Whether you're currently serving in the United States military or have served in the past, you may be eligible for a mortgage option known as a VA loan. Specifically, a VA loan is one that is backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; this type of loan offers a wide range of benefits that can make buying a home easier, including zero down payment required and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Before you apply for a VA loan, however, there are some steps you should take to make the process as easy as possible.
Make Sure a VA Loan is Right For You
Start by checking the eligibility requirements for a VA home loan. Typically, you will be eligible if one of the following applies to you:
- You're currently serving in the United States military or have been honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active service.
- You're a widower of a military member who died in the line of duty.
- You've served for at least six years in either the Selected Reserve or National Guard.
Gather Necessary Documentation
While not absolutely necessary to begin shopping for a home, you will need something called a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a VA loan in order to get approved for financing. There are a few ways you can go about obtaining a COE, such as having your lender request it on your behalf or going directly through the VA's online portal. In order to obtain this form, however, you'll need to gather some documentation that may include:
- discharge/separation paperwork
- statement of service
- retirement points statement
- NGB Form 22
Review Your Credit Report
Before you apply for a VA loan (or any type of loan, really), it's also a good idea to review your credit report. While good credit is not required to get approved for a VA loan, there's a good chance you'll be taking out other loans to purchase furniture or make repairs/upgrades to your new home. With that in mind, you should know where you stand here.
Find a Real Estate Agent With VA Loan Experience
The process of closing on a home with a VA loan involved can be a little more complex than that of a conventional home loan, so it's wise to work with a real estate agent who has plenty of experience closing on homes with VA loans. This can give you a little more confidence and peace of mind moving forward!