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posted: 5/30/2014 12:01 AM

VA mortgage program can be used time and again

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Many veterans of the armed services don't realize it, but the low-down-payment mortgage plan that is operated by the Veterans Affairs can be used more than once.

Q. I drove a tank in the war against Iraq in the 1990s, retired from the Marine Corps in 2001 and bought my first home in 2002 with a VA mortgage. Now I would like to sell and purchase a smaller house. Can I use the VA loan program again, or is it too late because so many years have passed since I was in the military?

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A. A veteran's eligibility for the low-rate, no-down-payment home-loan program operated by the Veterans Affairs never expires. Even veterans of the Korean War or World War II still can use or "re-use" the program today, as long as they were honorably discharged and meet the VA's other basic requirements.

For details, contact a few VA-approved local lenders and mortgage brokers. Also call the nearest regional office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (it should be listed under the "Federal Government" heading of the white pages near the front of the phone book), or visit the agency's outstanding Internet site, www.va.gov.

And on this week of Memorial Day, thanks for the time you sacrificed to keep our nation strong and free.

Q. I heard a brief report on the radio that the company that made my home's smoke and radon detectors, Nest Labs, is recalling some of its products. What are the details?

A. Nest Labs, which was recently purchased by Internet giant Google, is recalling about 440,000 of its "Nest Protect" detectors because they won't necessarily sound when smoke or deadly radon is present.

The potential problem was discovered by technicians at the company's headquarters and, apparently, no people have fallen victim to the possible glitch. Although the Consumer Protect Safety Commission technically considers it a recall, it really isn't. That's because Nest Labs, which specializes in using its deep web smarts to improve a variety of household items, is already working on a repair for the problem that will automatically be sent to its web-based detectors around the globe from its California headquarters.

If waiting a few weeks for the repairs makes you nervous, you can return the detector and get your money back. More information can be obtained by contacting Nest's toll-free consumer hotline, (855) 469-6378.

Q. We need a new washing machine and dryer. Do Memorial Day sales usually offer the lowest prices of the year, or should we plan on waiting for a while?

A. Those big sales that many retailers operate over the three-day Memorial Day weekend typically provide some of the lowest prices of the year on a variety of items, according to a spokesman for bargain-hunting website Offers.com. Expect discounts ranging from 30 percent to 70 percent on household appliances and mattresses, he said.

You'll also see lots of sales for outdoor items that include patio furniture and barbecue grills, though you may save even more if you can wait a few months for the end-of-the-summer promotions. Most retailers begin offering bargain-basement prices on such bulky items around Labor Day so they don't have to store them in their warehouses over the winter.

This could also be a good time to buy if you're in the market for a high-definition television, website DealNews.com reports. Many retailers offer discounts ranging from 20 percent to as much as 50 percent. Some large retailers also have marked down their power tools for the home or garden by as much as 50 percent.

Real estate trivia: The surviving spouses of American vets who have passed away can also get a no-down-payment mortgage backed by the VA, provided they do not remarry.

• For the booklet "Straight Talk About Living Trusts," send $4 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to David Myers/Trust, P.O. Box 4405, Culver City, CA 90231-4405.

© 2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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