VA Home Loan Learning Center

 

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General Questions

Eligibility

VA Home Loan Uses

Lender Questions

 

General questions

What can I do if I'm having trouble paying back my VA Home Loan?

If you fall far behind on your mortgage payments, your mortgage servicer (the company that handles collecting the money for your lender) can take your house to cover the money owed. This process is called foreclosure. Find out how our VA loan technicians can help you avoid foreclosure and keep your house.

A private lender makes a VA-guaranteed home loan. The VA will protect the lender against loss if the veteran or a later owner fails to repay that loan. The amount the VA will guarantee is 40% of the loan amount or the veteran's available entitlement, up to a maximum amount of $20,000. The guaranty amount is not the same as the amount a veteran can borrow.

If you’re having difficulty making your mortgage payment, contact your loan servicer right away. This is your chance to find a solution that might work for your scenario.

If you’re nervous about contacting your servicer, please contact a VA Loan Technician at 877-827-3702.

  • If you’re a Veteran or the surviving spouse of a Veteran, the VA will provide financial counseling—even if your loan isn’t a VA direct or VA-backed loan.

  • If you have a VA direct or VA-backed loan, you can contact us anytime to request that we assign a VA loan technician to your loan. Our technicians can offer you financial counseling and help you deal with your servicer (or work with you directly in the case of a VA direct loan).

  • If you have a VA direct or VA-backed loan, and it’s 61 days past due, we’ll automatically assign a VA loan technician to your loan.

Be careful about offers to help you make-up back payments.

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and you get this type of offer from someone you don’t know, contact the servicer of your mortgage or your nearest VA regional loan center for advice. They can let you know if it’s an honest offer.

How can I avoid foreclosure?

There are 6 general ways you can avoid a foreclosure:

  • Repayment plan: If you’ve missed a few mortgage payments, this plan lets you go back to making your regular payments, with an added amount each month to cover the ones you’ve missed.

  • Special forbearance: This plan gives you some extra time to repay the missed mortgage payments.

  • Loan modification: Sometimes you need a fresh start. This plan lets you add the missed mortgage payments and any related legal costs to your total loan balance. You and your servicer then come up with a new mortgage payment schedule.

  • Extra time to arrange a private sale: If you need to sell your home, this plan lets you delay a foreclosure so you have time to sell.

  • Short sale: If you owe more money than your house is worth, your servicer might agree to a short sale. This means the servicer will accept the total proceeds from the home sale (even if it’s less than the full amount you owe on the mortgage) as full payment of the debt you owe.

  • Deed in lieu of foreclosure: This plan lets you avoid the foreclosure process by signing over the deed to the home to your servicer. The home will then belong to the servicer.

The VA's Loan Technicians can help you figure out which option is best for you. Contact a VA Home Loan Technician at 877-827-3702.

If I can’t avoid foreclosure, will I have to pay back my loan?

If your loan closed before January 1, 1990, and we have to pay back the amount of your loan to the servicer, you’ll need to pay this amount back to the government.

If your loan closed on or after January 1, 1990, you’ll have to pay back the amount of your loan if we find evidence of fraud, misrepresentation, or bad faith on your part.

What if I need help or more information?

Are VA Home Loans Harder to Close?

The short answer is “no.” It's true VA loans were once much more difficult to close — but that's ancient history. Today, you're likely to have roughly the same issues with a buyer who has this sort of mortgage as you'll have with any other. And the VA's extremely flexible guidelines may be the only reason a buyer can purchase your particular home.

According to Ellie Mae, VA Home Loans actually have one of the highest closing success rates when compared to conventional mortgages. 

If crossing the finish line on closing day is the goal for buyers and sellers, as well as their respective agents, there actually isn't a safer bet than a VA buyer.

Are you an agent who wants to learn more about VA buyers?

Are you a seller who has received an offer from a VA buyer and you want to provide a fair consideration of their offer?

Do you have some general questions about the sale or purchase process  utilizing a VA offer?

Despite all of this, in our experience, most agents are ill-informed - possessing both bad assumptions and a number of misconceptions about the VA Home loan and the VA home purchase process. These lingering myths and misconceptions about the VA loan and its performance on the market push some sellers' agents to reject VA offers on face value, entirely!

