Our recent article about the benefits of Veterans Administration mortgages (VA mortgages) listed a number of reasons veterans find it easier to get approval for home loans than most people. That remains true in the sense that lenders tend to set the bar lower in terms of credit history, down payment requirements (frequently zero) and so on. However, they still expect prospective borrowers to comply with a demanding bureaucracy that's likely to require a high volume of supporting documentation. So here are some tips that could help your application sail through with the minimum of fuss and delay.
Before you do anything else, you need to establish that you are indeed eligible for a VA mortgage. That takes just a minute or two if you click through to the Veterans Administration website, where the criteria are laid out. While you're there, check which documents you're going to need to prove you qualify (for example, a DD Form 214 if you're a veteran, or a letter from your adjutant if you're currently serving). If you're lacking anything, set about getting a copy or a new original straightaway.
Before your mortgage application can begin to be processed, you're going to need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE), and you might as well apply for one of those as soon as you have your supporting documents available. You can do that online through the VA's eBenefits portal or by downloading and completing this form, which you then have to mail in. If you're a surviving spouse of a veteran, and you haven't remarried, you need this other form.
The federal government isn't going to lend you a cent toward the home you are hoping to buy. All the VA does is guarantee roughly 25 percent of your home loan. So you will be borrowing from a commercial lender, and that lender is going to require from you a pile of forms and supporting documentation to satisfy themselves that you are likely to make payments.
The precise documents you need to produce may vary from lender to lender, but they will all want your COE, and the application form and borrower's certification, which should be given to you for completion. And, at the very least, expect also to provide:
The time to start to get this mound of paperwork together is now. That way, when the moment comes to submit your application, everything will be in place and you won't have to waste time trying to find lost documents or asking for copies. More importantly, if you can supply everything your lender requires up front, the chances of queries and delays are greatly reduced. And by all means add other relevant documents to the pile if you think they might be useful, even if the lender hasn't requested them yet.
It may seem that you have encountered a lender that really doesn't want to lend to you if endless delays, lost paperwork, and an unresponsive bureaucracy are slowing down your mortgage application. If that really is the case, you can always try to find a better lender. But it may also be that right from the start you failed to provide all the documents that were required. Often, it's when queries arise because essential papers are missing that loan applications stall, paperwork gets lost, and borrowers feel they are up a creek without a paddle. You learned in the military to anticipate hazards and counter them through careful preparation. Use that training now.