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VA Loan Qualifications

Types of Homes a VA Buyer Can Purchase

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Despite the broad eligibility requirements, fewer than 10 percent of the nation’s nearly 25 million veterans have taken advantage of the home loan benefits earned by their service. Some veterans believe they’re ineligible, while others are unsure of how to take action. A VA survey conducted in 2004 found that 20 percent of veterans were completely unaware of the VA Loan Guaranty Program and what it could mean for their families.

Who is Eligible for a VA Loan?

Across the country, millions of veterans and active-duty service members are eligible to participate in the VA Loan Guaranty Program. Those who fit into one or more of these categories may be eligible:

  • Military members who have served 181 days on active duty or three months during war time
  • People who have spent at least a half-dozen years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Spouses of those killed in the line of duty

Certificate of Eligibility

Veterans and active-duty service members have to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA. This is a formal document that basically certifies that the prospective borrower has a VA entitlement and is eligible to participate in the program. An entitlement is the amount of money the Veterans Administration will guarantee on a loan.

Veterans can download a Request for Certificate of Eligibility online. VA-approved lenders will also help veterans obtain and fill out these forms automatically and electronically.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who is eligible for a VA loan will ultimately obtain one.

What Can I Buy With a VA Loan>

VA loans are primarily used for buying or building single-family homes. But these flexible loans can also help veterans improve their current living conditions or save more money each month through refinancing. Veterans can use a VA loan to:

  • Refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan in order to lower the current interest rate
  • Refinance in order to take out cash
  • Repair, alter or improve a residence owned by a veteran
  • Simultaneously purchase and improve a home
  • Make energy efficient improvements through an Energy Efficient Mortgage in conjunction with a VA purchase or VA refinance
  • Purchase a one-family residential unit in a condo development approved by the VA
  • Purchase a farm residence to be owned and occupied by the veteran
  • Purchase a manufactured or modular home and / or the lot

But veterans and active-duty service members cannot use a VA loan to purchase an investment property. These are geared toward helping eligible veterans become homeowners, not landlords or entrepreneurs.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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