Maybe you’ve successfully leaped through the hoops of home ownership on multiple occasions. Maybe there’s nothing in an appraisal or the fine print of a loan agreement that could trip you up. Maybe you’ve seen enough “sign here” and “initial here” tabs to make you an expert.

But ... have you tried it in another state?

The VA loan program may be a national entity, but that doesn’t mean all of its rules apply to all of its localities. Variations abound, and that’s not including state-run veteran home-ownership programs wholly separate from VA benefits.

Here are just a few of those regional differences, courtesy of various VA websites and other documentation:

  • Homes in 10 Florida counties (Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Monroe and Palm Beach) can qualify for VA-backed loans without a heating system.
  • In Pennsylvania, springs or cisterns don’t qualify as acceptable water supplies. Neither do dug wells, except those in parts of Erie County. 
  • You’ll also need special mine-related insurance for parts of Pennsylvania. Figure you can escape to Hawaii instead? You’ll need lava insurance in parts of that state, though VA will back loans for properties in Lava Zones 1 and 2.
  • No lava insurance needed for Alaska, and many homes don’t require termite inspections. However, VA won’t back loans for properties in Red or Blue avalanche zones.

Requirements for the appraisals themselves — specifically, how much they can cost and how long they can take — also vary wildly by region. Most locations allow five to 10 days for an appraisal, though some more remote areas can allow three to four weeks. Fees also vary not just by location, but by the type of residence; click here for a full overview and to see what rules apply to your area.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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