If you are considering a home purchase using a VA Loan, there are some things to consider in advance of looking for a home.

#1 Do Not Be Careless About Your Credit Standing

The VA is more interested in current ability to afford and pay the monthly mortgage payment on your loan than on your past credit situation, but lenders often have stricter guidelines to follow. Do not make any major purchases, buy a car or have any credit card limits that are maxed out. You need to demonstrate your ability to be a responsible credit risk.

#2 Check to Make Sure you qualify for a VA Loan

Basically you need to have served 181 days if you were in the service during peace time and at least 90 days during war before 1980 and for 2 years after 1980. You need to have an honorable discharge. If you qualify you must get a certificate of eligibility from the Veterans Administration. When you discuss your options with a lender, they can help you with the documentation and paperwork necessary for the certificate.

#3 Get Pre-Approved

Before looking for a home or making an offer on a VA Purchase, it is a good idea to get pre-approved. When you make an offer on a home, you are usually asked to pay an earnest money payment. If you do not go through with the loan, the seller may keep the earnest money. Make sure you do not put an earnest money agreement down on a home that you cannot afford and make sure you read every document you sign and have it explained to you. You can have your realtor include a clause that states the offer is void if you do not get approved for a loan. That way you will get your earnest money refunded if you do not qualify.

#4 Get your Realtor and Lender on the Same Page

It will be very helpful to get your realtor and loan officer to discuss your deal so that they can work together to get you the best interest rate and timeline to close that is possible. Also make sure you understand what the final loan amount will be. If you are planning to take advantage of the “No Down Payment” option, any closing costs can be rolled into the loan as long as the loan amount is not more than the appraisal. With the realtor and lender working together, perhaps the seller can be convinced to contribute to closing costs and they may figure out ways to structure the loan that benefits you. The worst thing than can happen at closing is to realize that you needed to have money at closing and you don’t have it. Lenders and realtors are obligated to give you accurate information so make sure you read all documents to make sure you understand everything before you sign it.

#5 Gather all Necessary Documents Required by the Lender

It is to your advantage to make sure you have all of the documents necessary to qualify for the loan on hand at the very beginning of the loan application process. Missing documents slow down the underwriting process extending the time between when you apply for and when you actually close on your VA Purchase of your new home. Your Lender can give you a list of what is required by the Lending Institution that is processing your loan. The basic information required is a copy of your social security card and driver’s license; the last two years W2’s and tax returns; VA Certificate of Eligibility; names and addresses of employers for the past two years; addresses of where you have lived for the past two years; account numbers and balances on all loans and credit cards; addresses and loan balances of all properties owned. Other documents may be required and vary with each lender.