That isn't just a disservice to the Veterans and the military families who've earned this benefit through their service to our country, it also means real estate agents are turning their backs on some of the best-qualified, safest buyers on the market. All too frequently a VA buyer's offer will be passed on simply due to the other agents' misconceptions about VA buyers and the VA Home Loan process.

Let's take a look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions agents frequently repeat. 

closing success

Myth: Due to the VA Home Loan's extensive list of home requirements, VA deals typically end up dead in the water. 

 

Fact: In fact, the opposite is true. The VA's rigorous minimum property requirements and borrower qualification requirements means both sides of a deal end up benefiting. Due to their rigorous vetting of borrowers, you can rest assured your buyer will have no problem fulfilling the financial parts of the deal.

Bottom Line: Part of accepting offers is feeling good that the buyer has what it takes to close on the loan. There are certainly other considerations worth thinking about, from purchase price and closing costs to how long it'll take to close the deal. But at the end of the day, sellers want offers from buyers who can get them across the finish line on closing day, and nobody does that better than a pre-approved VA buyer. VA buyers are more likely to successfully close their deals - on average - than any other buyer on the market. This means pre-approved VA buyers are as strong a buyer as you can find in today's lending climate.

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closing times

Myth: VA Home Loans are rife with red tape and bureaucracy, and take forever to close.

 

Fact: The VA has spent more than a decade investing heavily in the technology they need to operate the program, leaving the VA home loan more than capable of keeping pace with conventional loans. Additionally, there isn't a huge delay in time-to-close between VA-backed and conventional loans, on average.

According to Ellie Mae, in the last few years, the average conventional purchase loan closed just three days faster than the VA Home Loan.

appraisal contingencies

Myth: Your home must be in perfect condition to pass the VA's rigorous appraisal contingency.

 

Fact: As a seller, your home does not have to be in perfect condition to pass the appraisal. But, if the appraiser does flag certain problems with the property's condition, your buyer may be able to obtain an exemption for those issues from the VA.

 

Myth: If your home does not pass the Minimum Property Requirements, you must pay for those repairs to keep the deal afloat.

Fact: The VA appraisal process involves both the home's valuation and a broad assessment of certain property conditions, known as the Minimum Property Requirements, or MPRs. In certain situations, if your home fails to pass the MPRs, your buyer can request an exemption from these requirements from the VA. If the VA denies their exemption request, the seller is not required to pay for that repair. Additionally, if the buyer still wishes to move forward on the deal, it's possible for the buyer to cover the costs of these repairs.

Myth: VA appraisals take 30+ days to process.

Fact: During normal times, VA appraisals typically come back in just under 10 days nationwide, although the wait may be longer in more remote parts of the country, or high-volume areas.

closing costs

Myth: Sellers have to pay all of their buyer's closing costs.

Fact: The VA limits what closing costs Veterans can pay - which is a huge benefit for those who've served our country - but sellers are not required to pay any closing costs on behalf of a VA buyer, including “non-allowable” fees that Veterans aren’t allowed to pay. These non-allowable fees are just one of the benefits a Veteran has earned from their years of service to our country, but not at the expense of the seller.

Bottom Line: There is no requirement that a seller pay a dime toward a VA buyer's bottom line. Don't forget: who pays what in closing costs is always a matter of negotiation between individual buyers and sellers.

why not maximize your buyer pool?

First, why not cast as wide a net as possible? It's not like sellers are required to accept any offer they receive.

Second, VA borrowers have proudly served our country. The least we can do is give them the opportunity to make a strong offer to purchase your home.

Bottom Line: Home sellers hold all the cards when it comes to deciding from whom they’ll accept purchase offers. They’re under no obligation to open the door for prospective VA borrowers. But it certainly makes sense on a few fronts.

And, finally, VA buyers are flat-out great candidates to make a strong offer and they're also the most likely to get your deal over the finish line on closing day.

Please don’t let institutional myths and misconceptions keep you from giving Veterans, active service members and military families a fair shot at the dream of homeownership

 

If you're an agent or broker and you have any questions about VA loans, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us day or night at (650) 400-7330 or Joe@GIJoeHomes.com

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What is VA loan entitlement?

VA loan entitlement is the dollar amount the Department of Veterans Affairs will guarantee on each VA home loan and helps determine how much a veteran can borrow before needing a down payment. VA loan entitlement is typically either $36,000 or 25% of the loan amount up to the conforming loan limit.

