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Mortgages for Military Members: A Look at VA Loan Requirements

February 8, 2023
Written by Brandon Crysler
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Buying a home requires significant planning and preparation. At the same time, it can also be a very exciting and rewarding experience that you deserve to enjoy. 

Mortgages are a major financial commitment and can often be daunting to understand. Many veterans, however, have access to special home loan benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that can make financing easier and more affordable. 

Knowing the ins and outs of VA loan requirements can bring you peace of mind during this homebuying process. Consider this statistic about approved VA mortgages. Already in the first quarter of 2023, over 104,000 loans have been approved by the VA. 

The good news is that below is the comprehensive guide you need in order to get started. Keep reading to learn how to optimize your chance of getting a VA mortgage. 

The Basics of VA Benefits

The United States provides a variety of benefits to its veterans. Statistics show that as of 2021, there were around 16.5 million veterans living in the United States. If you’re in the number, you may be eligible for benefits and assistance such as a VA-specific mortgage loan.

Benefits include providing educational assistance, vocational rehabilitation programs, and more. In particular, there are home loan guaranty programs. These provide loans to purchase a home with low-interest rates and no down payments required for qualified applicants.

If you have any questions about VA programs or how they could help you or someone you know, it’s best to contact a local VA office directly. They can answer any questions you may have about eligibility requirements and other details that may apply. It might be a useful step to take before you even start applying for a VA mortgage.

The Basics of VA Loan Requirements for a Mortgage

Knowing what requirements you need to meet for a VA mortgage loan is an important step in achieving homeownership. (Remember, if this process seems too daunting, you can still reach out to industry experts to assist you along the way.)

It’s important to note that the VA doesn’t provide loans directly. Instead, it guarantees the loans of lenders who approve them. To be eligible for a VA loan, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. You served 181 days during peacetime
  2. You served 90 days during wartime
  3. You have six years of service in the National Guard or Reserve
  4. You are a surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or as a result of service-related disabilities

Just because you qualify according to one of those four requirements, though, doesn’t mean you automatically get a new home. It’s important to stay organized during the entire home-buying process.

For one thing, you’ll need the proper identification and documentation to prove your eligibility. Take the time to gather these materials together. Keeping good records and copies of those records can make the rest of the application process continue smoothly. 

Types of VA Mortgage Loans

There are several types of VA mortgage loans available depending on your needs and circumstances. The most common type is the traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This one offers fixed monthly payments over the life of the loan and requires little to no down payment (for approved veterans, of course, there would be no down payment at all).

A traditional fixed-rate mortgage is ideal for those who plan on staying in their home long-term. If you want to avoid any potential interest rate increases over time, consider applying for this VA loan.

There are also 15-year fixed mortgage rates. That would mean you’d be able to pay off the entire home much more quickly. At the same time, remember that those monthly payments would be higher.

Another option is called an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). This version offers lower initial rates but can increase after an introductory period. 

Refinancing Your Home as a Veteran

The VA also offers Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans (IRRRLs). These allow veterans with existing VA loans to refinance into lower interest rates without having to go through an extensive underwriting process again.

Additionally, some lenders offer special programs such as cash-out refinances. These could let veterans withdraw equity from their homes for debt consolidation, home improvements, college tuition costs, etc.

Perhaps you’d be interested in making energy-efficient upgrades to your home. You know that it would increase the property’s overall value and reduce utility bills over time. Well, the VA’s energy-efficient refinanced mortgage might be what you’re looking for. 

What to Do After Your Mortgage Loan Is Approved

Once you’ve been approved for your VA mortgage, you can start with the fun of searching for a new home. There are great online options to research potential new homes in the neighborhoods you find interesting. Of course, you can always rely on an in-person real estate agent, too. 

It’s also worth noting how important it is to keep your finances in mind every step of the way, even after you get approved for a mortgage loan. Think about the costs of decorating and buying furniture, for instance. You’ll want to ensure you’ve set aside plenty of money for those other upfront costs.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Industry Experts for Help

Understanding all of the details involved in securing a VA mortgage can seem overwhelming at first glance. You don’t have to go through this process alone, though. 

Not only could your local VA office assist you in your application process for a mortgage loan. In addition, don’t be afraid to talk with mortgage lenders about their expertise. They might have some tips and tricks that could make the purchasing process even smoother. 

Start Applying for Your VA Loan Today

Once you’ve met the VA loan requirements and are now a potential homeowner, congratulations! This is an exciting part of life, and we’d love to be there right alongside you. 

That’s why we hope you work with us when looking for your ideal mortgage loan. Take some time to learn more about VA loans and how to get approved for them at your convenience. 

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