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Overcoming Entitlement Hurdles: A Guide to Addressing VA Loan Losses

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers VA loans as a benefit to service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses.

One key component of this benefit is the loan entitlement, the amount the VA guarantees on your behalf for a home loan.

If a VA loan goes into foreclosure or incurs a loss to the VA, this can affect your entitlement and is reflected on your Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

VA Loss on a Previous VA Loan: What It Means

When the COE indicates a loss on a previous VA loan, it means part of your entitlement has been used to cover a loss from a defaulted loan or foreclosure.

This situation impacts your available entitlement and could limit your ability to utilize the full benefits of the VA loan program for future home purchases.

As a veteran facing this scenario, you have two primary options:

Paying Off the Debt to Restore Full Entitlement

You can choose to repay the VA for the loss. This repayment does not necessarily have to be in a lump sum; arrangements can be made for a payment plan.

Once the debt is fully repaid, you can apply to have your full entitlement restored. This restoration allows you to utilize the VA loan program without the previous loss affecting your borrowing power.

Evaluate your financial situation to determine if repaying the debt is feasible without putting undue strain on your finances. Consider consulting with a financial advisor to explore the best approach.

Proceeding Without Paying the Loss

You can choose not to repay the loss. In this case, you can still use your remaining entitlement to secure a new VA loan.

The amount you can borrow without a down payment will be based on your remaining entitlement and loan limits in your area.

This option allows you to move forward with purchasing a home without the immediate financial burden of repaying the previous loss.

The primary drawback is the reduced borrowing power. You may need to make a down payment if the loan amount exceeds the available entitlement and local loan limits.

Military person consulting about the impact of VA loan loss on future entitlements

What Causes a Loss on a VA Loan?

When a veteran takes out a VA loan, the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a portion of the loan to the lender.

This guarantee helps veterans obtain home loans with favorable terms, including no down payment and no private mortgage insurance.

However, if a veteran defaults on their VA loan, it can lead to the VA incurring a financial loss. There are several circumstances under which the VA might report a loss on a VA loan, impacting a veteran's entitlement and future borrowing capabilities.

Understanding these circumstances is crucial for veterans to manage their entitlements effectively and make informed decisions regarding their home loans.


Foreclosure is the most common cause of a loss on a VA loan. This occurs when a borrower fails to make mortgage payments, leading the lender to seize and sell the property to recoup the unpaid loan balance.

If the sale proceeds are insufficient to cover the loan balance and the costs associated with the foreclosure process, the VA pays the lender the guaranteed amount.

This payment results in a loss to the VA, which is then recorded against the veteran's entitlement.

Short Sale

A short sale happens when a home is sold for less than the amount owed on the mortgage, with the lender's approval.

Like foreclosure, if the proceeds from a short sale do not fully repay the outstanding loan balance, the VA compensates the lender for the guaranteed portion, resulting in a loss.

Although a short sale can sometimes be a preferable alternative to foreclosure for both the lender and the veteran, it still similarly affects the veteran's entitlement.

Loan Modification or Compromise Claim

In some cases, a veteran might negotiate a loan modification or compromise claim with the lender, settling the loan for less than the full amount owed.

While these arrangements can prevent foreclosure and potentially allow the veteran to retain their home or mitigate financial damage, they can also lead to the VA incurring a loss if the VA pays a portion of the difference.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

A deed in lieu of foreclosure is another method to avoid a formal foreclosure process, where the borrower voluntarily transfers the property title back to the lender.

Although it might seem like a viable option to avoid the consequences of foreclosure, it still results in a loss to the VA if the property’s value does not cover the loan balance and the VA compensates the lender accordingly.

How Does a Loss Affect Your Future VA Loan Eligibility?

When the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) incurs a loss on a VA loan, it has significant implications for the veteran's ability to use their VA loan benefits in the future.

A reported loss on a VA loan directly affects the veteran's loan entitlement, which is the amount the VA guarantees on the veteran's behalf. This guarantee enables veterans to obtain home loans with no down payment and at favorable interest rates.

Understanding how a loss affects future VA loan eligibility is crucial for veterans planning to use this benefit.

Reduction in Entitlement

The most immediate impact of a reported loss is the reduction of the veteran's entitlement. The amount of the loss is subtracted from the veteran's total available entitlement.

