VA Loan Eligibility (Are You Eligible?)
VA (Department of Veteran Affairs) does not fund loans, they guarantee loans. To receive a VA loan you must verify your eligibility for a VA loan and then Get Prequalified with a VA authorized lender. Eligibility is based on the veteran’s length of service. For a veteran to be eligible they must meet one or more the minimum service requirements listed here.
- Served a minimum of 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
- Served at least 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
- Served 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves.
- You are the surviving spouse of a service member who was killed in the line of duty
The VA will verify based upon your service record that you meet the requirements by issuing a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This is the first step in qualifying for a loan, because it provides verification to the lender that the VA will guarantee your loan. You must have a COE to receive a VA loan from any lender.
Requesting a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
You can request a COE in two ways. The quickest way to receive your COE is through a VA authorized lender. In most cases, your VA lender should be willing to assist you with obtaining your certificate. Lenders have access to a VA database called ACE (Automated Certificate of Eligibility). If the VA has enough information in ACE about a veteran, the lender can retrieve a copy of your certificate in seconds.
Ace does not have information about every veteran; in some cases the lender will need additional information, such as a printout of you DD214, to access your certificate. You can also request your certificate by mailing VA Form 26-1880 to the VA’s eligibility center in North Carolina, but requests by mail take much longer to process. Florida Veterans Home Loans has direct access to the VA’s ACE system, and will be happy to assist you with getting Prequalified for your certificate.
We Have Direct Access to the VA's Online Portal
Because of our direct access with the Department of Veterans Administration, we can usually get your VA Certificate of Eligibility for you in a few short minutes, rather than weeks or even months, using the VA's online ACE system. Why wait? Get started today!
I Requested My Certificate of Eligibility. What’s Next?
- Get Prequalified
To speak to a professional VA specialist about taking the next step for prequalification, please complete our quick-and-easy online request form and a member of our staff will contact you right away to discuss your options. There is no cost to get started, and there is no obligation on your part to proceed with a loan.
- Select the home you wish to purchase
Your lender has determined the loan amount you have been Prequalified for. You will need to find a home for that amount or less, and present a written offer to the seller. If your offer is accepted, a sales contract will be drawn up detailing the terms.If you would like to minimize the amount of out of pocket expense, you may wish to ask the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs. Your lender can provide you with a closing cost worksheet that will be helpful in properly structuring your offer. More useful information about this can be found on our site by clicking the link VA Closing Costs.
- Close the loan and move in to your new home!
Provide the lender with your sales contract, and have an inspection done on the property. Your realtor, if you have one, can assist you with ordering an inspection. The lender will then order your appraisal through the VA, underwrite your loan, and coordinate the closing with you.
More Useful Information about VA Loans
Other than exemptions for veterans with disabilities, all VA loans include a VA funding fee, which the veteran can finance. The funding fee is charged by the VA to help cover the cost of administering the VA Home Loan Program.
The funding fee varies from 0.50% to 3.30%, depending on the purpose of the loan and whether it is his/her first time use of loan eligibility or a subsequent use.
The VA is not the only entity that charges an upfront fee to cover costs. FHA loans also include an upfront premium which is equal to 1.75% of the loan amount.
The VA funding fee can also be financed. Disabled veterans, spouses of disabled veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans who died in service do not pay the funding fee. The funding fee is considered non-refundable unless the borrower is overcharged or inadvertently charged.
As a general rule, the VA allows a debt-to-income ratio up to 41%, however this is a guideline and can be exceeded with compensating factors. To calculate your ratio, add your total housing payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) plus all monthly revolving and installment debts, and divide by your monthly household income.
The VA also considers a Veterans residual income, which is the amount of money left over at the end of the month after all bills are paid. This is calculated by deducting all monthly housing expenses, installment loans, and revolving debts from a Veteran's monthly take-home pay. If a Veteran's residual income exceeds the VA’s minumum, the VA may approve a higher debt ratio.
It is best to have a VA mortgage specialist review your debt-to-income due to variables that can exist.
Should you decide to sell your home at a later date, VA loans are assumable. The buyer must qualify for the assumption, but is not required to be veteran. However, the full entitlement of the Veteran is not available for use again until the assumed loan is repaid.
VA Loan Limits
The VA loan limits change from time to time. Currently the loan VA loan limit is $484,350. This means that qualified veterans may purchase a home with no down payment, up to a purchase price of $484,350. If the price of the home exceeds $484,350 you will need to be prepared to pay 25% of the difference.
Special note... there is no down payment requirement for a VA loan, no monthly PMI, credit requirements are less stringent and rates are often more attractive compared to other loan programs.
Get Started Today With Your VA Loan Request!
To speak with Chris or one of his team of VA Home Loan specialists about taking the next step toward prequalification, call us at 866-704-2826 or complete our quick-and-easy request form. We'll be happy to contact you and discuss your next steps.
We look forward to assisting you.
By submitting your request, you are not obligating yourself. You are simply asking to be contacted by one of our talented specialists who can answer your questions. Florida Veterans Home Loans works exclusively with military families and we have helped people all across Florida understand the VA loan process.