs during the hit and miss lockdowns should be most grateful and, at the same time, we suggest, should be most helpful to those who have suffered. We are among those with a deep sense of gratitude. 

The road we travel now leads us to the new year. We look forward to continuing our service to those who have served and those serving today in our armed forces. We begin our year together with this Irish prayer:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.   

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand

Posted by Joan Rusco on January 4th, 2021 11:02 AM

Here’s the choice:  you have money stuck away in a mutual fund that’s been appreciating at about 7% a year. A veteran can borrow money to buy (or refinance) a home for under 3%. What’s a better choice, taking money out of your mutual fund or using OPM (Other People’s Money) for a home purchase? If you answered OPM then you get a gold star from most financial planners. 

The Federal Reserve is indicating they see no change in low interest rates in the foreseeable future. This is very, very good news for our V.A. loan home buyers. In the not too distant past we were urging veterans to take advantage of low V.A. loan rates because they were sure to rise. We no longer take that position. Now we urge veterans to shop for a home wisely taking your time to find the right house. We believe you are not about to see any dramatic increase in V.A. home loan rates anytime soon. \

As you begin your search start with us at VALoansMN/Leader One. Every home shopper should be armed with a pre-qualification letter. This letter puts you in a very strong position when your offer to buy is put to sellers. Even more than that, it puts you in a strong position as you select a real estate agent. Any agent is more likely to work with a home shopper who comes armed with a pre-qualification letter from VALoansMN. What does it take to have this letter?  Only a phone call and a short conversation.

When you call us (612-240-9922) we will ask about your current financial situation; do you have any savings, a checking account, a steady job or are you self employed. We ask about any outstanding loans such as a car loan or credit cards. We will ask for your current address and social security number. Then we put all the available information into our system and run a credit report. Do not be afraid of this!  VA loan requirements are not as stringent as you may think. 

It is possible to get a VA loan even with what you may consider bad credit. First, a reminder. The V.A. is not the lender. The V.A. only guarantees or backs up your loan from a bank or other financial institution. Our lenders look beyond a credit score. They want to see your loan or credit card payment history. Do you make payments on time? They want to see how long you’ve been employed. If you’re self employed they want to know how long you’ve been in business. Do you have any bankruptcies or foreclosures in your past. Not to worry. Our job is to put together your loan “package” and present it in the best light to lenders. 

Our goal is find you the best loan possible. We want to make sure you get the best interest rate at the lowest cost. This is our responsibility to you. We also want to ensure you have a V.A. loan you can afford. This why so many Minnesota, Dakota and Wisconsin veterans turn to VALoansMN. We have the experience and knowledge to get it done right. Let us get it done for you today. Pick up the phone and call Brad. There’s never been a better time to take advantage of this great benefit you earned when you served us all in uniform. Now let us serve you.

Posted by Joan Rusco on December 7th, 2020 7:59 AM

It’s another day and another record low for mortgage rates. That story is becoming old news. Thankfully, so is the election which has dominated the media psyche for months. One of the candidates likes the phrase “speak truth” so let’s do that now.

Truth is, VA mortgage rates in Minnesota and surrounding states are still falling. Most financial pooh-bahs see no change in that for the foreseeable future. Lenders are being swamped with applications for home refinances and purchases.  We’re happy to report VALoansMN is still able to handle the rush. We’re still getting loans done and done on time. We understand when you’re buying a home the clock is ticking and time is of the essence. That’s why we prioritize home purchases over refinance requests. 

This is not to say we don’t value veterans requests to take advantage of these low rates by refinancing a mortgage. We take them very seriously and GET IT DONE. We simply want to make sure veterans buying homes meet any contractual obligations by performing on time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can help you save money on your monthly mortgage payment. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to refinance a VA mortgage.

Let’s speak another truth. Aren’t we all glad the election is over and we no longer have to be bombarded with all the political ads? Now there’s one hurdle left. We’re in the Medicare open enrollment period so our tv time is dedicated to ad after ad from insurance companies wanting to enroll seniors. You will be relieved of that on December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day). Then, it’s the Christmas and Hanukkah.  But today, let’s just say HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Joan Rusco on November 5th, 2020 9:04 AM

“Silence is golden”, remember that song from the Four Seasons? The complete idiom is “speech is silver, but silence is golden”. Given all the noise we’re immersed in today we could use a little of that golden silence. Our news broadcasts are wall to wall politics but it seems little has to do with our every day lives. We take a few moments to offer something that does in fact impact your life and your pocketbook. 

It is hard to imagine for those of use who have been around for a while that you can borrow money at such little cost. We’ve written previously about the record low VA mortgage rates and we’ve urged veterans and active duty military personnel to take advantage before the opportunity passes you by.

So, given all the noise we’re hearing today about all the bad things happening let’s look for some good vibrations; rates that reached record lows for veteran home buyers and owners are even lower today. Yes, when VA loan rates reached down into the 4% range we exclaimed “this has not been seen in our lifetimes, don’t miss out”. Here we are again proclaiming “this has really, really not been seen in decades and decades.

We at VALoansMN are now offering home purchase loans below 3%! Remember of course there are numerous factors that go into setting rates on a VA mortgage. Your credit history, your income, the value of the home to name a few of these factors but, we can assure you these low rates are not set aside just for the top 1%. They are available for many.

We’ve been specializing in VA lending for over a decade and we know what’s available for home purchases or refinancing. There’s a reason we are the NUMBER ONE VA lender for scores of veterans in Minnesota and surrounding states. 

Word from the Federal Reserve is these low interest rates might be around for some time so we don’t want anyone rushing in. Take your time to make the right decision. When you’ve enjoyed some quiet time (that ‘golden’ time) to think things through just know we’re here for you just as we’ve been throughout the years.

Posted by Joan Rusco on October 7th, 2020 3:11 PM


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