How to Apply for a VA Home Loan

Learning how to apply for a VA home loan may seem overwhelming, but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides plenty of information to guide you through the process.

Before applying for a home loan through the VA, it is important to understand eligibility for VA home loans. To apply for VA home loan benefits, you will need to obtain a certificate of eligibility (COE), evaluate how much you can afford to borrow and find a mortgage lender to work with. Once you have found a home you want to move into, it is time to get a purchase agreement, have the home inspected and complete all of the necessary paperwork for finalizing the purchase and accepting your loan. After all of these steps are complete, you will be ready to move in.

A VA home loan application and COE form can be completed through a variety of methods. You can apply for VA loan benefits online, through the mail or, in most cases, in person. Once you have the necessary paperwork and information in order, it is easy to complete the process. Below, learn everything you need to know about submitting an application and completing all of the other necessary steps in buying a home.

Applying for a VA Home Loan COE

When asking how to get a VA home loan, the first step is to obtain your COE. This certificate verifies that you are eligible to receive a loan backed by the VA, and lenders will need it before you can be approved. The process of getting a COE varies depending on whether you are a veteran, service member or the spouse of a veteran. However, you will always need to provide your name, date of birth and Social Security Number. Depending on your status, you will also need the following paperwork or information:

  • Service member or Reservist: A statement of service signed by your commander or personnel officer, as well as the date you joined the service.
  • Veteran or former active Guard/Reserve member: A DD 214 form.
  • Discharged National Guard member who was never activated: A Report of Separation and NGB Form 22 (Record of Service).
  • Discharged Reservist who was never activated: Proof of honorable service and a copy of your most recent annual retirement point statement.
  • Surviving spouse of a veteran: Your spouse’s DD 214 form. If you currently receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you must also provide VA Form 26-1817; if you do not receive DIC, you need to complete VA Form 21P-534EZ and provide a copy of your marriage license and the veteran’s death certificate.

Related Article: Adaptive Housing Grants

Before you apply for a VA loan, you must submit your COE application online, through the mail or in person by talking to a lender. When applying through the mail, you will need to complete VA Form 26-1880 and send it to the address indicated on the form

Steps to Apply for a VA Home Loan

Once you have your COE, the next steps for a completing a VA home loan application include going over your financial situation, finding the lender you want to work with, hiring a realtor or real estate agent and starting your search for a home. Keep in mind that you are allowed to do many different things with your loan, such as buy a single-family home, an empty lot, purchase a manufactured home, build a home or buy a condominium, among other options.

When you apply for VA home loan benefits, you will want to start by looking at your credit score and considering what your income and expenses are. If you do not already have a budget, now is a great time to create one. Your budget will help you understand how much you want to spend on a mortgage, which is important information to know before talking to lenders. When budgeting your home-buying expenses, be sure to factor in closing costs, taxes, your loan funding fee (not required by the VA in some situations) and the cost of a home appraisal, all of which you may be expected to pay for.

When asking how to get a VA home loan, it is important to be aware that the VA itself does not issue loans. Instead, the VA acts as a guaranty, meaning that the government will cover your loan payments if you are not able to make them. Rather than being issued by the VA, loans are provided by private banks, credit unions and mortgage companies. Therefore, it is your responsibility to find a lender to work with. Instead of applying for a VA loan at the first lender you find, it is wise to compare loan rates and costs to find the one that best fits your needs.

The next steps in the process include hiring a real estate agent and beginning your search for a home. Try to find a real estate agent who understands your needs, as you will need to work with this person closely throughout the home buying process. Before signing any agreements, make sure you understand the fees you may need to pay your agent, as well as the services that he or she will provide for you.

Finally, you will be ready to start shopping for a home. If you were pre-approved for a loan, you will want to shop for houses that are within your price range.

Closing on a Home After You Apply for a VA Loan

Finding out how to apply for a VA home loan is just part of the process. Once you have gone through the steps above and have found a house you want to buy, your loan will be processed and you will have to sign a purchase agreement. When using a VA loan to buy a home, it is important that the sales contract includes a VA escape clause and/or a VA option clause. In the event your VA home loan application is denied, such a clause will allow you to back out of the contract without a penalty.

Once the purchase agreement is put together, a VA-approved appraiser will need to inspect the house to make sure the property is in acceptable condition. VA appraisers are not the same as home inspectors, so you may wish to have your home inspected for major defects before agreeing to the sale.

Next, you will receive pre-closing paperwork from your lender, which includes information on the terms of your VA home loan application as well as any costs and fees you may need to cover. The actual closing process will be held at an attorney’s office, escrow office or a titling company, during which you will need to sign all of your closing documents and agreements. Finally, you can move into your new home after closing.

Related Article: HUD-VASH

It might also interest you: