In order to apply for a VA loan you will need a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE for short.
There are different steps required to receive a Certificate of Eligibility depending on your personal situation and branch of the military.
NOTE: You will need your DD214 Discharge papers no matter what route you take below. An honorable discharge and completion of your tour of duty are typically required in all cases. This will determine if you are eligible for this benefit, you will need to contact a VA lender to determine if you qualify.
Group 1: Veterans, Activity Duty, Reservists and National Guard Members Who Been on Active Duty
If you belong to one of the above categories then you have three different ways that you can receive a COE:
- Apply Through Mail: Fill out VA Form 26-1880, which you can find on va.gov, the official VA website. You can then mail it to the address that is listed on the form.
- Apply Through A Lender: Your lender may be able to acquire your COE for you online; if so, the process typically only takes a few minutes. Be sure to speak to your lender beforehand to determine whether or not this is an option.
- Apply Online: Visit the Veterans Information Portal at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov to request the certificate.
If for whatever reason you cannot print out Form 26-1880 you can contact the VA at 1-888-244-6711 and request a copy be mailed to you.
Group 2: Reservists and National Guard Members Who Have Not Been On Active Duty
Group 2 enjoys the same options as Group 1 above.
Group 3: Spouses of Veterans Who Either Passed Away During Service or As a Result of Service
Unlike the application options for Groups 1 and 2, you are required to mail your application.
If your spouse passed away during service, the process is relatively quick and straightforward. However, if your spouse passed away after service, the VA must first confirm that the death resulted from a disability connected to the service.
This process can take anywhere between 2 to 3 months depending on the current caseload of the VA.
To apply, download and fill out VA Form 26-1817, which you can find on http://www.va.gov, the official VA website. The address you should mail the form to is:
VA Loan Eligibility Center
PO Box 20729
Winston-Salem, NC 27120
Similar to above, if for whatever reason you cannot print out Form 26-1817, you can contact the VA at 1-888-244-6711 and request a copy be mailed to you.
Regardless of the category you personally fall into, you will have to provide some sort of evidence to prove you are eligible for a COE. The eligibility graph on the VA website (located at http://benefits.va.gov/homeloans/eligibility.asp) details exactly what kind of evidence will be required from you.
I LOVE Realtors!
A lot of people can’t refinance because they owe more than their house is worth or they have a 2nd mortgage or Mortgage Insurance (MI) and we have solutions for many of those issues. There are several programs here now or coming but let’s start with the HARP which stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program.
Everyone is talking about HARP 2.0 and so let’s define it. First of all, since it is 2.0 that means that the program was already around and we are talking about changes so let’s show you what it looks like now and then discuss changes that are sort of in effect now and really in effect after March 19th 2012 when the new changes will be coded into the automated underwriting systems so we can actually approve these loans.
The first thing that you need to know is that this is only for people who have a mortgage already owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. People tell me all the time that their mortgage is owned by a big bank but if you have a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and it is not interest only, it is probably owned by Freddie or Fannie and I will show you how to find out a little later. Currently you can refinance your home even up to 125% Loan To Value (LTV) and there are different rules and pricing at different levels (95%, 105% etc.). Currently it is a little more difficult if you have a 2nd mortgage or MI. This is what HARP 2.0 is looking to fix.
The first part is easy, they have removed the LTV issue altogether. There will definitely be approvals where we do not need an appraisal but there will also be instances where appraisals will be required but in all instances, any LTV can be approved. Next, it is getting easier to keep a 2nd mortgage or HELOC in place while refinancing the first mortgage and we will be able to accommodate many loans with MI. There is another enhancement that limits the fees on these loans and the qualifying ratios will most likely be relaxed. My suggestion is to look online and see if your loan fits and if it does, gest started with your favorite lender. Start by going to www.FreddieMac.com/mymortgage/ and/or www.FannieMae.com/loanlookup/ to see. Loan applications can be taken in mid February 2012 but may not be able to be fully approved until March 19th if you need the new rules. This program makes sense because they already own these loans and so giving people lower payments makes them more stable so everyone wins.
What if I don’t have a Freddie or Fannie Loan?
On the flip side, you can see why if Fannie or Freddie does not own your loan currently they may not be too excited to take on a new loan of $250,000 on a home that is worth only $200,000 but there may be hope for these people as well. There is talk of using FHA to help these folks even if they do not have a current FHA loan. I think this will probably come true but I do not know how long it will take or what the rules will look like so stay tuned.
One more note is that if you currently have an FHA, USDA or VA loan, you can get a streamline loan without an appraisal and with relaxed qualifying guidelines. We do not use debt ratios at all and we weigh heavily on whether the house payment has been made on time in the last 12 months. This program has been around for the entire 22 years I have been in business so the model is strong.
