Who is eligible for a VA home loan?
Eligible recipients for a VA home loan include veterans, active-duty military members, a surviving spouse (widow or widower) and in some cases even a civilian. National Guard and members of the Reserves must have completed at least six years of service before they can meet the eligibility requirements to apply for a VA loan.
Those that have completed less than six years of service may be eligible if they were discharged because of a service-connected disability. Retired veterans are required to have served at least 181 days, or 90 days of service during the Gulf War.
Retired veterans are also required to have been honorably discharged, but veterans that have served less than 90 days may still be eligible for a VA loan if they were discharged because of a service-connected disability.
For more details on eligibility requirements, visit the VA Home Loan Centers eligibility page here.
How to Apply For a VA Home Loan to Buy A Home
When a veteran or active-duty servicemember decides to use a VA-backed home loan to purchase a home, it’s recommended that they contact their VA Home Loan Centers representative to receive pre-approval before they sign a contract to buy a home.
During the loan pre-approval process, we will verify and review the applicant’s job and credit history in comparison to the VA home loan approval guidelines. If the borrower meets the VA home loan application criteria, the lender will approve financing.
When a buyer attempts to purchase a home using a VA home loan, their sales contract should include a financing contingency which stipulates that the contracts for both the loan and the property are subject to VA approval.
A VA purchase loan allows veterans, servicemembers and surviving spouses the opportunity to purchase a home, at a competitive interest rate, with zero money down. It’s also the ideal option for individuals who have had difficulty finding other sources of financing to purchase a home.
VA Home Loan Refinance
There are two types of VA refinance loans. You can use a cash out refinance, a rate and term refinance which is also called a VA Interest Rate Reduction Loan (VA IRRRL).
A VA cash-out refinance loan is used by homeowners who wish to take cash out of their home’s equity in order to fund other things, such as educational expenses, debt consolidation or to make improvements to their home or to purchase a vacation property.
It’s also possible for borrowers to refinance a non-VA home loan into a VA loan, and the VA will guaranty up to 100% of the value of the borrower’s home.
When a veteran or active-duty servicemember opts to take advantage of an interest rate reduction refinance loan (also known as an IRRRL), they’re able to lower their interest rate by refinancing their existing VA loan, thereby reducing their monthly mortgage payments.
When using an interest rate reduction refinance loan, there’s no out-of-pocket cost to the borrower and a qualified lender processes the application.
When comparing the VA streamline refinancing option with the cash-out option, the primary difference lies in the maximum loan to value (LTV). The VA cash-out refinancing option has a maximum LTV of 100%. Whereas, with VA streamline refinancing, there is no maximum LTV because an appraisal isn’t required to complete a VA streamline refinance. With a cash-out refinance, an appraisal is generally required.
Maximum Loan Amounts
The maximum amount of a VA home loan a borrower may qualify for is based on a combination of their unique situation, as well as the location in which they’re planning to purchase or refinance a home.
For more information, individuals can visit the VA Home Loan Centers state-by-state VA loan information, or you can contact our representatives, to determine eligibility, loan limits, appraisal fees and funding fees.
The VA Home Loan Process for Home Buyers
- The first step in the VA home loan process is pre-qualification. To begin the process, complete the online loan application form on this page. From there a loan specialist will contact you via a brief phone conversation to determine your eligibility, match you with a loan officer and, if needed, a real estate agent.
- Once you qualify, we will request verification paperwork for the pre-approval of your loan. You may be asked to submit your current rental or mortgage information, paystubs, work history, bank statements, tax returns, W2 forms and child support or divorce decrees. Additional documentation may also be required depending on your specific situation.
- Once you’re pre-approved, you can begin your home search! Our referred buyer’s agents charge no fee to you for their service. They will show you VA approved homes and assist with your negotiation and inspections.
- Once your offer has been accepted and escrow is open the property will be inspected and appraised to ensure that it is VA approved. During this time, any necessary repairs will be made and your loan will enter into underwriting. You may be asked to provide the underwriter with additional documentation, if necessary.
- Your agent will walk you through the escrow process and answer any questions along the way. As soon as your contract is finalized and your escrow closes, you’ll have the keys to your new home in hand!
The VA Home Loan Application Process for Refinancing
- If you are looking to apply for a VA refinance loan, the first step is to learn about interest rates. Reach out to our government loan specialists to find out how much you can save with a VA Home Loan Center Refinance.
- Once you qualify, the next step is to apply for your refinance. To begin the process, complete the loan application form on this page.
- Once you’re pre-approved, escrow is opened and the property will be appraised (appraisals are not required for an IRRL). Any necessary repairs will be made during this time. The underwriter may ask you to provide additional documentation, if necessary.
- Your loan officer will walk you through the escrow process and answer any questions along the way. As soon as your loan completes underwriting, it will enter into closing.
A Few FAQ’s
Is it true that the VA loan does not require a credit score?
Technically, yes. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not have a minimum credit score requirement for approval. However, individual lenders have their own guidelines (referred to as overlays) which may include a minimum credit score.
The most important takeaway is that you should have an acceptable explanation for any late payments in the last 12 months of your credit score history. We recommend that you contact VA Home Loan Centers if you are concerned that your credit score may impact your eligibility.
Can I buy a condo with a VA loan?
Yes, condos are eligible for VA loans. However, the condo development must be VA approved. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains an updated list of approved condos. You can also search for approved condos in your area of choice by typing your county name into the search bar above.
If the development you are looking at is not VA approved, you may submit an application for approval to VA Home Loan Centers. Expedited condo ID processing is available for a fee of $995.00, which will be refunded if your escrow closes with us.
If the condo complex you are looking at is not approved, you may also request a refund of your fee. For more information, visit the VA condo application page.
Can I have two VA loans?
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. If you have sold or paid off your first loan in full you should not have much trouble obtaining a second loan. Some other examples of acceptable circumstances include upsizing, downsizing or relocating to a new area as a result of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.
The status of your entitlement is another important factor that may impact your ability to get a second VA loan. Learn all about your VA loan entitlement restrictions here.
If you would like more information or would like to apply for a VA home loan or refinance, contact our team today at 888-573-4496.