 

You can think of entitlement as something you're entitled to given your service to our nation. This is certainly a hard-earned and well-deserved benefit. But that's not entirely what it means, at least in practical terms.

If you have full entitlement, you no longer have a maximum loan limit

Eligible Veterans, service members, and survivors with full entitlement no longer have limits on loans over $144,000. This means you won’t have to pay a down payment, and we guarantee to your lender that if you default on a loan that’s over $144,000, we’ll pay them up to 25% of the loan amount. 

You have full entitlement if you meet either of the requirements listed below.

At least one of these must be true. You’ve:
•    Never used your home loan benefit, or
•    Paid a previous VA loan in full and sold the property (in this case, you’d have your full entitlement restored), or
•    Used your home loan benefit, but had a foreclosure or compromise claim (also called a short sale) and repaid us in full

Note: You may have heard the terms additional entitlement, bonus entitlement, or tier 2 entitlement. We use these terms when we communicate with lenders about VA-backed loans over $144,000. You won’t need to use these terms when applying for a loan.

If you have remaining entitlement, you do have a loan limit.

There are two VA loan entitlement types: basic and secondary entitlement; with basic, or primary, entitlement being $36,000.

Typically the VA pledges to repay up to 25 percent of the loan amount. However, if we do the math, it’s easy to see that $36,000 x 4 = $144,000.

That would seem to be the maximum loan amount for most borrowers and likely isn’t enough to purchase a good-size home in most parts of the country.

So, to stay competitive and ensure veterans across the country have access to homeownership, the VA started to link its guaranty amounts with the conforming loan limit for conventional financing, which for most counties across America currently $548,250, thereby creating a second layer of entitlement.

However, there are high-cost area limits

For areas in which 115% of the local median home value exceeds the baseline Conforming Loan Limit (CLL), the maximum loan limit will be higher than the baseline loan limit.  The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) establishes the maximum loan limit in those areas as a multiple of the area median home value, while also setting a “ceiling" on that limit of 150% of the baseline loan limit. 

 

Median home values generally increased in high-cost areas in 2020, driving up the maximum loan limits in many areas.  The new ceiling loan limit for one-unit properties in most high-cost areas will be $822,375 — or 150% of the baseline CLL, or $548,250. 

Special statutory provisions establish different loan limit calculations for Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In these areas, the baseline loan limit will be $822,375 for one-unit properties. Most Bay Area counties are considered high-cost areas, making our baseline CLL between $600,001 - $822,375.

How is VA Loan Entitlement Calculated?

Remember, the VA promises to cover a quarter of the loan amount in most cases.

A quarter of $548,250 is $137,062. In order to meet that mark, the VA essentially created a secondary entitlement amount ($137,062 - 36,000 = $101,062). That additional layer of entitlement comes into play anytime a veteran purchases a home for more than $144,000.

Two VA Loan Entitlement Types

There are two VA loan entitlement types: basic and secondary entitlement.

Basic, or primary, entitlement is $36,000.

Typically the VA pledges to repay up to 25 percent of the loan amount. However, if we do the math, it’s easy to see that $36,000 x 4 = $144,000.

That would seem to be the maximum loan amount for most borrowers and likely isn’t enough to purchase a good-size home in most parts of the country.

So, to stay competitive and ensure veterans across the country have access to homeownership, the VA started to link its guaranty amounts with the conforming loan limit for conventional financing, which for most counties is currently $548,250, thereby creating a second layer of entitlement.

Click the map below to magnify the image and find your desired county's maximum loan limit.

VA Maximum Conforming Loan Limit by County map

To speak with a Loan Specialist today about your available VA Entitlements, we suggest reaching out to two of our preferred lenders at Veterans United Auburn, Ali Schellenberg and Wendy Pulliam.

Nobody knows VA Home Loans better than Wendy and Ali. Either would be glad to answer any questions you may have about the VA Home Loan.

What is the maximum VA Home Loan amount?

As of 1/1/2020, if you have full entitlement, you don’t have a VA loan limit.

Loan Limits no longer apply to qualified veterans with their full VA loan entitlement!

Veterans with diminished VA loan entitlement must still adhere to VA loan limits. Refer to the map below to find the VA's Conforming Loan Limit (CLL) for your area.

  • In most of the U.S., the 2021 maximum CLL for one-unit properties is $548,250, a 7.42% increase from the year before

  • Most Bay Area Counties are considered high-cost areas, making the CLL for one-unit properties in the Bay Area $600,001 - $822,375

Loan limits still apply to veterans with more than one active VA loan, only partial entitlement available or those who have defaulted on a previous loan.

As of January 1, 2020, veterans seeking to obtain a loan for over $510,400 - what are commonly referred to as jumbo loans - or Veterans living in high-cost areas (like the Bay Area), will no longer be subject to the Federally-established VA loan limit aka Conforming Loan Limit (CLL) maximums. This means veterans with full entitlement may obtain no down payment, VA-backed loans in all areas of the country, regardless of home prices.

However, the removal of loan limits doesn’t mean unlimited borrowing power without a down payment. You’ll still need to have sufficient income and meet a lender’s credit requirements to qualify for the loan amount. Additionally, lenders can continue to impose their own in-house, maximum loan amounts.

Loan limits will still apply in 2021 to veterans who have more than one active VA loan or those who have defaulted on a previous loan.

 

To find out what a county's current CLL is, click here to view a map of the US.

What if I've used a VA Home Loan before?

You can have previously-used entitlement "restored" one time only in order to purchase another home with a VA loan if the borrower has paid off the prior loan but still owns the property, and wants to use his entitlement to purchase a second home.

This often occurs with active duty borrowers who PCS to a new station but want to keep their existing home for retirement.

However, if the prior loan has been paid off and the property is no longer owned, they can have their entitlement restored as many times as they want.

An eligible Veteran or active-duty servicemember can re-use their VA eligibility for every home purchase from the first to the last, provided they meet the requirements stipulated above.

Also, veterans who have used a VA loan before may still have remaining entitlement (see chart) to use for another VA loan. A veteran's maximum entitlement is $89,912, and lenders will generally loan up to four times your available entitlement without a down payment, provided your income and credit qualifications are fine, and the property appraises for the asking price. Lenders may require that a combination of the guaranty entitlement and any cash down payment must equal at least 25 percent of the reasonable value or sales price of the property, whichever is less.

Loan Amount

up to $45,000

Guaranty %

Dollar Amount

*Lender Amount

50%

$22,500

$90,000

$45,001 - $56,250

40-50%

$22,500

$90,000

$56,251 - $144,000

40%

$36,000

$144,000

Over $144,000

25%

$89,912

$417,000

Manufactured Home or Lot

40%

$20,000

$80,000

What is a VA-guaranteed manufactured home?

It can be tough to find lenders that will make VA loans for manufactured housing. However, some private lenders will issue a VA-guaranteed manufactured home loan. In turn, the VA will protect the lender against loss if the veteran or a later owner fails to repay the loan. The amount the VA will guarantee is 40% of the loan amount or the veteran's available entitlement, up to a maximum amount of $20,000. The guaranty amount is not the same as the amount a veteran can borrow.

  • Manufactured homes are entirely built in factories and must meet building codes set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

  • These homes have a permanent steel chassis, axles, and wheels, on which they’re typically towed to the home site

  • Manufactured homes will have a metal identification plate on the outside of the structure. You might hear this called a “HUD tag” or a “red tag.

  • They also have a “data plate” inside the home, often on a bedroom closet wall or inside a kitchen cabinet. The data plate is a sticker with information about the house and its specifications

  • Whether it’s brand new or existing, manufactured homes typically need to be affixed to a permanent foundation and classified as real property in order to be eligible for a 30-year VA loan

  • These homes also need to conform with the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements substantially

The challenge can be finding VA lenders willing to make loans for manufactured housing. That’s because manufactured homes rarely appreciate in value over time, and they’re often susceptible to storm damage and shorter economic lifespans.

These properties also tend to have higher default rates than traditional, stick-built homes.

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If you are interested in purchasing manufactured housing, you should check with lenders at the start of your application process to ensure they issue loans for this type of property

Make sure you understand the lender's individual and unique policies and guidelines prior to finalizing your application

I heard the VA has an inventory of foreclosed homes. How can I find out more about this program?

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a recently acquired property management services contract with Vendor Resource Management (VRM). 

The properties are listed by local listing agents through local Multi Listing Service (MLS). Properties for sale may also be viewed at https://www.vrmproperties.com/. If you are interested in buying a VA-acquired property when it is listed for sale by Vendor Resource Management, please contact a local real estate broker of your choice to see the property.

