Consumers and Realtors alike should be aware of how VA home loans work. As a former service member, I didn’t realize what a vital benefit I was receiving until I actually used my VA entitlement. I once believed when I was a young 18 year old in the service the following myths:
- You could not use your entitlement while you were still in the service
- You could only use the benefit once
- It was not good to use VA loan, conventional was better (Wrong Again)
The below questions and answers will help those looking for additional information on VA loans.
Q: How do I apply for a VA guaranteed loan?
A: You can apply for a VA loan with any mortgage lender that participates in the VA home loan program. At some point, you will need to get a Certificate of Eligibility from VA to prove to the lender that you are eligible for a VA loan.
Q: How do I get a Certificate of Eligibility?
A: Complete an 1880: You can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility by submitting a completed VA Form 26-1880, Request For A Certificate of Eligibility For Home Loan Benefits, to the Winston-Salem Eligibility Center, along with proof of military service. In some cases it may be possible for VA to establish eligibility without your proof of service. However, to avoid any possible delays, it's best to provide such evidence.
Q: Can my lender get my Certificate of Eligibility for me?
A: Yes, it's called ACE (automated certificate of eligibility). Most lenders have access to the ACE (automated certificate of eligibility) system. This Internet based application can establish eligibility and issue an online Certificate of Eligibility in a matter of seconds. Not all cases can be processed through ACE - only those for which VA has sufficient data in our records. However, veterans are encouraged to ask their lenders about this method of obtaining a certificate.
Q: What is acceptable proof of military service?
A: If you are still serving on regular active duty, you must include an original statement of service signed by, or by direction of, the adjutant, personnel officer, or commander of your unit or higher headquarters which identifies you and your social security number, and provides your date of entry on your current active duty period and the duration of any time lost.
Q: I have already obtained one VA loan. Can I get another one?
A: Yes, your eligibility is reusable depending on the circumstances. Normally, if you have paid off your prior VA loan and disposed of the property, you can have your used eligibility restored for additional use. Also, on a one-time only basis, you may have your eligibility restored if your prior VA loan has been paid in full but you still own the property. In either case, to obtain restoration of eligibility, the veteran must send VA a completed VA Form 26-1880 to our Winston-Salem Eligibility Center. To prevent delays in processing, it is also advisable to include evidence that the prior loan has been paid in full and, if applicable, the property disposed of. This evidence can be in the form of a paid-in-full statement from the former lender, or a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement completed in connection with a sale of the property or refinance of the prior loan.
Q: I sold the property I obtained with my prior VA loan on an assumption. Can I get my eligibility restored to use for a new loan?
A: In this case the veteran’s eligibility can be restored only if the qualified assumer is also an eligible veteran who is willing to substitute his or her available eligibility for that of the original veteran. Otherwise, the original veteran cannot have eligibility restored until the assumer has paid off the VA loan.
Q: My prior VA loan was assumed, the assumer defaulted on the loan, and VA paid a claim to the lender. VA said it wasn’t my fault and waived the debt. Now I need a new VA loan but I am told that my used eligibility can not be restored. Why?
Q: My prior loan was foreclosed on, or I gave a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or the VA paid a compromise (partial) claim. Although I was released from liability on the loan and/or the debt was waived, I am told that I cannot have my used eligibility restored. Why?
A: In either case, although the veteran’s debt was waived by VA, the Government still suffered a loss on the loan. The law does not permit the used portion of the veteran’s eligibility to be restored until the loss has been repaid in full.
Q: Only a portion of my eligibility is available at this time because my prior loan has not been paid in full even though I don’t own the property anymore. Can I still obtain a VA guaranteed home loan?
A: Yes, depending on the circumstances. If a veteran has already used a portion of his or her eligibility and the used portion cannot yet be restored, any partial remaining eligibility would be available for use. The veteran would have to discuss with a lender whether the remaining balance would be sufficient for the loan amount sought and whether any down payment would be required.