The appraisal process is one of the most important steps in getting a VA home loan. When the home is appraised, it’s viewed by a VA fee appraiser who has the job of making sure the property lives up to VA minimum property requirements and assigning a fair market value to the home.
All homes are different, and some VA loan applicants interested in unique, older, or unusual properties may wonder if the features of that property make it ineligible for a VA mortgage loan.
For example, while modern new construction properties have modern plumbing designs, some older homes or those in rural areas may feature wells or cisterns as the water source. Some homes feature a solar water heater or other advanced energy-saving appliances, others may have wood burning stoves instead of a more typical stove.
What do VA loan rules say about such unique features?
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not have an exhaustive list of allowed or unapproved features, but there are some required items listed that all homes should have in order to be eligible for a VA guaranteed mortgage loan.
For example, homes with wood burning stoves which are used as a “primary heating source” must “also have a permanently installed conventional heating system that maintains a temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit in areas with plumbing.”
Houses equipped with solar systems to heat water or control climate are required to;
· meet standards in HUD Handbook 4930.2, Solar Heating and Domestic Hot Water Heating Systems,
· be backed up 100 percent with a conventional thermal energy subsystem or other backup system which will provide the same degree of reliability and performance as a conventional system.
Those two requirements are printed directly from the VA Lender’s Handbook, Chapter 12, which also says any home to be purchased with a VA loan must have, “domestic hot water” plus “a continuing supply of safe and potable water for drinking and other household uses” and also “sanitary facilities and a safe method of sewage disposal.” As you can see, there are several basics covered by the minimum property standards, but other features which might not be listed by name may not automatically disqualify a home from a VA loan; the rules require borrowers considering such properties to have them reviewed on a case-by-case basis. VA loans are flexible in some areas as long as basic considerations for safety, resale value and other logical issues are addressed.