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How to apply for a VA loan

Learn more about eligibility and VA loan applications

Loans from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are a great way for Veterans, military personnel, and surviving spouses who qualify to buy or refinance a home. The benefits of VA loans include 0% down payments, no mortgage insurance, flexible credit scores, and competitive interest rates.

How you apply for a VA loan is similar to the way you apply for other types of mortgages. There are some differences, however. Read on to learn more about how to apply for a VA loan!

Confirm your VA loan eligibility

Veterans, active duty military personnel, and some surviving spouses may be eligible for the VA home loan program. The first time you apply for a VA loan, you will want to confirm you are eligible.

The length of service is an important eligibility requirement for VA loans as is the character of service. Active duty military personnel may be eligible after 90 days of continuous duty. The length of service requirements for Veterans vary depending on whether they served during wartime or peacetime and other factors. There are also requirements for surviving spouses who want to apply for a VA loan. Learn more about VA loan eligibility requirements.

Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

You'll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to prove you are eligible for a VA loan. Veterans typically need a copy of their discharge or separation papers (DD Form 214) to get a COE. Active duty personnel usually need a statement of service signed by their commander or other officer. You can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility through the VA website.

Surviving spouses also need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility. The VA website has information on how surviving spouses can apply for a COE.

If you are a current Freedom Mortgage customer, we may not need a new copy of your Certificate of Eligibility when you apply for a new VA loan with us.

Complete a VA loan application

Applying for a VA loan is similar to applying for other mortgages. You’ll need to complete an application and provide us with credit, income, and financial documents. This is true when you are buying a house or refinancing to get cash from your home’s equity with a VA loan. Learn more about applying for a mortgage.

Easier applications for VA loan refinances

When you are refinancing a VA loan, you are often able to use the streamline program which has less paperwork and faster closings. We can take your refinance application on the phone. Learn more about VA streamline refinances.

Understand VA loan limits

The VA eliminated the VA loan guarantee limits for Veterans with full entitlement. This means you may be able to qualify for a VA loan with no maximum home price and no down payment. This change does not guarantee you will be approved for a larger loan amount. You will still need to meet our credit, financial, and income requirements to get your VA loan approved. Read more about VA loan limits.

Meet the minimum property requirements

In most cases, you can use a VA loan to buy only a primary residence, which is a home where you intend to live. The Department of Veterans Affairs also has minimum property requirements for single-family houses the home needs to meet. A VA-approved appraiser will inspect the home to establish its value and make sure it is safe, sound, and sanitary.

Purchasing a condo or townhouse with a VA loan includes certain requirements. Typically, the condominium or townhouse community needs to be on the Department of Veterans Affairs' list of approved properties. Learn more about VA appraisal requirements.

Check the closing costs

The closing costs on a VA loan can average between 2% and 5% of the home’s price according to US News and World Report. Most Veterans need to pay a funding fee, which is included in their closing costs. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not allow lenders to charge commissions, brokerage fees, or buyer broker fees on VA loans. Learn about VA loan closing costs.

Sign your disclosures and attend closing

You’ll need to sign your disclosures and attend the closing of your VA loan, just like you do for other types of mortgages. Learn more about our mortgage application process.

Freedom Mortgage is proud to be a top VA lender in the United States, Inside Mortgage Finance, 2023.

Last reviewed and updated September 2023 by Freedom Mortgage.

VA loan requirements

Credit, income, property, and other VA home loan requirements

Should you make a down payment on a VA loan?

While a down payment is not required, it might save you money

Can you get a VA loan with bad credit?

Veterans with poor credit may still qualify