VA Loan Eligibility Requirements: How to Know if You Qualify for the VA Loan

Homeownership is a cherished dream for many, and for military personnel and veterans, the VA loan program offers a unique opportunity to achieve this goal. With its competitive interest rates, no down payment requirement, and a simplified approval process, VA loans have helped countless veterans secure affordable and stable housing. But before embarking on this journey, it’s crucial to understand the eligibility criteria associated with VA loans.

Eligibility Requirements for VA Home Loans

To be eligible for a VA loan, you must meet specific service requirements and demonstrate creditworthiness. Here’s a breakdown of the essential eligibility factors:

Minimum Service Requirements to Qualify for the VA Loan

  • Active Duty Service
    • Served for at least 24 continuous months
    • Served your full period of active duty requirement of at least 90 days
    • Served at least 90 days if you were discharged for a hardship
    • Served less than 90 days if you were discharged for a service-connected disability
  • National Guard Service
    • Completed at least six years of service in the National Guard, and you were discharged honorably or placed on the retired list
    • Served at least 90 days of non-training active-duty service, or
    • Served at least 90 days of active-duty service including at least 30 consecutive days (your DD214 must show 32 USC sections 316, 502, 503, 504, or 505 activation)
  • Reserve Service
    • At least 90 days of non-training active-duty service, or
    • 6 creditable years in the Selected Reserve 
    • You were discharged honorably
    • You were placed on the retired list
    • You were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable
    • You continue to serve in the Selected Reserve
    • You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for: 
    • And at least 1 of these must be true:

 

Creditworthiness Requirements for the VA Loan

While the VA does not have specific requirements for creditworthiness, the following points are worth considering and provide general guidance on how lenders view you as a potential loan candidate.

  • Credit Score
    • While the VA doesn’t set a minimum credit score requirement, lenders typically look for scores in the mid-600s or higher. If your credit score is below 600, dont worry, some lenders, including those on VeteranPCS, will work with credit scores in the high 500s.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)
    • Your DTI, which measures your monthly debt payments against your gross monthly income, can typically be as high as 55%. Higher than 55% DTI can be approved on a case-by-case basis. Speak to a VA loan expert from VeteranPCS to learn more about DTI requirements.
  • Character of Service
    • You must have been discharged from the military under honorable or general under honorable conditions.

 

Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

All VA loan applicants must obtain a COE from the VA, which verifies your eligibility and entitlement. Without your COE, you cannot obtain a VA Loan.

There are three ways to request a COE:

  1. Online through the VA: Request a COE
  2. Through your lender: Meet our lending experts
  3. Via mail: Mail VA Form 26-1880

 

Next steps for getting a VA direct or VA-backed home loan

Requesting a COE is only part of the process for getting a VA direct or VA-backed home loan. Your next steps will depend on the type of loan and the lender. (For most loans, the lender is a private bank or mortgage company. For the Native American Direct Loan, the VA is the lender).

The lender will request a VA appraisal (assessment) of the house. An appraisal estimates the house’s market value at the time of inspection. An appraisal isn’t a home inspection or a guaranty of value. 

The lender will review the application and your credit and income information. If they decide to accept your application, they’ll work with you to select a title company (or other entity) to close (transfer ownership) on the house.

We have vetted over 300 agents and lenders to ensure they are familiar with and experts in the VA Loan application and approval process. You can contact our expert agents and lenders anytime to help you buy and sell your home through VeteranPCS.

 

Entitlement

VA entitlement refers to the maximum amount of VA loan guarantee that a veteran or service member can receive. It’s typically based on your service history and can be used for multiple home purchases. The calculations used by the VA to determine this limit are detailed on their website here: VA Home Loan Limits | Veterans Affairs

 

Maximizing Your VA Loan Entitlement

To maximize your chances of VA loan approval, consider these tips

  • Maintain a good credit history.
      • Make timely payments on your bills and keep your credit utilization ratio low.
  • Review your Debt-To-Income (DTI) ratio.
      • Lowering your DTI can be beneficial. Speaking with an experienced lender will help you gain insights on a strategy best suited for you.
  • Gather your service records.
      • Keep your DD Form 214 and other military service documentation readily available to speed the application process along and ensure the VA has all relevant information to grant your entitlement.
  • Work with a VA-approved lender.
    • Experienced VA lenders can guide you through the application process and help you secure the best possible terms.
    • You can contact our preferred lenders through our website here: Contact Lender | VeteranPCS

 

Summary

VA loans offer a remarkable opportunity for military personnel and veterans to achieve homeownership. By understanding the eligibility criteria and taking steps to strengthen your financial profile, you can increase your chances of securing a VA loan and realizing your dream of owning a home.

Remember to:

  1. Verify you meet the minimum service requirements
  2. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility
  3. Review strategies for maximizing your loan entitlement
  4. Talk with a VA Loan expert to address any questions you may have

Additional Information

For more details on VA loan eligibility and the application process, consult with a VA-approved lender. The lenders on VeteranPCS have been hand-selected for their knowledge, experience, and ability to educate service members and veterans on their benefits.

 

Disclaimer

This blog post provides general information about VA loans and is not intended as legal or financial advice. Please consult with a qualified professional to discuss your specific circumstances and eligibility for VA loans.

More questions about the VA loan?

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