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Kentucky VA Home Loans:
Eligibility, Getting Started and FAQs

 

Our VA home loan specialist team helps veterans, active military members, & their families achieve the American dream of becoming homeowners.

Thanks to the VA Home Loan Program, those who qualify can buy a house without a down payment, low interest rates and low credit score options. Our specialists are trained on eligibility, requirements and even Kentucky’s state specific benefits. We strive to make the mortgage process simple and stress-free for you.

Many of our clients are surprised to find a 620 credit score is not required for a VA loan. At 1st United Mortgage, we can approve loans with a 560 credit score and we offer a credit score rehabilitation program.

VA Mortgage Options in Kentucky

Military Family on Beach
Kentucky has experienced record numbers in its real estate market the past few years. It’s no surprise homebuyers love the state with its low cost of living, high quality of life, and economic opportunities.  With two large army bases in the state, we also have many military families who fall in love with the area and can’t wait to use the VA Home Loan Program to settle there more permanently.

As a reminder, the VA loan is only available as an earned benefit for military service and not available to everyone. Click here to see if you qualify.

For those not eligible for a VA loan, we also offer many other loan options, such as FHA & other conventional loan options.

Military in Kentucky

The military has always been well received in the state of Kentucky, despite only having  2 army bases there.  With moderate weather and affordable housing cost of living, it’s also a great place to live and many military families choose to call Kentucky home.

Here is a list of some the communities we serve most often with VA loans. Click the name to learn more about the area.

Louisville

Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky.   Fort Knox is approximately 35 miles from Louisville and many stationed there fall in love with the city. Louisville city along the Ohio River and residents enjoy a mix of old tradition with modern developments. The area has a lot of Southern charm, plenty of culture and a family-friendly vibe that add to its appeal.

Lexington

Lexington is the second largest city in Kentucky and is comprised of 5 counties. It’s known for horses, colleges, and its beautiful green spaces that residents work to keep clean. Lexington has a mix of interests as well, ranging from Bluegrass to art museums so there’s a little something for everyone.

Bowling Green

Bowling Green is the third largest metropolitan area in  Kentucky and sits just 20 miles North of Tennessee. The area feels like a small town with a diverse culture and economic base. The cost of living is low, the job market is strong and the city has been growing since 2000.

Owensboro

Owensboro is a northern city in Kentucky that sits along the Ohio River. There is a thriving, vibrant community here that makes it a great town for families. It’s also slowly growing, adding even more activities and attractions for its residents.

Hopkinsville

Hopkinsville is another family-friendly community in Kentucky. Fort Campbell sits between Hopkinsville and Clarksville, TN. This immense military presence is welcomed and supported in Hopkinsville, and may be a reason many choose to stay in the area.

Richmond

Richmond is a wonderful town in Kentucky that maintains all the charm of smaller community. It’s also perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to a wide variety of fishing, hiking, and outdoor exploration opportunities. It’s also a short drive to Lexington, but homes in Richmond are much more affordable.

Elizabethtown

Elizabethtown is both a growing community and cozy town. It has all the amenities of a large city but a quieter, more moderate pace of life. The quiet and charming town sits just south of Fort Knox as well, and many military families find themselves falling in love with the area. 

Florence

Florence is a northern city in Kentucky that’s only minutes away from Cincinnati, Ohio. There are great neighborhoods to live in that offer low cost of living, lots of family support and plenty to do on the weekends. 

Kentucky VA Loan FAQs

Click the links below to quickly jump to a section:

Eligibility
Qualification
Costs
Guidelines
Basics
Refinancing

Eligibility

VA Loan Eligibility

There’s a simple reason that veterans and active duty borrowers chose the VA loan program: it gives them the ability to purchase a home with no money down. That’s an incredible benefit! The Va loan program opens the doors of homeownership to thousands of people who might otherwise struggle to secure financing. It also features no PMI (private mortgage insurance), flexible credit and income requirements and consistently lower rates than other loan products.
The VA loan entitlement is a hard-earned benefit. The program gives qualified borrowers unmatched buying power and flexibility. For many veterans, service members and military families, the VA loan program is the most powerful path to owning a home.

What is the VA Loan entitlement? 

Those who qualify have what is called an entitlement:  a promise from the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a financial guaranty on a mortgage that has been issued by one of its approved lenders. Clients need to know the VA doesn’t issue home loans. Rather, it guarantees a portion of each. That guaranty is important to lenders and helps borrowers who might otherwise struggle to secure financing. A VA entitlement means you have a financial guaranty from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which makes you attractive to lenders.

Am I eligible as a spouse of a deceased veteran? 

VA loans are available to some non-military personnel, including both unmarried and remarried spouses. An unmarried spouse whose veteran died on active duty or because of a disability connected to his or her service is eligible for VA home loan benefits.

Surviving spouses who obtained a VA loan with the veteran before his or her death can also obtain a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, better known as a VA Streamline refinance. Surviving spouses who remarried upon or after turning age 57 and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible for a VA home loan. Surviving spouses who remarried before that date are no longer eligible to participate.

The spouse of an active duty member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days is eligible for one-time use of the VA home loan benefit.

How can I get my Certificate of Eligibility?

A COE, or Certificate of Eligibility, is a formal VA document that certifies  if a military member has entitlement for a VA home loan. It’s crucial to obtain the Certificate of Eligibility as part of the VA loan process. That’s because the COE is the only verifiable way to determine a veteran’s eligibility and entitlement.

Without a COE, prospective borrowers cannot complete the lending process. The Certificate of Eligibility can be obtained directly from the VA, but this approach takes a few weeks. 1st United Home Loans uses an automated system to get your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes, saving you even more time. 

 

Who is eligible for the VA Loan?

There are basic eligibility requirements for veterans and service members, along with members of the Reserves, the National Guard and surviving spouses.

You May Be Eligible for a VA Loan If Any One of the Following are True:
• You served 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
• You served 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
• You served 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard
• You are the spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or because of a service-connected disability.

Eligibility for a VA loan is verified via a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE. Veterans can obtain their Certificate of Eligibility directly from the VA, which typically takes a few weeks. 1st United Home Loans uses an automated system to get your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes.

It’s important to remember that not everyone eligible for a VA loan ultimately secures one. Prospective borrowers still have to satisfy credit and underwriting standards set by both the VA and the lender.

When purchasing a home, does the VA Loan allow for cash back options? 

The VA has two major refinance programs. One of them, the Cash-Out Refinance, helps homeowners extract cash from their home’s equity while obtaining a lower interest rate.

What is the difference between eligibility and prequalification? 

Not everyone eligible for a VA loan ultimately secures one. Prospective homeowners must meet the credit and underwriting standards set by the VA as well as the lender. Prequalification for a loan is a basic step that borrowers can complete online or over the phone. It gives veterans a sense of their purchasing power. It also lays the foundation for the credit and underwriting process, but it is only a first step. Veterans with sufficient credit scores will then move toward loan preapproval. This is a more formal stage desired by home sellers and real estate agents.

How do basic and bonus entitlements work?

Basic Allowance for Housing, formerly known as Basic Allowance for Quarters, is a key asset that can help service members qualify for and afford a VA mortgage. This monthly housing allowance can be counted as income provided it’s stable and likely to continue. The same is true for other military allowances and forms of bonus pay. Lenders have to make sure the payments are reliable and consistent. Qualified borrowers can use BAH to cover some or all of their monthly mortgage payment.

How do I restore my entitlement once I pay off my previous VA Loan? 

 Full restoration of entitlement can be sought by Veterans who want to fully restore it after paying off their VA loan.  This happens most commonly when a borrower sells his home and then uses the sale proceeds to pay off an original mortgage.
At that point, the veteran’s previously used entitlement is no longer tied up in the original home. Veterans then complete a VA form and submit that documentation to the agency.

