Boosted Benefits for Hawaii Veterans: What this New Bill Means for You

On August 6, 2012, after being passed by both the House of Representatives and, unanimously, the United States Senate, the “Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012” was signed by President Obama. There’s a lot of miscellaneous legislation going on with it, but there are some changes to VA Home Loans that will affect Hawaii Veterans closely – namely, the rise in loan limits.

In 2012, the loan limits for areas with higher cost of living areas (like Hawaii) were dropped to 2008 levels, lower than even before the financial crisis. This made it difficult for veterans in Hawaii to find suitable housing for their and their family’s needs. That was before August 6th. Since the bill passed, the loan limits for the most expensive county in Hawaii, Honolulu, have been raised to better suit veterans looking to buy.

Before the 6th, the maximum a veteran could borrow was $695,750, which might get you a small, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in an out-of-the-way location. But now, and for the rest of 2012, veterans can borrow up to $756,250. That’s an increase of $60,500, which can mean the difference of a better location, or one or two extra bedrooms and another bathroom, which for some families is all the difference in the world.

The loan limits for Hawaii, Kalawao, Kauai, and Maui counties have stayed at $625,500 since the bill’s passing. However, the Act ensures that instead of falling again, loan limits will continue to rise through 2014, not only for Honolulu County but all counties in Hawaii as well. Starting January 1, 2013 every county’s loan limit will rise.

Other changes in veteran’s benefits from the bill include updating the policies on VA lending to surviving spouses. Previously, only the widows/widowers of those killed in the line of duty were eligible for loans. Now, the surviving spouses of veterans who have received over ten years of permanent service-connected disability are able to get loans through the VA.

The VA’s occupancy requirements have changed as well. Before, only spouses of deployed service members could fulfill the occupancy requirements set forth by the VA. The change is that a dependent child can fulfill the requirements, which is good news for single-parent veterans and married couples out on deployment.

Under the Act, the VA’s Funding Fee is now waived for all service members eligible to receive compensation because of a pre-discharge disability program, instead of having to pay the fee while waiting for their disability ratings to go down. In addition to those things, this new bill made permanent options available to the VA so borrowers will still be able to utilize their Adjustable Mortgage Rates.

All of these new and extended benefits mean better loans for veterans living in Hawaii, as well as their entire families. For more information on the policy changes the bill has ensured, click here. You can also contact a lender specializing in VA loans, like Veterans United Home Loans, who can help answer your questions on VA lending and also operates in Hawaii.

Guest Post: Chris Birk is the Content Development Director for Veterans United Home Loans, the featured writer for VA Loans Insider and author of The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits. Connect with him on Google+.

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