Hassan leads bipartisan push to do more for veterans buying homes

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Jul. 7—WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is leading a bipartisan and bicameral effort to urge the Biden administration to reform the Veteran Administration's Home Loan Guaranty program as veterans struggle to buy homes in an overheated real estate market.

Hassan said conversations with veterans about their problems convinced her to take the lead in a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough.

Joining in the letter were Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Chris Van Holland and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., among other Democrats, as well as Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., is leading the House campaign, which includes Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H.

Realtors often do not consider a veterans' application, due to the complexity of the VA home loan process, according to Hassan.

In addition, the program's appraisal process often comes up with a home value that is below the asking price and that can force veterans to pay the difference in cash at the closing.

Most veterans don't even know that they can appeal that appraisal by seeking a Reconsideration of Value (ROV).

"We ask that VA review its appraisal and ROV policies and practices for any flexibilities that would improve the accuracy of valuations given this period of housing supply shortage and increased home values," the senators wrote.

A VA home loan guaranty means a purchaser obtains a loan through a private lender, such as a bank, credit union or mortgage company. The federal VA works with the lender to guarantee the loan, and this can help a buyer purchase a home at a competitive rate, so veterans can save money on interest.

The state adjutant of N.H. Veterans of Foreign Wars said this request will help many veterans.

"We applaud any efforts to increase outreach and education to veterans and Realtors on this program, as the housing market is challenging, at best," said Paul Lloyd.

"Any review and streamlining of the process will be beneficial and hopefully make using the VA Home Loan Guaranty program more effective."

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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