Welcome to our comprehensive guide to VA loan checklist. If you’re a veteran, active duty service member or eligible spouse, you might want to consider getting a VA loan to buy your dream home. That’s because VA loans offer attractive interest rates, low or no down payments, and flexible eligibility requirements that can help you achieve the American dream of homeownership.
But before you start shopping for your dream home, it’s essential to know what you need to qualify for a VA loan. That’s where our VA loan checklist comes in. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to secure a VA loan, from understanding the eligibility requirements to gathering the required documents and preparing for the application process.
Why VA Loans Are the Best Choice for Many Service Members
VA loans are a type of mortgage loan that is backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are designed to help veterans, active-duty service members and eligible spouses buy, build or refinance their homes. Here are some of the benefits of VA loans:
|Benefits of VA Loans|
|Low or no down payment|
|Attractive interest rates|
|No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required|
|Flexible eligibility requirements|
|No prepayment penalties|
|Assumable by other qualified veterans|
VA loans offer several advantages over conventional and FHA loans, making them an attractive option for many service members. They are easier to qualify for, require little or no down payment, and have lower interest rates than conventional loans. Additionally, unlike FHA loans, VA loans do not require you to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
VA Loan Checklist: What You Need to Know Before You Apply
Before you apply for a VA loan, there are several things you need to know. In this section, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to secure a VA loan, from understanding the eligibility requirements to gathering the required documents and preparing for the application process.
1. Determine Your Eligibility
The first step to securing a VA loan is to determine your eligibility. To qualify for a VA loan, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You are a veteran, active-duty service member or eligible spouse
- You have served for at least 90 consecutive days during wartime, or 181 days during peacetime
- You have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
- You meet specific service requirements for the National Guard or Reserves
If you meet these eligibility requirements, you can move on to the next step of the VA loan checklist.
2. Obtain Your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Once you’ve determined that you’re eligible for a VA loan, you need to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Your COE proves to the lender that you’re eligible for a VA loan and specifies the amount of entitlement that you have available.
You can obtain your COE in several ways:
- Apply online through the VA’s eBenefits portal
- Apply by mail using VA Form 26-1880
- Ask your lender to obtain your COE on your behalf
Once you have your COE, you can move on to the next step of the VA loan checklist.
3. Find a VA-Approved Lender
To apply for a VA loan, you need to find a VA-approved lender. A VA-approved lender is a mortgage lender that has been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer VA loans to eligible borrowers.
You can find a VA-approved lender by:
- Searching the VA’s lender search tool
- Asking for recommendations from friends, family or real estate professionals
Once you’ve found a VA-approved lender, you can move on to the next step of the VA loan checklist.
4. Get Preapproved for a VA Loan
Getting preapproved for a VA loan is an essential step in the homebuying process. Preapproval shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer and can help you negotiate a better price on the home you want to buy.
To get preapproved for a VA loan, you’ll need to provide your lender with:
- Your COE
- Your income and employment information
- Your credit score and credit history
Once you’ve been preapproved for a VA loan, you can move on to the next step of the VA loan checklist.
5. Find Your Dream Home
With your preapproval in hand, you can now start shopping for your dream home. Make sure to work with a real estate agent who understands the VA loan process and can help you find homes that meet your needs and budget.
6. Complete the Application Process
Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll need to complete the application process for your VA loan. This process usually involves:
- Submitting your loan application
- Providing your lender with additional documentation, such as bank statements and tax returns
- Getting a home appraisal to determine the value of the property you want to buy
Once your application has been approved, you can move on to the final step of the VA loan checklist.
7. Close on Your Home and Move In!
Congratulations! You’ve secured your VA loan and closed on your dream home. Now it’s time to move in and start enjoying the benefits of homeownership.
FAQs About VA Loan Checklist
1. Can I use a VA loan to buy a second home?
No, VA loans are intended for primary residences only. You cannot use a VA loan to buy a second home or investment property.
2. How much can I borrow with a VA loan?
The maximum amount you can borrow with a VA loan varies by county and changes annually. In 2021, the maximum VA loan amount for most counties is $548,250.
3. Do I need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) with a VA loan?
No, one of the significant benefits of VA loans is that they do not require you to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
4. Can I use a VA loan to refinance my existing mortgage?
Yes, you can use a VA loan to refinance your existing mortgage. This is known as a VA refinance loan or VA streamline refinance.
5. What is the funding fee for VA loans?
The funding fee for VA loans varies depending on several factors, such as your military status, loan amount and down payment amount. The funding fee can range from 0.5% to 3.6% of the loan amount.
6. Can I use a VA loan to buy a duplex or multiunit property?
Yes, you can use a VA loan to buy a duplex or multiunit property as long as you occupy one of the units as your primary residence.
7. How long does it take to get approved for a VA loan?
The time it takes to get approved for a VA loan can vary depending on several factors, such as your lender’s processing time and the complexity of your application. On average, it takes about 30 to 45 days to get approved for a VA loan.
Conclusion: Get Started on Your VA Loan Today
If you’re a veteran, active-duty service member or eligible spouse, a VA loan can help you achieve your dream of homeownership. By following our VA loan checklist, you can ensure that you meet all the requirements to secure a VA loan and buy your dream home.
So what are you waiting for? Get started on your VA loan application today and take the first step toward owning your dream home.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or financial advice. Please consult with a licensed attorney or financial advisor before making any decisions regarding VA loans. The VA loan checklist is subject to change, and eligibility requirements may vary depending on your unique circumstances.