 

All VA repo properties are available to both veterans and non-veterans.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eligibility

Purchase Loans and Cash-Out Refinances

VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes for your occupancy or a spouse and/or dependent (for active duty service members). To be eligible, you must have satisfactory credit, sufficient income to meet the expected monthly obligations, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

Native American Direct Loan Program

The NADL program helps Native American Veterans purchase, construct, improve, or re-finance a home on Native American trust lands. Your tribal organization must participate in the VA direct loan program. You must have a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

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Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)

The IRRRL is a "VA to VA" loan, meaning it can only be done if you have an existing VA guaranteed loan on the property. The IRRRL is generally performed to lower the interest and reduce the monthly payment on the existing VA guaranteed loan.

Adapted Housing Grants

VA helps Veterans with certain total and permanent disabilities related to your military service obtain suitable housing with either a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.

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Native American Direct Loan Program

To get a VA-backed home loan as the surviving spouse of a Veteran, you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show your lender that you qualify for this benefit. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to meet your lender’s credit and income requirements to get a loan. Find out if you can get a COE.

What is a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a VA Home Loan?

​This is the first step in getting a VA-backed home loan or Native American Direct Loan. It confirms for your lender that you qualify for the VA home loan benefit. Then, choose your loan type and learn about the rest of the loan application process.

 

The VA certificate of eligibility (COE) is a document that tells a lender you meet the military service or surviving spouse requirements to get a VA home loan. You can start shopping for VA loans without a certificate of eligibility from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but you'll need one before the home loan can close.

What types of service are eligible for a VA Home Loan?

Veterans and service members on active duty: You may be able to get a COE if you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and you meet the minimum active-duty service requirement based on when you served (see chart below)

Service Dates

Korean War

June 27, 1950, and January 31, 1955

Minimum Active-Duty Service Requirement

  • 90 total days, or

  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

Post-Korean War

February 1, 1955, and August 4, 1964

  • 181 continuous days, or

  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

Vietnam War

August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975

Or if you served in the Republic of Vietnam
February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975

  • 90 total days, or

  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

Post-Vietnam War

May 8, 1975, and September 7, 1980

 

Or if you served as an officer
Between May 8, 1975, and October 16, 1981

  • 181 continuous days, or

  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

September 8, 1980, and August 1, 1990, 

 

Or if you served as an officer
Between October 17, 1981, and August 1, 1990

  • 24 continuous months, or

  • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called to active duty

Gulf War to present

August 2, 1990, onwards

  • 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, a reduction in force, or for convenience of the government, or

  • Less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

You separated from service after September 7, 1980 onwards

 

Or after if you served as an officer

October 16, 1981 onwards

  • 24 continuous months, or

  • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty, or

  • At least 181 days if you were discharged for a hardship, a reduction in force, or for convenience of the government, or

  • Less than 181 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability

I'm on active duty now

  • 90 continuous days

Reservists are eligible for VA Home Loans, too. Who qualifies?

Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they have at least 90 days active service after Aug. 2, 1990. That service can be under either Title 10 or Title 32, however under Title 32, the Guard member must have at least 30 days of consecutive service.

Eligibility further extends to:

Members who have completed a total of 6 years in the Selected Reserves, or

a National Guard who: 

  • was a member of an active unit, and

  • attended required weekend drills, and

  • 2-week active duty for training

Reservists and Guardsmen who meet these prerequisites must also have received an honorable discharge; and must continue to serve in the Selected Reserves. Individuals who completed less than 6 years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.

Reservists and National Guard: You may be able to get a COE if you did not receive a dishonorable discharge and you meet the minimum active-duty service requirement based on when you served (see chart below), or if you were "activated" under the authority of Title 10 or Title 32 U.S. Code.

 

Those requesting a COE using Title 32 service must have at least 30 days of continuous active service.

What service is not eligible for a VA Home Loan?

You are not eligible for VA financing solely based upon Active Duty for Training in the Reserves or National Guard.

Service Dates

Gulf War

August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War)

Minimum Active-Duty Service Requirement

  • 90 total days

Any time period

6 creditable years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, and one of the descriptions below is true for you:
 

  • Were discharged honorably, or

  • Were placed on the retired list, or

  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, or

  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve

What if I don't meet the minimum service requirement?

