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How to Apply for a VA Loan and Check Your Eligibility

Applying for your Certificate of Eligibility is just one part of the larger VA home loan application process.

Updated on March 16, 2021

If you’re a Veteran, active military member, or the surviving spouse of one, then a VA loan could be your path to homeownership. With low-interest rates, no down payment, and easy credit score requirements, VA loans make buying a home simpler and less stressful than other mortgage options.

Are you considering a VA loan for your home purchase? Here’s how the VA loan application process works.

What You Need to Apply for a VA Loan

To apply for a VA loan, you’ll need several documents, including your discharge or separation papers (if you’re a Veteran) or your statement of service (if you’re still serving).

National Guard and Reserve members will need a report of separation, record of service, or retirement points statement if they were never activated. Surviving spouses will need proof of Dependency & Indemnity Compensation, their marriage license, and a death certificate to apply.

Other documents you may need include:

  • A copy of your license or ID
  • Recent pay stubs and bank statements
  • Your last two W-2 statements and tax returns

All borrowers will need a Certificate of Eligibility, too. We’ll talk about applying for a COE in just a bit.

Steps to Apply for a VA Loan

1. Check your eligibility.

VA loans are only available for Veterans, military members, and their spouses. So first, you’ll need to be sure you (or your spouse) meet the VA’s basic military service requirements.

These include:

  • At least 90 days of consecutive service during wartime OR
  • At least 181 days of consecutive service during peacetime OR
  • At least six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves

Surviving spouses will need to meet different requirements, which you’ll find on the VA’s website.

2. Apply for your COE.

Applying for your COE — or Certificate of Eligibility — is next on the list. This is an official document from the Department of Veterans Affairs that asserts your eligibility for the VA loan program. It also details your military service, discharge status, and your total loan entitlement.

To apply for your COE, you can:

  1. Go to your eBenefits portal at eBenefits.VA.gov
  2. Apply by mail with VA Form 26-1880.
  3. Have your VA lender pull the document for you.

Having your lender request your COE is typically the fastest and most hassle-free option, and it comes at no extra cost.

3. Find a VA-approved mortgage lender.

Only certain mortgage companies are allowed to issue VA loans. Your best bet is to apply with a mortgage lender that specializes in VA loans, as these loans require a bit more red tape than your typical mortgage loan.

Get Started on Your VA Loan

4. Fill out a preapproval application.

Getting preapproved is your next step, so fill out your chosen lender’s preapproval form as soon as possible. You’ll want to do this before beginning the home search, as it can help you better understand your budget. It can also give sellers more confidence in your offers and even help you stand out in a crowded market.

What Happens After You're Preapproved?

After your application is preapproved, you can start searching for that dream home.

When you’ve found a property you like, you’ll:

  1. Make an offer and negotiate your contract. Your real estate agent can help you with this step.
  2. Fill out your lender’s full mortgage application. This may require extra documentation, so work closely with your loan officer here.
  3. Await your appraisal and underwriting. Your lender will order an appraisal to assess the home’s value, and the loan will move into underwriting. This is when the lender verifies your financial details and makes sure you have the funds to manage your mortgage payments.
  4. Close on your loan application. Once an underwriter has approved your loan, your closing appointment will be scheduled. This is when you’ll sign your paperwork, pay your closing costs, and get your keys.
Our Lender
Veterans United Home Loans is a VA approved lender; Mortgage Research Center, LLC – NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Not affiliated with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Not available in NV. 1400 Veterans United Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Equal Housing Lender
START HERE: $0 Down VA Home Loans
Our Lender
Veterans United Home Loans is a VA approved lender; Mortgage Research Center, LLC – NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Not affiliated with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Not available in NV. 1400 Veterans United Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Equal Housing Lender