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March 26, 2020

Land for Veterans

Texas has a program available for veterans that allows for discounted rates on land as well as loans for land, home, and home improvements. It is a way the veterans in Texas can save a lot of money.

The history of Texas giving land to veterans actually goes all the way back to 1835, where enlisted soldiers coming into the Texan Army for the fight for independence were given $24 (about $600 in today’s money), Texas citizenship, and the rights to 800 acres of land.  Those in the auxiliary could get up to 640 acres, depending on their time in service.

The current land program isn’t quite as generous, but it is definitely a good deal for Texas Veterans through the Veterans Land Board (VLB).  You can participate in a quarterly bidding process to obtain land at a discounted price, and you can get a VLB loan for up to $150,000 (as of March 2020).  You can also tap into other VLB packages to get a home loan up to $510,400 plus a home improvement loan up to $50,000.  You can also get land multiple times through the VLB as long as you don’t have an open loan when you try to buy the next parcel of land.

How Can I Get Cheap Land?

The VLB puts up land for auction once a quarter.  You can bid on up to six tracts of land at one time.  If you win more than one bid, you will be awarded one tract based on a bid preference you set.

You can pay cash for the land, or you can finance the land via the VLB.  There is a $75 deed preparation fee, and you will have to put down at least a 5% down payment for the land.  As you would expect, you will also need credit approval in order to obtain a loan.

You can look at available tracts and the minimum bid prices on this page on the VLB website.  Since these properties are sold “as is,” it is strongly recommended that you visit the property before putting in a bid.  Make sure the land does not have unwanted debris or noticeable contamination, it is not in a floodplain, there are no restrictive regulations or covenants affecting your property, plus make sure you understand who maintains access (the road) to the tract, and if there will be any sort of association or maintenance fees that you will have to pay annually.

You will also want to know if there are utilities already going to the property and if not, are they nearby?  What may be a great property for your new home may seem cost prohibitive if you have to pay to run utilities to your home.

Usually bids will be awarded within two weeks of the bid submission deadline.

What if I don’t Live in Texas?

If you are a veteran, you can be eligible for this land program through the VLB the very first day you become a Texas resident as long as you have intention to remain a resident when you apply for a VLB loan.  If you ever thought about moving somewhere to live among friendly people in a nice, warm climate, you are welcome to move down to Texas to benefit from the VLB program.

How can I get a Mobile Home for my VLB land?

That’s a great question with a few things to think about.  The first step is getting the land.  Once the land is in your possession, you will want to talk to one of our representatives about loan options that would be best for you (you can still get the loan through the VLB, we will just steer you toward your best option).  If you own the land outright or if the equity in your land is high enough, often the best option is to buy the home with a mortgage using the equity in your land as the down payment.  If you don’t have enough equity in the land, having a new loan to cover your land and the home may still be your best option.

Because there are several different options, be sure to talk to one of our team members about the best choice for you so we can steer you toward what will be a good fit for you.  You are always encouraged to call us early and often with questions to avoid headaches later on.

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