Please send me your real estate and mortgage related questions. I am happy to answer you and it may become the topic of a future article.
Hans Bruhner is a branch manager for First Priority Financial. Hans is licensed by the CA DRE # 01085398 and NMLS #243484 and First priority is licensed by the CA DRE # 00652852 and NMLS #3257. If you have a question, please contact him at (707) 347-9250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
the meat of this video was shot and produced and edited by my friend Dave Bundtzen. He is awesome and I am trying to ride on his coat tails here. You can see more of Dave’s stuff at http://www.youtube.com/user/flixdigital
I am definitely too young to remember Burma Shave ads along the highway but I have heard of it and I knew what was going on when I saw the signs along my beloved River Road stretching from the northern end of Santa Rosa all the way into downtown Guerneville. I did not understand what was going on exactly and why somebody was reviving the Burma Shave ad campaign when the product is not even around anymore.
I absolutely loved it and my friend and I took turns reading the catchy jingles with the punch line always being…. Burma Shave! This was the brain child of Allen Odell in 1926 and was an immediate hit well into the 60’s. Here is how it worked:
HIS FACE WAS SMOOTH
AND COOL AS ICE
AND OH LOUISE!
Watch below as my friends and I demonstrate how these work.
The whole idea is to have a little fun and to get people to stop in the cute little town of Guerneville and do a little shopping or get a sandwich and an ice cream….. basically not to just cruise right through.
We can thank Wendell Joost for coming up with this idea and executing it so well. I am not going to spoil anymore of the jingles or the story. You should go and live it for yourself. I will tell you this, you can go and read the catchy jingles on the roadway and then the last one lets you know that you can buy the jingle book in town at different merchants.
have fun this summer and take a drive! I know gas is expensive but it is cheaper than flying. In fact, you will have plenty of time to read the signs if you bike into town. You can get more information at www.burmashavesign.com
Financial Spring Cleaning
As a mortgage banker and broker, we have a shredding service that comes by and destrys documents and copies of our clients sensitive information when we are done with it. This is a service we pay for and they come periodically in a super cool truck and we can actually see the documents shredded and carted off. I am happy to report that Integrity Shred in Santa Rosa is our shredding vendor and they recycle the paper and their name truly represents who they are.
Several friends of mine know that I have this service and over the years have asked to drop off their own sensitive documents that they have saved and wish to get rid of in a safe way. This got me thinking that it might be a really good idea to offer this service to the community that we serve so that they too can purge their garage or shed or home office of unwanted and sensitive documents.
Last year we had a woman stop by with 17 years worth of patient records from her husband’s medical practice. he had passed away years earlier and she felt she had hung onto them long enough. Please be considerate of others and bring no more than 10 boxes to shred. Any more than that will simply take too long and hold up the process for others.
Talk to your friends and family and tax advisors and lawyers about how long to keep certain documents. Some things you may be advised to hang onto for 7 years and other items could possibly be tossed after 3 years.
Many people ask me why they would work with a local lender and the answers are plentifull for me. Number one is that I am the local lender so I would rather you chose me over some big bank lender. That keeps me employed and it keeps me paying rent on my office and it keeps folks employed in that office and it keeps food on the table for my family and the family of my employees, local appraisers and title companies. That is my selfish reason but I have some selfish reasons for you as well:
- Get real advice from someone you will see in your community.
- Get the same rates and fees or less for that good advice.
- Have a resource that you can drop in on and call well after the transaction has closed.
I have been helping people for 2 decades and most of that has been right here in Sonoma County. I am proud of the work that I do and proud to have helped so many of my neighbors get into homes or save money on their mortgage payments or help work with financial planners to make a comprehensive plan for people. Most of my clients are referred to me, give me a call and find out why.
A VA (Veterans Administration) guaranteed home loan is the preferred loan program for active, non-active, Reserve, National Guard, and retired military of the armed forces because there is no down payment needed and no private monthly mortgage insurance required.
VA mortgage loans can be used towards purchasing a home, building a home, or refinancing an existing mortgage.
We will discuss what role the VA plays in a VA guaranteed mortgage, the benefits of a VA home loan, who is eligible for a VA loan, and the documentation you will need to present to your lender in order to apply.
Did you know that more than 27 million veterans and service personnel are eligible for VA financing, yet many aren’t aware it may be possible for them to buy homes again with VA financing using remaining or restored loan entitlement?
VA Does Not Offer Loans Directly and Does Not Guaranty You Will Qualify.
The VA does not actually lend the money to you directly. They offer a guaranty to a lender that if you should default on the loan, they will pay the lender a percentage of the loan balance.
*The word GUARANTY does not actually guarantee the veteran will qualify for a VA home loan.
