VA home loans are a special type of housing loan. Despite the name, the loan does not come from the Department of Veteran Affairs. It is also not limited strictly to retired military members, with both active service members and qualifying spouses being eligible for VA loans.
A VA loan is backed by the federal government. The government agrees to pay a private lender if you default on your loan. This provides a greater level of security for the lender. Not only will you get better VA loan rates, but the requirements to get your loan are not as strict.
Before you can get a VA loan quote, you must go through the application process. The eligibility requirements for a VA home loan vary depending on when you served. Whether you previously or currently serve, the home you use your loan on must be your primary residence. You must meet one of the following criteria to qualify.
You served in a military branch for at least 181 days during active peacetime. You had 90 days of consecutive military service during wartime. If you were a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you must have at least six years of service. Additionally, you must have served for 90 days under Title 32. 30 of those 90 days must have been served consecutively.
VA mortgage rates are also available if you are the spouse of a service member who lost their life during their enrollment. Spouses can also qualify if their partner passed away after serving due to an injury or condition he or she received during his or her enlistment. In most cases, you are no longer eligible for any VA loans if you remarried.
To qualify for a VA backed mortgage, you must present a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to your lender. The process to get your COE changes depending on your enrollment status and what branch you served in. If you are retired from the military, you must complete DD Form 214 to get a COE. This form verifies you served and also shows your discharge status. You can get DD Form 214 online from the eVetRecs filing system.
Getting your COE for a VA home loan is more involved if you are currently serving. You can request a statement of service from either your personnel officer or an adjunct or unit commander. Your statement of service must include your full name, Social Security number and birthdate, as well as the date you enrolled.
If you took any breaks or discharges, your commander must provide this information as well. Once you have your statement of service, you can use it to apply for your COE.
Surviving spouses who want a VA loan quote must have their partner’s DD Form 214, marriage license and a copy of their spouse’s death certificate.
Additionally, you must complete VA Form 21P-534-ARE, available from the VA benefits website. Finally, veterans who were discharged from the National Guard must submit NGB Form 22 and 23. You can get these forms by contacting the National Guard Adjutant General’s Office in the state you served.