va home loans

As with any mortgage loan, a VA home loan requires you to meet income and credit guidelines, while your lender will order an appraisal to make sure your home meets VA minimum property requirements.

Lenders may also add overlays – criteria beyond VA guidelines that they add to their loans – such as debt-to-income ratio (DTI) or minimum credit score requirements – for loans they offer to veterans.

Getting Started

The Veterans Affairs home loan program allows qualified borrowers to buy homes with lower interest rates and no down payments than conventional loans. Because VA mortgages are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, lending institutions have peace of mind that should a borrower default, their loan won’t lose any money and thus are more willing to provide preferable loan terms such as low or no down payments and no private mortgage insurance for this option.

Step one of obtaining a VA home loan is finding a lender who specializes in this product and can verify your eligibility for it. Unfortunately, not all lenders provide VA loans and those that do may have different requirements when it comes to documentation – for instance some might require extra income documents like W-2s or pay stubs while others might request more extensive details of military service history as part of their application requirements.

Once a lender verifies your eligibility, they will issue you a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This document is necessary for moving forward with the loan process and should typically list both your entitlement and how much money can be borrowed to buy a house. Occasionally reduced funding fees or no funding fees at all may apply – in such cases the COE amount can even be added into your total loan amount!

Once a borrower obtains their Certificate of Eligibility (COE), they can begin searching for homes. To help narrow their options down further, borrowers should create a monthly budget to determine how much mortgage payment they can afford and verify if any potential home meets VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs).

Finding a House

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides guarantees to private lenders offering VA loans, helping many veterans buy homes without making a down payment or meeting conventional lending criteria. Furthermore, VA mortgages tend to have more flexible credit requirements.

Conventional mortgages often require PMI for loans with less than a 20% down payment; alternative loan types could obviate the need for this costly policy and save hundreds per month in fees and payments.

Home buying requires some patience. Once you find an amazing property, it can take several weeks for the loan approval process to take place; then closing can occur quickly after that point.

When purchasing a home with a VA loan, it’s essential to shop around for the most favorable terms. Some lenders specialize in VA loans specifically, offering tailored customer service for active military or veteran borrowers; others cater to more general clientele with different terms and rates.

While shopping for lenders, be sure to inquire about both interest rate and origination fee to make an informed decision.

Borrowers have two options when it comes to VA funding fees: Pay upfront or roll it into monthly mortgage payments – this could save money over time but be sure to consult your lender about all options prior to deciding.

Some lenders require that you set aside two months’ worth of mortgage payments as reserves in case something unforeseen comes up and affects your monthly payment. To avoid this requirement, select a lender who doesn’t impose such rules.

Making an Offer

Housing markets remain strong, and sellers often receive multiple offers on any given property. If any doubts arise regarding financing arrangements of potential homebuyers, sellers could reject them outright and move on to other potential offers. But prospective homebuyers can take steps to overcome prejudices held against VA loans by sellers; such as getting preapproved before househunting starts and working with an experienced real estate agent specialized in VA loans as well as placing earnest money as earnest money to prove seriousness of intent.

Borrowers should select a mortgage lender who is comfortable receiving calls from listing agents regarding VA loans and understands the process. Furthermore, its loan officers should be familiar with local VA rules and guidelines as well as conventional mortgage loan rules and guidelines. Finding someone willing to meet in person with listing agents to discuss VA loan processes could prove especially helpful.

Borrowers must also demonstrate they have enough income and funds saved up for down payments, insurance premiums and closing costs. A lender will evaluate a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio – the portion of monthly income spent on mortgage payments, debt service payments and other obligations such as car loans – before providing financing.

Before purchasing with a VA loan, an inspection and property appraisal are mandatory. In general, it must appraise at or above its purchase price; otherwise the homebuyer must either decrease their offer or come up with more cash to close. Lenders only approve loans on homes at or below their value rather than list price.


When purchasing with a VA loan, the VA wants to make sure you don’t overpay. Your lender will order an appraisal of the property that will assess its fair market value; this assessment also serves as the basis of loan size calculations.

Once the VA appraisal has been completed, your lender will receive a notice of value (NOV) from the Staff Appraisal Reviewer who evaluated it. This document includes both an appraising value for your property as well as any Minimum Property Requirements it did not meet.

If a property fails the MPRs, you will need to decide what you would like to do next. Your real estate agent and loan officer can assist in helping you weigh the options and select one which meets your specific circumstances.

Some buyers choose to have a home inspection prior to proceeding with their VA appraisal. Although this step is optional, it can provide valuable insights about its condition that would not otherwise be evident during visual inspection.

Though not mandatory, some homebuyers choose to purchase a home warranty before moving in to their new house. Home warranties provide coverage against repairs and replacement of items that wear out over time – especially helpful if you are unfamiliar with its maintenance needs – providing peace of mind should something unexpected come up that needs addressing.


Veteran and active-duty service members have an advantageous option to homeownership that requires less of a down payment than conventional mortgage programs: VA home loans offer them access to homeownership while also offering significant financial advantages. Their benefits can be significant; however, potential buyers should carefully evaluate both cost and fees associated with such a loan before committing.

Funding Fee: One of the key closing costs associated with VA loans is its funding fee. This fee goes directly to the Department of Veteran Affairs and helps cover costs incurred when loans default, depending on factors like your military service status, downpayment amount and whether this is your first VA loan. You have two payment options when paying this funding fee: either upfront or roll it into your mortgage – either way it will impact monthly mortgage loan payments.

Know what fees may be included as part of the closing costs for VA loans such as title work, attorney’s fees for lenders and sales commissions for real estate agents as well as termite remediation letters. In addition, non-allowable fees cannot be required as part of a VA closing transaction agreement.

Before closing on any loan, you must demonstrate sufficient income to cover both mortgage payments and other expenses. Lenders will examine your debt-to-income ratio and assets to ascertain whether you can handle a loan responsibly. As a general guideline, lenders often prefer having two to three months worth of mortgage payments saved up in reserves in case any default occurs; this allows lenders to avoid forcing the sale of your home when necessary.