These questions are loosely organized into two groups, the first being for veterans considering applying for a CalVet Home Loan (Prospective Borrowers), and the second for veterans who currently have a CalVet loan (Current Contract Holders) and have questions about loan servicing issues. However, all of the questions are relevant to both groups.
Current Contract Holders:
For Prospective Borrowers
Am I eligible for a CalVet Home Loan?
The simple answer is that if you received a discharge classified as Honorable or Under Honorable Conditions, and you served a minimum of 90 days active duty (not including active duty for training purposes only), you are eligible for a CalVet Home Loan. Recent changes in the Military & Veterans Code and CalVet Home Loan funding policies have made most veterans eligible under state law, including those whose entire active service was during peacetime.
There are exceptions to the 90 days service requirement for veterans who
- were discharged sooner due to a service-connected disability, or
- are eligible to receive a U.S. campaign or expeditionary medal, or
- were called to active duty from the Reserves or National Guard due to a Presidential Executive Order.
Current members of the California National Guard or the US Military Reserves who have served a minimum of one year of a six year obligation are also eligible provided they qualify as first time home buyers or purchase properties located in certain Targeted Areas.
I need a copy of my DD214 to apply for a loan. How do I get one?
Obtaining a copy of your Release from Active Duty (DD214) is easier than ever. Once you have searched your personal records and determined that you no longer have a copy there are several things you can do. In the past veterans were advised to have their DD214 recorded in the county they went home to after their release. If you did that, contact the county recorder and you should be able to get a copy there. If you used a DD214 to apply for other benefits, such as educational or medical benefits, the agency you applied to may be able to give you a copy. If neither of these ideas work the fastest way to obtain a copy is through the National Archives on their website at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records. They are the records custodian for most discharged and retired members of all branches of service. Expect a two to three week wait to receive your record, but ordering online may speed up the process. CalVet can begin processing your loan without the DD214, and we may be able to confirm your dates of service directly through USDVA.
I am career military and currently on active duty. Can I apply for a loan now?
Yes. CalVet Home Loans are available to active duty personnel. However, there is an occupancy requirement for the life of the loan. You or members of your immediate family must occupy the home within 60 days of close of escrow and continue to occupy until the loan is paid in full. If you are uncertain about how long you will be able to occupy the home before you have a change of station, you should consider whether or not buying a home is the right decision. If you have to sell the home in the first few years the costs of sale may be more than your equity in the property including your down payment and any appreciation in value that occurs. On the other hand, if your family will remain in the home even if you are reassigned, and your intent is to live in the home after retirement, it may be a good idea to buy now.
I am currently on active duty and due to be released soon. Can I apply for a loan now?
Yes, if you or members of your immediate family will be able to occupy the home within 60 days of the close of escrow. Immediate family includes your spouse and/or dependent children. You must also have sufficient income to qualify for the loan. If you are returning to a job you held prior to your enlistment or orders to active duty, and your employer can confirm your employment and projected income, we may be able to use that income to qualify you. If you are starting a new job, the employer must confirm the start date and projected income. We can also use retirement income and your spouse's income to qualify you for the loan.
Can I refinance the home I currently own?
No. You must apply for your CalVet Home Loan prior to taking title to the property. If you are constructing a home on property that you already own, you must apply before the home is complete and a certificate of occupancy is issued.
What is the interest rate on CalVet Home Loans?
Current interest rates are published on our website. Please remember that our interest rates are subject to change without notice. Your rate will be locked in as of the date you submit a loan application on a specific property. If our rates decrease while your application is in process, your rate will also decrease.
Is there a penalty if I decide to refinance my CalVet loan with another lender later on?
CalVet Home Loans do not have a prepayment penalty. You can pay off your loan at any time. The escrow holder handling your new loan can request a payoff from us. Since your fire and hazard insurance and disaster insurance are tied to your loan make sure you have arranged for replacement coverage before you pay us off.
What is the loan term for CalVet Home Loans?
Since the bonds that we sell to fund the program are 30-year bonds we set up all new loans for 30-year terms. However, with up to 20 year loans for manufactured homes in parks, you can make additional payments on the loan principal at any time, and the effect of making additional principal payments is to reduce the loan term. If you want to pay off your loan in 15 or 20 years we can calculate what the principal and interest payment would need to be and you can make that extra payment amount each month. There is no prepayment penalty for paying the loan off early.
Can I borrow the down payment for my loan?
Yes. You can borrow the down payment provided that your income is sufficient to handle the monthly obligation for that loan in addition to the CalVet loan and your other monthly obligations. If the loan is to be secured by a deed of trust on the property, you must submit copies of the Note and Deed of Trust during loan processing, and we will require that the lender sign a subordination agreement acknowledging that their loan will be in second position to the CalVet loan. You must disclose the source of the down payment on your loan application, and if the application does not show sufficient cash assets to pay the difference between the sales price and loan amount, we will ask you for that information.
Does my CalVet Loan affect my VA or CalVet entitlement?
Possibly. CalVet obtains a loan guarantee from the USDVA on some loans, and when VA guarantees the loan you are using both your CalVet and VA entitlements. If the VA guaranty is not obtained then only your CalVet entitlement is affected. Both CalVet and VA entitlement is restored when the loan is paid off.
How are CalVet Home Loans processed?
The processing for a CalVet Home Loan is very similar to the process for other lenders and types of loans. Of course we need documentation to confirm that you are a veteran. Then we use the same application form and other forms that all lenders use. Loans are forwarded to our centralized loan-processing unit in Sacramento. An appraisal is ordered from an appraiser in your area, and when processing is complete you will receive a loan approval letter and loan documents will be sent to your escrow holder by overnight mail. You sign the loan documents at the escrow and they return them to us and request the loan funds when they are ready to close the escrow. Our loan-processing goal is to meet your needs.
How are CalVet Home Loans different from other home financing?
There are some basic differences between CalVet Home Loans and other financing you might choose.
- The State of California has chosen to provide CalVet Home Loans as a benefit to veterans who want to live in our state. Because it is a veteran's benefit we make every effort to make the loan available to all veterans. We qualify you for the loan using the same criteria as other lenders, but because we are a direct lender and we service the loans we make, we are able to give every veteran extra consideration, and if we can qualify you for a loan you get the same rate as everyone else. We will not classify you as a higher risk and increase the interest rate.
- CalVet uses a Contract of Sale as the financing instrument for our loans. What that means is that CalVet purchases the home you selected and takes legal title to the property at close of escrow, and then sells the property to you using a contract of sale. When the loan is paid in full, either when the last payment is made or if you refinance or sell, we issue a grant deed to transfer legal title to you. A document called a Memorandum Agreement of Sale is recorded to show that the contract exists, and you hold what is referred to as the equitable title to the property which gives you all the rights of ownership. One of the major advantages of a Contract of Sale is that CalVet is able to obtain Fire and Hazard insurance, and Disaster Insurance and provide superior insurance coverage at group rates. The technicality of holding legal title also assists us in obtaining the best possible bond ratings for the bonds that we sell to finance the program. For the very small number of veterans who default on their CalVet Home Loan, the Contract of Sale makes it easier for us to recover the property and minimize losses to the program.
How do I know when to make payments and how much to pay?
You will receive monthly billing statements showing the amount due for principal, interest and loan impounds (escrows). A payment coupon is included with the statement to be returned with your payment. All payments are due on the first of each month. You can also set your account up for automated electronic funds transfer. Your payment would be withdrawn from your checking account on the 5th of each month. You will still receive a monthly statement, but you would not have to write a check or worry about whether or not we receive it by the 16th of the month to avoid late fees.
For Current CalVet Contract Holders
What do I do if I want to make improvements to my property and need to borrow additional funds?
