2024 VA Home Loan Eligibility Requirements

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a unique and advantageous home loan program for eligible service members, veterans, and surviving spouses. In this guide, we will delve into the details of the 2024 VA home loan eligibility, breaking down the requirements, benefits, and steps to take advantage of this incredible opportunity around the JBLM area.

Who is Eligible for a VA Home Loan?

Eligible Service Members and Veterans

To qualify for a VA home loan, a service member or veteran must meet specific service requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These requirements include:

  • Active-duty service members with at least 90 consecutive days of service during wartime or 181 days during peacetime.
  • Veterans with an honorable discharge and a minimum service requirement of:
    • 90 days of active service during wartime, or
    • 181 days of active service during peacetime, or
    • 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves.

Surviving Spouses

Surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected disability may also be eligible for a VA home loan. Eligibility extends to:

  • Unremarried spouses of service members who died while on active duty or from a service-connected disability.
  • Spouses of service members who are missing in action or prisoners of war.
  • Remarried surviving spouses who are 57 or older and remarried on or after December 16, 2003.

Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

Before applying for a VA home loan, eligible individuals must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This certificate proves to lenders that the applicant is eligible for a VA-backed loan. Applicants can obtain their COE through:

  1. eBenefits portal: Eligible service members, veterans, and surviving spouses can apply for their COE online using the eBenefits portal.
  2. Mail: Applicants can complete VA Form 26-1880 (Request for a Certificate of Eligibility) and mail it to the VA Loan Eligibility Center.
  3. Lender assistance: Some VA-approved lenders can access the VA’s WebLGY system to obtain a COE on behalf of the applicant.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan

No Down Payment Requirement

One of the most significant benefits of a VA home loan is the ability to finance 100% of the home’s value, eliminating the need for a down payment. This benefit can save eligible borrowers thousands of dollars upfront and has made the difference between buying a home or not in Thurston County, WA.

Competitive Interest Rates

VA home loans typically have lower interest rates than conventional loans due to the VA guarantee. Lenders assume less risk, which translates into more favorable terms for eligible borrowers.

No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Unlike conventional loans, VA home loans do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI can cost borrowers hundreds of dollars per month, making VA loans an even more attractive option.

Relaxed Credit Requirements

VA home loans have more lenient credit requirements than conventional loans, allowing service members and veterans with less-than-perfect credit to secure financing for their home. If your goal is to build your credit and to buy an affordable home, then a VA loan can help you get started with a cheaper home in the greater Olympia area, to set you up for buying your dream home down the line.

Closing Cost Limits

The VA limits the closing costs lenders can charge eligible borrowers, ensuring that service members and veterans aren’t subject to excessive fees.

Steps to Obtain a VA Home Loan

  1. Verify eligibility: Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for a VA home loan as outlined above. Click here to start and verify your eligibility.
  2. Obtain your COE: Apply for your Certificate of Eligibility through the eBenefits portal, by mail, or with lender assistance.
  3. Select a VA-approved lender: Research and choose a lender that is knowledgeable about the VA home loan process.
  4. Get pre-approved: Work with your lender to get pre-approved for a loan amount based on your credit, income, and other financial factors.
  5. Find your dream home: Begin your home search, keeping your pre-approved loan amount in mind. Collaborate with a real estate agent familiar with the VA home loan process to find a suitable property. At no cost, we will match you with a veteran friendly real estate agent that we know will help you find a home you’ll love.
  6. Make an offer and negotiate: Once you find a home that meets your needs, make an offer and negotiate the terms with the seller.
  7. Get a VA appraisal: After your offer is accepted, your lender will order a VA appraisal. The appraisal ensures the property meets the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) and helps establish the home’s fair market value.
  8. Secure financing: Work with your lender to finalize your loan application and provide any necessary documentation. The lender will underwrite the loan, taking into account your credit, income, and the VA appraisal.
  9. **Close on your new home**: Once your loan application is approved, you will schedule a closing date to sign the necessary paperwork and finalize the purchase. At closing, you’ll also pay any required closing costs, which are limited by the VA to ensure fairness.
  10. Move in and enjoy your new home: With the closing process completed, you can now move into your new home and enjoy the benefits of homeownership as a service member, veteran, or eligible surviving spouse.

VA Home Loan Funding Fee and Exemptions

The VA charges a funding fee on most VA home loans to help cover the cost of the program. The funding fee is a percentage of the loan amount and varies depending on the type of loan, the borrower’s military category, and whether it’s the borrower’s first time using the VA home loan benefit. Some borrowers may be exempt from the funding fee, including:

  • Veterans receiving VA disability compensation.
  • Veterans who would be entitled to receive disability compensation if they were not receiving retirement pay.
  • Surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected disability.

Refinancing Options for VA Home Loan Borrowers

Eligible borrowers with existing VA home loans can take advantage of refinancing options to lower their interest rate or tap into their home’s equity. The two primary VA refinancing options are:

  1. Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): Also known as a VA Streamline Refinance, the IRRRL allows borrowers to refinance their existing VA loan to a lower interest rate with minimal documentation and underwriting requirements.
  2. VA Cash-Out Refinance: This refinancing option enables eligible borrowers to refinance their non-VA or VA loan, potentially obtaining a lower interest rate and accessing cash from their home’s equity.

All in all, the VA home loan program offers numerous benefits to eligible service members, veterans, and surviving spouses, including competitive interest rates, no down payment requirements, and relaxed credit standards. Understanding the eligibility criteria, obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility, and working with a knowledgeable VA-approved lender, like us, are crucial steps in securing a VA home loan and realizing the dream of homeownership.

Tim Barlow VA Loan Officer in Lacey, WA

Tim Barlow, President/ Hard Worker/ and VA Home Loan Specialist since 2001

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