Veteran Services: Finance Questions

Finances

You're working, and you've got a family that depends on you - both now and down the road. Where do you invest your money? Do you borrow against the equity in your house? Through a preferred provider relationship with USAA, The American Legion can provide expert financial advice to just about any question.

Questions & Answers

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Real Estate

I own my home, paid for, no mortgage. I have a 100 percent service-connected disability status, but not from combat injuries. I’ve been told that since I am 100 percent service disabled, I should receive a break on my real estate taxes. I was also told, that since my disability is not from combat, I'm not eligible for a tax break. I would appreciate your input. Thanks. -Charlie

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I currently own condo in Florida. All payments have been made on time and are up-to-date. I tried to refinance but the property is underwater so the refinance was rejected as I owe more than the property is currently worth. Is there any help you can provide? Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thank You. -John

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My son is a member of the Presidents Own Marine Band. His wife left him leaving him with his house underwater, and he has tried with his mortgage lender to keep the house but has been unsuccessful. He too is afraid to go through a short sale as he might lose his security clearance. Is there someone I could speak with to see what his options are? Thanks. -John

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I am a former U.S. Marine, currently in the National Guard. A mortgage company called and they want to refinance my mortgage with a VA 3/1 Hybrid loan. Starting interest is 2.75 percent with an adjustable rate that can only go up or down 1 percent a year. Interest rate changes are applied to the amount I owe at the time of change. The loan is for $75,000. I do not know much about this corporation and want to make sure it is not a veteran scam. -Josiah

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I currently have VA home mortgage at 5.5 percent. I want to get conventional mortgage and leverage current low rates. Besides having 20 percent equity, what other guidance can you provide and what are the best options? -Jim

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I would like to refinance my existing mortgage of $188,000 (13.5 years remaining on a 15-year term) which is now at 4.25%. What would the payments be on a new 10- or 15-year mortgage? My current payment is $1,805 per month. - Rudy

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We are planning on retiring in less than two years. We both currently work and both of us will have state and military pensions at full retirement and Social Security. When we buy a new house in NC, is the ability to pay based on when we apply while working or what we will be making at retirement? We are fine either way as we will have a good retirement income, gain from old house, and no other bills. Also, can a lender limit our loan (30- or 15-year) based on our age. I would be 65 and my wife would be 61. – Dennie

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We have a manufactured home built in 1992 with a VA loan. Can we still refinance with VA, and what is the current interest rate? – Stanley

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I filed one year ago for bankruptcy. When will I be able to use my certificate of eligibility to refinance my house at a lower rate? – Otis

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I want to refinance my mortgage. I converted from a Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 on 2/2010, and I have been current on my mortgage since 2007. The payoff would be approximately $92,000 and the house is valued at $186,000. What program do I apply for, if any? – Roger

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My wife and I purchased a home in Pasco County, Fla., in 2005 for $200,000. My wife passed away in 2007, and I have no desire to live in the house. Two home appraisals came in at $71,000 and $73,000, and my monthly payment is $1600. What can I do to get out from under this burden? – Frank

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My house is upside-down — I owe $503,000 and the house is worth about $383,000. I have tried dealing with Chase Mortgage because I’m not behind in payment, but they cannot help me. What can I do as a retired CSM(E9)? I’m a USAA member too, and I have a full-time job. – William

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What are the ramifications of abandoning property (e.g., house and land) with approximately $4,900 in property taxes past due? My house payments are current; my current house value is less than the amount owed. – Michael

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Do you recommend any reverse mortgage lenders? – C.D.

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I am 66 years old and disabled but still work a little, and I owe money on my land at 8.25 percent. I was wondering where I might refinance my debt at a lower rate so it would be easier to make the payments. –Darrell

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I have a credit rating of 614 and less than one year out of bankruptcy. Would anyone finance for a lower rate than my present 8.25 percent and give a fixed rate. I am a disabled Vietnam veteran. – Marvin

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I am thinking about refinancing my home equity loan, and I would like to know what kind of rates you have at this time. The amount is about 100,000. – Paul

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We have a home that we cannot sell or afford the thousands it needs for repairs to sell it. The mortgage is $138,000, and two realtors said we would get between $100-110,000 if we sold as is. Does a short sale of the home make sense? – Robert

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I have a mortgage balance of about $175,000. I am doing a biweekly payment trying to shorten the 30-year fixed term. I have excellent credit, and would like to refinance into a lower rate. Can you direct me to a lender who can help me? – Philip

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Our post has sold a house which we have owned for some time. We are about to get a cash settlement for the whole price. How can we put that money to good use with a reasonable degree of safety but with a small amount of return? – William

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I am a 100 percent service-connected Vietnam vet. My wife and I own a home with a non-VA mortgage, and we are upside down. We pay $80 per month for PMI. Is there a strategy whereby we could refinance with a VA guarantee and eliminate the PMI? – Michael

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I have an adjustable-rate mortgage, with 12 months left at my current rate. Should I refinance now? And if so, who should I refinance with? - Ronald

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Do you think it is better to rent or own? I have read several articles online stating that your money is better off in a 401(k) or some other portfolio than in real estate or owning a home. – Don

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If a retired spouse passes away, and the home mortgage is a VA one under that person’s benefits, can the surviving spouse do anything with that mortgage? The deceased gets notices to refinance at a better rate; can the spouse? – Marilyn

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I have an adjustable-rate mortgage, and the value of the house has dropped significantly. Consequently, it is upside-down. I could just walk away. But where would I live? I was thinking of buying a second home prior to walking away from this one. – Allen

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