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The Skinny on VA Loans

If you’re a veteran interested in purchasing a home, think about applying for a VA loan from the Veteran’s Administration.

What is a VA loan? VA loans are home loans for the purchase of a primary residence available to consumers who have served or are presently serving in the U.S. military. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not lend money for VA loans, it backs loans made by private lenders (banks, savings and loans, or mortgage companies) to veterans who qualify.

Who Is Eligible for a VA Loan?

Active-duty personnel
Reservists/National Guard members
Some surviving spouses
The advantages of a VA loan are:

You can get a VA loan with no down payment required (unless required by the lender or the purchase price is more than the reasonable value of the property).
They are available from most lenders.
The government limits the amount of closing costs and origination fees lenders can charge, as well as appraisal fees.
The VA prohibits lenders from requiring PMI (private mortgage insurance).
Right to prepay without penalty.
VA assistance to veteran borrowers in default due to temporary financial difficulty.

Are there restrictions on what I can buy? Generally you can buy a single family home without problem, however, condos have to be approved by the VA.  If the condo you’re thinking of purchasing isn’t approved by the VA, your Realtor and mortgage lender can try to get the condo on the VA approved list, as long as the seller and the building’s HOA agree to participate in the process.  This is why it’s important to have a great Realtor representing you who has helped clients purchase homes with VA loans before as well as a mortgage officer who understands the VA loan approval process, especially if you’re thinking of buying a condo which isn’t already VA approved.

What do I need to do?

First, I’d recommend working with a mortgage loan officer who understands and specializes in VA loans.

Second, I’d contact the VA asap and request a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility and your DD214.  These are often the documents that hold up VA deals so the earlier you can request them, the better.

Third, if you’re buying a condo it’s important to know that the building where the condo is located has to be an approved VA building. If the building isn’t approved, your mortgage lender can get it approved, but it takes approximately 60 – 90 days and can be an arduous process which is why it’s important to have a really good mortgage lender as part of your home buying team.

Lastly, don’t forget that your condo or home needs to have a termite inspection done as most agents don’t know or forget this and it can really mess up your transaction!

Doesn’t Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA offer a loan credit after closing? Navy Federal Credit Union does currently have a “rebate” program that they offer.  USAA no longer provides an incentive program.  However, another program that is available to my clients is our Military Rewards program that offers a very similar credit after closing.  Questions about this program?  Contact me at 717.963.0016 or

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Gina Casner

In 2016, I began my tenure in real estate as a licensed Executive Assistant for a leading real estate training coach and subsequently for high-producing real estate teams. I very quickly fell in love with real estate and by 2019, I transitioned into personally helping clients turn their dreams into keys. After dozens of transactions, I have been dubbed the “unicorn hunter,” finding out-of-the-box solutions for clients looking for a home with unique requirements. In addition to managing my real estate practice, I am involved in providing community education on responsible home ownership through my exclusive Path to Home Ownership workshop series. I also am the founder of Chronically Strong, an organization that promotes mental health awareness and suicide prevention in our local communities. I take a holistic and individualized approach to real estate. Buying or selling a home in Central PA can be complex, sophisticated and often a deeply personal endeavor. Your experience should mimic the high level of customer service all of my clients have, while being very specific to your own individual needs. I work with a team of experts to provide a full, complete experience that only a cohesive team can consistently provide. Working with us, you will be given personal attention in every aspect of your home buying and selling experience with the professionalism and consistency of a thoughtful business model. And yes, superior results will follow! On a personal note, I attribute my success not only to my passion for helping clients execute on their next “big move”, but also to my knowledge regarding the psychology of buying and selling. My clientele works in diverse industries with an emphasis on technology, finance, medicine, law, and business. My real estate practice has grown successfully and consistently thanks to the repeat business of happy clients and their introductions to friends, family and neighbors. This track record is only possible because we deliver both results AND an enjoyable experience. Growing up, my family moved frequently all across the continental U.S., but you will hear me say that I am from California because that is the longest place that I lived during my formative years. Moving became a way of life for my family and each place I lived became a part of my story. It taught me that our home truly is the foundation of everything in our lives, and it is this belief that compels me to work hard for my clients when they are buying or selling their home. In many ways, our home becomes a part of our identity, an identity and memory that should be honored. I have been accused of being tenacious and super honest. I like to win (for my clients) but do so with a calm demeanor and a smile. I live in a raised ranch home in Lower Paxton Township with my main squeeze, my teenage son, and our very spoiled dog, Ginger. I have mad faith, and truly believe that each and every one of us is capable of great things. I graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelors’ in Sociology. There is a running joke in my family that every day I go to real estate school because every day my clients teach me something new. I continually invest time, money and thought into the latest sales, marketing and negotiation techniques. Why? Because I believe that you deserve to have the best working for you. I want to live life on my own terms, and am committed to helping you do the same. Would you like to work together? Please reach out. I look forward to hearing from you! Gina

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