If you’ve served our country, you may eventually find yourself in a position where you’d like to apply for a VA loan. How is this different than other loans? Are there different requirements, steps to take, outcomes? We’ve done some research for you to help you determine exactly what you need to do to apply for that VA loan.

Determine You’re Eligible

It’s not just anyone who can apply for a VA loan. So, your first step is to determine your eligibility; the last thing you want is to gather all the necessary documents, and jump through all the hoops to learn that you were never eligible in the first place. Those who are eligible for a VA loan must have decent credit, income and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). In addition, the home in which the loan is applied toward must be for you, not anyone else. Additionally, you may not have been dishonorably discharged, and you must have served, at a minimum, the amount of time listed per branch on the VA’s website. Military spouses can also apply, but there are also eligibility requirements regarding marital status listed on the VA’s web site.

Obtain Your COE

While we’ve listed rough guidelines for obtaining your COE, it’s imperative that you look into this step in great detail, as it is required to move forward with obtaining your VA loan. There is a table listed at the VA’s web site that will help you to determine exactly what your requirements are based on who you are in pursuit of the loan. All proof and documentation of your identity and service must be completed and prepared before applying for the COE. Once you have everything you need prepped and ready to go, you’ll obtain the actual certificate of eligibility at eBenefits.va.gov, your specific lender, or the Atlanta Eligibility Center.

Compare Options

Once you have your COE, you’ll have the opportunity to shop around. What lender is best for you, depending on your unique circumstance? Do you need 100 percent financing? Do you need the lowest interest rate? Do you want a fixed thirty year loan? Do your research to determine which lender is the best fit for you.

You’ve done a lot to serve our country, so the idea is to keep you from jumping through unnecessary hoops in the process of securing a loan. If you have detailed questions, information can be found on the VA’s web site.