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Understanding VA home loan requirements

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(BPT) – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guarantees loans made by qualified lenders for the benefit of servicemembers, veterans and their families. Fortunately, these once-limited home loans have become increasingly easy to find and remain one of the most cost-effective products on the mortgage market.

“A couple decades ago, a lot of lenders thought VA loans were too difficult to navigate,” says Rashalon Hayes, assistant vice president of field mortgage at Navy Federal Credit Union. “Today, there are plenty of lenders experienced with VA loans that can walk you through the process.” In fact, roughly 45% of the mortgages Navy Federal originates are VA loans.

Meeting VA home loan requirements can help you buy, build or renovate your home with little or no down payment. Because the VA backs a portion of each loan in their VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, lenders can offer more favorable terms for new home purchases and refinancing.

Your path to buying a home with a VA loan:

As a longtime partner of veterans, servicemembers and their families, Navy Federal knows the VA loan process inside and out. Their experienced lenders can help explore whether you meet VA home loan requirements and answer any questions along the way.

  1. Get pre-qualified for a loan. Receive a pre-qualification from your lender and begin the homebuying process.
  2. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This certificate from the VA confirms your military service and verifies you are eligible to receive a VA-guaranteed loan. Your lender can establish eligibility and obtain a COE for you. You can also apply online at the VA for this document.
  3. Shop for a home. Work with a trusted real estate agent to find a home that meets your needs and fits your budget. Navy Federal even has a unique service called RealtyPlus, which pairs homebuyers with a coordinator specially trained to support servicemembers and their families through the buying, selling and financing processes.
  4. Sign a home purchase agreement. Make sure the purchase agreement that your real estate agent drafts has a VA option clause. This clause states that you aren’t legally bound to purchase a home if the VA appraisal amount is lower than the seller’s asking price. “Some buyers worry this provision will hurt their offer, but VA loans can actually strengthen a contract offer since income is more reliable and seamless to verify,” Hayes notes.
  5. Get a VA appraisal. A VA-certified appraiser determines the home’s fair market value and looks for obviously needed repairs to ensure the property meets the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs).
  6. Have the home inspected. Hire a professional home inspector to check the home’s structure for defects and to inspect items like electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems.
  7. Sign the closing documents. After the home closing, it’s official! Congratulations on your new home. And remember: If you need to refinance your home in the future, you can use a VA loan for that, too.

Learn more about your VA loan options to see if you qualify to purchase a home with no down payment.