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.

Glossary Terms

VA Loan
A VA loan is made by an approved lender and guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. <a href='/glossary/what-is-va-loan' title='See the full definition of VA Loan'>read more</a>
VA Loan Limit
The VA loan limit is the maximum amount in which a qualified Veteran can borrow without making a down payment. <a href='/glossary/what-is-va-loan-limit-definition' title='See the full definition of VA Loan Limit'>read more</a>
VA Funding Fee
VA loans require no down payment from the borrower. To help offset the costs to the taxpayers, the borrower must pay a VA funding fee. <a href='/glossary/what-is-va-funding-fee' title='See the full definition of VA Funding Fee'>read more</a>
VA Amendatory Clause
This is added to your purchase agreement, must be signed by you and your seller.... <a href='/glossary/what-is-va-amendatory-clause' title='See the full definition of VA Amendatory Clause'>read more</a>

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:

  • Servicemember
  • Veteran
  • Spouse
  • Other
Status Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods Qualifying Active Duty Dates Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements
Currently On Active Duty Any Any 90 continuous days
National Guard & Reserve Member Gulf War 8/2/1990 - Present 90 days of active service
 
  • 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
8/2/1990 - Present Six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard
Status Qualifying Wartime & Peacetime Periods Qualifying Active Duty Dates Minimum Active Duty Service Requirements
Veteran WWII 9/16/1940 - 7/25/1947 90 total days
  Post-WWII 7/26/1947 - 6/26/1950 181 continuous days
  Korean War 6/27/1950 - 1/31/1955 90 total days
  Post-Korean War 2/1/1955 - 8/4/1964 181 continuous days
  Vietnam War 8/5/1964 - 5/7/1975 *For Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is 2/28/1961 90 total days
  Post-Vietnam War 5/8/1975 - 9/7/1980 *The ending date for officers is 10/16/1981 181 continuous days
  24-month rule 9/8/1980 - 8/1/1990 *The beginning date for officers is 10/17/1981
  • 24 continuous months, OR
  • The full period (at least 181 days) for which you were called or ordered to active duty
  Gulf War 8/2/1990 - Present
  • 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.

Source: http://benefits.va.gov

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

VA Loan Calculator

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.
Calculate Your Monthly Payment

VA Loan Rates

30 Year Fixed

$225,001

Interest Rate

3.250%

APR

3.250%

Monthly Payment

$979

Disclosure

15 Year Fixed

$225,000

Interest Rate

2.750%

APR

2.750%

Monthly Payment

$1527

Disclosure

5/1 ARM

$225,000

Interest Rate

3.125%

APR

2.626%

Monthly Payment

$964

Disclosure

Start your VA loan request

The Benefits of a VA Loan

There are many benefits to choosing a VA home 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 qualify for a conventional loan
Get free personalized mortgage rates in minutes

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 VA county loan limits imposed 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 $417,000 with no money down and in some high-cost locations, up to $1,094,000.