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A Veteran Move

Tips and best practices female mortgage professionals can use to empower female veterans to use their VA loan benefits

Grace Ragan headshot
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Grace Ragan
A veteran hugs her son in front of their home.

According to Military.com, women now make up 15% of active duty and 18 percent of Guard/Reserve service members. Based on recent trends across all branches of the armed services, veterans and female VA users are expected to double again in the next decade. Unfortunately, despite growing numbers, female veterans continue to underutilize VA care and benefits. As a society, we are quick to thank members of the military for their service, but perhaps a more meaningful way to show our respect and appreciation for their time in uniform would be to make sure they are receiving the full extent of the veteran benefits they have earned and most assuredly deserve.

As female mortgage lenders, we can do and should do our part to make that goal a reality. As a loan officer who specializes in VA loans, I’ve witnessed some of the lack of education and unfortunate stigmas that contribute to the underutilization of this valuable benefit.

What follows are some tips and advice—based on my own experiences in this important and rewarding market space—for female mortgage lenders looking to empower more female veterans to leverage their VA Loan benefits and close more VA loans. 

Step One: Ask

This may sound simple, but the first step in making sure a borrower takes advantage of their VA benefits is to ask if she is a veteran! Too many lenders forget or neglect to ask, especially when the borrower is a woman. Many vets don’t even know that they have a VA loan benefit available to them. 

Transitioning out of the military into civilian life can be a chaotic and overwhelming process, and service members have so much information thrown at them that it’s not surprising when they don’t know about or recall learning about their VA loan benefit. Starting the conversation by asking if they are veterans and, if so, helping them understand what that benefit looks like and how it applies to their circumstances, is an all-too-often neglected first step.

Catch The Train

Mortgage professionals who aren’t educated about VA loan benefits or are uncertain about how to navigate in this arena, will inevitably steer clients away from them—simply because they themselves aren’t comfortable in that space. That is why lenders who want to get involved in closing more VA loans need to first make sure that they have a strong grasp of the program. You cannot educate clients and fellow professionals until you yourself are comfortable in this specialized product. I was fortunate enough to learn from my mentor Mike Fischer on the Veteran Lending Council, which offers programs for loan officers to educate and advocate for smarter and more engaged military lending. 

Find Your People

Don’t just educate yourself about VA lending benefits, strive to surround yourself with others who are enthusiastic and passionate about this program. Having a team who is all pulling in the same direction can make an enormous difference. To the extent that you can, look for professional opportunities and environments where you are working alongside supportive fellow mortgage professionals who share your passion and admiration for military service, and who are motivated to help female veterans and to educate and empower both borrowers and fellow lenders. 

Get Out There

Don’t miss out on valuable opportunities to connect with female veterans through conferences and other special events. I recently attended a conference in Lansing, Mich., focused on the female veteran experience. It was both informative and inspiring. 

As a former military brat who grew up interacting with members of the armed forces, I have a great deal of respect for veterans, and taking proactive steps to learn more about their experiences and to begin to forge great relationships with fellow attendees was both personally and professionally rewarding. 

Push Back

To the extent that you can, do your part to address common myths and misconceptions surrounding VA loans. The VA home loan suffers from a lack of understanding, and it is incumbent upon us as mortgage lending professionals to make sure we are doing our part to correct those misunderstandings. That starts with conversations, not only with borrowers, but with our fellow professionals, especially in the realtor community. The more we can close the information gap, the more all parties will benefit from this unique program.

Get Inspired

About 17% of my own customers are VA loan benefit candidates—and that group includes some of the most rewarding and inspiring professional experiences of my career. Helping female veterans take full advantage of this benefit they have earned is the best part of my job. Seeing their faces, hearing about how much money they are saving—and what they can use that money for instead—truly never gets old. 

For example, one of my recent female first-time homebuyers didn’t know she was eligible for a VA loan benefit, and subsequently, we discovered she had a disability rating that led to even more savings. These firsthand experiences are reminders that the work we do has an incredible impact on the lives of our clients. 

I believe that as mortgage professionals it’s not just our job to educate and advocate for VA loan benefits, it’s our duty. For a deserving and fast-growing community of female veterans, I feel like that is the least we can do to give back.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine November 2022 issue.
Grace Ragan headshot
Grace Ragan

Grace Ragan is a loan officer who specializes in VA Loans at Michigan-based Ross Mortgage Corporate, one of the top independent lenders in the Midwest.

Published on
Nov 21, 2022
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