Primary Benefits of a VA Mortgage:
- 100% financing
- No monthly private mortgage insurance is required
- There is a limitation on buyers’ closing costs
- The loan is assumable, subject to VA approval of the assumer’s credit
- 30 year fixed loan
- Seller can pay up to 4% of the veterans closing costs and even pay down they buyer’s debt to help lower their debt-to-income ratio
- Interest rates are similar to FHA rates
- You don’t need perfect credit
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: My parent is a veteran. Can I obtain a VA loan if I have not served in the military myself?
No, the VA loan benefit does not extend to a veteran’s children.
Q: What is required to prove my record of military service?
You will be required to us Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, to apply for proof of military service.
Q: My spouse who has passed away was an eligible veteran. I am eligible for the home loan benefit myself?
A surviving spouse is eligible if they have not remarried, and the eligible veteran died during active duty service or as a result of a service-related disability.
Q: Is a VA loan better than a conventional mortgage?
In many cases, yes. VA guaranteed loans often offer a lower interest rate than conventional mortgages, they do not require monthly private mortgage insurance when borrowing more than 80% of a home’s value, and they can be easier to get approved for.
Q: How long does it take to get approved for a VA loan?
It varies depending on the current workload of your lender, but it is typically the same as for conventional mortgages – 3 weeks to 45 days.
VA mortgage loans allow you to refinance your home to take advantage of lower interest rates that can ultimately save you sizable sums of money in both the long-run and the short-run by lowering your monthly payment.
If you currently have a conventional loan, you can refinance into a VA loan if you are an eligible veteran or member of the armed services. Transferring from a conventional mortgage to a VA mortgage is known as a “Conventional to VA Refinance Loan” and is a very straightforward process.
The “Conventional to VA Refinance Loan” process is described in detail in our article Can I Qualify For A VA Refinance If I Currently Have A Conventional Loan?
A common question related to VA refinancing is whether or not you can get a refinance on a VA loan if you are currently upside down on your mortgage. The answer is…you can!
Just to be clear, being “upside down” on a mortgage is when you owe more on your mortgage than the current value of your home. This is a highly unfortunate situation that many American home owners are facing today.
In 2008 a law titled the “Veteran Benefits Improvement Act” was passed to assist veterans who were upside down on their mortgage. This law created the opportunity for eligible veterans to get a VA refinance and improve their financial circumstances.
The enhancements made to the VA home loan program are described in our article Can I Refinance My VA Loan If I Am Upside Down On My Mortgage?
Of course, you are also allowed to refinance your home if you currently have a VA mortgage. An Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL) is considered a VA Streamline Refinance. This is a quick and easy way to either lower your monthly mortgage payment or take money out of your home with minimal work, at no cost to you!
Some of the additional benefits of a VA Streamline Refinance or IRRRL include:
- In some cases, you may not need to have an appraisal of your home.
- Limited income verification.
- An extremely low VA Funding Fee – only 0.5%
Taking out a VA mortgage loan on a new home purchase is a fantastic way to finance a property with a low interest rate, with little to no required downpayment.
Purchasing a home with a VA loan may seem like a daunting task at first glance, but it is actually pretty straightforward.
The basic process is as follows:
- Find the property you would like to buy and arrange the purchase with the seller. You’ll then sign a purchase contract conditional upon approval of a VA guaranteed loan.
- Choose your lender, present your Certificate of Eligibility, and finish the loan application. Your lender will determine your credit and submit a request to the VA to dispatch a licensed appraiser to evaluate the value of the property.
- If the determined value is acceptable to all involved parties, and the lender determines that your loan application meets the VA loan requirements, your mortgage can be approved.
- You (and co-borrower, if applicable) will then attend the loan closing and sign the related papers. The closing escrow agent or attorney will explain loan terms and requirements and monthly payment details.
After these steps are completed, you will own your own home with a low-interest VA purchase mortgage, with no private monthly mortgage insurance required!
Please note that when the VA receives report of the loan, the Certificate of Eligibility is adjusted to reflect use of entitlement and is then returned to the veteran.
No further actions are required to get your COE back, which just makes the overall process easier for veterans.
A common question we get is, “How long does the VA loan approval process actually take?” The overall period of time it takes for a VA mortgage approval varies depending on the amount of volume the lender has at that moment. It also depends on how quickly the VA borrower is able to respond to documentation requests.
As of late, getting full approval and closing your VA purchase mortgage has been taking between 3 weeks to 45 days. This time-frame is more or less the same as that for conventional loans.
There are some things you can do to ensure your loan process is as quick as possible, such as sending requested documents as soon as possible, working with a knowledgeable VA loan specialist, and making your hours of availability as flexible as you can.
For further advice on how to make sure your loan process goes as fast and smoothly as possible, please read our article titled VA Mortgage Approval – How Long Does It Take?