How Many Times Can You Use VA Home Loan Benefits?

Since its inception in 1944, the Veteran’s Administration guaranteed loan program has helped qualified vets and service personnel into their first homes. By promising to repay up to 25 percent of defaulted veterans’ loans, the VA dramatically slashes mortgage costs by eliminating traditional lenders’ requirements for mortgage insurance and down payments. VA loans can be used for buying a primary residence, making home upgrades or repairs and refinancing an existing mortgage. Each loan includes a funding fee paid to the VA. But how many times can a qualified VA applicant buy another home under their GI benefit?

Reusing VA Eligibility, Again and Again

The answer is as many times as the applicants want, providing they meet a few pertinent conditions. Once a VA entitlement is used to buy a primary residence, it may not be used again without restoring service-related eligibility. Applicants can only take on one additional VA loan while owing money on the original home mortgage. They can use the remaining balance from a previous VA loan but may be required to make a down payment. The funding fees on second VA loans without a down payment are approximately 3.3 percent of the total amount. 

Otherwise, the borrower must restore their eligibility, done only when the mortgage of the original VA-financed home is:
Paid off in-full
Sold to a qualified VA homebuyer who has remaining entitlements
VA loans come without restraints or penalties for pre-paying off the mortgage.

About the VA Entitlement

Under provisions of the VA loan program, potential borrowers must establish service eligibility to receive a primary entitlement of $36,000, or a $68,250 secondary entitlement for loans on a home valued from $144,000 or higher. The borrower must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA that establishes the entitlement and tracks how much of it is used. Veterans must also file a discharge Report of Separation Form DD214.

In some cases, qualified applicants who have used up their entitlement may get a loan by agreeing to make a down payment. The loan may still be a prudent choice since personal mortgage insurance will be waived by the lender.

Eligible veterans, active service members and qualified spouses can get approvals up to $417,000 with no money down in most parts of the country. However, the cap on guaranteed VA loan amounts was amended up to $1,094,000 for property buyers in high-cost counties. LendingTree’s VA Loan Calculator estimates monthly payments as well as identifies VA loan limits based on the ZIP code for the property.

You can also view high-priced American counties with VA limits exceeding $417,000 at LendingTree.

Would-be VA loan applicants may also improve their chances for good mortgage rates by:
Checking their credit and correcting any mistakes on their credit history.
Comparing 30-year and 15-year terms for affordability of monthly payments versus the total cost of the loan.
Offering to make a down payment if they can afford it.
Comparison shop with competing VA lenders.

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