VA Loan Eligibility (Are You Eligible?)

VA (Department of Veteran Affairs) does not fund loans, they guarantee loans. To receive a VA loan you must verify your eligibility for a VA loan and then apply with a VA authorized lender. Eligibility is based on the veteran’s length of service. For a veteran to be eligible they must meet one or more the minimum service requirements listed here.

  • Served a minimum of 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
  • Served at least 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
  • Served 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves.
  • You are the surviving spouse of a service member who was killed in the line of duty

The VA will verify based upon your service record that you meet the requirements by issuing a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This is the first step in qualifying for a loan, because it provides verification to the lender that the VA will guarantee your loan. You must have a COE to receive a VA loan from any lender.

Apply For Your Certificate of Eligibility Today!

VA Home Purchase VA Refinance

Requesting A Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

You can request a COE in two ways. The quickest way to receive your COE is through a VA authorized lender. In most cases, your VA lender should be willing to assist you with obtaining your certificate. Lenders have access to a VA database called ACE (Automated Certificate of Eligibility). If the VA has enough information in ACE about a veteran, the lender can retrieve a copy of your certificate in seconds.

Ace does not have information about every veteran; in some cases the lender will need additional information, such as a printout of you DD214, to access your certificate. You can also request your certificate by mailing VA Form 26-1880 to the VA’s eligibility center in North Carolina, but requests by mail take much longer to process. California Veterans Home Loans has direct access to the VA’s ACE system, and will be happy to assist you with applying for your certificate.

We Have Direct Access to the VA's Online Portal

Because of our direct access with the Department of Veterans Administration, we can usually get your VA Certificate of Eligibility for you in a few short minutes, rather than weeks or even months, using the VA's online ACE system. Why wait? Get started today!

ShowView an example COE

I requested my Certificate of Eligibility. What’s next?

  1. Apply for your VA Loan
    The lender will take your application, and gather credit and income information to pre-qualify you for a loan. To save time, we offer a safe, secure online application which can be completed in about 10 minutes, simply click Apply for your VA loan, to start the application process. There is no cost to get started, and there is no obligation on your part to proceed with a loan.
  2. Select the home you wish to purchase
    Your lender has determined the loan amount you have been pre-qualified for. You will need to find a home for that amount or less, and present a written offer to the seller. If your offer is accepted, a sales contract will be drawn up detailing the terms.
    If you would like to minimize the amount of out of pocket expense, you may wish to ask the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs. Your lender can provide you with a closing cost worksheet that will be helpful in properly structuring your offer. More useful information about this can be found on our site by clicking the link VA Closing Costs.
  3. Close the loan and move in to your new home!
    Provide the lender with your sales contract, and have an inspection done on the property. Your realtor, if you have one, can assist you with ordering an inspection. The lender will then order your appraisal through the VA, underwrite your loan, and coordinate the closing with you.

More Useful Information About VA Loans

VA Funding Fee

Other than exemptions for veterans with disabilities, all VA loans include a funding fee, which the veteran can finance. The funding fee is charged by the VA to help cover the cost of administering the VA Home Loan Program.

The funding fee varies from 0.50% to 3.30%, depending on the purpose of the loan and whether it is his/her first time use of loan eligibility or a subsequent use.

The VA is not the only entity that charges an upfront fee to cover costs. FHA loans also include an upfront premium which is equal to 2.25% of the loan amount.

The VA funding fee can also be financed. Disabled veterans, spouses of disabled veterans, and surviving spouses of veterans who died in service do not pay the funding fee. The funding fee is considered non-refundable unless the borrower is overcharged or inadvertently charged.

The following VA Funding Fee Tables allow you to easily calculate the funding fee charged by the Veteran's Administration for guaranteeing your VA loan.

ShowView VA Funding Fee Charts

The following VA Funding Fee Tables allow you to easily calculate the funding fee charged by the Veteran's Administration for guaranteeing your VA loan.

Purchase and Contruction Loans

Type of Veteran Down Payment First Time Use *Subsequent Use
*Subsequent Use Fee of 3.30% for loans from 1/1/04 to 9/30/2011  
Regular Military None 2.20% 3.30% *
5% or more (up to 10%) 1.50% 1.50%
10% or more 1.25% 1.25%
Reserves/ National Guard None 2.40% 3.30% *
5% or more (up to 10%) 1.75% 1.75%
10% or more 1.50% 1.50%

Cash-Out Refinancing Loans

Type of Veteran Percentage for First Time Use Percentage for Subsequent Use
Reserves/ National Guard 2.40% 3.30% *
Regular Military 2.20% 3.30% *

Important* The higher subsequent use fee does not apply to these types of loans if the veteran’s only prior use of entitlement was for a manufactured home loan.

Other Types of Loans

Type of Loan Percentage for Either Type of Veteran
Whether First Time or Subsequent Use
Loan Assumptions .50%
Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans .50%
Manufactured Home Loans 1.00%

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Debt Ratio & Residual Income

As a general rule, the VA allows a debt-to-income ratio up to 41%, however this is a guideline and can be exceeded with compensating factors. To calculate your ratio, add your total housing payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) plus all monthly revolving and installment debts, and divide by your monthly household income.

The VA also considers a Veterans residual income, which is the amount of money left over at the end of the month after all bills are paid. This is calculated by deducting all monthly housing expenses, installment loans, and revolving debts from a Veteran's monthly take-home pay. If a Veteran's residual income exceeds the VA’s minumum, the VA will approve a higher debt ratio.

It is best to have a VA mortgage specialist review your debt-to-income due to variables that can exist.

ShowView VA Residual Income Chart

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Assumability

Should you decide to sell your home at a later date, VA loans are assumable. The buyer must qualify for the assumption, but is not required to be veteran. However, the full entitlement of the Veteran is not available for use again until the assumed loan is repaid.

VA Loan Limits

The VA loan limits change from time to time. Currently the loan VA loan limit is $417,000. This means that qualified veterans may purchase a home with no down payment, up to a purchase price of $417,000. If the price of the home exceeds $417,000 you will need to be prepared to pay 25% of the difference.

Ready to get started?

Call and speak to one of our VA loan specialists today. The toll-free number is (866) 704-2826. You can also complete our safe, secure online request form. There is no obligation to you, and no cost to apply. You will be contacted by VA loan specialist who will assist you with each step from start to finish.

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