If you have served in the military, a military mortgage application may be one of the best ways to purchase a home. A VA mortgage loan is one of the most valuable benefits available to United States military veterans, allowing eligible service members to purchase a home with no down payment, no private mortgage insurance requirement, no prepayment fee, available payment assistance, and limited closing costs. Not only can VA loans be used for both purchase and refinance, this benefit can be used more than once and does not require you to be a first-time homebuyer. Here’s what you need to know about the VA military mortgage application process.
Step 1: Determine and Apply for Eligibility
A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) can be granted to any active duty military member who has served at least 90 continuous days; veterans of World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War who served for at least 90 total days; veterans who served before 1980 for at least 181 continuous days but did not serve during one of the aforementioned wars; or National Guard members with six years of service or 90 days of active service during the Gulf War. The COE verifies your VA loan eligibility to potential mortgage lenders. In some cases, a spouse may be eligible for a VA loan, including non-remarried spouses of veterans who died during service or of a service disability, spouses of service members who are prisoners of war or missing in action, and surviving spouses who remarry after age 57.
Step 2: Choose a Lender and Get Prequalified
When you apply for your COE, you can also access a list of lenders in your area who offer VA mortgage loans. During the prequalification process, you will be asked to provide documents that verify your income and credit status, and will learn what type of home you can afford. Your lender will also provide insight into what to expect from the time you receive your prequalification letter until you close on your new home.
Step 3: Shop for Your Home
Once you have an idea of your budget, it’s time to find the best property for you and your family. Keep in mind that there are loan limits by county that govern how much money a veteran can borrow for a home without making a down payment. In most counties, this limit is $417,000, though it may be higher in high cost of living areas. If you want to buy a home that’s beyond the stated limit, you can choose to put money down. When you find your home and have made an accepted offer, return to your lender with the signed purchase contract.
Step 4: Documentation, Review, and Closing
Your lender will require extensive documentation before granting your military mortgage application, including pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns as well as a full mortgage application. An appraisal will also be ordered to determine the market value of the home you’re buying. As the closing date approaches, be ready for requests from the lender for additional paperwork and documentation. You’ll also learn the final amount of your closing costs, which must be paid by cashier’s check at closing.