How to Get a VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
The VA Home Loan is a powerful mortgage available exclusively for military families and veterans. Some military families don’t take advantage of this loan simply because they aren’t sure whether or not they’re eligible. In addition to active-duty military members and veterans, there are also a few other distinct groups also eligible. After you determine that you’re good to apply for a VA Loan, it’s time to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
Getting your COE is the first step in getting a VA-backed loan. This paper confirms that you qualify to take advantage of the VA Home Loan and can move forward in your home buying or refinancing journey. Once your COE is in hand, you can begin the fun part of house hunting. First, let’s break down what it is and how you can go about getting it.
First, gather the information you’ll need to prove you’re eligible for a certificate of eligibility
A COE is a document proving to your lender that you are good to go with receiving a VA Loan. In order to receive this, you must prove that you are eligible and meet the service requirements. The Department of Veterans Affairs has streamlined this process, stating very specific documents you’ll need.
- If you are a veteran, or current or former activated National Guard or Reserve member, you will need a copy of your discharge or separation papers (DD214).
- For active-duty service members, you’ll need a statement of service which your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer signs. The statement must show key details like your full name, social security number, date of birth. It also must show facts like the date you entered duty, the duration of any lost time and the name of the command providing the information.
- If you are a current member of the National Guard or Reserves and have never been activated, you’ll need the same statement of service as active-duty members. Your document must also state your total number of creditable years of service.
- For discharged members of the National Guard who were never activated, you’ll need a few critical documents. Make sure you prepare your report of separation, record of service, retirement points statement, and proof of the character of service.
- Discharged members of the Reserves who were never activated need to provide a copy of your latest annual retirement points and proof of your honorable service.
- Finally, if you are a surviving spouse of a Veteran who qualifies for home loan benefits, you’ll need the Veteran’s discharge documents (if available). If you’re receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, you’ll need to fill out additional forms to provide your eligibility.
Once you determine you’re eligible and have the correct information, you’ll need to apply
There are a few ways you can apply for your VA loan certificate of eligibility. One easy way is by going to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs eBenefits portal. You can also apply by mail or work directly through your VA approved lender. It’s important to note that applying online is your quickest way to receive your COE. While applying by mail is an option, if may take longer and therefore hold up your home buying process.
Working with a lender from the start that understands the VA Home Loan process can help you streamline your process. For those who have lost documents and are anxious about applying without them, there are a few tools that can help you recover these papers. Your lender can work alongside you to help you obtain the approval and proof needed in order to secure a VA Loan. If you’re still unsure of what you need to obtain your COE, the VA’s website or a VA approved lender is your best resource in determining what you need.
What if you can’t determine your eligibility?
There are a few circumstances when you may not be eligible for a COE. If you have had a prior VA loan go into foreclosure, were not honorably discharged, did not meet the time requirements for duty, or don’t meet all the eligibility requirements, obtaining a COE might be difficult. This is when working with a VA approved lender like MHS Lending can come in handy. It’s incredibly helpful to have lenders working with you who are experts in these types of loans. They will work with you to ensure you have everything you need and see if you are in fact eligible. When in doubt, reach out to your lender.
After you have your VA loan certificate of eligibility, here’s what comes next
After you’ve secured your COE, you are now ready to begin the process of getting a VA Loan. Whether you’re looking to buy a brand-new home, buy land and build, or refinance a current home, this document is crucial in order to take advantage of the benefits available only to members of the United States military. Work with your lender to determine which loan best suits your needs and start your journey today!
The benefits of the VA Loan are incredibly powerful. They range from a $0 down payment and no PMI to relaxed credit scores and competitive loan interest rates. Buying a home as a military member or veteran with the VA Home Loan can be much more affordable. If you think you’re eligible for a VA Home Loan and would like to start your home buying journey today, contact Military Home Spot Lending today!