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VA Home Loans offer eligible veterans, service members and surviving spouses the ability to purchase or refinance a home with $0 money down, competitive rates and no monthly mortgage insurance.
These benefits, in addition to flexible credit requirements, make the VA Loan a lifeline for homebuyers in a tight lending climate.
Below are the basic eligible requirements for the VA Loan program; however, it is always best to speak with a VA-approved lender to determine if you qualify.
Homebuyers initially eligible for VA Loan benefits include those that are serving or have served in the United States military for only one the following time periods:
Spouses of service members may also apply if they are the not remarried spouse of a veteran who died in the line of duty, or due to a service connected disability; OR the spouse of a service member who is a prisoner of war or missing in action; OR the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran whose disability may or may not have been the cause of death.
If you meet one of the basic service requirements, it is best to connect with a VA Loan specialists and prequalify for your home loan. Prequalifying is an important step that provides homebuyers with a broad estimate of how much you can afford or even if you qualify at all.
Prequalifying doesn't cost you anything and there is no obligation. You will simply be connected to a VA Loan Specialist who will let you know how to maximize your VA benefits.
The certificate of eligibility is a formal document that assures mortgage lenders that the homebuyer meets the basic service requirements. Many times, homebuyers hear that they must have a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) before applying for their loan, which isn’t true.
The COE can be acquired by your VA-approved lender, like VA Mortgage Center, through the Department of Affairs web portal, known as Web LGY. Web LGY is the VA's web-based loan guaranty system, and it's not accessible to the public and is for authorized VA lenders only.
Using your VA-approved lender to acquire your COE is often the quickest method, saving you the legwork of applying online or through the postal service.
When evaluating employment, lenders want to ensure that a homebuyer has stable, reliable employment and that it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. This is usually displayed by having at least two years of steady employment.
However, it is important to note that two years of steady employment isn’t the end-all. VA Loans do not have an exact length requirement for employment history, and many applicants are examined on a case-by-case basis.
For example, consider a veteran who recently separated from the military. Underwriters will look at the current or pending job and any specialized training to determine if it is sufficient. But, be prepared, since employment histories of less than two years will draw additional scrutiny, which is because the VA likely won’t guarantee a loan if they feel a potential borrower’s income is unreliable.
A large benefit of the VA Home Loan is the relaxed credit requirements meant to provide military homebuyers with an accessible mortgage option. As for credit score, there is no pass or fail number, due to the number of factors considered, including assets, debt-to-income ratio and residual income; however, most lender will prefer to see a credit score of at least 620.
According to the VA, those that do not meet the minimum service requirements, may still be eligible if their discharge was due to (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) a service-connected disability.