VA Loan Eligibility
In recognition of military service the United States government offers a whole host of benefits to servicemen and women. These include access to special VA home loans that allow for home ownership and refinance opportunities, at competitive rates and favorable terms. While persons serving in the U.S. military, both past and present are generally eligible for the VA home loan benefit there are a few requirements that must be met.
- Member of the military service, past or present
- Sufficient income
- Valid Certificate of Eligibility, (COE)
- Owner-occupied home
- Residual income available beyond mortgage payment
To be eligible for a VA home loan, you must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Active service, wartime—have served 90 consecutive days
- Active service, peacetime—have served 181 days
- Un-remarried spouse of service member who has died in the line of duty, or from a service related disability
- Spouse of a service member who has been declared missing in action or a prisoner of war
- A surviving spouse of a service member who remarries on or after age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003.
- National Guard OR Reserves— more than 6 years service, AND
- Be discharged honorably, OR
- Placed on a retired list, OR
- Transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after honorable service, OR
- A current member of the Selected Reserve
* If minimum service requirements cannot be met, you may still be eligible under certain circumstances.
If you were discharged because of hardship, at the convenience of the government, due to a reduction in force, because of certain medical conditions, or as a result of a service connected disability you may still be entitled to VA home loan benefits. Some surviving spouses of disabled veterans (though the disability was not the cause of death) may be eligible as well.
In addition to eligibility requirements set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs, lenders may have specific guidelines concerning income, debt, and credit history as well.
How To Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility
A COE is required from the VA to determine eligibility for a home loan. This formal document explains which benefits the service member is entitled to.
There are several ways to apply for a COE including:
Through the Lender—Applicants can apply for a certificate through a mortgage lender who has access to the Web LGY system. Eligibility can be determined within minutes if there is sufficient data on record with the VA.
Online—Service personnel can go directly to the VA website, https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage and request a COE.
By Mail—Military applicants must use VA Form 26-1880, Request for Certificate of Eligibility. Spouses must apply by mail using VA Form 26-1817, Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility – Unmarried Surviving Spouses.
Completed forms may be mailed to:
VA Loan Eligibility Center
Attn: COE (262) PO Box 100034
Decatur, GA 30031
Qualifying Real Estate
Not every property will qualify for VA home loan funding. In general the benefit may be used to:
- Purchase an owner-occupied site-built home, condominium, or other unit in a VA approved project.
- Build a new home.
- Buy and improve an existing home.
- Make energy-related home improvements.
- Purchase a manufactured home and/or lot.
Questions regarding eligibility can be answered through the Department of Veterans Affairs directly.