VA Loans Blog

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

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself’. Famous words taken from FDR’s 1933 inaugural address. There is today lots of fear mongering. Let’s take a look at some good stuff and put the fears behind us.


Last November we wrote on these pages:


Veterans and active duty military are being given a financial gift by the mortgage market. A $250,000 house financed with a V.A. loan would have cost about $1,500 a month back in the days when rates were at 6% or almost $2,200 when rates “dropped” to 10% as we described in the previous paragraph. Today that $250,000 mortgage will cost you less than $1,200 a month. That is the gift the mortgage market is bestowing on you. Buy more house for less money today than in decades past. Look where we’re at!

Yes indeed, look where we’re at!  Today the picture is even rosier than less than a year ago. That $250,000 VA loan today will cost you over $100 a month less than one year ago. UNBELIEVABLE!


Despite the Covid fears, we are in a housing boom. Will it last? No one knows. There is a fear (there’s that word again) since so many workers have lost jobs we may see a serious rise in the number of foreclosures in coming months. Many lenders offer these unemployed a forbearance meaning they are excused from making mortgage payments with no damage to credit. This payment postponement (not forgiven) lasts from 6 to 12 months. What happens at the end of that period if a home owner still has no income. It could, we emphasize could, start a foreclosure action. But, less than 7% of all mortgages are in forbearance.


We return to the good news. Veterans and active duty military personnel are being give a gift of extremely low loan rates. And the Federal Reserve is now saying they do not see any rise in the Federal Funds rate in the foreseeable future. 


Call Brad today at 612.240.9922 and unwrap this financial gift.

Posted by Joan Rusco on September 10th, 2020 11:56 AM

There’s probably not been a time when we’ve had such a forced opportunity to examine our current living conditions. For over two months we’ve been told to stay home. How are you feeling about that home? This may be an opportune time to make your move.

In recent weeks we’ve been bombarded with news about the novel virus then came the demonstrations and riots over the death of a citizen at police hands. But there’s other news that may have been crowded out and we at VALoansMN believe it needs to be brought forth.

Given this opportunity to live day after day inside your home with no usual breaks of going to work, socializing with friends and family or anything other than necessary trips to the store you may be having second thoughts about your current living situation.  Do I really like the size of my house? Is the neighborhood the kind of place I want to live? If I were to move, how much would it cost? Only you can answer the first two questions but we can help you with the third.

Minnesota veterans have long turned to us at VALoansMN/Leader One for home financing. We’ve been the lender of choice for many of your county’s service officers. We believe we are the number one VA loan choice because we’re local. When you call Brad (612.240.9922) you’re not talking with someone in Denver or Detroit, you’ll be talking with someone who lives where you do, understands your needs as a veteran living in Minnesota, the Dakotas or Iowa. We think that’s important. We’re not a loan factory churning out products to increase our numbers like the 1-800-get-my-mortgage outfits. Now, more than ever, we want to help you in your home financing decisions. 

Is now a good time to make a move? Look, given today’s extremely low interest rates you may never be in a better position to upgrade your living situation to better meet your and your family’s needs. The best way to start is to call us at VALoansMN/Leader One. We promise you’ll get honest, straight-forward information about home financing. No sales pitch, just the facts.

So while all the news is about big social issues just know that we are here to help you meet your own personal needs. It’s what we’ve been doing here in Minnesota for over a decade. We’re here when you need us most.

Posted by Joan Rusco on June 2nd, 2020 9:12 AM

In times such as these there are many who’ve lost jobs or are unable work. Paychecks have stopped coming and the choice may be between paying bills or putting food on the table. We have some good news if you’re in such a condition.

The U.S. government was caught off guard with the onset of the Virus pandemic but it moved quickly to recover. Part of this recovery is what is commonly referred to as the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. A part of this legislation applies specifically to our VA Loan holders. If you are among the many who’ve stopped receiving an income your first step should be to call your mortgage servicer. That’s the place where your payments are sent. 

The CARES Act directs that if you’re experiencing financial difficulty due to the Virus you will be granted forbearance for up to 180 days. If your financial condition has not improved at the end of that period you have an option to extend another 180 days. In addition you will not be charged any penalties or reported to credit bureaus. Even if you qualify, be very careful.

We have heard of lenders, as part of the forbearance agreement, requiring all delayed payments be rolled into a lump sum or balloon payment at the end of the forbearance period. Lenders, of course, are urging borrowers to make regular mortgage payments no matter what. 

This, as you might imagine, is not making lenders happy. We may expect more strict underwriting of loans as a result. Borrowers who still collect paychecks are in a much better position to acquire a VA loan during these unusual times.

Posted by Joan Rusco on May 1st, 2020 12:26 PM

Let’s start with a big bite of optimism: In February this economy was on fire. Job creation smashed estimates with 175,000 jobs created in a single month. No estimate saw that coming. The stock market was reaching all time highs. Interest rates were at the historic lows we’ve witnessed for months and months. What a great time to obtain a VA loan. Then, everything changed.

Along comes the Coronavirus from China. Chinese authorities say their first detection was early December but there’s evidence it was occurring as early as October. Thousands of travelers were flying in and out of that infected region daily. President Trump halted travel from China to the U.S. in late January. The first person to person transmission of the virus in the U.S. wouldn’t be recorded until February 23rd. This is the catalyst rocking the mortgage world.

Mortgage rates have been historically tied to the rates of the 10-year U.S. bond. Even that has changed. As the Federal Open Market Committee (commonly referred to as the “Fed”) was cutting the Federal Funds Rate the rate on the 10-year was falling also. But, not mortgage rates. For a number of in-the-weeds factors we saw mortgage rates leap upwards. We’ve also seen lenders tightening requirements. Mortgages have become a bit harder to get. 

We have for months on end been urging you to take advantage of VALoansMN extremely low rates. We’ve even urged you to tell friends and family that NOW was the time to act because the low rates can’t last forever. It is disappointing to tell you but, at least for the time being, that window of opportunity may have closed. Notice we said MAY have closed. 

VALoansMN Loan Officer Brad Christensen is still able to help you. Now more than ever you need a local, reputable loan officer to guide you through this most turbulent time. Rates are not as low as they were just weeks ago. Loan requirements are a bit tougher also. But, let us assure you, we are here to help you achieve your home finance goals. CALL US TODAY and let us give you an accurate reading of your opportunities to buy or refinance a home with a VA Loan.

We started with that big bite of optimism so let us end with it as well. Financial king pins believe the various stimulus packages being rolled out in the economy are likely to bring back that booming state of affairs we had prior to the virus attack in the U.S. They believe, and we want to believe also, that the come back will take a much shorter time than what some prognosticators believe. 


Posted by Joan Rusco on March 31st, 2020 4:43 PM

Blown away! That is the best descriptor of our feelings when we were able to lock in a V.A. home loan mortgage rate BELOW 3%. Of course, rates vary day to day. No, correct that, rates vary hour by hour. 

You’ve no doubt been hearing about the wild swings in the stock market but less attention is given to what has the most impact on a V.A. mortgage rate-the bond market. We’re not going to crawl too deeply into the weeds here but suffice it to say, when the 10-year bond rates takes a dive, generally speaking, V.A. loan rates follow. That’s what’s been happening recently.

We are thrilled to be able to provide Minnesota (and other states) veterans home loan rates never seen before. We are in a very sweet spot for you to take advantage of these rates and put money in your pocket instead of paying a financial institution. 

While veteran home buyers are benefiting from this very rare scenario of basement bottom buy rates, so too can veterans who already have a V.A. mortgage. Refinance rates may not be as low as home purchase rates but they too are way, way down. At VALoansMN and Leader 1 Financial we can demonstrate how you may be able to save some serious dollars by refinancing your V.A. home loan.

Along with all this stunningly good news comes a precaution. As mentioned above, V.A. mortgage rates change hour by hour. Will you be able to get a loan around 3%? We, and no one else, can answer that question without some due diligence. There’s only one sure way to find out. Call Brad at 612-240-9922 and let’s unlock your possibilities.