CalVet has a Home Improvement Loan program that can be used to finance most improvements to your home. For information, you can review the information in our Home Improvement Loan package, or you can contact us at 1-800-952-LOAN for additional information.
What if I need to use the equity in my home for other purposes?
CalVet allows you to obtain financing from other lenders if you need to borrow money for any purpose using the equity from your home. You must request our consent, however consent is routinely granted subject to your CalVet loan being current or paid current during the loan process. You choose your lender and then submit a Request for Consent to Encumber to CalVet while they are processing your loan. We issue the approval directly to the lender in time for them to close.
My CalVet home was damaged by a fire/flood/earthquake, or sustained water damage from an internal source. How do I file an insurance claim?
If your CalVet home sustains damage from any of the following disasters: earthquake, mudslides, flooding, wind damage or a water pipe break, please call "Sams and Associates" at 1-800-626-1613 to file a claim or if CalVet covers your home for fire and hazard, please have your CalVet loan number available, if possible.
Does CalVet Refinance?
No. CalVet cannot refinance a loan on an existing home. This is a limitation based on both federal and state laws.
Can I refinance the CalVet property through another company?
Yes, of course. However, if you are considering refinancing, please make sure you consider all factors. Can you obtain comparable fire and hazard insurance? Do you need the disaster coverage that CalVet offers at an affordable price? Is the life and disability insurance coverage something you need, and can you replace it at a comparable cost? Most importantly, are you really saving money?
Why should I keep my CalVet Loan rather than refinancing through another lender?
Over the years, CalVet has added features that add value to our loans:
- CalVet provides fire and hazard coverage at group rates. Most loan holders find that the combination of guaranteed replacement cost coverage and low deductible are better than what they can get in the market for comparable costs. Also, CalVet does not increase your premium or cancel your coverage just because you submit a claim, and our rates are the same no matter where your home is located.
- CalVet's Disaster Indemnity program cannot be matched anywhere in the market. You are protected against loss from flood and earthquake with very low deductibles and premiums (just $1.25 per $1,000 of coverage).
- CalVet services your loan through the life of the loan. We do not sell loans or the servicing of your loan on the secondary market. We strive to provide accurate and efficient customer service, and are here in times of financial hardship.
- CalVet offers Home Improvement Loans up to $150,000 with competitive rates and flexible underwriting guidelines.
- CalVet respects your privacy. We do not release any information about you or your loan to any other parties.
- CalVet's group Life Insurance coverage through The Standard Insurance Company helps you protect your family. This optional life insurance program, if approved by The Standard Insurance, pays off your CalVet loan for our contract holders in the event of the insured's death. You must be under the age of 62 to apply for coverage, and coverage ceases at age 70.
You will receive monthly billing statements showing the amount due for principal, interest and loan impounds (escrows). A payment coupon is included with the statement to be returned with your payment. All payments are due on the first of each month.br />
What do I do if I lose my statement or it does not come in the mail?
You can call our Customer Service Unit at 1-800-952-5626 and request a duplicate statement. If necessary, you can mail your payment without the payment coupon, but please be sure to write your contract (account) number on the check. Send your payment to:
California Department of Veterans Affairs
P. O. Box 942888
Sacramento, CA 94288-0001
Can I have my payments made through automatic withdrawals from my bank account?
Yes, you can pay by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Contact our Contract Services Unit at 1-800-952-5626 for more information.
What is included in my payment?
Your payments include principal, interest, and applicable property taxes and insurance premiums. The tax portion and premiums are in separate escrow (impound) accounts, and payments are made to the county or insurance carriers when due. Once each year, you will receive a Summary Statement with an analysis of your escrow accounts. The Summary will advise you of any shortage or overage, and the interest we pay you on those accounts.
When is my payment late?
