Curious if you qualify for a VA Loan? You would be surprised who qualifies other than just Active Duty Service men & women. Some lesser known categories of individuals who qualify for a VA Loan are surviving spouses, Public Health Service Officers, Coast Guard and officers of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

 Cool, right? Let’s dive in and take a look at all the nitty gritty details of the VA Loan, with some great tips from Team VA the Fairway!

 INCOME – CREDIT & CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY (COE)

According to VA.gov, in order to qualify for a VA-guaranteed Loan you must have “satisfactory credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).”  One of the first questions we always get here at Team VA the Fairway is, “So, what credit score do I need to qualify?”  There is no easy answer to this question, as score requirements can vary from company to company, and it changes based on a variety of factors. The best thing to do is contact your local loan officer, (or we can help you find one quickly by filling out our form here) and they can go over with you what the current credit requirement is. As we write this article today, U.S. Army Veteran and Loan Officer Michael Mesa, NMLS # 1464064 said that “we can typically get  VA Loans done with a credit score of 580 and above, but of course that is subject to change.”

Photo: The Vance Family at their new home. Courtesy of Vance Family and Loan Officer Peter Lopez, NMLS #332592.

According to VA.gov the VA home loan can be used to:

  • Buy a home, or a condo in a VA-approved project.
  • Build a new construction home.
  • Simultaneously purchase and improve or renovate a home (we love rehab projects at Team VA The Fairway, just ask Scott Jacobs, he is an expert on them!)
  • Improve a home by making energy efficient improvements including installing energy-related features or making energy efficient improvements.
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot. “This is really important” says US Army Veteran, and VA the Fairway team Loan Officer, Michael Mesa, NMLS # 1464064   “many loan companies DO NOT offer VA Loans on Manufactured homes, but here at Fairway Indpendent Mortgage Corporation, we do!”
  • 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.

SERVICE REQUIREMENTS OF ELIGIBITY FOR THE VA HOME LOAN

 Active-duty Service Members:

If you are now on active duty, eligibility can be established in most cases, after 90 days of continuous active duty.  Upon discharge or release from active duty, eligibility must be reestablished. “Make sure you don’t leave your potential monthly payment up to chance! Contact a skilled Loan Officer to help you calculate a realistic montly payment before you go house hunting” recommends Loan Officer  & Co-Founder of VA the Fairway, Michael Joy, NMLS #120763.

 Select Reserve Service Members or National Guard

 If you have completed a total of six credible years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard (member of an active unit, attended required weekend drills and two-week active duty for training) and completed one of the following, you will qualify.

  • Were discharged with an honorable discharge
  • Were placed on the retired list
  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable service.
  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve
  • Individuals who completed less than six years may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.

WWII – Korean War & Vietnam War Veterans:

The following service categories qualify as service during wartime from the VA:

World War II - September 16, 1940 - July 25, 1947

Korean War - June 27, 1950 - January 31, 1955

Vietnam War - August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975

For your duty to be considered “Service” You have served atleast 90 days of active duty, with any discharge other than dishonorable discharge.  If you have less than 90 days of service, you may still qualify if discharged with service related disability.

Gulf War Veterans- August 2, 1990 - TBA

 For your Service to be eligible during the Gulf War you must have 24 months of continuous active-duty, and any discharge other than dishonorable discharge.  You must also have 90 days completed of full term that you were ordered to active duty.

Persons falling under this category may also qualify, with at least 90 days active duty - and discharged for hardship, early out, convenience of the Government, reduction in force, condition interfered with duty or compensable service-connected disability. You may qualify with less than 90 days active duty - if discharged for a service-connected disability.

 There are some persons who are able to qualify with Service during peacetime. Please see VA.gov for more info.

SEPERATED FROM SERVICE DETAILS:

If you qualify as any of the following you currently qualify with the VA for your loan:

  • Enlisted - After September 7, 1980.
  • Officers - After October 16, 1981.
  • Completed Following Service Requirements:24 months continuous active duty . Or, at least 181 days or completed the full term that he or she was ordered to active duty, both with any discharge other than dishonorable discharge. Or, at least 181 days active duty - and discharged for hardship, early out, convenience of the Government, reduction in force, condition interfered with duty or compensable service-connected disability.
  • If you have less than 181 days active duty, you can still qualify if discharged for a service-connected disability. 

Spouses:

  • If you are an un-remarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service-connected disability. See VA.gov for specifics.
  • You are a spouse of a Service member missing in action or a prisoner of war.
  • You are a surviving spouse in receipt of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits in cases where the Veteran's death was not service-connected.

Other Eligible Speical Beneficiaries:

You may also apply for eligibility if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Certain U.S. citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II.
  • Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with World War II service, and others.

RESOTRATION OF ENTITLEMENT

Did you know you can use the VA Loan more than once?  Or can own more than two homes at once? Here’s how. They key is second-tier entitlement. Veterans can have previously-used entitlement "restored" to purchase another home with a VA loan if:

  • The property purchased with the prior VA loan has been sold and the loan paid in full, or...
  • A qualified Veteran-transferee (buyer) agrees to assume the VA loan and substitute his or her entitlement for the same amount of entitlement originally used by the Veteran seller. The entitlement may also be restored one time only if the Veteran has repaid the prior VA loan in full, but has not disposed of the property purchased with the prior VA loan. Remaining entitlement and restoration of entitlement can be requested through the VA Eligibility Center by completing this VA FORM HERE.

Photo: Located near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM)? Visit the Lacey Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation Branch. Need help finding a local branch? Contact us and we'll connect you to one! 

Have questions about any of the above? The best thing to do is speak with a Loan Officer.  They can help you navigate through the “in’s and out’s” of a VA Loan.  You can easily connect with a Loan Officer, by visiting one at a branch near you, or  United States Air Force Veteran and Loan Officer, Justin Clark, NMLS #1748774 recommends “Just give your local loan officer a call. With-in just a few minutes on the phone they can help identify if you’ll likely qualify or need to do a few extra steps to qualify. They may also be knowledgeable about other home loan programs like, FHA, that may also be a great fit for you!”.  To get in touch with a VA the Fairway Loan Officer in any of the 50 states, give us a ring at (888) 301-3465.

* VA Loan eligibility, details and requirements are subject to change. For up to the minute updates, please visit www.VA.gov.