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VA Loans and Home Inspections

A reader left us a comment recently about purchasing homes that have been previously owned (as opposed to buying a new construction property with a VA mortgage). He writes, “… there are too many possible issues with a house 15 years or older, VA will not allow you the loan because of issues with the roof or other issues .  Go with a VA loan ONLY IF THE THE HOUSE YOU ARE TRYING TO BUY IS 15 YEARS OLD or LESS.”

While opinions definitely vary, this reader’s concerns about homes of a certain age can be put to rest with a simple step in the VA loan process which we’ll cover in a moment.

One aspect of this comment should definitely be addressed–the issue of a loan being denied due to the age or condition of the roof.

All homes to be purchased with a VA insured home loan must be reviewed by a VA fee appraiser prior to VA loan approval. Homes that do not meet VA minimum property requirements may be denied a VA mortgage loan, but not meeting these requirements is not an automatic deal-killer.

The appraiser can recommend repairs, improvements or other alterations to the property in order to make it eligible for the VA mortgage. The implication that a home15 years or older could be turned down out of hand for a VA guaranteed mortgage because of these issues is not necessarily true. It may be true in individual cases, but not all of them. VA appraisers can and do recommend corrections to the homes they review so they may be approved for a VA loan.

Borrowers concerned about the condition of the property have the option–one they should definitely use–of hiring a home inspector to review the property from top to bottom prior to committing to a VA loan.

When it comes to the roof concern, this is especially important. VA assigned fee appraisers are not required to step onto the roof to do their work. VA fee appraisers are not necessarily experts on roofing issues. They are trained and paid to do a general review of the property based on VA guidelines, but a home that meets VA minimum property requirements is not guaranteed to be free of defects.

That is where the home inspection comes in–the borrower pays for the inspection to uncover any possible hidden issues to be aware of prior to purchase.

A borrower has little recourse if they purchase a home based on the VA appraisal alone–home inspections are a way for the borrower to make a truly informed purchase. The home inspection does cost the borrower money up front, but the peace of mind is well worth the investment.

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About Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association.

19 Responses to VA Loans and Home Inspections

  1. Trina says:

    I put a bid on a house that I want and then had it inspected by a certied house inspector (non-VA). The inspector said the shingles had some major deterioration and probably should be re-shingled soon. He went into the attic and said there was no water damage. Will the VA appraisal find this to be needing fixing before acceptance?

    My family knows how to shingle a roof, so I want to ask the seller to knock the house price down a couple thousands and redo the roof when the house is mine. I’d rather have my family do it, than have to pay more for a company to do it. This is an estate sale so the sellers (3 kids of the previous owner) may not be willing to pay to get it fixed before closing. Any advice or suggestions?

    • Joe Wallace says:

      Hi Trina, thanks for your question. VA appraisers are not required to step onto the roof of the home, but if they notice a condition related to the roof it may be noted. Whether or not the appraiser would recommend roof repairs depends on several things–whether local building code is in compliance or not with the current state of the home, and whether there is visible water damage connected to the state of the roof. Since your inspector noted there is no damage, it’s possible the appraiser may not recommend repairs but not guaranteed.

      Every appraisal is different because of local ordinances or state laws which may apply–there’s no way to tell for sure until the appraiser has a look but you can ask your lender what has been typical in similar cases in his or her experience. That could go a long way towards helping you figure out what might happen with the appraisal. Hope this helps!

  2. Melissa says:

    We are currently looking at a home and are in the offer process. I am concerned that it will need a new roof. With a VA loan is there only the VA inspection & do we have to request additional inspections? Or are the inspections done at the seller’s expense? At what point does the buyer no longer have the right to change their mind once the offer has been accepted? Sorry for so many questions, this is our first time buying a home and I’m quite nervous about it. Thank you.

    • Joe Wallace says:

      The VA does not perform inspections—it is strongly recommended that the borrower pay for an independent home inspection to insure the home is free of defects or identify problems with the home that may need to be corrected. The VA performs an appraisal to establish fair market value and insure the home meets VA standards, but this is NOT a guarantee that the home is problem-free. It’s possible to draft a purchase agreement contingent on the VA appraisal—for more information and advice on purchase agreements for VA loans, contact your nearest VA Regional Loan Center–find yours at http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/rlcweb.asp

  3. jerod says:

    our VA appraiser noted that the roof on the back pourch has a leak and is not going to sign off on the home that needs to be out of escrow this friday. it has taken her 3 weeks to get back to us about the appraisal and now we are jumping through hoops trying to get a pourch fixed is the pourch something that can stop a va loan? we are running out of time and it is rainning so i can’t even get up there to fix the pourch for a couple more days.

