The Idiot’s Guide to VA Home Loans in 2017


BY The Lenders Network

va home loans

If you’re a Veteran then you’ve probably heard about VA home loans.

The mortgage program is the greatest benefit provided to our Nation’s Veterans.

A no down payment home loan with no mortgage insurance.

In this article we’re going to cover everything there is to know about VA home loans.

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What is a VA Loan?

A VA home loan is a mortgage that is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They are issued by private lenders that are approved by the VA. Service persons and their spouses may be eligible. They do not require a downpayment or mortgage insurance making them the cheapest home loan option available today.

Advantages of VA Home Loans

  • No down payment
  • No mortgage insurance premium (MIP)
  • Low credit scores may be approved
  • Flexible requirements
  • Lower rate than conventional loans
  • Higher debt-to-income ratios accepted
  • VA negotiates with the lender if you are facing foreclosure

VA Credit Requirements

VA loans technically don’t have a minimum credit score. The Department of Veterans Affairs will guarantee a mortgage loan regardless of the borrowers FICO scores. However, lenders often set their own minimum credit requirements, most lenders want to see at least a 620 score to approved the loan application. Some lenders may be able to approve credit scores of 580 and higher. FHA loans are also available for those with lower credit scores.

If you have a credit score below 580 it’s highly recommended that you improve your credit score before applying.

Credit Guidelines

  • 620 or higher credit score (Some lenders work with a 580 score)
  • No more than one late payment in the past 12 months
  • No bankruptcies, foreclosures, or short sales in the past 36 months
  • No mortgage rates in the past 6 months

Check Current VA Rates and Get Pre-Approved

Who is Eligible

Basic VA Service Requirements:

  • 90 days of consecutive active duty service
  • More than 180 days of active duty service during peacetime
  • 6 or more years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Active-duty Servicepersons
  • Cadets of the U.S. Military, Coast Guard Academy, or Air Force
  • U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen
  • Atmospheric and National Oceanic Administration officers
  • U.S. Public Health Service officers

* VA loans are not available to Dishonorably discharged veterans

First-time Homebuyers

Veterans that are also first-time homebuyers will greatly appreciate VA home loans because of their zero down payment and no mortgage insurance. However, these loans are not just for first-time buyers as Veterans can use a VA loan multiple times throughout their life-time.

What is the VA funding fee?

Because the VA loan program doesn’t require mortgage insurance, in order to help fund the VA program there is a one time VA funding fee.

The funding fee amount will depend on the amount of the loan and weather for not you are using a down payment. It needs to be paid at closing, you may be able to roll the funding fee into the loan and finance it.

Funding fee not required if you are:

  • Receiving VA payments for a service-connected disability, OR
  • Veteran who would be entitled to receive compensation or if didn’t receive retirement or active duty pay, OR
  • Are a surviving spouse of a Veteran who died in service

2017 VA Funding Fee Chart

Regular Military
Down payment Fee (first-time buyer) Fee (subsequent use)
0% 2.15 percent 3.3 percent
5-10% 1.5 percent 1.5 percent
10%+ 1.25 percent 1.25 percent

National Guard and Reserves and  Chart

Reserve & National Guard Personnel
Down payment Fee (first-time buyer) Fee (subsequent use)
0% 2.4 percent 3.3 percent
5-10% 1.75 percent 1.75 percent
10%+ 1.5 percent 1.5 percent

IRRL (VA cash-out refinance) Chart

VA funding fee for IRRL’s (VA cash-out refinance) is the same for all military personal weather Reserves, Regular Military, or National Guards.

All Military Personal, National Guard, and Reserves
Loan type Fee (first-time buyer) Fee (subsequent use)
IRRL’s 0.50 percent 0.50 percent
Manufactured Home Loans 1.00 percent 1.00 percent
Loan Assumptions 0.50 percent 0.50 percent

VA Certificate of Eligibility

In order to receive a VA-insured mortgage loan you must have a certificate of eligibility from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Your mortgage lender can get one on your behalf, or you can visit the VA website to receive your certificate.

Qualifying VA Income

  • W2 Income
  • Overtime and bonus pay
  • Seasonal positions
  • Part-time income
  • Income from a second job
  • LES income
  • Child support
  • Self-employed income

Non-Qualifying VA Income

  • lottery winnings
  • gambling income
  • Unemployment benefits
  • All one time income payments
  • inconsistent sources of income
  • Single bonus payment
  • Income from investment properties

VA Streamline Refinance

With a VA mortgage loan you may may qualify to refinance your mortgage using a streamline refinance to reduce your interest rate and lower your monthly payment. A 210 days after closing you are eligible to refinance your VA loan.

VA streamline refinance loans are quick and easy. It must have a net tangible benefit in order to close. You must be able to reduce your interest or lower your payments by at least 5% to qualify.

Check and Compare VA Loan Rates

VA Loan Limits

The VA loan limit in low cost areas of the country the VA loan limit is $424,100. High cost areas of the country such as, San Fransisco, Los Angeles or Denver the loan limit is $636,150.  If you are seeking a loan for a home priced above the loan limit you can get a

You can check VA loan limits in your county here.

VA Jumbo Loans

If you’re seeking a loan to buy a home that exceeds the loan limit in your area you may be able to get a VA jumbo loan. You will need to pay 25 percent of the amount over the loan limit.

For example if you lived in a low cost area like Dallas where the loan limit is $424,100. And you wanted to buy a home that costs $525,100, which is $100,000 over the limit. You will need to pay 25% of $100,000. So you will have a down payment of $25,000.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

The Department of Veteran Affairs does not state a maximum debt-to-income ratio (DTI ratio). However lenders typically want to see a DTI ratio at or below 41%. 41% is not a hard cap, these are certain situations in which a lender will allow higher debt-to-income ratios.

Strong compensating factors for high DTI ratio

  • Loan-to-value ratio below 95%
  • High net worth
  • Large amount of cash in reserves
  • No payment shock
  • High income
  • Good credit score

In Conclusion…

The VA home loan program offers a wealth of benefits for many home buyers. They are easier to qualify for than conventional loans and have lower interest rates.

They are great for all Veterans, especially first-time home buyers because they offer zero down payment and no mortgage insurance making them the cheapest mortgage available.

Do you think you’re ready to buy a new home using your VA benefits?

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The Lenders Network has the largest network of mortgage lenders that specialize in home loans for borrowers with all types of credit scores. We will match you will the best lender based on your specific situation.