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VA loan requirements

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

VA loans are mortgages backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and offered by private lenders like Freedom Mortgage. They are a great choice for buying or refinancing a home when you meet the requirements.

The benefits of VA loans include competitive interest rates, less restrictive credit score requirements as compared to Conventional loans, no down payments for many homebuyers, no mortgage insurance, and easier refinancing with the streamline program. Do you meet current VA home loan requirements and guidelines? Read on and find out.

Eligibility requirements for VA loans

Veterans, active-duty military personnel, and surviving spouses can be eligible for VA loans. For Veterans and active-duty personnel, there are minimum service requirements you typically need to meet unless you were discharged for a service-related disability. There are also guidelines surviving spouses need to meet to qualify. You will probably need to get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to demonstrate to lenders you are eligible for VA loans. For more details, read our article on VA loan eligibility requirements.

Down payment requirements for VA loans

Many homebuyers aren't required to make a down payment when they purchase a house with a VA loan. However, making a down payment can help reduce the amount of the VA funding fee you will likely have to pay. For more details, read our article on down payments for VA loans.

Credit score requirements for VA loans

Most lenders have minimum VA loan credit score requirements which are lower compared to conventional loans. At Freedom Mortgage, we can help Veterans buy a home with a credit score as low as 550. We can help Veterans refinance a home with an easy credit score qualification through the VA streamline program. We look at the full picture of your finances and are committed to helping Veterans realize the dream of homeownership.

Income requirements for VA loans

There are no income limits on VA loans. However, lenders may require you to have a mortgage debt-to-income ratio (DTI) no higher than 41% to qualify for a VA loan. (Some homebuyers may qualify for an exemption.)

Your debt-to-income ratio is a percentage calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your total income. When you are calculating your debt-to-income ratio, include an estimated monthly payment for the VA loan you want to get.

For example, say your monthly income is $5,000 and your current monthly debt payments are $500. Then say you would like to get a VA loan with a $1,250 monthly payment. This means your estimated total monthly debt payments would be $1,750 and your debt-to-income ratio would be 35% (that is, $1,750 ÷ $5,000 = 0.35 or 35%).

In this example, your debt-to-income ratio is below the 41% maximum DTI many lenders have for VA loans, which might improve your chances of getting your VA loan application approved.

Loan amount requirements for VA loans

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not limit the amount of money you can borrow to buy or refinance a house with a VA loan. However, lenders may limit the amount they are willing to loan you based on your income, credit, and finances. For more details, read our article on VA loan limits. By refinancing, the total finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.

Occupancy requirements for VA loans

You can only use a VA loan to buy a home you intend to make your primary residence (the house where you plan to live most of the time). You can’t use VA loans to buy second homes, rental properties, or investment properties. The requirements for VA IRRRL refinances are different. For this type of refinance, you just need to certify you lived in the home in the past. You are not required to live in the home now.

Property and appraisal requirements for VA loans

You can buy single-family homes with VA loans. You can also buy townhouses and condominiums, although these homes usually need to be part of a VA-approved community or building to qualify for financing with a VA loan. It’s also possible to buy a manufactured home with a VA loan. Not all lenders will approve a VA loan to buy a manufactured home, however.

You will be required to have a VA-certified appraiser inspect the home to determine its fair market value and ensure it meets the minimum property requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These requirements state the home must be safe, structurally sound, and sanitary. Depending on where the home is located, you may also be required to get a termite inspection. Learn more about VA appraisal requirements.

Freedom Mortgage is a top VA lender in the United States according to Inside Mortgage Finance, Jan.–Mar., 2024.

Last reviewed and updated February 2024 by Freedom Mortgage.

How to Apply for a VA Loan

Learn More About Eligibility and VA Loan Applications

What is a VA funding fee?

Learn current funding fee rates, how much you might pay, and more

How to refinance a VA loan

Answers to your VA refinancing questions