In recognition of your service, the Department of Veterans Affairs financially backs home loans for Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, National Guard, Reserves and some surviving spouses. VA home loans can be used to buy a single-family home or condo, purchase and renovate a house, or build a new home, often with no down payment required in many circumstances.
One of the stipulations to apply for a VA home loan is that you must show your mortgage lender a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) which verifies that your length of service and character make you eligible for a VA home loan benefit. While the COE is not usually need to pre-qualify for a home loan, the certificate will be one of the documents you will be required to submit for your VA home loan application, so it’s a good idea to obtain your COE when you first decide to buy a home.
How to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
Step 1: Do you meet the eligibility requirements for a VA home loan?
As a Veteran, National Guard or Reserve member, you’ll need to meet minimum active-duty service requirements, depending on when you served.
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If you are currently on Active Duty, you must’ve served for a minimum of 90 continuous days to be eligible to apply for a COE.
Step 2: Gather the documents required to apply for the COE.
- Veterans will need to provide a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).
- Active-duty service members will need a statement of service, signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer, showing your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, date you entered duty, duration of any lost time, and name of the command providing the information.
- Current or former activated National Guard or Reserve members will need to provide a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).
Step 3: Apply for your Certificate of Eligibility.
Apply for your COE online via the VA eBenefits website If you decide to apply online, which is the quickest way to obtain your COE, it’s a good idea to first look at the Request for a Certificate of Eligibility mail in form (link below) so you can be prepared to answer the questions online.
Apply for your COE by mail by filling out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (Download VA Form 26-1880) and mail the form to the address listed on the form. Please keep in mind that this may take longer than applying online.
Once you have received your Certificate of Eligibility, upload it to your Documents tab so it will be available for you to upload with your other financial documents when you are ready to apply for a home loan.
How to apply for a VA home loan with your COE
Step 1: Find a mortgage lender experienced in VA home loans.
If you obtained a Go Bag through Vetted VA, then you’re only a click away from being able to contact reputable loan officers, experienced with the VA home loan application process.
Watch a video about VA home loans and how to apply
Step 2: Find a home within your budget.
While the VA does not have home loan limits, many lenders do. Often they are tied to the current Conventional loan limit, but your credit history, income, assets and credit score will also determine the interest rate and loan amount a mortgage lender will be prepared to finance your home purchase.
You can use a VA home loan to purchase a single-family home, a condo in a VA-approved project, purchase and renovate a single-family home, or a newly constructed home.
Step 3: Gather your financial documents
In addition to your COE, your mortgage lender will require additional financial documents, such as W-2 statement from the past two years, recent paychecks or LES, bank statements, driver’s license or military ID.
Your loan officer will let you know which documents they require for your VA home loan applicant. As you gather them, upload them to the Documents tab of your FinLocker so they will be stored safely, and ready to transfer securely with your home loan application.
Step 4: Obtain a VA Appraisal of the home you want to purchase
Your mortgage lender will request a VA appraisal, which estimates the market value of the property at the time of inspection. Your mortgage lender will then review the appraisal, and your mortgage application, before proceeding to process your home loan.