Payments are due on the first of the month and are late if received after that date. However, you have a 15-day grace period before late fees are assessed. If your payment is not received for posting by the 16th of the month, a late fee will be assessed. Any payment over 30 days delinquent will be reported to the credit bureau. Partial payments can also create a late reporting to the credit bureau if the remainder due for your payment is $4.00 or more.
If payments are due on the first of the month, why am I receiving my monthly billing statement after the first of the month?
All billing statements on fully funded loans are mailed out on or before the 24th of the month, although there have been rare instances where statements were mailed after the 24th. However, if your loan is a construction or home improvement monthly statements are mailed on or about the 1st of each month so that draws at the end of the month can be included in the interest calculation. Once the final draw is issued, and the loan is fully funded, your monthly statements will be mailed to you prior to the 1st of the month.
What if I forget to mail my payment, or the payment is lost in the mail?
If your payment is not received for posting by the 16th of the month, a late fee will be assessed you may receive a reminder notice if your payment has not been received by the 20th of the month. Please make your payments promptly, and allow for mail time.
What if I'm experiencing financial difficulty and might have to miss a payment?
As soon as you realize that you might have to miss a payment, call our Collection Unit at 1-800-952-5626. They will help you work out a solution. Remember, a partial payment is much better than no payment at all, and there may be a way to avoid missing a payment.
If I'm behind in my payment, how do I catch up?
Call the Collection Unit at 1-800-952-5626 as soon as possible, and they will help you make arrangements to catch up.
What if I want to pay more? Can I reduce my loan balance faster?
Yes! Additional principal payments will reduce your loan balance faster and save you interest costs over the life of the loan. You can include additional payments (in any amount) with your regular monthly payment. If you send a separate payment, be sure to include your contract number on the check and a note indicating it is a principal payment or curtailment.
Can I pay off the loan at any time without prepayment penalties?
When will I get a form showing the interest and taxes paid for the year?
By the end of January of each year, you will receive a form (1098 or 1099) advising you of the interest and taxes paid for the previous year.
Does my payment cover all of my property taxes?
Yes, except for supplemental tax assessments if you are in the tax impound program. You should pay any supplemental tax bill yourself. If you cannot pay it, contact the Contract Services Unit for assistance at 1-800-952-5626.
Can I get out of the tax impound program?
Yes. Anyone with 20% or more equity and a good credit record may be released from the tax impound program. Contact the Contract Services Unit for an application at 1-800-952-5626.
What if my marital status changes, or for some other reason I want to change how I hold title to my home?
You must notify CalVet when events that affect title to the property occur. Call 1-800-952-5626 as soon as you are aware there will be a change, and we will explain what documentation is needed and review your request for approval.
If I need to grant an easement over my property or make some other change to the legal description, what should I do?
Call us at 1-800-952-5626, and we will explain what is needed to renew your request modify your contract. For some modifications, there is a service fee.
Are there fees for loan servicing?
There are fees for some services in order to offset operational costs. Call us at 1-800-952-5626 for details.
Will the loan have to be paid off if the veteran passes away?
No. After any insurance benefits have been applied, the surviving spouse or heirs can
continue with the loan. Call us at 1-800-952-5626 for assistance.
Can I rent the home?
You are required to occupy the home. However, you may request a waiver of the occupancy requirement if you must leave the home temporarily. Call us at 1-800-952-5626 to see if you qualify for a waiver, a waiver fee may be applicable.
Can I take out a "second" mortgage loan through another lender behind my CalVet loan?
Yes, with the Department's permission. You and your lender will be required to complete a Consent to Encumber form and to request a copy of the form, call us at (800) 952-5626
What if I am called back to active military service from the Reserves or National Guard?
If you are called to active service, you may qualify for relief under the Service Members Civil Relief Act. The act mandates a reduction in interest rate to 6%, and may also protect you from foreclosure action. You also may be able to defer portions of your monthly installments during your active duty. Please call our Contract Services Unit at 1-800-952-5626 for information if you are called to active duty.