If you are a military service member, Veteran, or their family, you may be eligible to use the VA loan to purchase your next house. While you do need to satisfy a few requirements, using the VA loan is a great way to get into a home with little (or no) money out of pocket initially. Here are the top things to know about VA loans.
Who Can Use the VA Loan?
In order to use the VA loan, the applicant must be:
- A current military service member who has served at least 90 days on active duty
- A Veteran who served at least 24 months on active duty
- A National Guard or Reserve military member who served at least 6 years
- Meets one of the special criteria for spouses of MIA/POW service members, Veterans separated for hardship, reduction in force, or service-connected disability
The VA loan is backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lenders who work with VA loans are guaranteed by the VA. This is why they can accept a low or no down payment when approving the loan.
VA Loan Property Criteria
Homes purchased with the VA loan must also meet certain criteria. The most important of these is the intention to occupy the home as the primary residence. This does not mean that you must always live in the home (after all, military service members frequently relocate to new duty stations). But you must intend to occupy the home for the foreseeable future when purchasing.
The VA also requires a home inspection to ensure the home meets minimum livable conditions. If you are buying a fixer upper, you may need to pay out of pocket BEFORE purchasing to take care of any issues. The VA recently came out with a rehab loan that will allow purchasers to roll some of these costs into their VA loan.
If using a VA loan, the home must also appraise for at least the amount of the mortgage. The VA will send out a special appraiser who specializes in completing these types of evaluations and completing the necessary paperwork for the loan to be approved.