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Florida VA Loan Eligibility: Frequently Asked Questions

This guide is all about helping veterans and people currently serving in the military learn how to get a special kind of home loan, known as a VA loan.

We will focus on eligibility, applying, and reusing benefits for another loan. You'll learn how to apply for a VA-guaranteed loan, obtain a Certificate of Eligibility, and what counts as acceptable proof of military service.

It also covers scenarios for restoring eligibility for another VA loan, whether after paying off a previous loan, a foreclosure, or if a loan was assumed by another.

Additionally, it clarifies who can get these loans, including the conditions under which the surviving spouse of a veteran is eligible, and confirms that the children of veterans do not qualify for this benefit.

If you're thinking about getting a home and have served in the military, this guide is here to help you every step of the way.

How to Apply for a VA Guaranteed Loan

To begin the process of applying for a VA-guaranteed loan, start by approaching MakeFloridaYourHome or any mortgage lender that participates in the VA home loan program.

Your journey towards securing this loan includes a crucial step of proving your eligibility to the potential lender. This proof comes in the form of a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Veterans Affairs (VA) department.

Obtaining a COE is a pivotal moment in the VA loan application process. It acts as your gateway to accessing the benefits of the VA loan program, showcasing to lenders that you meet the specific service requirements set forth by the VA.

This certificate can be requested through the VA by completing the necessary forms and submitting any required documentation of your military service.

In essence, the COE serves as a formal recognition of your service and entitlement, opening the doors to the various advantages that the VA loan program has to offer.

Whether you're looking to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage, securing your Certificate of Eligibility is your first step towards achieving your homeownership goals with the backing of the VA loan program.

A military person consulting with a mortgage lender about VA loan eligibility

Florida VA Loan Eligibility Requirements

Service Duration

Eligibility typically depends on serving a minimum period, which varies by when and where you served. For instance, 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime or 181 days during peacetime is a common requirement.

Service Type

You must be a member of the U.S. military, a veteran, a reservist or National Guard member, or in some cases, the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury or disability.

Discharge Status

Your discharge must be other than dishonorable. A DD Form 214 is usually required to prove the nature of your discharge.

Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

Obtaining a COE is a critical step. It verifies to lenders that you meet the minimum service requirements for a VA loan.

Credit and Income Requirements

Although the VA doesn't set a minimum credit score, lenders typically have their own credit requirements. You'll also need to meet certain income criteria to ensure you can repay the loan.

Primary Residence

VA loans are for primary residences. You must certify that you intend to live in the home you're buying or refinancing with a VA loan.

Loan Limits and Entitlement

While there's no maximum amount for a VA loan, there is a limit to the VA's guaranty, which varies by county. Your loan entitlement, which can be full or partial, affects the maximum loan amount without a down payment.

Getting Your VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility

To get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for a VA loan, which shows you're allowed to use the VA's home loan benefits, you need to fill out a special form.

This form is the VA Form 26-1880, and you send it to a place called the Atlanta Eligibility Center, along with proof that you served in the military.

Sometimes, the VA might be able to say you're eligible for the loan without needing to see your military service papers. But, to make sure there are no delays, it's a good idea to send those papers when you apply.

Filling out this form and sending in your service proof makes everything go faster and smoother. It's like telling the VA, "Here's everything you need to know I'm eligible," which helps them give you the COE quicker.

This step is really important if you're thinking about buying a home with a VA loan because it's the first thing that shows you can use these special benefits.

Can Your Lender Help Get Your VA Loan Certificate?

Yes, your lender might be able to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for you using something called Web LGY. This is a system on the internet that a lot of lenders can use.

It can quickly check if you're eligible for a VA loan and give you a COE right away. But, it doesn't work for everyone. It only works if the VA already has enough information about your military service.

Even so, it's a good idea to ask your lender if they can use Web LGY to get your COE. This can make things much faster and easier for you. If they can use this system, you might not have to send in any extra paperwork to prove you're eligible for a VA loan.

Proving Your Military Service for a VA Loan

When you want a VA loan, you need to show you've been in the military. This proof is different depending on if you're still serving, if you've left the service, or if you were in the Reserves or National Guard.

If you're still in active duty, you need a statement of service. This paper has to be signed by someone in charge like the adjutant or commander. It should say who you are, your Social Security Number, when you started your current active duty, and any time you weren't serving.

For those who have left active duty after January 1, 1950, you need to give a copy of your DD Form 214. This form tells about your service and how you left the military. Make sure to use copy 4 if you left after October 1, 1979. But remember, just send a photocopy, not the original.

