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Chris Birk
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Chris Birk is director of content and communications for Veterans United, one of the nation's leading financial services providers for service members and their families. He is a former journalist and author of"The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits." Visit him on Facebook at VA Loans Insider or on Google+.

Entries by Chris Birk

Call It a Comeback: Rising Rates Spurs New Look at Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 4:47 PM

If you've heard about adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) in the past couple of years, you probably didn't catch anything too positive. ARMs took a big hit during the housing market crash in 2007.

With mortgage rates starting to rise, ARMs are staring gain popularity again, especially with buyers who aren't...

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What the New Qualified Mortgage (QM) Regulations Mean for VA Loans

(3) Comments | Posted January 8, 2014 | 11:37 AM

A new era for the mortgage industry is about to begin. From the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis came a host of new rules and regulations meant to better safeguard homebuyers and minimize risky loans. There's a new class of loans (called Qualified Mortgages, or QM) and a new...

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VA Loan Program Backs All-Time Record 630,000 Mortgages

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 8:50 AM

The Department of Veterans Affairs backed nearly 630,000 mortgages for service members and veterans this fiscal year, an all-time record for this nearly 70-year-old home loan program.

VA loans have experienced incredible growth in a time of tight lending and fragile economic recovery. Volume has increased more than 370...

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Note to Home Sellers: Leaving Out VA Borrowers Is Your Loss

(1) Comments | Posted June 4, 2013 | 10:53 AM

A recent headline at About.com caught my attention: "Why VA Home Buyers Have a Hard Time."

The short piece from homebuying/selling guide Elizabeth Weintraub raises an important issue. It also presents an opportunity to address some myths and misconceptions about this increasingly important home loan program. (Full disclosure:...

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5 Most Effective Habits of Consumers With Sky-High Credit Scores

(9) Comments | Posted April 25, 2013 | 11:16 AM

Consumers don't build great credit scores overnight. It's something that takes time, smart financial decisions and maybe even a little luck.

Perhaps surprisingly, it turns out a lot of Americans have managed to make the effort. As a whole, we've actually got pretty decent credit scores. Nearly a third of...

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Renters Now Moving Up Their Homebuying Timetables

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 5:59 PM

Buying a home is now cheaper than renting in most of the country's housing markets. A litany of recent studies and surveys have almost belabored the point given home values and historically low interest rates.

Now there's new data suggesting renters have clearly noticed the trend -- and they're planning...

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VA Loan Program Passes 20 Million Mark

(1) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 1:04 PM

Nearing its 70th anniversary, the VA Loan Guaranty program recently passed the 20 million loan mark. The historic government-backed loan went to the widow of an Iraq War veteran, who used the no-down-payment program to purchase a home in Virginia.

"Without this program and all of the benefits we have...

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Veterans Omnibus Bill Contains Key Changes to VA Loan Program

(0) Comments | Posted August 2, 2012 | 6:12 PM

A veterans omnibus bill now on its way to the president's desk contains some key changes and updates that will extend housing benefits to more surviving spouses and allow military dependents to fulfill the loan program's occupancy requirements.

The House passed the "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for...

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Are Conventional Mortgages Drying Up in Minority Communities?

(1) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 12:28 PM

Is mortgage redlining still plaguing communities of color?

A new report from seven housing and policy agencies suggests evidence of a two-tiered mortgage market in which borrowers and communities of color are increasingly cut off from prime conventional financing.

Origination data from seven cities in 2010 show that borrowers in...

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Feds Roll Out New Protections for Military Homeowners on the Move

(1) Comments | Posted June 25, 2012 | 11:02 AM

Military homeowners forced to relocate because of new orders will now be automatically eligible for a short sale under mortgage servicing rules released this week.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued the changes to ease the financial burden on active service members, nearly a third of whom receive Permanent...

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7 Technologies the Military Made Possible (PHOTOS)

(12) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 4:40 PM

This originally appeared on Veterans United Network.

Chris Birk is director of communications for the VA Mortgage Center, which specializes in VA loans for veterans and active duty service members.

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Mortgage Giants Agree to Pay Servicemembers for Illegal Foreclosures, Rate Hikes

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 11:03 AM

Military homeowners who were illegally foreclosed upon during the last five years will receive a minimum payment of nearly $117,000 plus lost equity and interest, according to a settlement reached this week between the Justice Department and the nation's largest mortgage servicers.

The agreement comes after months of...

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VA Loans Have a Huge Year, Remain Safest Lending Option on the Market

(2) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 10:39 AM

Military borrowers continue to flock to the safety, security and unmatched buying power of VA loans in the wake of the subprime mortgage meltdown and ensuing credit crunch.

VA loan guarantees have soared 168 percent since 2007, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency...

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Bill Would Boost Access to VA Loan Program for Surviving Military Spouses

(0) Comments | Posted October 19, 2011 | 10:36 AM

Thousands of surviving spouses currently ineligible for VA home loan benefits would gain access to the program if a U.S. House bill passed Wednesday becomes law.

The VA Loan Guaranty program has helped more than 18 million service members become homeowners since 1944. The program provides...

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VA Rolls Makes Bold Move To End Veteran Homelessness By 2015

(7) Comments | Posted October 14, 2011 | 9:59 AM

Nearly 30 cities across the country will host awareness initiatives this fall aimed at highlighting local services available to veterans mired in or on the brink of homelessness.

The "Make the Call" campaign is part of the Veterans Administration's push to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015. These local programs...

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Mortgage Groups Push Senate Leaders to Extend Loan Limits

(3) Comments | Posted September 9, 2011 | 2:01 PM

Mortgage and real estate trade groups are pressing Senate leaders to take action on a bill that would extend the maximum mortgage loan limits through 2013.

The current conforming loan limit for government-backed mortgages is set to expire on Sept. 30. A bipartisan bill introduced in early August would allow...

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Feds Release Funding to Combat Veteran Homelessness

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2011 | 2:03 PM

The federal government continues to take steps to curb the problem of veteran homelessness.

Public housing authorities in 18 states will receive $5.4 million to provide permanent housing for nearly 700 homeless veterans, according to a joint announcement Monday from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department...

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Disabled Vets Get Mortgage Relief From Citi

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2011 | 4:06 PM

Military homeowners have taken a beating the last few months at the hands of some of the country's largest mortgage lenders.

They're just now finally starting to catch a break.

Citigroup announced this week that it would cut interest rates and waive late fees and other past due amounts for...

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Smartphone App from the VA and DOD Helps Veterans Manage PTSD

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2011 | 1:45 PM

Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can now find help in the palm of their hands.

Tech experts at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have built a unique smartphone app that allows users to track PTSD symptoms and provides resources, support and education. The...

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Service Members to Gain Free Access to Credit Scores

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2011 | 10:58 AM

Active duty military members and their spouses will soon be able to see their FICO score for free, part of a unique partnership aimed at boosting financial literacy among those who serve our country.

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is teaming with the Department of Defense to distribute the FICO...

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