Basic VA Loan Eligibility Requirements Explained

What’s needed to earn VA loan eligibility? Here’s what it takes, along with ways you can use VA loans to purchase and refinance a home.

VA Loan Eligibility Basics

Many homebuyers confuse VA loan eligibility with qualifying. We don’t blame you — it’s easy to do! Here’s the difference: Eligibility relates to your service, while qualifying has to do with your finances.

Now let’s dig into VA loan eligibility.

VA loan eligibility has two parts: your service and your property. You must meet certain service requirements, and the home you wish to purchase must be intended for your primary residence. The property must be safe, sound, and sanitary — meeting the VA’s minimum property requirements (MPRs).

General Service Criteria for VA Eligibility

Borrowers often ask about the length or type of service needed to be eligible for a VA loan. You might be eligible to apply for a VA loan if you satisfy at least one of these requirements:

  • You served on active duty for at least two years.
  • You were in the Reserve/Guard and served at least six years.
  • You completed 90 days or full call of wartime active duty.
  • You completed 181 days or full call of peacetime active duty.
  • You were discharged for a service-connected disability.
  • You are the survivor of a spouse killed in action or as a result of a duty-related injury.
  • You are a surviving spouse and receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
  • Your spouse is missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW).
  • You are a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC).
  • You are a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • You are a Cadet or Midshipmen at one of the nation’s military academies.

These are just summaries, and more detailed eligibility requirements may exist depending on when you served.

What If You’ve Been Discharged Early?

As long as your release was for hardship, early out, government convenience, reduction in force, a condition you had that interfered with duty, or a compensable service-connected disability, you may still have home loan benefits coming to you.

What Are the Eligible Uses for a VA Loan?

You’ve learned that the property you want to finance with a VA loan has to meet VA MPRs. But you should also know the different kinds of properties considered eligible for VA financing. Remember, to buy a home with a VA loan, it must be your primary residence.

VA mortgages can be used to*:

  • Buy a single-family home
  • Buy an approved farmhouse
  • Buy a condo in a VA-approved complex
  • Buy a multi-family dwelling
  • Build a home
  • Buy a home and fix it up
  • Make energy-efficient upgrades to a home
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot
  • Refinance an existing VA loan for a lower rate
  • Refinance any mortgage for cash out to pay debts, to add on, or to cover other expenses

*While the VA supports the uses listed above, not all lenders offer every option.

For further assistance with VA loan eligibility, contact a member of our experienced team.

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