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Understanding VA Loan Eligibility: Your Key to Homeownership

a family unpacks in their new home after getting a VA loan approved.

Buying a home can sometimes feel like a distant goal for veterans and active-duty military personnel. Fortunately, VA home loans can make this dream a reality by bridging the gap. But what are the requirements for VA loans, and how do you start the process?

Keep reading to learn more about the criteria from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to help you determine your eligibility for the VA home loan program.

Basics of VA Home Loans

Let’s start with VA home loan basics. They are specialized mortgages supported by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and their purpose is to enhance access to homeownership for military personnel and their families. You could be eligible for a VA loan if you're a veteran, active-duty servicemember, or military spouse.

Requirements for VA Loans

Several significant factors influence whether you qualify for a VA loan. Even if you don't fully meet the criteria, some strategies could assist you in qualifying. Let's delve into the key requirements for eligibility:

1. Requirements for Military Service

The first step in determining eligibility for VA loan is understanding the military service requirements. Usually, if you have served in one of the branches of the United States Military or have been part of the Reserves, you qualify. And if you are currently on active duty, there's a good chance you qualify, too.

While military service is a crucial requirement of VA home loans, how long you served and in what capacity is equally important. To qualify, you generally need to have completed at least 90 consecutive days of active-duty service or 181 days during peacetime. You typically need at least six years of service if you are in the National Guard or Reserves.

2. Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is critical in securing a VA home loan. You can obtain your COE through different channels, such as the VA's eBenefits portal, or by contacting your lender. At Armed Forces Bank, our Loan Officers are well-versed in this process. They can guide you through obtaining your COE, assist with the necessary paperwork, and ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria set by the VA.

3. Military Spouses

Military spouses can be eligible for VA home loans under specific circumstances. Generally, eligibility extends to cases if you are the spouse of a veteran who passed away while in service or was declared missing in action.

However, the Department of Veterans Affairs has additional criteria, so it is crucial to research thoroughly before applying for a COE. If you need help understanding the requirements, don't hesitate to contact your lender. They can provide guidance and assist you in navigating the loan process.

Can I still get a VA home loan if I don’t meet the requirements?

If you don't meet the requirements listed above, don't worry. There are still ways that you can be eligible for a VA home loan under certain circumstances. The Department of Veteran Affairs allows veterans to apply for a COE if they meet the following criteria:

  • Hardship
  • The convenience of the government (You need to serve for at least 20 months of a 2-year enlistment)
  • Reduction in force
  • Certain medical conditions
  • A service-connected disability

It is important to discuss your situation with your lender. They can guide you through the criteria and assist you in completing your COE.

How can Armed Forces Bank help me apply for a VA loan?

Navigating the requirements of a VA home loan is one thing, but dealing with paperwork can be another challenge altogether. Figuring out your eligibility and the resources available to buy your dream home can be quite complex. As a military bank, we are honored to help guide our nation's heroes through homebuying.

With 80% of our retail associates affiliated with the military, we understand first-hand the challenges military personnel and their families face daily. At Armed Forces Bank, we are proud to be a VA-approved mortgage lender. This means you can work directly with us instead of coordinating with the VA separately. Our team of Loan Officers specializes in VA home loans and will guide you with comprehensive support throughout the homebuying process.

Reach out to one of our Loan Officers or contact your local branch to kickstart your journey to homeownership today!

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*Subject to credit approval. VA funding fee may apply. VA loan qualification guidelines apply. Borrowers pay third party fees that include the appraisal fee, title fees, insurance, etc. Additional restrictions and fees may apply. VA loans are offered exclusively to qualified military service members