You may still be able to get a COE if you were discharged for one of the reasons listed below.

  • Hardship, or

  • The convenience of the government (you must have served at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment), or

  • Early out (you must have served 21 months of a 2-year enlistment), or 

  • Reduction in force, or

  • Certain medical conditions, or

  • A service-connected disability (a disability related to your military service)

Will my entitlement expire?

No.

Home loan entitlement is generally good until used if a person is on active duty.

 

Once discharged or released from active duty before using an entitlement, a new determination of their eligibility must be made based on the length of service and the type of discharge received.

I think I'm eligible for the VA Home Loan, how do I apply for my COE?

This is the first step in getting a VA-backed home loan or Native American Direct Loan. It confirms for your lender that you qualify for the VA home loan benefit. 

How do I prepare before starting my application?

Gather the information you’ll need to apply for your COE. Find the description below that matches you best to find out what you’ll need:

Veterans

 

You’ll need a copy of your discharge or separation papers (your DD214).

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Discharged Members of the Reserves and were never activated

You’ll need:

  • A copy of your latest annual retirement points, and

  • Proof of your honorable service

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Active Duty Service Member

You’ll need a statement of service—signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer—showing this information:

  • Your full name

  • Your Social Security number

  • Your date of birth

  • The date you entered duty

  • The duration of any lost time

  • The name of the command providing the information

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Discharged Members of the National Guard and were never activated

You'll need:

  • Your Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) for each period of National Guard service, and

  • Your Retirement Points Statement (NGB Form 23) and proof of the character of service

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Current or Former National Guard or Reserve member who was activated

 

You’ll need a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).

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Current Reservists or National Guards Members who have never been activated

You’ll need a statement of service—signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer—showing this information:

  • Your full name

  • Your Social Security number

  • Your date of birth

  • The date you entered duty

  • Your total number of creditable years of service

  • The duration of any lost time

  • The name of the command providing the information

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Surviving Spouses

You’ll need the Veteran’s discharge documents (DD214)—if available—and:

If you’re receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you’ll need to fill out and send us a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Unmarried Surviving Spouses (VA Form 26-1817).
 

 

 

 

 

 

Or

If you’re not receiving DIC benefits, you’ll need to send us all of these:

  • A completed Application for DIC, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ), and

  • A copy of your marriage license, and

  • The Veteran’s death certificate

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Once you've gathered the applicable supporting documents, you can apply for your COE online right now, through the VA's Web LGY System, or via mail. In some cases, you can get your COE through your lender using our Web LGY system. Ask your lender if they offer this service.

By Mail

To apply by mail, fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and mail it to the address listed on the form. Please keep in mind that this may take longer than applying online or through our Web LGY system. Download VA Form 26-1880 (PDF)

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If I was discharged years ago and want to qualify for a VA Home Loan, what forms or documents do I need?

Everyone is required to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

 

If you do not have your COE yet, you will need to apply using:

  • VA Form 26-1880

  • DD-214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty), showing character of service

As with any loan applicant, you will also need to have supporting documents showing your credit, savings and employment information.

What is acceptable proof of military service?

If you are still serving on regular active duty, you must include:

  • an original statement of service signed by, or by direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of your unit or higher headquarters which:

    • identifies you

    • your social security number

    • provides your date of entry on your current active duty period

    • the duration of any time lost


If you were discharged from regular active duty after January 1, 1950, a copy of DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty should be included with your VA Form 26-1880.

 

If you were discharged after October 1, 1979, DD Form 214 copy 4 should be included. A photocopy of DD214 will suffice. Do not submit original paperwork as these forms will not be returned to you.

If you were discharged from the Selected Reserves or the National Guard, you must include:

copies of adequate documentation of at least 6 years of honorable service.

 

If you were discharged from the Army or Air Force National Guard, you may submit:

  • NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, or

  • NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting, or it's equivalent.

To request NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23, you have to contact the National Guard Adjutant General's Office for the particular state in which you performed National Guard service. For contact information, visit the National Guard website.

If you were discharged from the Selected Reserve, you may submit a copy of your latest annual points statement and evidence of honorable service. Unfortunately, there is no single form used by the Reserves or National Guard similar to the DD Form 214. It is your responsibility to furnish adequate documentation of at least 6 years of honorable service.

