If you have served in the U.S. military or are a surviving spouse of an individual who passed away while on active duty, you may qualify for a VA home loan. These mortgage options make homeownership more attainable for those who have served their country.
Before applying, you should know a few things not only about the loan but also the application process. Follow these tips and guidelines when embarking on this undertaking:
Applying for VA home loan
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs noted you can acquire a VA loan through any lender. However, to receive the benefits you must first provide a Certificate of Eligibility to the lender. To obtain this, providing evidence depends on your unique situation. The DD Form 214 is required for:
- Current National Guard members who have participated in active service
- Former National Guard members who have participated in active service
- Current Reserve members who have participated in active service
- Former Reserve members who have participated in active service
An individual who is currently on active duty must provide:
- Current statement of service
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Date of entry to active duty
- Duration of any time that was lost
- Name of command
A discharged member of the National Guard who was not activated for the active service must submit the same material as a service member currently active, but also include the total number of creditable years of service.
A discharged member of the Reserve who was not part of active service should provide a copy of the annual retirement points statement and evidence indicating honorable service. This document should also be the most recently provided.
A surviving spouse of a deceased service member who died while on active duty and receives Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits should provide VA form 26-1817, the veterans DD214 and the Social Security numbers of both the spouse and veteran.
If the surviving spouse is not receiving DIC benefits, he or she can provide the following:
- Marriage license
- Death certificate or report of casualty
- DD214 (if available)
- VA form 21-534
After presenting the COE to your lender, you will be notified whether your application was accepted. Military.com noted you can increase your chances of approval by proving a steady and sufficient income. While there is flexibility, proving this can make the loan easier to qualify for.
Shopping for affordable homes and finding a real estate agent
Once the application is approved, you can start looking for a potential home. An eligible property must be a single-family home, or VA-approved multi-family homes, townhouses and condos. Additionally, the home you decide to purchase must be your primary residence and you must move in within 60 days of closing. If you are deployed, this can extend up to 12 months. Your spouse is the only relative who can satisfy this requirement of living in the home without you residing on the property as well.
When you start looking at listed homes, seek out the help of a real estate agent who has experience with finding homes for individuals who received VA home loans. Ask friends and family members who also benefited from this type of mortgage for recommendations for helpful and qualified real estate professionals.
Make an offer on your dream home
Having a good real estate agent to represent you and your offer to the seller when you finally find the perfect property will help increase you chances of an acceptance. Military.com recommended also providing a preapproval letter with your offer and remembering there are many other homes available.
A preapproval letter shows your offer is more reliable than without this document and an approval letter would be even more reliable. Ask your lender about qualifying for an approval right away to help improve your chances of the individual selling your dream home accepting your offer.
Because civilians may not be familiar with the approval process or ins and outs of a VA home loan, they may be intimidated and decide not to accept the offer. While your real estate agent can represent you well, don't let a rejection upset you. Always have a few different homes you would like to purchase to soften the blow if it doesn't work out.
Another snag you may run into while making offers on homes is immediate rejection because minimum property requirements for VA home loans. Fixer-uppers or houses that the owners knows may not meet these expectations will likely disregard your offer. For this reason, it is important to consider a home's condition. The better this is, the less likely a seller is to disregard you.
Schedule your closing and celebrate
Once your offer is accepted, figure out when you can close on the home. Once you embark on this final process of purchasing a home with a VA loan it's time to head out to dinner and enjoy yourself.