AUSTIN — Jerry Patterson, Chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board, today announced a change in policy that allows the surviving spouse of any Texas veteran killed in action an additional full 50 basis point discount on a home loan.
The benefit - which allows Texas veterans to borrow up to $325,000 on a 30-year loan at a rate of just 3.49 percent - was previously granted only to disabled veterans. This discount can save veterans tens of thousands of dollars during the life of a typical 30 year loan.
Patterson said the change was prompted by a letter from a Longview loan officer who was upset that the wife of Marine Sgt. Kenneth B. May Jr., Krystal May, did not qualify for the benefit. Sgt. May was killed in the line of duty during his third tour in Afghanistan this summer. His widow had come to Longview loan officer Linda Daily to apply for a loan to buy the home in Kilgore she and Sgt. May had dreamed of buying when he returned.
After reading the letter from Daily, Patterson immediately took action to change the policy.
"This was an easy decision for us at the VLB - it was the right thing to do," Patterson said. "I'm glad the loan officer brought it to our attention."
Daily, a long-time veterans' advocate who has processed home loans for veterans for 40 years, said she was flabbergasted by the quick response to her concern.
"I sent that letter but I honestly didn't expect anything would come of it, at least not in time to help Krystal," said Daily, a senior loan officer with Service First Mortgage in Longview. "I was floored when I received a response within 24 hours."
The practice of rewarding veterans for their service with land in Texas goes back to before the Republic. After World War II, Texas created the VLB to oversee the land loan program, which eventually expanded to offer home and home improvement loans.
The VLB's Veterans Housing Assistance Program provides financing of up to $325,000 toward the purchase of a home to qualified Texas veterans. Texas veterans may also borrow up to $80,000 for land and up to $25,000 for home improvement purposes. Rates on all veterans housing loans are at an all-time low.
"Right now, when getting a Texas Veterans Land Board loan with a VA-guarantee, a Texas veteran can borrow up to $325,000 with no money down," Patterson said.
Texas veterans repaying their land loans through the VLB directly support the operation of three Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, with another one under construction in Corpus Christi, Patterson said.
Patterson said mortgage rates in the popular Veterans Housing Assistance Program have continued to trend lower, reaching a current record low of 3.99 percent and possibly heading lower in the days to come. As a result, Texas veterans are eligible for lower rates than other VA guaranteed loan rates.
Any eligible veteran with a 30 percent or greater VA disability rating - or any surviving spouse of a veteran killed in action - can get an even lower rate, currently 3.49 percent.
"I hope every veteran in Texas hears about these record low rates," Patterson said. "This is a great benefit they have earned and should take advantage of."
For more information on how to take advantage of this record low home loan rate, talk to your Realtor or call 1-800-252-VETS (1-800-252-8387), or visit the Veterans Land Board website at www.texasveterans.com.