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Should you take advantage of VA loan benefits?

It’s certainly worth looking into if you are:

  • A Veteran
  • Active-duty personnel
  • Reservist/National Guard member
  • An eligible surviving spouse

What makes a VA home loan particularly appealing for many eligible veterans (and their families, when applicable) is that a down payment is not required and they can finance more than 80% of a home’s value or purchase price because mortgage insurance is not required.

There are some drawbacks too, though, and we’ll guide you through all the questions you’ll want to ask before applying for a VA mortgage. If you’ve already done your homework and know that a VA home loan is right for you get VA mortgage quotes from competing VA home loan lenders.

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What is a VA Loan?

A VA loan is a mortgage loan offered to qualifying military personnel, servicemembers, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses by private lenders, and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, in an effort to help qualifying individuals receive favorable terms on a home loan and become homeowners.

Are you eligible for a VA loan?

The eligibility requirements needed to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility are listed below for active-duty service members, veterans, spouses and other eligible beneficiaries:

Currently On Active Duty

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: Any

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 90 continuous days

Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods: Any

National Guard & Reserve Member

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 8/2/1990 – Present

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 90 days of active service

Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods: Gulf War

Special Circumstances

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 8/2/1990 – Present

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: Six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard

Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods:

  • Were discharged honorably, OR
  • Were placed on the retired list, OR
  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable, OR
  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve

WWII

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 9/18/1940 – 7/25/1947

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 90 total days

Post-WWII

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 181 continuous days

Post-Korean War

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 181 continuous days

Vietnam War

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 8/5/1964 – 5/7/1975 *For Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is 2/28/1961

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 90 total days

Post-Vietnam War

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 5/8/1975 – 9/7/1980 *The ending date for officers is 10/16/1981

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements: 181 continuous days

24-month rule

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 9/8/1980 – 8/1/1990 *The beginning date for officers is 10/17/1981

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements:

  • 24 continuous months, OR
  • The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty

Gulf War

Qualifying Active Duty Dates: 8/2/1990 – Present

Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements:

  • 24 continuous months, OR
  • The full period (at least 90 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty

The spouse of a Veteran can also apply for home loan eligibility under one of the following conditions:

  • Unremarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service-connected disability, OR
  • Spouse of a Servicemember missing in action or a prisoner of war
  • Surviving spouse who remarries on or after attaining age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003 (Note: a surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, must have applied no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. VA must deny applications from surviving spouses who remarried before December 6, 2003, that are received after December 15, 2004.)
  • Surviving Spouses of certain totally disabled veterans whose disability may not have been the cause of death

You may also apply for eligbility if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Certain U.S. citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II
  • Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with World War II service, and others

*If you do not meet the minimum service requirements, you may still be eligible if you were discharged due to (1) hardship, (2) the convenience of the government, (3) reduction-in-force, (4) certain medical conditions, or (5) a service-connected disability.

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What is a VA loan?

VA loans are home loans designated specifically for people who have served, or are presently serving, in the U.S. military who want to purchase a primary residence.

VA Home Loans were first made available in 1944 when The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act added this additional benefits package to eligible service members. They are administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA does not actually lend anyone money; it backs these loans and reimburses private lenders if borrowers default on them. Because this provides a safety net for these lenders, VA loans are widely available and at a reasonable cost.

VA Mortgage lenders offer a variety of home loans that cover a broad range of needs, including:

  • Building a single family home
  • Refinancing a mortgage
  • Buying a single family home, a condominium unit in a VA-approved development or a co-op unit
  • Buying a manufactured home and/or lot
  • Repairing, renovating or upgrading your primary residence
  • Making energy-efficient improvements like solar heating or cooling systems

What can I afford?

Use our VA loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments and determine the VA loan limit in your area.

To make sure your home fits within your budget, simply enter your ZIP code, home price, down payment and credit score to see current VA mortgage rates and estimate your monthly payment. Then we can match you with lenders that will cater to your individual needs.

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VA Loan Rates

Mortgage rate quotes displayed on LendingTree LoanExplorer℠, including loan pricing data, rates and fees, are provided by third party data providers including, but not limited to, Mortech®, a registered trademark of Zillow®, LoanXEngine, a product of Mortgage Builder Software, Inc., and LoanTek, Inc.

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The Benefits of a VA Loan

There are many benefits to choosing a VA loan. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • No down payment required (unless required by the lender or the purchase price is more than the reasonable value of the property)
  • Buyer informed of reasonable value
  • Negotiable interest rate
  • Ability to finance the VA funding fee (plus reduced funding fees with a down payment of at least 5 percent and exemption for veterans receiving VA compensation)
  • Closing costs are comparable with other financing types (and may be lower).
  • No mortgage insurance premiums
  • An assumable mortgage
  • Right to prepay without penalty
  • For homes inspected by VA during construction, a warranty from builder and assistance from VA to obtain cooperation of builder.
  • An assistance to veteran borrowers in default due to temporary financial difficulty

80%

of VA Loan borrowers could not quality for a conventional loan

What's the maximum VA loan a veteran can get?

According to the VA, there is “… no maximum that[1] an eligible veteran may borrow using a VA-guaranteed loan.” However, there are imposed VA loan limits that must be used to calculate the VA’s maximum guaranty amount for a particular county. Generally, an eligible veteran can get a loan up to $424,100 with no money down and in some high-cost locations, up to $721,050.