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Virginia VA Home Loans:
Eligibility, Getting Started and FAQs

At 1st United Mortgage, our VA home loan team helps veterans, active military members and their families fulfill the American dream: buying their own home.

With the VA Home Loan Program, qualified applicants can purchase a home with no down payment and almost no out of pockets expenses. The VA Home Loan Program provides low interest rates and low credit score options for home buyers. Our team is highly trained and ready to help with eligibility, requirements and Virginia’s own state specific benefits. We want the mortgage process to be as simple and stress-free as possible.

Many clients are surprised to discover that a 620 credit score is not a requirement with the VA home loan program. At 1st United Mortgage, we can approve loans with credit scores as low as 560. We also offer a credit score rehabilitation program for clients who do not yet qualify.

VA Mortgage Options in Virginia

Military Family on Beach

There are over 27 military bases in the state of Virginia, with representation for every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Virginia is considered an attractive area for military members to live and retire thanks to the large population of people connected to either the military or defense industry. Thus, Virginia is an extremely popular place for home purchases with a VA Loan.

The VA loan is not offered to everyone; it is only available as an earned benefit for one’s military service. See if you qualify by clicking here.

We do offer additional loan options for those ineligible for a VA loan. These include FHA as well as conventional loan options.

Military in Virginia

The military has always had a strong presence Virginia thanks to the 27 military bases there.  The state also provides many perks and benefits to military members and their families. With a large veteran population and robust economy, Virginia is one of the best states for retired and veteran military to live.

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

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is home to several military facilities and enjoys a long, proud history with the US military. The ocean views, resort city status and relaxed atmosphere are just a few of the reasons people call it home. Virginia Beach is also the oldest and largest metro in the state of Virginia.

Norfolk

Norfolk neighbors Virginia Beach and also has multiple military facilities in the areas, including Norfolk Naval Base which is the largest Navy base in the world. Norfolk is a beautiful city with lots of amenities, culture and a family friendly community.

Chesapeake

Chesapeake is the another city that makes up the South Hampton Roads area. It’s home to the Finance Center Coast Guard Base. The city is considered extremely safe, with excellent school systems and an overall sense of calm that many families find appealing.

Richmond

Richmond is home to the Fort Lee Army Base where approximately 7,600 active duty personnel live along with another 1,200 military families. The city has a strong financial center and varied housing options that draw a wide range of demographics.

Newport News

Newport News is also included in the South Hampton Roads area and the city’s economy is directly tied to the military.  Many of its residents work at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which trains military members for a variety of services.

Alexandria

Alexandria sits just 7 miles south of Washington DC.  The city is composed primarily of employees working in the federal service as both the US Department of Defense and the Institute for Defense Analysis are two of its major employers. It’s also home to the Warrenton Training Center Army Base.

Arlington

Arlington sits just across the Potomac River from  Washington DC.  The city is a mere 26 miles but is estimated to be the fourth largest city in Virginia. Arlington is home to Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall, next to Arlington National Cemetry.

Roanoke

Roanoke is on the southwestern part of the state of Virginia. It’s also a quick 30 minute drive from the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. It’s rated highly for it’s low crime and family friendly environment. It’s small town vibe is also surprisingly diverse and it’s a welcoming economy for small business owners.

Virginia VA Loan FAQs

Click the links below to quickly jump to a section:

Eligibility
Qualification
Costs
Guidelines
Basics
Refinancing

Eligibility

VA Loan Eligibility

Why do veterans and active duty borrowers chose the VA loan program? One tremendous benefit is the ability to purchase a home with no down payment. This makes homeownership accessible to thousands of people who might otherwise face difficulty in securing financing. Other benefits include no private mortgage insurance plus flexible credit and income requirements. Did we mention that VA home loans consistently offer lower interest rates too?
Earning the VA loan entitlement is hard-earned and this benefit gives qualified borrowers  unmatched buying power and flexibility. That’s why the VA loan program represents the simplest and most powerful path to homeownership for the vast majority of veterans, service members and military families.

What is the VA Loan entitlement? 

Qualifying veterans, service members have what is called an entitlement, which is essentially a financial guaranty from the Department of Veterans Affairs on a mortgage issued by one of its approved lenders. The VA itself does not actually these  issue home loans but it does guaranty a portion of each. That guaranty helps borrowers who might otherwise struggle to secure financing because it is a financial promise directly from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is important for lenders.

Am I eligible as a spouse of a deceased veteran? 

VA loans are available to some non-military personnel. This includes both unmarried and remarried spouses. For example, 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?

The Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, certifies what entitlement (if any) a military member has for a VA home loan. It’s a formal document from the VA and is a crucial step in the VA home loan process. It is the only verifiable way to determine a veteran’s eligibility and entitlement and without a COE, prospective borrowers cannot complete the lending process. Veterans can obtain one directly from the VA, though this typically takes a couple weeks to process. With 1st United, we use an automated system to provide your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes.

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 in Active Duty
• You served 90 days during war time in Active Duty
• You served 6 years or more with 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.

Verification of a veteran’s eligibility for a VA loan is done with a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE. These formal documents can be provided directly by the VA, though this process may take a few weeks. You may also obtain a COE from an automated system via a lender like 1st United Home Loans. This process takes mere minutes.

It is important to remember not everyone eligible for a VA loan will secure one. Prospective borrowers will need to meet the credit and underwriting standards set by both the lender and the VA.

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

Yes, within the VA home loan programs there is a Cash-Out Refinance. This option helps homeowners extract cash from their home’s equity while still obtaining a lower interest rate.

What is the difference between eligibility and prequalification? 

Not all homebuyers eligible for a VA loan will secure one. The prospective borrowers must still meet credit and underwriting guidelines of the lender and the VA. Getting prequalified for a loan is an initial step for borrowers and can be completed online or over the phone. This basic step gives veterans an idea of purchasing power and also lays the foundation for the next steps: credit and underwriting process. After this step, veterans with sufficient credit scores will move toward loan preapproval, which 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? 

Once a VA loan is paid, veterans can seek a full restoration of their entitlement. This happens most often when a borrower sells their home and uses the proceeds to pay off an original mortgage. This means the veteran’s previously used entitlement is no longer tied up in the original home. At this point, veterans must complete a VA form and submit that document to the agency.

What is 2nd Tier Entitlement?

There are two layers of entitlement for qualified borrowers. The first tier and the second tier combine together to create the VA guaranty. A second, additional layer of entitlement can help borrowers who have experienced foreclosures or other major problems with VA loans. With second-tier entitlement, even veterans who have previously defaulted on a VA loan can still purchase. With a second-tier entitlement purchase, there is $144,000  minimum loan.

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

The VA Loan is designed only for primary residences that are occupied by the owners of the properties. It may not be used for second homes or rental properties.

VA Loan Qualification

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

The VA sets broad requirements and guidelines for military borrowers and has no income requirements or credit requirements. To participate in the VA Loan Guaranty program, borrowers must demonstrate that they are a satisfactory credit risk. It is VA lenders who ultimately issue the loans though, and they have their own unique requirements for credit scores. Prospective borrowers must understand they have to satisfy both the VA and an approved lender’s requirements to secure home financing.

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

Here’s the great news:  every lender sets its own minimum credit score requirements. That’s why at 1st United Home Loans,  we can get you approved with a score as low as 570. We believe that anyone willing to serve our country should have the chance to own a home!

Can someone else sign on the loan with me? 

Veterans and service members can have someone sign on the loan with them. However, there are some restrictions. For a VA loan the co-borrower must be either another veteran or a spouse. That means 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 may obtain a VA loan on their own.  But if they live in a community property state, they should know their spouse’s income and active debt will be factors  for the loan application.

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

Prospective borrowers must prove to VA approved lenders that hey have enough consistent income to meet monthly expenses, including a new mortgage payment. Lenders prefer a minimum of two years worth of stable employment, plus 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

Income from overtime work, part-time jobs, second jobs and bonuses can be used if veterans show that same two-year period of stability. Self-employed  veterans or active duty members who make a living with building trades, doing seasonal work or working mostly on commission have a few extra paperwork hurdles. In these cases, 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. Much more depends on when the event occurred. Generally,  veterans won’t 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. However, it is the VA-approved lenders, and not the VA, who issue the loan. The lenders have more stringent standards that rise above the VA’s guidelines. And that means there’s almost no way for a borrower to secure financing for at least two years after bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Rate And Loan Costs

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

We have more good news here: the VA has caps the fees veterans pay to secure a VA loan. Generally, VA lenders are allowed to charge a 1 percent origination fee. They can charge  another 1 percent to cover administrative and other costs. With a VA loan, sellers can pay up to 6 percent of the loan amount in closing costs and concessions.
The VA Funding Fee is the one charge most VA borrowers will pay. It is a mandatory cost that helps keep the home loan program running. Borrowers with service-connected disabilities can 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 applied to both purchase and refinance loans. The fee helps the home loan program continue running. It’s a percentage of the loan amount, and it changes depending on several factors. These factors include whether the loan is a purchase or a refinance, how many VA loans you’ve had in the past and the 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?

Several different economic factors shape mortgage rates. Typically, lenders set rates based on the bond market as well as the greater financial landscape. Interest rates fluctuate constantly, maybe even multiple times per day.  This makes it imperative to work with a specialist about locking in your rate. As with other lending products, military members with excellent credit can secure lower interest rates and better loan terms than those with less sterling credit. In general though, VA loans have consistently better rates than other conventional loans.

Does my credit score affect my VA Loan rate? 

Naturally, your credit score still plays an important role in establishing a mortgage rate. Solid credit means lower rates and better terms. All the the VA requires is for borrowers to be a satisfactory credit risk.  But VA lenders have their own additional requirements and will scrutinize an applicant’s credit score. We encourage potential borrowers to get a handle on credit profiles early,  and to get caught up on any outstanding debts. Putting yourself in the best position possible when it comes time to start the home-buying process will help tremendously.

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 on a VA purchase loan. They can roll in some costs and fees associated with the loan too. For those homebuyers interested in making their home more energy efficient, they can add up to $6,000 in improvements through an Energy Efficient Mortgage.
With a VA Cash-Out Refinance, we help homeowners refinance up to 100% of their home’s value. Homeowners can use that money for paying bills, making home improvements or any other key use.

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

The VA entitlement isn’t a one-time benefit. You can qualify and use the VA home loan benefits over and over again. Most veterans will only ever have one VA-backed mortgage at a time. Still, there may be unique situations where veterans have more than one VA loan at a given time. Generally, these circumstances are related to relocation needs, such as deployments or jobs. Also keep in mind, VA loans are for primary residences only. The Va home loan program can not be used to purchase investment properties or businesses.

How complicated is VA financing?

With our experience in the VA Loan industry, we’ve worked hard to make the process as simple and streamlined as possible. VA loans offer less stringent requirements than other lending programs, which is a huge benefits for veterans and active duty personnel. Prospective borrowers still need to meet basic financial and credit-related benchmarks set by the VA and the lender. Once met, veterans receive a financial guaranty from the VA, and that guaranty gives lenders the confidence to issue no-down payment loans with both low rates and great terms.

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

The Cash-Out Refinance, one option with a VA home loan,  helps homeowners extract cash from their home’s equity while obtaining a lower interest rate. At 1st united home Loans, we help veterans refinance up to 100% of the appraised home value while other lenders cap at 90%. The process for a Cash-Out Refinance is similar to the process for a 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?

Contrary to what you might have read or heard, there isn’t a maximum loan amount on a VA loan. There is, however, a maximum amount the VA will guaranty without the borrower making a down payment. That’s what industry people are referring to when they reference VA loan limits. In today’s market, qualified borrowers can purchase a home worth up to $417,000 with no money down across most of the country and in Virginia. In other high-cost areas, the maximium can rise to over $725,000.

Can I borrow extra money to make home improvements?

Yes, VA borrowers may include up to $6,000 on a loan for energy efficiency improvements. This is known as an energy efficiency mortgage, or EEM. These these unique loan products allow homeowners to make select upgrades and repairs to the house to maximize energy efficiencies. Though money is spent at the outset, energy improvements can ultimately lower heating, cooling and other related energy costs in the long run. Any monthly savings can then be funneled into additional payments to the mortgage principal or any other household necessities that are needed. Veterans and military families who are interested in an EEM should consult with their lender to arrange for a home energy audit from a professional firm.

VA Loan Basics

How do I get prequalified and what happens afterward? 

Want to know the best way to start the application process?  Speak to one of our VA loan specialists today!  Our dedicated team can prequalify borrowers over the phone in a mere moments. We will gather some basic financial information and review credit scores. Then we send our loan application packet and to start your process for preapproval. Preapproval 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? 

There is a lot of official paperwork VA approved lenders need in order to process a loan. That documentation includes the borrower’s Certificate of Eligibility, tax returns and other critical paperwork. Inevitably, paperwork can get lost, so don’t worry you can’t find your discharge documents or other important pieces of paper right now. We will help you obtain fresh copies of these important documents with no hassle. Borrowers can also contact the VA and other entities to secure the paperwork themselves.  It’s best to work with the lender as quickly as possible to take care of document needs to keep the process running smoothly.

Can I pay off a VA Loan early?

VA loans do not have any kind of prepayment penalties. So, borrowers can pay off their loans early without worry. That’s a relief for homeowners who their interest costs cut down over time. By paying an additional $50 or $100 a month toward the premium,  tens of thousands of dollars and years can be shaved from a 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 is the best options. The VA loan represents the most flexible and powerful loan program on the market. Qualified borrowers are able to buy a home worth up to $417,000 without down payments or out-of-pocket costs.
However, there are some cases when a VA loan may not be right.  For veterans with significant cash reserves – those who can cover a 20-percent down payment- they may want to consider conventional financing. But that just isn’t the typical financial situation for many of our military borrowers. For most of our clients,  the VA loan makes the most financial sense and allows them to get the biggest bang for their buck.

VA Refinancing

Can the VA Loan help me lower my monthly bills?

The VA home loan program has two major refinance options. First, the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or  VA Streamline, helps homeowners with a lower-rate mortgage to reduce the monthly payment. The VA Streamline comes with minimal hassle and very little paperwork since the VA does not require appraisals or credit checks on these. Recently some lenders have made them mandatory, but we still process many without an appraisal. This is a tremendous benefit given the decline in home values across the country. Homeowners do have 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. They can do this using the program’s cash-out refinance program. The Cash-Out Refinance  process is similar to the one borrowers go through for a VA purchase loan, from the income verification and debt-to-income ratio to 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.