If you are still serving in the Selected Reserves or the National Guard, you must include an original statement of service signed by, or by the direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of your unit or higher headquarters showing

  • the length of time that you have been a member of the Selected Reserves

Again, at least 6 years of honorable service must be documented.

If I've used the VA Home Loan in the past, can I be eligible to use it again?

There are three circumstances in which a borrower could be eligible to use a VA Home Loan additional time(s). In one, previously used entitlement may be fully restored for one additional use, in another, a borrower who has paid off the prior loan and no longer owns the property, the entitlement may be restored as many times as they want, and in the third, a borrower may have left-over entitlement remaining from a previous VA Home Loan purchase.

In the first situation, a borrower can have his or her previously-used entitlement "restored" - one time only - in order to purchase another home with a VA loan if:

  • the borrower has paid off the prior loan, and still owns the property

  • wants to use his entitlement to purchase a second home

This often occurs with active duty borrowers who PCS to a new station but want to keep their existing home for retirement.

 

In the second situation, if the borrower has:

  • a prior loan which has been fully paid off, and 

  • they no longer own the property

they can have their entitlement restored as many times as they want. They can re-use their VA eligibility for every home purchase from the first to the last, provided these prerequisites are met each time.

In the third situation, veterans who have used a VA loan before may still have remaining entitlement (see chart) to use for another VA loan. A veteran's maximum entitlement is $89,912, and lenders will generally loan up to four times your available entitlement without a down payment, provided your income and credit qualifications are fine, and the property appraises for the asking price. Lenders may require that a combination of the guaranty entitlement and any cash down payment must equal at least 25 percent of the reasonable value or sales price of the property, whichever is less.

Loan Amount

up to $45,000

Guaranty %

Dollar Amount

*Lender Amount

50%

$22,500

$90,000

$45,001 - $56,250

40-50%

$22,500

$90,000

$56,251 - $144,000

40%

$36,000

$144,000

Over $144,000

25%

$89,912

$417,000

Manufactured Home or Lot

40%

$20,000

$80,000

I'm a Veteran who purchased a home with my spouse using my VA eligibility. We're now divorced, and my spouse was awarded the home, how do I get my eligibility back?

When the property is awarded to the Veteran's spouse as a result of the divorce, entitlement cannot be restored unless the spouse refinances the property and / or pays off the VA loan in full or the ex-spouse is also a veteran who substitutes their entitlement for the original borrower's entitlement.

Is there a minimum credit score required to qualify?

Not really.

 

Though the VA does not require a minimum credit score, most lenders do use credit score benchmarks as low as 620, on average.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

va home loan uses

If I own land, can I use the VA Home Loan to build a home on it?

Yes.

 

But there are several clauses that may make this difficult to accomplish. Many veterans use their VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility to negotiate in good faith a private home construction loan and then refinance the completed home using VA Home Loans.

Can I use the VA Home Loan to buy a second home or vacation home?

The law requires that you certify that you intend to occupy the property as your home. But it specifically provides that occupancy by the veteran's spouse satisfies the personal occupancy requirement. However, other family members will not satisfy the personal occupancy requirement.

VA Home Loans are available for a variety of purposes including:

  • building, altering, or repairing a home

  • refinancing an existing home loan

  • buying a manufactured home with or without a lot

  • buying and improving a manufactured home lot

  • installing a solar heating or cooling system

  • other weatherization improvements

You are also allowed to buy income property consisting of up to four units, provided you occupy one of the units.

Can I use the VA Home Loan to purchase land in a foreign country?

No.

 

The property must be located in the United States, its territories, or possessions (such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

 
 
 
 

lender questions

What types of repayment options are available?

The guarantees thirty-year loans with a choice of repayment plans:

  • Traditional fixed payment (constant principal and interest);

  • Graduated Payment Mortgage or GPM (low initial payments which gradually rise to a level payment starting in the sixth year);

  • Growing Equity Mortgages, or GEMs (gradually increasing payments with all of the increase applied to principal, resulting in an early payoff of the loan).

Do all local lenders offer VA Home Loans?

Not necessarily.

 

Choose a VA-approved lending institution that can handle your home loan. A lender can help you review your credit history and determine how much of a loan you can qualify for. Be aware that different lenders have different closing costs and other fees, so it pays to shop around.

Are there any prepayment penalties?

No.

 
 
 
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