Posted by Joan Rusco on March 5th, 2020 7:11 AM

There was a series of recent posts on one of the many chat boards which began “the cool thing about….”. What followed was every political hot topic in today’s world. There was the cool thing about gun control, the cool thing about impeachment, the cool thing about school choice and on it went. Most of the posts were filled with sarcasm and negativity. It got us thinking about the cool thing about, wait for it, V.A. home loans. No sarcasm or negativity needed.

The cool thing about a V.A. mortgage is:






Now to drill down on each of these cool things;

Number One: You can borrow up to 100% of the value of your home whether it be a purchase or refinance.

Number Two: True there is no monthly payment but there is a one-time, up-front duding fee. Whether you are active duty or reservist you will pay a percentage of the loan balance as this funding fee. Borrow 100% of the home value and you’ll pay 2.3% for your first use of a V.A. loan. If you’ve had previous V.A. loans you’ll pay 3.6%. Borrow less than 100% and the rates decrease. Call Brad for specifics on your loan situation.

Number Three: The V.A. does not loan the money but rather they guarantee or stand behind your loan. This means banks and other lenders are more inclined to loan the money because it is guaranteed even if you were to fall on hard times and default, the bank is protected. The lenders we choose at VALoansMN like V.A. loans for this reason.

Number Four: This may be one of the biggest overlooked values of your V.A. mortgage. Let’s say you take out a 30 year V.A. loan for $250,000 to buy your house and your rate is 3.75% (we have rate even lower in some cases). Your monthly payment would be about $1,158. Let’s also say in 7 years you decide to sell your home. Your loan balance would be about $213,900. Your loan is now assumable by another qualified veteran. Where do you think loan rates might be in 7 years? Higher or lower than your current rate of 3.75%? If there are higher your home with its 3.75% assumable loan may be the most attractive buy in the neighborhood. Yes, the buyer would have to make up the difference between the current loan balance and the value of your house (cash or second mortgage) but it may still be a great buy!

Number Five: Because the V.A. is guaranteeing your home loan they want to ensure the house is worth what your paying for it. The V.A. also wants to make sure all the systems work (plumbing, electrical, etc), the roof doesn’t leak, windows keep out the cold and heat, etc.

The coolest thing about V.A. loans in our minds is you have us to walk you through the entire process from start to finish. We do all the work for you and we think it pretty cool you give us the opportunity to serve you because you have served us.

Finally, we wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and a prosperous new year!

Posted by Joan Rusco on December 1st, 2019 11:50 AM

It seems each time we come to our VALoansMN blog we are urging Minnesota (and other surrounding states) to take action now, put some money in your pocket. It takes so little to save so much. We’re going to tell you how.

In previous months we’ve written about the benefits of a VA loan and there’s one that is especially important. That benefit is the ease of refinancing. Given current rates below 4% (subject to change) if you currently have a VA loan you may be able to save some money right away. R E F I N A N C E !

The downside for conventional mortgage holders is the cost of refinancing a mortgage. There’s all the little fees that keep adding up. That is not the case with a VA loan. When you call Brad at VALoansMN (612.240.9922) he’ll give you details on your specific loan but here’s a rough overview.

Refinancing your VA loan does not require an appraisal of your property. Refinancing your VA loan through VALoansMN/Leader One does not require you to verify your income. No appraisal, no income verification, no worries. And, here’s the really good part, the funding fee is just a fraction of the original fee you paid to get your loan in the first place. To refinance your VA loan you pay a fee of just ½ of 1% or .005 times the mortgage amount. That’s $500 per $100,000 of your loan amount.

Back to the issue of money in your pocket. Let’s say you have a $200,000 VA mortgage and you’re paying 5%. Your monthly payment is about $1,074. If you were to refinance that through VALoansMN/Leader One you might get a rate at 3.5%. Your payment would be about $898. You could put almost $200 in your pocket every month from those savings. That’s over $2,000 a year! You’d more than make up the cost in 1 year.

Please, do yourself a favor and give us a call so we can tell you how much money you’ll save. We could have that money in your pocket before the holidays!

Posted by Joan Rusco on November 1st, 2019 8:49 AM


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