What is 2nd Tier Entitlement?

Qualified borrowers have two layers of entitlement. Together, the first tier and the second tier combine to create the VA guaranty. The second, additional layer of entitlement can help borrowers who have experienced foreclosures or other major problems with VA loans. Thanks to second-tier entitlement, even a veteran who defaults on a VA loan can still purchase again. It’s important to note that on a second-tier entitlement purchase, there’s a minimum loan amount of $144,000.

Can I use the VA Loan for a second home or rental properties? 

No. The VA Loan is designed only for primary residences that are occupied by the owners of the properties.

VA Loan Qualification

Who sets the VA Loan guidelines, the VA or my lender?

The VA simply establishes broad requirements and guidelines for military borrowers.  They VA has no income requirements or credit requirements to participate in the VA Loan Guaranty program. Borrowers must simply represent a satisfactory credit risk.

However, VA lenders ultimately issue the loans. They have their own unique requirements, particularly around credit scores. Prospective borrowers have to satisfy both the VA and the agency’s approved lenders in order to secure home financing.

If I have bad credit, can I still get a VA Loan? 

YES! Each lender sets its own minimums when it comes to credit score.
At First United Mortgage, we believe that anyone willing to serve our country should have the chance to own a home. If your score is above 570, we can get you approved.

Can someone else sign on the loan with me? 

Yes, veterans and service members can have a co-borrower, but there are certain restrictions. For a VA loan, the co-borrower must be either a spouse or another veteran.
Parents, friends and significant others who don’t fall under one of those two headings cannot be a co-borrower on a VA loan. Married veterans can obtain a VA loan on their own, but if they live in a community property state, their spouse’s active debt and income will be factored into the loan application.

What income can I use to qualify for a VA Loan?

VA-approved lenders have to make sure prospective borrowers have enough steady income to meet their monthly expenses, including a new mortgage payment. Lenders are generally looking for at least two years of stable employment and income from the same employer and job type. Reliable, documented income can be included from a host of sources, including:
• Base pay & allowances
• Non-military employment
• Retirement income
• Self-Employment
• Commissions
• Rental income
• A spouse’s income
• Alimony/child care

To count income from overtime work, part-time jobs, second jobs and bonuses, veterans need to show that same two-year period of stability. Veterans who are self-employed or who make a living in the building trades, doing seasonal work or working mostly on commission have some additional paperwork hurdles to face. Tax returns for the previous two years will be essential in verifying income.

How long do I have to wait after bankruptcy to get a VA Loan? 

A bankruptcy or foreclosure doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting a VA loan. But a lot of it depends on when the event occurred. In most cases, veterans will not be able to secure VA financing for two years after a bankruptcy or foreclosure. The VA has some exceptions that allow military members to participate in the program before that two-year mark. But, remember that VA-approved lenders, and not the VA, ultimately issue the loan. Lenders have more stringent standards that rise above the VA’s requirements. And that means there’s almost no way for a borrower to secure financing for at least two years.

Rate And Loan Costs

What fees should I expect to pay for my VA Loan? 

The VA placed a cap on fees that veterans pay to obtain a VA loan. VA lenders are generally only allowed to charge a 1 percent origination fee. They may also charge an additional one percent to cover administrative and other costs. With a VA loan, sellers can pay up to 6 percent of the loan amount in closing concessions and closing costs.
Most VA borrowers can not escape the VA Funding Fee, which is a mandatory cost that helps keep the home loan program running. Borrowers with service-connected disabilities may receive an exemption from the VA Funding Fee.

What is the VA Funding Fee, and how do I calculate it?

 
The VA Funding Fee is a mandatory fee. It is applied to both purchase and refinance loans. The Va funding fee helps keep the home loan program operating.
This fee is a percentage of the loan amount, and the amount depends on several factors:
  • Whether it’s a purchase or a refinance
  • How many VA loans you’ve had in the past
  • Type of military service

You can see the full breakdown and even calculate your exact fee by visiting VAFundingFee.com.

How are rates for VA Loans determined?

A host of economic factors shape mortgage rates. Lenders establish rates based on what’s happening in both the bond market and within the greater financial landscape. As most people know, these interest rates change constantly, even multiple times in a single day. This is why it’s imperative to work with your loan officer about locking in your rate at the right time.
As with other lending products, military members with excellent credit are more likely to secure better interest rates and loan terms than those with lower credit scores. However, VA loans have consistently maintained lower rates than conventional loans.

Does my credit score affect my VA Loan rate? 

Yes, your credit score plays an significant role in establishing your mortgage rate.  Solid credit usually means lower rates and better terms than fair to middling credit scores. The VA only requires borrowers to be a satisfactory credit risk to qualify for these government-backed loans. But, the VA lenders have additional requirements and will pay close attention to credit scores.
It’s more important than ever to get a handle on your credit profile. Be sure to get caught up on any outstanding debts and responsibly use credit.  Try to put yourself in the best position possible before starting the home-buying process.

VA Loan Guidelines

Can I borrow more than the value of my home with a VA loan?

Veterans can borrow up to the appraised value of the home, plus some costs and fees associated with the loan with a VA purchase home loan. For homebuyers interested in making their home more energy efficient, they can add up to $6,000 in improvements through an Energy Efficient Mortgage, or EEM.
On a VA Cash-Out Refinance, we can help homeowners refinance up to the full amount of their home’s value. That money can be used  to pay bills, for renovations and any other key uses like education costs. 

Can I have more than one VA loan at a time? 

The VA entitlement isn’t a one-time benefit and borrowers who qualify can utilize their VA home loan benefits over and over. Most veterans will only ever have a single VA-backed mortgage at a time. There are unique situations where veterans have more than one. Most of those circumstances relate to relocation needs, such as deployments and jobs. Keep in mind though that VA loans are for primary residences and cannot be used to purchase investment properties or businesses.

How complicated is VA financing?

As experts in the VA Loan industry, we’ve worked hard to make the VA loan process as simple and streamlined as possible. VA loans have less stringent requirements than other lending programs, and that’s one of the key benefits for veterans and active duty personnel. Prospective borrowers have to meet basic financial and credit-related benchmarks to satisfy both the VA and the lender. Veterans receive a financial guaranty from the VA, and that guaranty gives lenders the confidence to issue no-down payment loans with great rates and terms.

When purchasing a home, does the VA Loan allow for cash back options? 

The VA has two major refinance programs. With the Cash-Out Refinance, homeowners  can extract cash from their home’s equity while obtaining a lower interest rate. First United Mortgage can help veterans and members of the military refinance up to 100 percent of their home’s appraised value while most  other lenders are currently capped at 90 percent. The process of a Cash-Out Refinance is similar to the process for VA purchase loan. Veterans with a conventional or FHA mortgage can refinance into a VA loan using the Cash-Out program.

What is the maximum VA Home Loan?

Despite what you might have read or heard, a VA loan doesn’t have a maximum loan amount. There is a maximum amount  though that the VA will guaranty without the borrower providing a down payment. This is what industry people reference when talking about VA loan limits. Currently across most of the country, qualified borrowers can buy a house worth up to $417,000 with no money down . In some high-cost areas, that limit can rise to more than $725,000.

Can I borrow extra money to make home improvements?

VA borrowers can add up to $6,000 to their loan to make energy efficiency improvements to their home. Known as an energy efficiency mortgage, or EEM, these unique loan products allow homeowners to make select upgrades and repairs to the property in order to maximize energy efficiencies. Spending money at the outset on energy improvements can ultimately lower heating, cooling and other related energy costs for years to come. That monthly savings can be funneled into additional payments to the mortgage principal or dozens of other household necessities. Veterans interested in an EEM should consult with their lender and be sure to arrange for a home energy audit from a professional firm

VA Loan Basics

How do I get prequalified and what happens afterward? 

