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How to apply for a VA loan

Learn more about eligibility and VA loan applications

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VA loans 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. Length of service is an important eligibility requirement for VA loans as is 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.

Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

You'll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to prove to lenders that you are eligible for a VA loan. Veterans typically need a copy of their discharge or separation papers (DD Form 214). 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.

Shop for a VA lender

VA loans are backed by the federal government and provided by private lenders. This means you can shop for the right interest rates and terms when you want a VA loan just like you can shop for other types of mortgages. You can get VA loans to purchase a home, refinance a home, or get cash from your home equity. Freedom Mortgage is a leading provider of VA loans.

Apply for a VA loan

After you choose a lender, consider getting pre-approved for your loan. To get pre-approved, you will need to apply for a VA home loan, provide income and financial documents, and meet the lender's standards for loan approval. Getting pre-approved can help you understand how much money you may be able to borrow, and can help give the seller confidence you will get the mortgage you need to buy their house.

Because VA loans are guaranteed by the federal government, lenders may have more flexible credit score, income, and financial requirements which may make it easier to get your loan application approved.

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 amount. You will still need to meet the lender's 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 - that is a home where you intend to live. The Department of Veterans Affairs also has minimum property requirements for single-family houses that 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.

There are also requirements if you want to purchase a condo or a townhouse with a VA loan. Typically, the condominium or townhouse community needs to be on the Department of Veterans Affairs' list of approved properties.

Check the closing costs

The closing costs of your VA loan can vary from lender to lender. Most veterans who get a VA loan 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.

Apply for a VA loan with Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage is proud to be a top VA lender in the United States*. Would you like to apply for a VA loan to buy a home, refinance a home, or get cash from your home equity? Please visit our Get Started form or call our knowledgeable Loan Advisors at 877-220-5533.

*Inside Mortgage Finance, Jan-Jun 2022

Last reviewed and updated September 2022 by Freedom Mortgage Corporation.

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Get started today by getting a personalized evaluation of your home loan options from Freedom Mortgage.