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VA Loan Down Payment Requirements in Florida

When it comes to purchasing a home in Florida, you have a range of home loan options to consider. However, if you meet the qualifications, opting for a VA loan is a wise decision.

What makes VA loans a smart choice? Well, these loans, specifically designed for current and former members of the U.S. military, offer significant advantages.

Notably, they eliminate the need for a down payment, making it more feasible to save enough funds for your dream home in the Sunshine State.

What Is A VA Loan?

In Florida, a VA loan refers to a specific type of government-backed loan supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, not everyone qualifies for these loans. To be eligible, you must be an active-duty member, veteran, or part of the National Guard or Reserve.

Additionally, unmarried widows of service members may also qualify for a VA loan. Before applying for a VA loan in Florida, it is necessary to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You can apply for this certificate through their eBenefits page. In most cases, lenders will assist in obtaining the Certificate of Eligibility on your behalf, using the information you provide.

While VA loans are insured by the federal government, they are originated by private lenders. To obtain a VA loan in Florida, you will need to apply with a private lender who specializes in offering VA loan programs like MakeFloridaYourHome.

Do VA Loans Require A Down Payment?

One of the appealing features of VA loans in Florida is that they typically do not require a down payment. This is a significant advantage for homebuyers who may have limited funds available.

For instance, if you were to make a 10% down payment on a home valued at $290,000, you would need to come up with $29,000, which can be a substantial amount for many buyers.

However, it's important to note that you have the option to make a down payment if you choose to do so. Making a down payment can lower your VA funding fee, which is a one-time payment made when obtaining a VA loan.

The amount of the fee varies depending on the size of your down payment. Notably, the fee is higher if you choose not to put any money down.

Additionally, the fee can vary based on whether you are taking out a VA loan for the first time or subsequent times.

Another financial advantage of VA loans is that you are not required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Unlike other loan programs, PMI is not a cost you need to worry about with a VA loan.

PMI is typically a percentage of your loan amount that borrowers have to pay annually until they have built enough equity in their home. However, with a VA loan, you are exempt from this insurance payment altogether.

Why VA Loans Require No Down Payment

The absence of down payment requirements for VA loans in Florida is rooted in the fact that the federal government provides insurance for a portion of every VA loan that private lenders close.

In the event that borrowers are unable to make their payments, the government reimburses the lender for at least a portion of its losses.

This safety net acts as a form of financial protection for lenders who offer VA loans. In contrast, with conventional mortgage loans that are not insured by a government agency, this safety net is not in place.

Consequently, lenders typically require borrowers to provide a down payment when applying for conventional loans to mitigate the risk involved.

The unique government-backed insurance of VA loans provides added security for lenders, allowing them to extend financing without the need for a down payment, making homeownership more accessible for eligible borrowers in Florida.

VA Loan writing on notebook with pen dollar glasses and magnifying glass

Why Should You Make A Down Payment For Your VA Loan When It Isn’t Required?

While a down payment is not required for a VA loan in Florida, there are situations where making a down payment can be financially beneficial. Here are some reasons why:

Lowers the VA Funding Fee

By making a down payment on a VA loan, you can reduce the VA funding fee, a one-time fee charged when obtaining the loan.

The size of the down payment determines the amount of the fee. A larger down payment results in a lower funding fee.

For instance, if the down payment is less than 5%, the funding fee is 2.15% of the home's purchase price. With a 5% or higher down payment, the funding fee decreases to 1.5%.

Reduces Monthly Payments

Making a down payment can lower your monthly mortgage payments. By borrowing less money, your mortgage amount decreases.

Additionally, a higher down payment often qualifies you for a lower interest rate, further reducing your monthly payments.

Builds Equity

A down payment helps you build equity in your home. Equity is the difference between your mortgage balance and the current value of your home.

Having equity allows you to borrow against it for purposes such as home repairs, debt consolidation, or education expenses.

It also affects the amount of money you'll receive when selling the home.

Reduces Principal Balance and Loan Costs

A down payment reduces the loan's principal balance, resulting in lower closing costs. Many closing costs are based on a percentage of the principal balance.

By starting with a lower principal balance, you can potentially save on these costs.

Increases Approval Chance

Making a down payment can improve your chances of mortgage approval.

Lenders view borrowers who have invested their own money through a down payment as less likely to default on their mortgage.

However, not making a down payment does not disqualify you from obtaining a VA loan, as most borrowers opt not to make a down payment.

