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VA Buyers: Does Your Home Meet the Right Property Requirements?
By Veterans United | Oct 21, 2016

VA loans offer numerous benefits, from zero down payment to flexible credit guidelines and more. But these government-backed loans also aim to help veterans buy homes that are safe, structurally sound and sanitary. Every VA purchase loan requires an appraisal, which includes the valuation of the property along with a high-level check of the home’s condition. Appraisers evaluate how the home measures up to the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements.

It’s a broad-based approach not to be confused with a home inspection, which is a more detailed look at the property. MPR guidelines can vary depending on what’s common for the area and other factors. A home with property condition problems isn’t automatically a deal breaker. But you may need to ask the seller to make repairs—or foot the bill yourself—in order to keep your VA loan moving forward.

Let’s explore a few examples of property issues to look out for during your home search.

Is the home safe?
Every homeowner wants to live in a property that’s safe. As you’re touring homes, take a close look at the property’s condition. While the examples below aren’t exhaustive, these are a few things to look out for:

Broken windows
Lead-based paint
Missing handrails
Exposed electrical wires.

Some of these issues might only require a quick fix, while others could be more involved and costly.

Is the home structurally sound?
Structural issues can get expensive fast. There are certain structural property requirements in place to protect you both physically and financially. You don’t want to get into a home and find out it’s going to require major repairs to maintain its structural integrity. Look for evidence of the following structural issues during your home search:

Foundation cracks
Roof with missing shingles, holes or in generally poor condition
Evidence of wood-destroying insects such as termites.

If you uncover structural issues, talk with your real estate agent about getting repair estimates before making an offer. 

Is the home sanitary?
Properties without clean, safe drinking water can be especially problematic for VA loans. Here are a few sanitary considerations:

Safe and potable drinking water
Septic system in good condition
Free of mold.

Homes with well water or septic systems may require additional scrutiny. Talk with your loan officer to determine whether any additional testing or inspections will be required.

What if the home I love doesn’t meet these standards?
Repairs outlined in the appraisal often need to be completed prior to closing. You can ask the seller to pay for them, or possibly pick up the tab yourself. If it’s the latter route, discuss that expense with your loan officer to ensure that it won’t affect your ability to close.

It’s important to understand the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements don’t guarantee that a home is free of defects. Remember, it’s a high-level look at the property. VA buyers should strongly consider investing in a home inspection as well. But the MPRs can help give veterans and military families peace of mind when it comes to purchasing a piece of the American Dream.

 

Lead Paint - Toxic City  by Philly.com

But in Philadelphia, thousands of children, year after year, are newly poisoned by lead at a far higher rate than those in Flint. In Michigan, the remedy was switching back to a safe water source. Here, where the main culprit for this quiet and chronic scourge is deteriorating lead paint in old homes, the fix is elusive.

Last year alone, nearly 2,700 children tested in Philadelphia had harmful levels of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage, including lower IQ and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems.

Lead poisoning can be prevented, and cases have dropped sharply here and across the country. Yet Philadelphia continues to struggle to eradicate the problem, especially in the city's poorest neighborhoods. In some stubborn pockets of the city, as many as one out of five children under age 6 have high lead levels.

Philadelphia, which ranks among the top large U.S. cities at risk for childhood lead poisoning, is uniquely challenged. The city has a timeworn housing stock, with 92 percent of homes built before the country's 1978 lead-paint ban. And with the worst deep poverty of the nation's largest cities, many families find themselves trapped in toxic houses that made their children sick.

City health officials say they want to do more but over the last three years have lost $3 million in federal funding out of a $9 million program and cut 40 of 65 positions in the Lead and Healthy Homes program.

The city did take a stab at prevention in 2012, enacting a law regulating homes built before 1978. Landlords renting to families with children age 6 and under must have their properties certified as lead-safe and provide proof to their tenants and to the Department of Public Health.

The city has the nation's first Lead Court, created in 2002, to force landlords and homeowners to rid their properties of lead perils. Typically, the city drags only the most serious cases into Lead Court — 121 cases last year.

In Philadelphia, property owners can rent homes without a city inspection for lead hazards or any violations. They simply pay $50 to get the required rental license. Landlords have only bothered to get a license for about one-third of the city's 250,000 rentals. They are almost never penalized.

Since 2012, landlords have to provide proof their homes are lead-free or lead-safe for families with young children. But most fail to provide the certificate to the public health department and the tenant, and the city doesn't hold them accountable. In fact, less than 1 percent of landlords comply, public health officials estimate.

Above is an excerpt of the full article by Philly.com