Since the VA loan program allows for loans up to a certain amount without a down payment, a reduction in entitlement could limit the loan amount a veteran can secure without needing to make a down payment.

Limitations on Future VA Loans

With reduced entitlement, veterans may face limitations when attempting to obtain another VA loan. If the remaining entitlement is insufficient to cover the guarantee on the full loan amount the veteran desires, they may have to either:

  • Make a down payment to cover the difference,

  • Opt for a smaller loan that fits within their remaining entitlement, or

  • Explore other financing options outside the VA loan program.

To regain full access to their VA loan benefits, veterans must restore their lost entitlement. This can be achieved by repaying the VA for the loss.

Once the repayment is complete, veterans can apply for the restoration of their entitlement, allowing them to use the VA loan benefit to its fullest extent in future transactions.

The process for entitlement restoration involves submitting a request to the VA, often accompanied by proof of repayment of the loss.

Can You Appeal a Reported Loss on Your COE?

A reported loss on your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) can substantially affect your VA loan eligibility. However, veterans have the right to appeal if they believe the reported loss is inaccurate or if extenuating circumstances lead to the loss.

Veterans can appeal a reported loss on their COE based on several grounds, such as:

  • Discrepancies in the reported loss amount,

  • Evidence of wrongful foreclosure or sale procedures,

  • Proof of error in the loss claim process,

  • Extenuating circumstances that contributed to the default or foreclosure.

FAQs: Common Questions About VA Loan Loss and Entitlement

What is a VA loan entitlement?

VA loan entitlement is the amount the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees on your loan. If you default, the VA pays the lender up to this amount.

There are two types of entitlement: basic and bonus (or secondary), which together determine the maximum VA loan amount without a down payment.

How does a loss on a VA loan occur?

A loss on a VA loan occurs when a loan goes into foreclosure, or a lender accepts a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure, and the sale proceeds do not cover the outstanding loan balance.

The VA then pays the lender the guaranteed amount, resulting in a financial loss to the VA.

How does a reported loss affect my VA loan eligibility?

A reported loss reduces your available entitlement, potentially limiting the amount you can borrow on future VA loans without a down payment.

You may need to make a down payment or pursue other financing options for your next home purchase if your remaining entitlement does not cover the loan amount.

Can I restore my full VA loan entitlement?

Yes, you can restore your full VA loan entitlement by repaying the VA for the loss.

Once repaid, you can apply for entitlement restoration through the VA, allowing you to borrow up to the full loan guarantee amount on future VA loans without a down payment.

What if I cannot afford to repay the VA for the loss?

If you cannot afford to repay the loss, you can still use any remaining entitlement for another VA loan. However, the loan amount may be limited, and you might need to make a down payment.

Financial counseling and exploring repayment plans with the VA might also be beneficial options.

Can I appeal a reported loss on my COE?

Yes, you can appeal a reported loss if you believe it is incorrect or if there were extenuating circumstances. The appeal process involves submitting a detailed explanation and supporting documentation to the VA for review.

Is it possible to use VA loan benefits more than once?

Absolutely, you can use your VA loan benefits multiple times.

However, to use the benefit again after a loss, you'll need to either repay the loss to restore your full entitlement or use the remaining entitlement, which may affect the loan amount and the need for a down payment.

How do I know how much entitlement I have left?

Your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) will show your available entitlement. It includes any reductions due to a previous VA loan loss. You can request your COE through the VA’s eBenefits portal or ask a VA-approved lender to obtain it.

What happens to my entitlement if I sell the house or pay off the VA loan?

When you sell the house or pay off the VA loan in full, your entitlement can be restored, allowing you to use your full VA loan benefit again. However, if there was a loss, you must repay that amount to restore your full entitlement.

Can I have more than one VA loan at a time?

Yes, having more than one VA loan at a time is possible if you have sufficient remaining entitlement. Your remaining entitlement and other lending criteria would limit the total loan amount.

Bottom Line

Dealing with a loss on a previous VA loan can be challenging, but understanding your options and making an informed decision can help you navigate this situation effectively.

Whether you repay the debt and restore your full entitlement or proceed with a new loan using the remaining entitlement, careful planning and consultation with professionals can ensure you make the best choice for your circumstances.

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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