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How to get preapproved for a VA loan
4 steps to apply for preapproval for this government-backed loan.
Veterans Affairs loans offer military members and veterans lending options with no down payments and low interest rates. Getting preapproved can help facilitate the lending process, but you’ll need to know what lenders look for in potential VA loan candidates.
How to get preapproved for a VA home loan
To get preapproved for a VA loan, it requires you to check your eligibility and gather documents, including:
- Check your credit. While there’s no set standard for VA loan credit requirements, lenders typically expect VA loan candidates to have a minimum credit score of 620.
- Compare lenders. Not all lenders are qualified to offer VA loans. Explore your loan options by comparing a lender’s fees, rates and online reputation.
- Get a Certificate of Eligibility. Once you’ve found a lender you like, you’ll need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to verify your veteran status. Apply online, by mail or through your lender.
- Gather documentation. Your lender requires a number of documents to complete the preapproval process, including bank statements, W-2s and your Social Security number.
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What questions will I need to answer?
Your lender will need documentation to verify the following:
- Credit score. While credit score requirements vary by lender, most require VA loan applicants need to have a score of at least 620 to qualify.
- Employment history. Your lender will ask you to provide pay stubs, W-2 forms and information about your employer to verify your employment history.
- Income. Be ready to supply tax returns, pay stubs and two months of bank statements to provide proof of income.
- Debt-to-income ratio. Lenders prefer borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio of 41% or lower.
- Military status. VA loan applicants must verify their military status in the form of a COE Military personnel must provide their military identification and documentation of their time in service for eligibility. Veterans are expected to provide DD Form 214.
The VA home loan preapproval timeline
Loan preapproval can take anywhere from several days to several months, and longer for veterans and servicemembers trying to secure a Certificate of Eligibility. In some cases, it can take up to six weeks to receive your COE, depending on the application method.
While preapproval letters last for typically 60 to 90 days — your COE never expires. So even if you’re rejected by a lender, you can use your COE for your next application.
What happens if I am rejected?
Ask your lender why your VA loan preapproval was rejected. You may need to raise your credit score or improve your debt-to-income ratio. You can also try applying with a different lender with more lenient loan requirements.
Getting preapproved for a VA loan can help you determine the type of home you can afford and accelerate your path to homeownership. Explore your options among VA loan providers to find the loan that best meets your needs.
Frequently asked questions
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