People who served in the Reserves or National Guard have to show documents proving they served honorably for at least six years. If you were in the National Guard, you might have forms like NGB Form 22 or 23. If you were in the Reserves, you need to show your latest points statement and any papers that prove you served well.

If you're still with the Reserves or National Guard, you also need a statement of service. This needs to be signed by a high-up person in your unit and show how long you've been serving. It's important to show you've been serving honorably for at least six years.

Giving the right papers helps the VA see you really served and makes getting a VA loan easier. It's a big step in getting the benefits you've earned, whether you're active duty, a veteran, or still with the Reserves or National Guard. Make sure to get these papers right to help your VA loan application go smoothly.

Can You Get Another VA Loan After the First One?

Yes, you can use your VA loan benefit more than once, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you've fully paid off your first VA loan and no longer own the home, you can apply to have your VA loan eligibility reset. This means you can use your VA loan benefits again for a new home.

There's also a special chance to get your eligibility back even if you've paid off your first loan but still have the house. This can only happen once, though. To make this happen, you need to fill out a form called VA Form 26-1880 and send it to the VA's Atlanta Eligibility Center.

When you ask to get your eligibility back, it's a good idea to show proof that you've paid off the first loan and, if you sold the home, that you no longer own it.

This proof can be a statement from your old lender saying the loan is fully paid, or the HUD-1 settlement statement from when you sold the home or refinanced your loan.

This process helps you take advantage of your VA loan benefits more than once, making it easier for veterans to move or buy another home. Just remember to provide the right paperwork to avoid any delays.

Home Loan Benefits for Surviving Spouses

Surviving spouses of veterans might wonder if they're eligible for VA home loan benefits, especially after their significant other has passed away.

The answer is yes, under certain conditions. If a veteran dies while on active duty or from a service-connected disability, their unmarried surviving spouse is eligible for the home loan benefit.

To start the application process for this benefit, the surviving spouse should reach out to the VA's Atlanta Eligibility Center.

Furthermore, if the surviving spouse was part of a VA home loan with the veteran before their death, they could also be eligible for a VA guaranteed interest rate reduction refinance loan. This can help them manage their mortgage more effectively, potentially reducing monthly payments.

It's also worth noting that if a surviving spouse remarries after they turn 57, and the remarriage was on or after December 16, 2003, they still qualify for the VA home loan benefits.

However, for those who remarried before this date and after turning 57, they needed to have applied by December 15, 2004, for their eligibility to be recognized.

Unfortunately, VA cannot accept applications from surviving spouses who fall into this category and who applied after the 2004 deadline.

This policy ensures that surviving spouses who meet certain criteria can still access valuable home loan benefits, providing them with opportunities for homeownership and financial stability even after the loss of their veteran spouse.

Can I Refinance My Current Home Loan Through the VA?

Yes, if you currently have a home loan, you might be eligible to refinance it through the VA loan program.

This option is designed for veterans, active service members, and certain surviving spouses who want to reduce their monthly mortgage payments, switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate loan, or take cash out from their home equity for other expenses.

The VA offers two main types of refinancing options: the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), also known as a VA streamline refinance, and the VA cash-out refinance.

The IRRRL is a simple way to lower your interest rate and monthly payments without needing an appraisal or extensive underwriting. However, it's only available if you're refinancing an existing VA loan.

On the other hand, the VA cash-out refinance allows you to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA-backed loan and borrow against the equity in your home. This option can provide you with cash for paying off debt, home improvements, or other financial needs. It also offers the flexibility to refinance up to 100% of your home's value in some cases.

To apply for a VA refinance, you'll need to submit a new application and provide documentation similar to what you needed for your original VA loan. This includes a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to prove your entitlement. Additionally, you'll undergo a credit check and income verification.

For more detailed information or to start the refinancing process, contacting a VA-approved lender like MakeFloridaYourHome is the best first step.

Bottom Line

This guide aims to simplify the VA loan process for veterans and active military members, focusing on the key steps to eligibility, application, and maximizing loan benefits.

From securing a Certificate of Eligibility to understanding your rights as a surviving spouse, we've covered the essentials to empower you with the knowledge needed to navigate your home buying or refinancing journey.

Remember, the VA loan program is designed to honor your service by making homeownership more accessible and affordable.

As you move forward, keep these insights in mind to make informed decisions about your home financing options. For personalized guidance and to take the next step in utilizing your VA loan benefits, MakeFloridaYourHome is here to help.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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