For decades, veterans nationwide have taken advantage of the benefits offered through a VA loan. In most cases, VA loans save homebuyers money in the long run. Whether it’s to avoid a down payment, refinance the entire value of a home or simply have an easier time qualifying for a mortgage, those who have served should consider taking advantage of this benefit they’ve earned.
One of the first steps in pursuing a VA loan is getting approved for a specific amount so you can begin house hunting (many lenders call this “preapproval”). How can an approval give you the advantage when making an offer to buy a home?
We’ll go over this, but first, let’s discuss something unique to the VA loan approval process.
How does the VA Loan Approval Process work?
When seeking a mortgage, it’s important for you and your lender to know you’re well-qualified financially, but there’s an extra step when it comes to VA loans.
To get a VA loan, you need a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This shows you met the minimum service requirements to be eligible for a loan through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Briefly, these are the requirements:
- Served 181 days during peacetime (active duty).
- Served 90 days during war time (active duty).
- Served six years in the Reserves or National Guard.
- Survived a spouse who was killed in the line of duty.
The VA website has more information on distinguishing between wartime and peacetime service.
To prove your service time and get your COE, you’ll need your discharge documents (DD 214). You can request these online if you don’t have a hard copy. If you have proof of service, Quicken Loans can also work with you to obtain your COE.
Power Buying Process™
The other piece of your mortgage approval is making sure you’re in good financial shape to take on a mortgage and present a strong offer to sellers and their agents. That’s where our Power Buying Process comes in.
Preapproval has been a mortgage industry standard for a while, but the term means different things depending on who is doing the preapproval. Our Power Buying Process has three distinct levels so buyers and sellers know exactly what they’re getting.
In a Prequalified Approval, we pull your credit to get a look at your median FICO® Score and any outstanding debts. We also ask for verbal or written estimates of income and assets you want to use to qualify for the mortgage. From this, we’re able to get your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to help you estimate the maximum loan amount you could afford.
The key here is that, because your income and assets aren’t verified, this is just an estimate. We strongly recommend that all our clients take the next step and get a Verified Approval.
In a Verified Approval, we pull your credit and ask that you share documentation with us regarding your income and assets. Once these are submitted to our team, we’ll be able to give you a Verified Approval Letter within 24 hours to show the amount you can afford. Your offer is then as good as any made by a cash buyer. You and the sellers can be confident in your offer because you’ve done the homework to line up your financing.
If, through no fault of your own, you don’t close after getting a Verified Approval, we’ll give you $1,000.1
While there’s no doubt that you should absolutely know how much you can afford, we understand that it’s not the only thing you worry about during the homebuying process.
Rates are rising, but because you could be living in a home for the next 30 years or more, buying is not a decision you should rush. At the same time, with the cost of homes, an interest rate increase of as little as 0.25% could cost you quite a bit of money over the life of the loan. That’s where our RateShield™ Approval comes in.
RateShield Approval allows you to lock your interest rate for up to 90 days while shopping for a new home.2 Often, you’re required to find a home before you can lock your rate, but that’s not the case with this program.
If interest rates go up, the rate on your mortgage stays the same. Better yet, if rates go down, your rate drops. It’s a win-win!
If you find a home within your 90-day lock period, you will receive additional time to close your loan. RateShield is available on 30-year, fixed-rate VA, conventional and FHA loans.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for a VA Loan?
The circumstances of each loan are different, but it doesn’t take any longer to get approved for a VA loan that it would for a conventional or FHA loan. If you’re buying a home and your documentation is in order, we can get you a Verified Approval within 24 hours.
How Long Is the Preapproval Letter Good For?
At Quicken Loans, all our Approval Letters are good for 90 days. Other lenders may have different policies.
Are you an eligible veteran, service member or surviving spouse looking to buy a home soon? You can apply online or give us a call at (800) 785-4788. If you have any questions, you can leave them for us in the comments below.
1Participation in the Verified Approval program is based on an underwriter’s comprehensive analysis of your credit, income, employment status, debt, property, insurance, appraisal and a satisfactory title report/search. If new information materially changes the underwriting decision resulting in a denial of your credit request, if the loan fails to close for a reason outside of Quicken Loans’ control, or if you no longer want to proceed with the loan, your participation in the program will be discontinued. If your eligibility in the program does not change and your mortgage loan does not close, you will receive $1,000. This offer does not apply to new purchase loans submitted to Quicken Loans through a mortgage broker. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply. Verified Approval within 24 hours of receipt of all requested documentation.
2RateShield Approval locks your initial interest rate for up to 90 days on 30-year conventional, FHA and VA fixed-rate purchase loan products. Your exact interest rate will depend on the date you lock your rate. Once you submit your signed purchase agreement, we’ll compare your rate to our published rates for that date and re-lock your interest rate at the lower of the two rates for an additional 40 to 60 days. Quicken Loans reserves the right to cancel this offer at any time. Acceptance of this offer constitutes the acceptance of these terms and conditions, which are subject to change at the sole discretion of Quicken Loans. This is not a commitment to lend. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply.
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.