VA Home Loans: A step-by-step guide to understand eligibility requirements and process
VA home loans are a type of mortgage offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eligible military service members, veterans, and their spouses.
These loans are designed to help active duty and former military personnel buy homes without needing a down payment or private mortgage insurance. If you are a military member or veteran looking to buy a home, you may be wondering how to qualify for a VA home loan.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you understand the eligibility requirements and process for obtaining a VA home loan
1. Check your VA home loan eligibility
The first step to qualifying for a VA home loan is to determine whether you are eligible for this benefit. To qualify for a VA home loan, you must meet one of the following criteria:
You are an active-duty military member
You are a veteran who has completed a minimum of 90 days of active duty service during wartime or 181 continuous days of active duty during peacetime
You are a National Guard or Reserve member who has completed at least six years of service
You are the surviving spouse of a military member or veteran who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury or illness
If you are unsure whether you meet the eligibility requirements for a VA home loan, you can check your status through the VA’s eBenefits portal or by contacting your local VA regional loan center.
2. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Once you have determined that you are eligible for a VA home loan, the next step is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE is a document that verifies your eligibility for a VA home loan and is required by lenders in order to process your loan application.
There are several ways to obtain a COE:
You can request a COE online through the VA’s benefits portal.
You can request a COE by mail by completing VA Form 26-1880 and sending it to your local VA regional loan center.
You can request a COE in person at your local VA regional loan center.
If you are an active duty military member, you can also request a COE through your military personnel office.
3. Find a VA-approved lender
Once you have obtained your COE, the next step is to find a VA-approved lender. VA-approved lenders are lenders that have been approved by the VA to originate VA home loans. It is crucial to work with a VA-approved lender when applying for a VA home loan, as only these lenders are able to process and underwrite VA home loans.
You can find a VA-approved lender by searching the VA’s lender list or by contacting your local VA regional loan center. You can also work with a VA-approved mortgage broker, who can help you compare loan offers from multiple VA-approved lenders.
4. Gather your financial documentation
Before you begin the loan application process, you will need to gather all of the financial documentation that will be required by your lender. This may include:
Proof of income, such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, and tax returns
Asset documentation, such as proof of savings and investments
Proof of employment
It is a good idea to gather all of this documentation in advance to make the loan application process as smooth as possible.
5. Submit your loan application and supporting documentation
Once you have found a VA-approved lender and gathered all of your financial documentation, the next step is to submit your loan application.
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What are the minimum service requirements for VA loan benefits?
If you serviced between August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War period to present)
You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for:
At least 24 continuous months, or
The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or
At least 90 days if you were discharged for a hardship, or a reduction in force, or
Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability.