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Chris Birk
Works at Veterans United Home Loans
Attended Missouri School of Journalism
Lived in St. Louis, Mo.
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Chris Birk

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Tell a Veteran About Their Homebuying Benefit

About 10 percent of the country's 22 million veterans currently have a VA-backed loan. A whopping 1 in 3 homebuying veterans aren't even aware they have a home loan benefit, according to survey data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To be sure, VA loans aren't the best fit for every military buyer. But they should at least know it's an option. Scores of veterans and service members have an incomplete home financing picture.

Simply making sure they're aware of the home loan benefits earned by their service can help ensure veterans get the best deal possible.

Here's what you need to know: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2014/11/06/tell-a-veteran-about-their-homebuying-benefits/
VA loans are booming, but millions of veterans are still missing out. About 1 in 3 aren't even aware they have home loan benefits.
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Chris Birk

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Give my recent post with Credit.com a look to find out why your spouse's credit plays an important part in your financial future. 
 
Can Your Spouse’s Credit Score Kill Your Mortgage?

Save for maybe the diehard financial romantics, it’s a rare wedding where “credit scores” share billing with sickness and health. But it might be time to update those well-worn marriage vows.

From that moment forward, your spouse’s credit profile will play a big role in your collective financial future. That’s especially true when the time comes to purchase a home.

Your spouse’s credit can make or break your mortgage. A score imbalance – hers is high and his is low – can mean getting saddled with a higher interest rate, or not qualifying at all. There are even cases where leaving a spouse off the loan application can’t overcome bad credit.

Let’s take a closer look:
http://blog.credit.com/2014/09/spouses-credit-score-kill-your-mortgage-97295/
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Short Sales and Seasoning Periods for VA Home Loans

Many lenders treat short sales like foreclosures and require a two-year wait before you can qualify for a VA loan. Veterans United has no seasoning period — that means no wait — following most short sales. Here's a look at why that matters.

http://www.veteransunited.com/valoans/short-sale-seasoning/?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=GooglePlus&utm_campaign=Organic&src=soc
Many lenders treat short sales like foreclosures and require a two-year wait before you can get a VA loan. Veterans United has no wait in most cases.
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5 Tips for Winning a Bidding War
Housing inventory hit a nearly two-year high last month, with 2.28 million unsold homes on the market nationwide. That’s an encouraging sign during a historic dry spell.

But macro trends are cold comfort for potential homebuyers on the ground. There are still plenty of communities where low inventory and rising prices mean bidding wars are common.

Multiple offers can be incredibly stressful. Buyers are forced to pare their expectations and fight for an edge in what’s essentially a zero-sum game. No one wants to see their dream home swarmed by cash buyers or inflated offers.

The good news is it’s not always about the bottom line. Sellers may take less if it means a faster closing, fewer headaches or helping someone they connect with.

Here’s a look at five tips that can help prospective buyers in a bidding war.

Thanks to +Neil Brooks , +Duan Rockette  and +Christian Harris for their help!

_Read more: http://blog.credit.com/2014/06/win-a-bidding-war-for-your-new-home-86251/_
If the area where you're hoping to buy a home has low inventory and rising prices, you might encounter a bidding war. Here's what you can do to gain an edge.
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4 Credit Mistakes New Homeowners Make  

Homebuyers often spend considerable effort padding and polishing their credit in the lead-up to the big purchase.

Locking down a home loan today is no small feat, even as credit requirements continue to thaw. But the relief that comes with finalizing a home purchase can also spur a false sense of security.

It’s easy for the financial diligence and dedication of the loan approval process to disappear the further you get from the closing table. New homeowners can’t let their guard down when it comes to their credit profile.

Here’s a look at four common credit mistakes new homeowners make.

Read more: http://blog.credit.com/2014/05/credit-mistakes-new-homeowners-make-82628/
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Comparing Loan Types on a $200,000 Mortgage

When it comes to mortgages, it's important to recognize they are not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

The key is finding what makes the most sense for you, and sometimes taking a cold, hard look at numbers is the way to go.

VA loans have no down payment is a significant advantage, but they also mean you are starting with no equity in the property. 

Conventional loans require the highest down payment, but you establish equity at the outset. 

FHA loans are often the loan of last resort because of their high monthly mortgage insurance costs, which borrowers pay for the duration of the mortgage. 

USDA loans feature no down payment and lower mortgage insurance costs, but the latter is payable for the life of the loan--and they are the most restrictive. 

Take a closer look at What a $200,000 Mortgage Can Cost You by comparing it among several different loan types:

 http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2014/04/23/comparing-loan-types-home-mortgage/
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A Closer Look at VA Energy Efficient Mortgages

A "green" home may equate to lower energy bill costs, more tax breaks, and less consumption overall. In recognizing this, the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program allows for qualified military and veteran borrowers to finance the cost of improvements and repairs directly into their loans. The EEM boasts a "spend now save later" approach because the long-term savings that can amount from using it are tremendous.