While a down payment is not mandatory for a VA loan in Florida, carefully considering the financial benefits outlined above can help you make an informed decision on whether to make a down payment when obtaining a VA loan.

When Do VA Home Loans Require A Down Payment?

While a down payment is not typically required for VA loans in Florida, there are situations where borrowers may need to provide a down payment. Here are a few scenarios:

Purchase Price

If the appraised market value of the home you are buying is lower than the purchase price, you may need to bring extra cash to closing to bridge this difference.

Lenders will not lend more than the current value of the home, requiring you to make up the shortfall.

VA Loan Limit

Although the Department of Veterans Affairs removed loan limits for active-duty military personnel and veterans with full VA loan entitlement starting in 2020, loan limits still apply to borrowers who have previously defaulted on a VA loan or those currently paying down existing VA loans.

If you fall into these categories and wish to obtain a VA loan exceeding your county's VA loan limit, a down payment will be necessary.

VA Loan Entitlement

VA loan entitlement represents the maximum amount the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees on a VA loan.

Borrowers with full entitlement are not limited in borrowing without a down payment.

However, if you have partial entitlement due to an existing VA loan or a past loan default, a down payment may be required for your new VA loan.

Understanding these circumstances is crucial for borrowers in Florida to determine whether a down payment is necessary when applying for a VA home loan.

It's recommended to consult with your lender and explore all available options based on your specific situation.

Understanding the 5, 10, and 20-Year Rules for VA Loans in Florida

When it comes to VA loans in Florida, it's important to be familiar with the 5, 10, and 20-Year Rules, which determine eligibility based on the timing of military service and health conditions.

Let's delve into these rules:

5-Year Rule

The 5-Year Rule applies to veterans who were honorably discharged from the military more than five years ago but less than 10 years ago.

To utilize this rule, veterans must demonstrate that their health condition began or worsened during their active military service.

Meeting this requirement can provide an opportunity to access VA benefits, including VA loans.

10-Year Rule

The 10-Year Rule is relevant for veterans who were honorably discharged from the military more than 10 years ago.

Under this rule, veterans can still be eligible for certain VA benefits, including VA loans, provided they meet the specific requirements.

Unlike the 5-Year Rule, there is no requirement to prove that health conditions originated or worsened during military service.

20-Year Rule

The 20-Year Rule applies to veterans who were honorably discharged from the military more than 20 years ago.

Similar to the 10-Year Rule, veterans can be eligible for VA benefits, including VA loans, without the need to establish a connection between their health conditions and military service.

By understanding these rules, veterans can determine their eligibility for VA loans based on the timing of their military service and their discharge status.

It's essential to consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs or a VA-approved lender to obtain accurate and up-to-date information regarding these rules and their impact on VA loan eligibility in Florida.

Can you make too much money to qualify for VA benefits in Florida?

One significant advantage of VA benefits is that there are no income restrictions or limitations based on earning capacity.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not impose income thresholds when determining eligibility for VA benefits, including VA loans. The focus of VA benefits is primarily on the service-related condition that negatively impacts the veteran's health.

The VA's primary consideration is assessing whether a veteran has a service-related condition or disability that warrants assistance.

As long as the VA determines that a veteran's health is adversely affected by a condition connected to their military service, they can qualify for VA benefits regardless of their income or earning status.

This inclusive approach allows veterans from various income levels to access the benefits they deserve. Whether a veteran has a high-income job, is self-employed, or has retired, their income level will not disqualify them from receiving VA benefits.

It is important to note that while income does not affect eligibility for VA benefits, certain VA programs may have specific income thresholds or criteria for participation.

These programs are designed to provide additional support and assistance in specific areas such as healthcare or pensions. However, the core VA benefits, including VA loans, do not have income-related restrictions.

If you are a veteran with a service-related condition, you are encouraged to explore the wide range of VA benefits available to you, including VA loans, without concerns about income limitations.

The VA is committed to supporting veterans based on their service and the impact it has had on their health, regardless of their financial circumstances.

The Bottom Line

In Florida, VA loans have gained popularity among veterans and current military service members due to their unique advantage of not requiring down payments.

If you are a military service member and you are prepared to transition into homeownership, a VA loan could be the smart choice for you.

Once you have assessed your financial readiness to handle the responsibilities of a monthly mortgage payment, it's time to initiate the mortgage process and take the necessary steps towards securing your VA loan in Florida.

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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