VA loans help veterans and active duty service members buy a home. These loans can cut the costs of buying a house for armed services members and is a small way to say thanks for your service. There are lots of details for these loans, so let’s dive in to help you know just what is a VA loan.
So what is a VA loan?
The Veterans Affairs (VA) loan is a government-based product that can offer 100% financing of a home purchase, meaning no down payment. It includes easier requirements to help our veterans qualify to purchase a home than other programs might. If you’re active duty military, a veteran or an eligible family member of a military veteran, you may qualify for a VA loan (but more on this ahead). And for one of Movement’s biggest perks – waived lender’s fees. Though note: Other VA-permissible fees may still apply.
VA loan benefits
A veteran is eligible for VA home loan benefits if he or she served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard after September 15, 1940. This individual will also need to have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable after either:
- 90 days or more, any part of which occurred during wartime, or
- 181 continuous days or more (peacetime)
A greater length of service of two years is required, however, for veterans who:
- Enlisted (and service began) after September 7, 1980, or
- Entered service as an officer after October 16, 1981
These veterans must have completed either:
- 24 continuous months of active duty, or
- The full period for which called or ordered to active duty, but not less than 90 days (any part during wartime) or 181 continuous days (peacetime)
Note: Cases involving other than honorable discharges will usually require further development by VA. This is necessary to determine if the service was other than dishonorable conditions.
However, with the enactment of the Veterans Home Loan Program Amendments of 1992 (Public Law 102-547, approved 28 October 1992), program eligibility was expanded to include Reservists and National Guard personnel who served honorably for at least six years without otherwise qualifying under the previous active duty provisions. Such personnel are required to pay a slightly higher funding fee when obtaining a VA home loan.
Some spouses of veterans may have VA home loan eligibility as well. They will need to be:
- The unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of service or service-connected causes
- The surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or from service-connected causes, who remarries on or after age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003
- The spouse of an active duty member who is listed as MIA or a POW for at least 90 days. (Eligibility under this MIA/POW provision is limited to one-time use only)
- Surviving spouses of veterans who died from non-service connected causes may also be eligible if certain conditions are met. (Refer to VA handbook for conditions)
VA home loan eligibility also extends to U.S. citizens, Permanent Resident Aliens and Non-Permanent Resident Aliens (as long as documentation can be provided).
Also note: all who are determined eligible for a VA loan must also attain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to proceed with VA home loan benefits. To be eligible, veterans must meet standard VA criteria based on service time, status, era and dates of service. Though don’t worry – if you do not possess your original COE, the lender should still be able to access it via a database online.
*Source for eligibility details: https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/index.asp
How to start on getting a VA loan
Once you have the forms you need, contact your local loan officer to discuss your next steps.
The mortgage process can be daunting and stressful. Take these insights and become more knowledgeable about VA loans before you even speak to your loan officer. Make the home loan financing process that much more enjoyable for yourself!