    • Joe Wallace says:

      In general, a VA appraisers repairs or corrections must be made for the loan to proceed unless the borrower successfully appeals the appraisal. Best advice on appealing an appraisal is to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs and your lender directly to get information on the likelihood of success and how to proceed. Hope this helps!

  4. Melissa says:

    We are using a USDA home loan for our first home. Our offer has been accepted and we’ve signed a purchase agreement. I asked our Realtor about when we can have a home inspection done & he said it’s too late. He said he was under the impression that the va did that &maybe that we wouldn’t want to pay for two. He never asked us about getting one done. Is it too late to have one done? Our offer was accepted less than a week ago. Thank you for your help.

    • Joe Wallace says:

      Hi Melissa, thanks for your question. There’s a difference between an appraisal–which establishes the market value of the home–and an inspection.

      Inspections are voluntary and should always be done prior to committing to purchase. It’s not “too late” to have the home inspected, but it may be too late to back out of the deal should that inspection uncover serious issues, depending on the language of your purchase agreement, applicable state or federal laws, or other factors.

      Study your purchase agreement carefully to see if there are any provisions for canceling the sale and under what circumstances that would be allowed–that way at least you know what your options are in the event you decide to pay for an inspection and something comes up.

      Please note that I’m not advising you to cancel your sale or offering legal advice–I’m simply suggesting that it’s best to know what’s in your purchase agreement to make the most informed choices.

      • Melissa says:

        Thank you for your reply. I’m pretty sure we aren’t able to cancel the agreement, but I’d still like to have an inspection done. Our realtor is not budging on it. He says that the “ship has sailed” and I’m most upset by this. I don’t know what else to say to him to get this changed. Thank you for any advice.

        • Joe Wallace says:

          Have you called the nearest VA Regional Loan Center directly to discuss this situation? It might be good to get some advice on what to do here from here–tell them the entire situation and explain the terms of your purchase agreement. You can also find your nearest VA Regional Loan Center at http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/rlcweb.asp

  5. Anna says:

    Our house is currently on the market, and we have a couple interested in purchasing our house. They qualify for a VA Loan, but they were told that our house (farmhouse build in 1814) would NOT pass the home inspection for a VA Loan because of it’s age. They haven’t sent anyone out to inspect the house; they are just going on the age of the house even though the house has been updated and renovated. Is this true … VA Loan won’t approve older homes?

    • Joe Wallace says:

      Age as a rule doesn’t necessarily rule out a VA guaranteed mortgage–who told you the home would not qualify? There may be reasons connected to local building codes if the home doesn’t comply with city/state/federal ordinances but that would be a separate issue than simply ruling out the property due to its age. For more specific guidance, contact the VA Regional Loan center with jurisdiction in your area–you can find your VA RLC here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/rlcweb.asp

  6. Megan says:

    Hi Joe,

    This news blog is very helpful! We are considering a property that is competitively priced as a short sale in Oregon. We went and viewed the property today with our Realtor and she took one look at the roof and indicated that it would not be eligible for the VA financing because of the roof.

    There were two spots inside the house that we noticed slight discoloration on the ceiling due to water damage. The home was built in 1992.

    This would be our very first home purchase- so I am nervous about plopping down the funds for an inspection AND an appraisal only for him/her to turn around and tell us that repairs need to be made (and since this is a short sale- we do not believe that would happen). It is in a very nice area with homes listed for $350k and up (it is currently priced at $200k)

    If you would let me know your thoughts- that would be great. Thanks!

  7. Richard McGinnis says:

    My recent VA loan didn’t uncover failure of Disclosure of existing problems with my Home… If failure of this law was violated, do I have any recourse?

  8. Ruby says:

    We are currently under contract for a home built in 1991 we really like with a VA loan. We just had the inspection done, and the roof needs to be replaced. (its original so definitely at the end of its life, needs to be replaced, not repaired, has a small leak the inspector thinks is new, no big water damage). even if the seller is willing to work with us, it’s the middle of winter, and unlikely we can have it replaced until summer (we’d rather not replace it in winter anyways since we want it done RIGHT). Would we be allowed to close if we had some guarantee to replace the roof this summer or is it a deal killer? The house otherwise had only minor cosmetic things come up on inspection.

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