VA home loans are a great benefit available to almost all members of the armed forces. We say almost because there are some eligibility requirements you’ll have to meet in order to secure the loan. Let’s take a look at what those requirements are and why a VA home loan could be just what you and your family need to buy the home of your dreams.
VA Home Loan Eligibility
VA home loans are designed to reward military personnel for their incredible service to our country. To that end, VA loans are available to:
- Veterans and active-duty service members
- National Guard members and Reservists that meet the requirements of basic service
- Spouses of military members who paid the ultimate sacrifice during active duty
Veterans and active-duty service members will have to meet certain eligibility requirements for length of service. The exact length of time required depends on when you entered the service and how much time you spent on active duty. But the general guidelines are as follows:
- At least 181 days of active service during peacetime
- At least 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
- More than six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves
If you meet these basic requirements, you’ll still need to get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show mortgage lenders that you’re eligible for a VA home loan. This can be obtained by gathering some basic information (name, dates of service, Social Security number, date of birth, etc.) and applying online, by mail or through a mortgage lender. You can’t get a VA loan without a COE, so be sure to apply early on to speed up the rest of your home buying process.
VA Home Loan Requirements
Even with your Certificate of Eligibility in hand, you’ll still need to provide some additional information to satisfy your lender’s requirements and secure your VA loan. Your real estate agent or lender will be able to detail all of the documents you’ll need to provide, but here are some of the most common:
- Certificate of Eligibility
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
While you are not required to meet any specific income scale to qualify for a VA loan, you will need to prove that you have reliable, consistent income that is sufficient to cover your monthly expenses, including your mortgage. By making sure you have enough money for food, gas, clothing and other living expenses, the VA hopes to protect military members from overextending themselves and ending up in financial trouble.
Even though the VA determines the general guidelines for VA loans, private mortgage lenders may have additional conditions that borrowers need to meet to receive a home loan. Mortgage lenders may want to review your debt, debt-to-income ratio and credit conditions before approving any loan.
Other VA Loan Information
When you combine the already complex world of real estate with an organization as massive as the VA, things can get complicated. So, it’s easy to miss important information that could impact your home buying experience. Here are some other facts about VA loans that could prove helpful as you go through the process:
- You do not have to be a first-time home buyer to use a VA loan
- You can reuse the benefit as long as you sell the home you currently own
- VA loans are assumable as long as the person assuming the loan also meets VA requirements
There are actually several types of VA home loans out there, and the type you choose will depend on your goals and unique circumstances. The types of VA loans are:
- Purchase loan – The most commonly used VA home loan
- Cash-out refinance loan – Similar to a traditional cash-out refinance loan
- Native American Direct Loan (NADL) – Intended to help Native Americans buy homes on Native American trust lands
- Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL) – Used to refinance an existing VA loan at a better rate
If you believe you qualify for one of these unique programs, be sure to ask your real estate agent or mortgage specialist.
VA Loan Benefits
VA loans often take a little bit longer to process because of all the red tape. But don’t let a few extra days discourage you because the advantages are more than worth the wait. Besides cost savings, here are some of the other benefits of VA home loans:
- No or low down payment required
- No private mortgage insurance
- VA rules limit your maximum closing costs
- No fees for paying your mortgage off early
When you add up all the potential savings and other benefits that can come from a VA loan, there are few reasons not to take advantage.
Save More: VA Loan AND Homes for Heroes
In addition to the VA loan benefits, you can save even more money when you work with Homes for Heroes real estate and mortgage specialists to buy a home. The process is simple, there’s no obligation and Homes for Heroes offers the most savings of any national organization. In fact, military personnel save an average of $2,400 by working with Homes for Heroes. If you combine the benefits of VA home loans with amazing Hero Rewards® from Homes for Heroes, you can save more money and purchase the perfect home for you and your family.
Ready to buy a house using the benefits of a VA home loan and Homes for Heroes? Register with Homes for Heroes today and our specialists can take the pain out of the home buying experience and save you significant money in the process.