Welcome to our comprehensive guide to VA loan eligibility! Our country’s brave men and women in uniform have earned our respect and gratitude. One way we can give back is by helping them achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Through the VA home loan program, veterans, active-duty service members, and their eligible family members can obtain low-cost, flexible financing options to purchase, build, or refinance a home. In this article, we’ll explore who’s eligible for VA loans, what benefits they offer, and how you can apply for this valuable benefit.
Are you ready to unlock your path to homeownership? Let’s dive in!
What Is a VA Loan?
VA loans are mortgage loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These loans are designed to help veterans, active-duty service members, and their eligible family members afford homes. VA loans have many advantages over conventional loans, including:
No down payment required*
Typically require a 20% down payment
No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required*
PMI may be required if the down payment is less than 20%
Flexible credit and income requirements
Stricter credit and income requirements
No prepayment penalties
May charge prepayment penalties
*Note: There may be certain cases where a down payment or PMI is required.
Who Is Eligible for a VA Loan?
Not everyone is eligible for a VA loan. You must meet specific criteria to qualify for this benefit. The following individuals may be eligible:
If you’ve served in the United States military, you may be eligible for a VA loan. To qualify, you must have served in one of the following:
- The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard
- The National Guard or Reserves
- The Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
In general, you must have served at least:
- 90 consecutive days on active duty
- At least 181 days of active duty during peacetime
- At least 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period for which you were called to active duty (with some exceptions) if you served during a wartime period
Additionally, veterans must have been discharged under honorable conditions.
Active-Duty Service Members
If you’re currently serving in the military, you may be eligible for a VA loan. To qualify, you must meet the service requirements outlined above for veterans.
Eligible Family Members
Spouses of service members who died on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability may be eligible for a VA loan. Additionally, surviving spouses who have not remarried may be eligible. Service members who are missing in action or prisoners of war for at least 90 days are also eligible, as are some other eligible family members.
How to Apply for a VA Loan
If you think you’re eligible for a VA loan, the first step is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. This certificate verifies your military service and confirms your eligibility for the loan. You can apply for a COE online, through your lender, or by mail.
Once you have your COE, you’ll need to find a lender that offers VA loans. Many lenders offer VA loans, but it’s essential to do your research and compare rates, fees, and requirements to find the best loan for your situation.
After you’ve found a lender, you’ll submit an application and provide documentation (such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements) to verify your income, employment, credit history, and other financial information. The lender will review your application and determine if you’re eligible for a loan.
If you’re approved for a VA loan, you’ll sign the loan documents and close the loan. At closing, you’ll pay any fees and costs associated with the loan (such as appraisal fees, title fees, and insurance premiums). You’ll also receive the keys to your new home!
1. What is the maximum amount I can borrow with a VA loan?
The maximum amount you can borrow with a VA loan varies depending on where you live and whether you’ve used the benefit before. In general, the maximum guaranty amount for a VA loan is 25% of the loan amount or the county loan limit (whichever is less). In most counties, the loan limit for 2021 is $548,250.
2. Do I have to pay closing costs with a VA loan?
Yes, you’ll need to pay closing costs with a VA loan. However, there are limits on the amount of fees that the lender can charge, and some of the fees can be paid by the seller or rolled into the loan balance.
3. Can I use a VA loan more than once?
Yes, you can use a VA loan more than once, but there may be limits on how many times you can use the benefit. In general, you may be able to obtain another VA loan if you’ve paid off the previous loan or sold the property secured by the loan.
4. How do I know if a property is eligible for a VA loan?
To be eligible for a VA loan, the property must meet certain requirements, such as being in good condition and being used as the borrower’s primary residence. Your lender can help you determine if a property is eligible for a VA loan.
5. Can I use a VA loan to buy a second home or investment property?
No, VA loans are intended for primary residences only.
6. Is there a minimum credit score requirement for a VA loan?
No, there isn’t a minimum credit score requirement for a VA loan. However, lenders may have their own credit score requirements, and having a higher credit score can make it easier to qualify for a loan and get better terms.
7. Can I qualify for a VA loan if I have a bankruptcy or foreclosure on my record?
It’s possible to qualify for a VA loan after a bankruptcy or foreclosure, but there may be waiting periods and other requirements you’ll need to meet. Your lender can help you understand your options.
8. Can I get a VA loan if I have a disability rating?
Yes, having a disability rating doesn’t disqualify you from getting a VA loan. In fact, having a service-connected disability can make you eligible for additional benefits, such as a funding fee waiver.
9. Do I need to get a home inspection with a VA loan?
While it’s not required by the VA, getting a home inspection is highly recommended. A home inspection can alert you to potential issues with the property and give you peace of mind.
10. Can I refinance my existing mortgage with a VA loan?
Yes, you can refinance an existing mortgage with a VA loan using the VA’s Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) program or a cash-out refinance. Refinancing can help you reduce your monthly payments or access your equity.
11. How long does the VA loan process take?
The VA loan process can vary depending on the lender and your individual situation. In general, it can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to close a VA loan.
12. Can I use a VA loan to buy a mobile home or condo?
Yes, you can use a VA loan to buy a mobile home or condo, as long as it meets certain eligibility requirements.
13. Can I pay off my VA loan early?
Yes, you can pay off your VA loan early without incurring any prepayment penalties.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of our comprehensive guide to VA loan eligibility! We hope this article has answered your questions and helped demystify the process of applying for a VA loan. Remember, a VA loan is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your dreams of homeownership. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this valuable benefit if you’re eligible!
If you’re ready to take the next step, we encourage you to speak with a lender who specializes in VA loans. They can help you navigate the process and find the loan that’s right for you. Remember, with a VA loan, you can unlock your path to homeownership and start building equity in your own home. Good luck!
Closing and Disclaimer
We hope you found this article informative and helpful. Keep in mind that the VA loan program can change, and eligibility criteria may vary. The information in this article is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication, but it’s always a good idea to consult with a lender or Veterans Affairs representative to confirm your eligibility and get the latest information about the program.
Also, remember that homeownership comes with many responsibilities, including making mortgage payments on time and maintaining your property. Before you apply for a VA loan or any other type of mortgage, make sure you’re financially prepared to handle the expenses of homeownership.
Good luck on your path to homeownership! We salute our veterans and thank them for their service to our country.