A few examples of acceptable upgrades via the EEM are:
Energy-efficient windows and doors
Solar heating and cooling systems
Insulation for ceilings, walls, attics and other spaces
Heat pumps and clock thermostats

Take A Closer Look at VA Energy Efficient Mortgages to learn what benefits they may hold for you:

http://themortgagereports.com/14852/va-eem-energy-efficient-mortgage-loan
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Chris Birk

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You know the importance of credit when securing a loan, but even a non-purchasing spouse's finances can make or break a home loan. Share to spread the information!

Can spouse's credit score kill your mortgage?

Save for maybe the diehard financial romantics, it's a rare wedding where "credit scores" share billing with sickness and health. But it might be time to update those well-worn marriage vows.

Your spouse's credit can make or break your mortgage. A score imbalance – hers is high and his is low – can mean getting saddled with a higher interest rate, or not qualifying at all. There are even cases where leaving a spouse off the loan application can't overcome bad credit.

Here's a closer look at what your spouse's credit means for your shared financial future: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/10/04/credit-dotcom-spouse-credit-score-mortgage/16585445/
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Another reason to think through the implications of shared finances (whether de jure or de facto) before tying the knot.
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Check out my first post with AOL Real Estate. 
 
The Surprising Safety of a Zero-Down Mortgage

The safest mortgage on the market since the housing crash is one where most buyers put $0 down. 

Wait, huh? 

Welcome to the surprising world of VA home loans.

About 9 in 10 buyers using this historic benefit program purchase without making a down payment. Despite that, these government-backed mortgages have had the lowest foreclosure rate of any loan type for 19 of the last 26 quarters, according to figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The safety and stability of the VA loan program remains one of the more under-reported trends in all of housing.

VA loans are also a hard-earned benefit reserved for those who serve our country. It's a special program, and it should stay that way. 

But these zero-down loans do offer some lessons worth a closer look: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/on/the-surprising-safety-of-a-zero-down-mortgage/
The zero-down VA loan has been the safest mortgage product on the market since the housing crash and it offers lessons for the rest of the housing industry.
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Missteps when it comes to buying a home can be really costly. Here's a look at four mortgage mistakes to avoid. 
We all make financial missteps, but mistakes made when buying a home can really be magnified. Here are four mortgage mistakes you can't afford to make.
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Thank you so very much for your response. It was helpful and will share
that input with my husband.

Have a great day!
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How Long Does It Take to Buy a Home?
Consumers considering a home purchase often want to get a handle on how it takes to actually buy a home.

The problem is this: it’s a surprisingly subjective and multilayered question. Answers tend to focus on the typical time it takes to close a home loan once you’re under contract, which is usually 30 to 45 days.

That’s an accurate response, but it’s a vantage point that leaves little room between the starting and finish lines. The home-buying journey—from financial preparation and finding the right home to getting under contract and through closing—tends to take a lot longer.

The reality is there is no stock answer on how long it takes to buy a home, mostly because everyone’s journey is different. 

Here is a closer look at some stages and steps that can shape your home-buying timeline.

Read more: http://www.realtor.com/advice/long-take-buy-home/
There's no stock answer to how long it takes to buy a home. Here is a closer look at some stages and steps that can shape your home-buying timeline.
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What Younger First-Time Homebuyers Want

While the number of younger renters has increased since the housing crisis, Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey reports that
most of said renters would prefer to own homes.

The idea of owning a home seems to be more sensible financially and in accordance to lifestyle; many attribute pessimism in the ability to obtain a mortgage as holding them back.

This article from +HousingWire gives reason as to why youngsters are renting rather than homeowning, as well as possible solutions for turning things around:

http://www.housingwire.com/articles/29922-what-younger-first-time-homebuyers-want
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Ok now for reality
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  • Veterans United Home Loans
    Director of Education, 2009 - present
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St. Louis, Mo. - Columbia, Mo. - Indianapolis, Ind. - Scranton, Pa.
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I'm the Director of Education for Veterans United Home Loans. I'm also the author of "The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits." My mortgage analysis and commentaries have appeared at The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, CBS News, Fox Business, Zillow, Military.com and more. Nearly 330,000 people follow VA Loans Insider, my interactive VA loan community on Facebook.
Introduction

I'm the Director of Education for Veterans United Home Loans. I'm also the author of "The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits." My mortgage analysis and commentaries have appeared at The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, CBS News, Fox Business, Zillow, Military.com and more. Nearly 330,000 people follow VA Loans Insider, my interactive VA loan community on Facebook.

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I wrote The Book on VA Loans. See more at www.veteransunited.com/book
Education
  • Missouri School of Journalism
    Journalism
  • Webster University
    Media Communications (MA)
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Scott did an incredible job with our family photo shoot, which included four children under age 3. We were blown away by the images. He's an amazingly talented photographer, and we're looking forward to more shoots with him in the years ahead.
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