Are you a Veteran? Find out how you can purchase a home using your VA benefit!

Eligibility

You must have suitable credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. The home must be for your own personal occupancy. The eligibility requirements to obtain a COE are listed below for Servicemembers and Veterans, spouses, and other eligible beneficiaries.

VA home loans can be used to:

  • Buy a home, a condominium unit in a VA-approved project
  • Build a home
  • Simultaneously purchase and improve a home
  • Improve a home by installing energy-related features or making energy efficient improvements
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot

Buying Process

Eligibility Requirements for VA Home Loans

Find a real estate professional to work with. Perhaps a friend has someone to recommend. Or you could look under “Real Estate” in your yellow pages or on the web.

Find a Lender

Locate a lending institution that participates in the VA program. You may want to get “pre-qualified” at this point – that is, find out how big a loan you can afford. Lenders set their own interest rates, discount points, and closing points, so you may want to shop around.

Get a Certificate of Eligibility

The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) verifies to the lender that you meet the eligibility requirements for a VA loan. Learn more about the evidence you submit and how to apply for a COE on our Eligibility page.

Find a Home and Sign a Purchase Agreement

Work with a real estate professional and negotiate a purchase agreement. Make sure the purchase and sales agreement contains a “VA Option Clause.”

Here’s a sample of a “VA Option Clause”:

“It is expressly agreed that, notwithstanding any other provisions of this contract, the purchaser shall not incur any penalty by forfeiture of earnest money or otherwise be obligated to complete the purchase of the property described herein, if the contract purchase price or cost exceeds the reasonable value of the property established by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The purchaser shall, however, have the privilege and option of proceeding with the consummation of this contract without regard to the amount of the reasonable value established by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

You may also want the purchase agreement to allow you to “escape” from the contract without penalty if you can’t get a VA loan.

Apply for your VA Loan

Work with the lender to complete a loan application and gather the needed documents, such as pay stubs and bank statements.

Loan Processing

The lender orders a VA appraisal and begins to “process” all the credit and income information.

(Note: VA’s appraisal is not a home inspection or a guaranty of value. It’s just an estimate of the market value on the date of the inspection. Although the appraiser does look for obviously needed repairs, VA doesn’t guarantee the condition of the house. The appraiser, who is licensed, is not a VA employee. The lender can’t request a specific appraiser; assignments are made on a rotating basis.)

The lending institution reviews the appraisal and all the documentation of credit, income, and assets. The lender then decides whether the loan should be granted.

Closing

The lender chooses a title company, an attorney, or one of their own representatives to conduct the closing.

 

Loan Fees

VA Funding Fee

Generally, all Veterans using the VA Home Loan Guaranty benefit must pay a funding fee. This reduces the loan’s cost to taxpayers considering that a VA loan requires no down payment and has no monthly mortgage insurance. The funding fee is a percentage of the loan amount which varies based on the type of loan and your military category, if you are a first-time or subsequent loan user, and whether you make a down payment. You have the option to finance the VA funding fee or pay it in cash, but the funding fee must be paid at closing time.

You do not have to pay the fee if you are a:

  • Veteran receiving VA compensation for a service-connected disability, OR
  • Veteran who would be entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability if you did not receive retirement or active duty pay, OR
  • Surviving spouse of a Veteran who died in service or from a service-connected disability

The funding fee for second time users who do not make a down payment is slightly higher. Also, National Guard and Reserve Veterans pay a slightly higher funding fee percentage. To determine your exact percentage, please review the latest funding fee chart.

Other Loan Costs

Be aware that the lender charges interest, in addition to closing fees and charges. Here are some general rules:

  • The lender, not VA, sets the interest rate, discount points, and closing costs. These rates may vary from lender to lender
  • Closing costs such as the VA appraisal, credit report, state and local taxes, and recording fees may be paid by the purchaser, the seller, or shared
  • The seller can pay for some closing costs. (Under our rules, a seller’s “concessions” can’t exceed 4% of the loan. But only some types of costs fall under this 4% rule. Examples are: payment of pre-paid closing costs, VA funding fee, payoff of credit balances or judgments for the Veteran, and funds for temporary “buydowns.” Payment of discount points is not subject to the 4% limit.)
  • You are not allowed to pay for the termite report, unless the loan is a refinance. That fee is usually paid by the seller.
  • No commissions, brokerage fees, or “buyer broker” fees may be charged to the Veteran buyer

Adding the VA Funding Fee and other loans costs to your loan may result in a situation in which you owe more than the fair market value of the house, and will reduce the benefit of refinancing since your payment will not be lowered as much as it could be. Also, you could have difficulty selling the house for enough to pay off your loan balance.

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