How to Get a VA Loan: Step-by-Step Guide

November 01, 2021

There are a few key differences veterans should be aware of when applying for a VA loan.

What is a VA Loan?

The VA home loan program was put in place by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to offer affordable housing options for veterans.

Because these loans are backed by the government, they come with a variety of benefits, such as:

VA mortgage loans are available exclusively for veterans, active-duty military service members, and surviving spouses of veterans.

How Can I Apply for a VA Home Loan?

The process for getting a VA loan is similar to that of any other mortgage program, with a few extra steps added in.

1. Find a VA-approved lender.

Not all mortgage companies offer VA loans. Luckily for you, Waterstone Mortgage does!

2. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.

Next, you’ll need to prove you’re eligible for a VA loan. To do this, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is required. You’ll work directly with VA to get this, but if you need assistance, you can always ask your loan originator.

3. Get pre-approved.

Now it’s time to get approved for your home loan! Whether you’re getting a VA loan or not, this is a crucial step of the mortgage lending process.

A pre-approval will let you know exactly how much house you can afford. It’ll also help you out once you start house hunting, as sellers are more likely to accept your offer if you have a pre-approval from a reputable lender in your back pocket – which is something you can access on your loan originator’s app. This letter will show the seller you’ll come through on your end of the deal.

Pro tip: Contrary to what some might think, if you already have a VA mortgage and you are looking to purchase a second primary home, you can get a second VA loan – and in some instances, with no down payment. (This is based on how much entitlement you have available.)

4. Find your new home and make an offer.

With a pre-approval letter in hand, you can begin the house hunting journey. Once you find “the one,” you’ll make an offer. The house is yours once the seller accepts your offer.

5. Get a VA home appraisal.

The VA appraisal process consists of a VA-approved appraiser assessing the property to make sure it meets the VA’s requirements – things like the roof must be in good condition, there must be adequate bathrooms, water must drain away from the house, etc.  

Pro tip: VA appraisal requirements include two additional areas that can affect the home’s value (Tidewater & Reconsideration of Value) that conventional and FHA loans do not. Ask your loan originator about these before you get started!  

6. Close your loan and move into your new home.

Once your loan has gone through the underwriting process and is fully approved, it’s time to close! At Waterstone Mortgage, you have a few options for closing – you can go the traditional route, do a hybrid eClose, or a fully virtual eClose.

After you’ve closed on your loan, the moving process can begin, and you can start enjoying your new home.

To learn more about mortgage options for veterans, visit our VA Loans page or contact a home loan expert in your area.