Three Tips For Faster VA Condo Approvals

Commercial Real Estate Agent with Matthews Capital Markets NMLS 2415712

san diego condosI've probably funded 40 VA home loans in 2009, many of them for unapproved condominium complexes.  In Southern California, it's quite common along the coastal communities for buyers to look at condos, townhomes, or PUDs as lower-cost alternatives to single-family homes.  Declining prices, along with higher VA loan limits have afforded many active duty and former service members the opportunity to scoop up a piece of the California coastal lifestyle by purchasing one of those properties.

Sellers often cringe when they receive an offer using VA home loan financing.  The general thought is that the VA condominum complex approval process is time-consuming, onerous, and difficult...

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All loan types, including FHA and conventional vet the condominium association's organizational documents, finances, and residency mix.  In fact, the VA guidelines tend to be the least restrictive of all three loan types.

Three tips for real estate agents when presenting an offer, on an unapproved complex, with a VA mortgage:

1- Use a VA lender who has been through the VA approval process MANY times.

2-Review the required documents' checklist:

The document checklist is available in Chapter 16 of the VA Lender’s Handbook.  Specifically, the table of required documents is available on page 16A.03.    I suggest that the loan originator AND both real estate agents AND the escrow officer review this table as soon as an agreement of sale is executed.  At first glance, the list appears to be ominous (lots of dead trees).  Upon more careful scrutiny, it is plain to see that only 5-6 documents are required; the other 20 or so are only required IF AVAILABLE.

3- Consider the time saved by using an attorney's opinion letter:

The key component to the VA condominium complex approval is the Attorney’s Opinion Letter.  Essentially, the VA relies on the expertise of an independent attorney to evaluate the condominium documents and offer an opinion as to whether or not those documents comply with the VA regulations.  An attorney opinion letter is NOT a requirement for the submission package but attempting this without one is not recommended.  While it adds another layer of cost to the approval process, the result is a greatly reduced examination time at the VA.

VA condo approvals are quite easy if you know what to do.  Follow these three tips to guarantee a smooth transaction or contact me with any questions you might have.


Comments (20)

Karen Luke
South Metro Property Management, LLC - McDonough, GA
Henry County Real Estate

Glad to hear someone is having an easy time with the VA.

Dec 19, 2009 09:03 AM
John Occhi
AZ Veteran Notary Services - Marana, AZ
Mobile Notary Public/Certified Loan Signing Agent

Good Info - I know the FHA has new guidlines for condos - do these apply to VA?

I'll look for your reply, as I have a REO Condo for sale - very little attention these dys.

Merry Christmas,


Dec 19, 2009 10:38 PM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Definitely bookmarking this one. And I hope you enjoy your California lifestyle - I'm a little jealous! Merry Christmas.

Dec 21, 2009 12:44 AM
Nancy McNamee
Keller Williams Realty - Roseville, CA

Thanks for the tips!

Dec 21, 2009 12:47 AM
Marilyn Bell

What a great, concise and easy to understand explanation of the process!  I wish you were in my market!

Dec 21, 2009 01:16 AM
Brian Brady
Matthews Capital Markets - Tampa, FL

The FHA condo guidelimes are becoming more like VA (easier) but VA remains to be the simplest, John.

Dec 21, 2009 01:38 AM
Doug Patterson
Park Place Real Estate, Broker-In-Charge - Winston-Salem, NC
CRS, ABR, Broker-In-Charge


Thanks for sharing your experience with the VA.  I've never asked for an Attorney's Opinion Letter and am going to forward this info to a couple of loan folks I work with, for their reference.   Great Idea. 

Thanks for the good reference links, too!

Dec 21, 2009 01:41 AM
Coral Gundlach
Compass - Arlington, VA
Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate.

Brian - Thank you for a great article!  Do you know FHA as well as VA?  Didn't FHA eliminate the spot approval process as of early December?  I was under the impression that FHA condo guidelines were becoming stricter, not easier.  Any insight you could offer would be great.  Thanks.

Dec 21, 2009 01:44 AM
David Krushinsky
Reasy Financial LLC - Peoria, AZ
AZ MB-1044208 MLO NMLS #202115

Great info Brian.... have you used number 3 much in Arizona?

Dec 21, 2009 02:07 AM
Debbie Rumsey
HomeSmart Realty West, Carlsbad, CA - Encinitas, CA
Realtor, Green, SFR

Thanks Brian!  I have bookmarked this for a place to refer back to when using VA loans.  The hardest part so far seems to be able to get sellers to accept them!  Glad to hear it is easy once you have received acceptance!

Dec 21, 2009 02:40 AM
Brian Brady
Matthews Capital Markets - Tampa, FL

I know FHA very well, Coral.  I'll write some tips about how to get make FHA complex approvals move much more quickly, later this week.

Debbie, we should talk about how to improve your chances with VA offers.  My agents get them accepted because I help them prepare the VA approval letter so that there is no doubt that the seller understands that there is no cost to him.

Dec 21, 2009 03:19 AM
Delia Wallace


Thanks for the information!  It very nice of you to share it with us!

Happy Holidays!

Dec 21, 2009 04:23 AM
Jayne Williamson, REALTOR, Broker, GRI
Keller Williams Realty Mountain Partners, Hendersonville, NC - Hendersonville, NC

Thanks for the great information.  Sellers here still cringe whenever they hear VA Loan or even FHA loan mentioned.  Bookmarking for the future!!

Dec 21, 2009 05:31 AM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Brian,  Your advice to get an attorney opinion letter makes a lot of sense.   Hope your Holiday Season is the best ever !!!

Dec 21, 2009 05:46 AM
David Krushinsky
Reasy Financial LLC - Peoria, AZ
AZ MB-1044208 MLO NMLS #202115

Terrific!  Thanks for the referral too.

Dec 22, 2009 12:18 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Sounds like a savy strategy with the attorneys opinion letter.  Thanks for the info.

Dec 22, 2009 03:22 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good points.  I did a VA sale recently and it went through pretty good, but there were some hiccups.

Dec 22, 2009 03:50 AM
Nancy Hill

Thanks for the great information.  The attorney letter is a good piece.

Dec 22, 2009 09:59 AM
Vic Steele
Vic Steele, Broker CA DRE 01349863 - Anaheim Hills, CA

Great points Brian, there is NO REASON to fear a VA buyer, instead we should all be working together to help them succeed.  They served our country with loyalty and courage and many sellers and listing agents openly discriminate against VA borrowers.

It's a great loan for great people.  I represented several VA buyers in 2009 and we did not have a bit of trouble on any of those loans...not one bit.

Brian, with your clear understanding of the SoCal market for VA buyers, please feel free to contact me so I can introduce my next Veteran client to you!

Vic Steele, U.S. Army, 1984-1990, Sergeant, Honorably Discharged

Valet Real Estate Services

Concierge Man Serves a Home


Vic Steele, Broker, CA DRE License No. 01349863

Valet Real Estate Services

571 N. Poplar, Suite H, Orange, CA  92868

Jan 30, 2010 02:40 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Brian, I was searching for VA Condo Guidelines and your blog came up on page one of Google - congrats! I have someone who wants a condo and most of them are not VA approved. This is encouraging to think that we could actually convince a condo to get VA approval just for our transaction! Wow, thanks!!

Sep 28, 2014 01:40 PM