If you’re getting ready to start a VA loan application, here are six steps to help you prepare for and finish the VA loan process quickly and smoothly.
1. Make Sure You Qualify for the VA Loan Program
First, make sure you qualify for a VA home loan based on these criteria:
- You’re a military veteran who meets the VA’s eligibility requirements
- You plan to live in the house soon after the loan closes
- After paying your other monthly expenses, you will have enough income left over for mortgage payments
- You meet the lender’s credit requirements*
*To check your credit, you can get your credit report from one of the big three credit bureaus. In addition, though the VA doesn’t require a minimum credit score for a VA loan, some lenders set their own. However, at Low VA Rates, we do not have a set minimum score, and will do our best to work with you even if your credit score needs some work.
2. Find a VA Lender
Next, contact some VA-approved lenders in your area (like Low VA Rates!).
Make sure you don’t just go with the first VA lender you come across, including us. We want veterans to get the best deal, and we’ve found that the more you look around at different lenders, the more likely that is to happen.
Once you have multiple loan offers from different lenders, compare and contrast their closing costs, settlement costs, and other fees. Give them your credit score and get an estimate of how much they could lend you.
Also look at their customer service and expertise. It’s usually better to go with a lender that specializes in VA loans rather than one that only creates them occasionally. They’ll know how to help you with things unique to the VA loan process, like requesting your Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
3. Pre-Qualify for a Loan
To accomplish this step, you’ll need to run through your income and assets with your lender. This will help you figure out how large of a mortgage payment you could afford and what price of house you should look at, saving you from looking at houses outside of your price range.
4. Select the House and Get a Purchase Contract
Through classified ads, listings, a real estate agent, or online real estate sites, search for a house in your price range.
If you choose to go with a real estate agent, consider working with one who has experience working with VA listings; he or she can help you get the best deals and negotiate for benefits like having the seller pay for certain fees.
Finally, once you choose a house and make an offer that gets accepted, you’ll need a signed purchase agreement in order to finish your VA loan application.
5. Get a VA Appraisal
Now the lender will start to process everything in your application and you will need to order an appraisal.
The appraisal can be ordered in a couple of different ways. First, you could to have your lender send in the order. Or, second, you can seek one out yourself.
However, in either situation, the appraiser MUST be a VA-certified appraiser, which mean they will be assigned by the VA and serve as a neutral third-party not financially invested in the outcome of the appraisal.
The purpose of the appraisal is to estimate the value of the house, which will dictate how much the loan can be written for, and make sure it meets the VA’s minimum property requirements (MPRs).
When it comes to the appraisal, it’s important to remember that it is not an inspection, which you might want to also consider ordering.
6. Close and Sign the Loan
Once the VA appraisal is complete and the home is deemed satisfactory in terms of price and the MPRs, then the lender can approve the loan.
You’ll need to show up and sign the documents, and the lender or closing attorney will go over the terms and monthly payment requirements. At this time you’ll be required to show proof of homeowner’s insurance that meets your lender’s requirements.
The End of the Process
Congratulations, you’re now a homeowner!
Once closing is completed and all of the documents are signed and finalized, ownership of the house will transfer to you. In addition, your COE will also be updated to state that you are currently using your entitlement.
Contact Low VA Rates if you want to get started on this process. We’re here to help you fulfill the American dream of owning your home, and our experienced loan officers will help you complete each of these steps.