The simplest way to start the application process is to speak to one of our VA loan experts today. Our highly qualified team can prequalify borrowers over the phone within minutes. We review basic financial information and check your credit score. After that, you receive our loan application packet and begin the path to preapproval, which is more involved and requires a more detailed look at your finances and your ability to handle a mortgage and its associated costs.

What if I don’t have copies of my discharge paperwork? 

VA lenders need various official paperwork to process a loan, including the borrower’s Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and tax returns, as well as other crucial documents. It’s easy for paperwork to get lost over time, so don’t  worry if discharge documents or other important pieces of paper aren’t easily located. We will help get fresh copies of your most important documents with no hassle. Borrowers can also contact the VA and other entities to secure the paperwork themselves. A lack of this paperwork won’t necessarily derail the loan process, but it’s best to work with the lender as quickly as possible to take care of document needs.

Can I pay off a VA Loan early?

There are no prepayment policies with VA home loans so borrowers can pay off their loans early without penalty. It is a tremendous benefit for those who wish to cut down on interest costs over time. Paying an additional $50 or $100 a month toward your premium can shave off years and tens of thousands of dollars from your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

When is the VA Loan not my best option?

For the vast majority of veterans, active duty service members and military families, the VA loan represents the most flexible and powerful loan program on the market. Qualified borrowers can purchase a home worth up to $417,000 and more without a down payment or out-of-pocket spending.
There are some times when a VA loan may not be the best fit. For example, veterans with significant cash reserves who can cover a 20-percent down payment may want to consider conventional financing. However, that isn’t the typical financial situation for most military borrowers. For most of our clients, a VA loan makes the most financial sense and allows them to get the most for their money.

VA Refinancing

Can the VA Loan help me lower my monthly bills?

The VA has two major refinance programs. One, the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, better known as a VA Streamline, helps homeowners get into a lower-rate mortgage to reduce their monthly payment. VA Streamlines come with minimal hassle and paperwork. The VA does not require appraisals or credit checks on Streamlines, but some lenders have recently made them mandatory. We are still able to process some Streamlines without an appraisal, which is a tremendous benefit given the decline in home values across the country. Homeowners have to pay closing costs on a VA Streamline. But these can be rolled into the overall loan amount, along with up to $6,000 in energy efficiency improvements.
Can I refinance my home if I don’t currently have a VA Loan? 
Veterans and active duty homeowners who qualify can refinance into a VA loan using the program’s cash-out refinance program. The process for obtaining a Cash-Out Refinance is similar to the process borrowers go through for a VA purchase loan. It includes the income verification and debt-to-income ratio as well as a home appraisal. Qualified homeowners with conventional or FHA mortgages do not have to take out cash when they refinance into a VA loan. But they are ineligible for the simpler VA Streamline program.

What types of homes can I buy with a VA Loan? 

The vast majority of military buyers use their VA loan to purchase or refinance an existing single-family home. But veterans interested in purchasing a condo or building a home from the ground up can also utilize a VA loan. You can use a VA loan:

  • To purchase a residence that’s owned and occupied by the veteran.
  • To refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan in order to lower the current interest rate.
  • To refinance in order to take out cash.
  • To repair, alter or improve a residence owned by a veteran.
  • To simultaneously purchase and improve a home
  • To make energy-efficiency improvements in conjunction with a VA purchase or refinance loan.
  • To purchase up to four one-family residential units in a condo development approved by the VA. One of those four units must be used as the borrower’s primary residence.
  • To purchase a farm residence to be owned and occupied by the veteran. The property cannot be a working farm or an income-producing property.

What Our Clients Are Saying

Zachary Burrows

Best home buying experience ever! They made everything so simple & easy.

Carmella Teeter

They really understand the military lifestyle & what it takes to get to closing!

Anthony Calvillio

They worked quickly to help me close sooner than expected. I recommend them time & again!

Ready To Start Today?

Get started immediately with our quick quote form or complete the full online application & get pre-qualified now.