You must have satisfactory credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate Of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. The home must be for your own personal occupancy. The eligibility requirements to obtain a COE are listed below for Servicemembers and Veterans, spouses, and other eligible beneficiaries.
VA home loans can be used to:
- Buy a home, a condominium unit in a VA-approved project
- Build a home
- Simultaneously purchase and improve a home
- Improve a home by installing energy-related features or making energy efficient improvements
- Buy a manufactured home and/or lot
- To refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan for the purpose of a lower interest rate
- To refinance an existing mortgage loan or other indebtedness secured by a lien of record on a residence owned and occupied by the veteran as a home
The FHA, or Federal Housing Administration, provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders. FHA insures these loans on single family and multi-family homes in the United States and its territories. It is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world, insuring tens of millions of properties since 1934 when it was created.
- FICO® score at least 580 = 3.5% down payment.
- FICO® score between 500 and 579 = 10% down payment.
- MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium ) is required.
- Debt-to-Income Ratio < 43%.
- The home must be the borrower’s primary residence.
- Borrower must have steady income and proof of employment.
An FHA Loan is a mortgage that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration. They allow borrowers to finance homes with down payments as low as 3.5% and are especially popular with first-time homebuyers.
FHA loans are a good option for first-time homebuyers who may not have saved enough for a large down payment. Even borrowers who have suffered from bankruptcy or foreclosures may qualify for an FHA-backed mortgage.
In most cases, you need to follow these steps to get a VA home loan.
Eligibility Requirements for VA Home Loans
Find a real estate professional to work with. Perhaps a friend has someone to recommend. Or you could look under “Real Estate” in your yellow pages or on the web.
Find a Lender
Locate a lending institution that participates in the VA program. You may want to get “pre-qualified” at this point – that is, find out how big a loan you can afford. Lenders set their own interest rates, discount points, and closing points, so you may want to shop around.
Get a Certificate of Eligibility
The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) verifies to the lender that you meet the eligibility requirements for a VA loan. Learn more about the evidence you submit and how to apply for a COE on our Eligibility page.
Find a Home and Sign a Purchase Agreement
Work with a real estate professional and negotiate a purchase agreement. Make sure the purchase and sales agreement contains a “VA Option Clause.”
Here’s a sample of a “VA Option Clause”:
“It is expressly agreed that, notwithstanding any other provisions of this contract, the purchaser shall not incur any penalty by forfeiture of earnest money or otherwise be obligated to complete the purchase of the property described herein, if the contract purchase price or cost exceeds the reasonable value of the property established by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The purchaser shall, however, have the privilege and option of proceeding with the consummation of this contract without regard to the amount of the reasonable value established by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
You may also want the purchase agreement to allow you to “escape” from the contract without penalty if you can’t get a VA loan.
Apply for your VA Loan
Work with the lender to complete a loan application and gather the needed documents, such as pay stubs and bank statements.
The lender orders a VA appraisal and begins to “process” all the credit and income information.
(Note: VA’s appraisal is not a home inspection or a guaranty of value. It’s just an estimate of the market value on the date of the inspection. Although the appraiser does look for obviously needed repairs, VA doesn’t guarantee the condition of the house. The appraiser, who is licensed, is not a VA employee. The lender can’t request a specific appraiser; assignments are made on a rotating basis.)
The lending institution reviews the appraisal and all the documentation of credit, income, and assets. The lender then decides whether the loan should be granted.
The lender chooses a title company, an attorney, or one of their own representatives to conduct the closing. This person will coordinate the date/time and the property is transferred. If you have any questions during the process that the lender can’t answer to your satisfaction, please contact VA at your Regional Loan Center by calling 1-877-827-3702, with hours of operation from 8am to 6pm EST.
The FHA has calculated the maximum loan amounts that it will insure for different parts of the country. These are collectively known as the FHA lending limits. These loan limits are calculated and updated annually. They’re influenced by type of home, such as single-family or duplex, and location. Some homebuyers choose to purchase homes in counties where lending limits are higher, or may look for homes that fit within the limits of the place they want to live.
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|2019 FHA Limits|
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The annual cost of a loan to a borrower. Like an interest rate, the APR is expressed as a percentage. Unlike an interest rate, however, it includes other charges or fees (such as mortgage insurance, most closing costs, discounts points and loan origination fees) to reflect the total cost of the loan. The Federal Truth in Lending Act requires that every consumer loan agreement disclose the APR. Since all lenders must follow the same rules to ensure the accuracy of the APR, borrowers can use the APR as a good basis for comparing the costs of similar credit transactions.
There are usually two agents involved when you buy a home; the “buyer’s agent,” who represents you, and the “listing agent,” who represents the home seller. Dual agency is when there is only one agent representing both sides of the transaction, and it is something you want to avoid at all costs!
Conventional loans include “fixed rate” and “adjustable rate” mortgages. A fixed rate mortgage has a predetermined interest rate throughout the life of the loan; the most common are for 30 years. An adjustable rate mortgage has a variable interest rate; the most common are for 5, 7, or 10 years.
Money saving tip: Adjustable rate mortgages can make financial sense if you’re planning to sell or refinance your home before the introductory period ends; but if you’re planning to own your home longer than five years, it’s less risky to choose a fixed rate loan. Make sure to shop around so you can get the best mortgage possible, which will save you a lot of money in the long run. Ask your friends, family, and real estate agent for lender recommendations.
Before you apply for a mortgage or even start looking for a home, you should get a pre-approval letter from the bank, which is an estimate of how much they’ll lend you. This letter will help you determine what you can afford, and ensures home sellers that you will be able to get a loan when needed.
When you put in an offer on a home, you can specify certain conditions that must be met before the deal will go through – these are called contingencies. You have to make sure you can actually get the loan (a financing contingency), that the inspection doesn’t show anything too crazy (inspection contingency), and that the appraised value is close to what you’re offering to pay (appraisal contingency). Those are just a few common examples; there are several other types of contingencies, which you should discuss with your agent.
Be prepared to pay a lot of fees when you purchase a home. Typically, closing costs will amount to 2-5% of the purchase price of the home, and that doesn’t include the down payment. Common fees include excise tax, loan-processing costs and title insurance. For more information on how much money closing costs will take out of your wallet