How to Get Pre-Approved for VA Home Loan
How to Get Pre-Approved for VA Home Loan

How to Get Pre-Approved for VA Home Loan


Welcome, future homeowners! If you’re a veteran or active-duty service member dreaming of owning your own home, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of getting pre-approved for a VA home loan, making your journey to homeownership a breeze.

What is a VA Home Loan?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of pre-approval, let’s briefly discuss what a VA home loan is. VA loans are mortgages backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, designed to help veterans, active-duty service members, and eligible surviving spouses buy, build, repair, or refinance their homes. These loans often come with favorable terms and lower down payment requirements compared to conventional loans.

Benefits of Getting Pre-Approved

Why bother with pre-approval? Well, here are some excellent reasons:

  • Know your budget: Pre-approval gives you a clear understanding of how much house you can afford.
  • Speed up the process: Pre-approval streamlines the final approval, making it faster to close on your dream home.
  • Competitive advantage: Sellers prefer dealing with pre-approved buyers, giving you an edge in competitive markets.
  • Peace of mind: Pre-approval ensures you’re financially ready to take this significant step.

Check Your Eligibility

Before embarking on the pre-approval journey, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements:

  • Active-duty service members with at least 90 consecutive days of service during wartime or 181 days during peacetime.
  • Veterans who served at least 90 consecutive days during wartime or 181 days during peacetime.
  • National Guard and Reserve members with at least six years of service.
  • Unmarried surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or due to a service-related disability.

Gather Required Documents

Preparation is key! Get these documents ready before applying for pre-approval:

  • Proof of service: DD Form 214 for veterans or Statement of Service for active-duty members.
  • Income verification: Pay stubs, W-2 forms, and tax returns.
  • Bank statements: Provide statements from your bank accounts for the last few months.
  • Identification: A valid driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID.

Find a VA-approved Lender

Now that you’re eligible and prepared, it’s time to connect with a VA-approved lender. These lenders are well-versed in VA loan requirements and will guide you through the process. You can check with local banks, credit unions, or explore online options.

Submit your Application

Once you’ve chosen a lender, submit your loan application. Some lenders offer online applications for added convenience. Provide all necessary documents and be honest about your financial situation. Honesty is the best policy to ensure a smooth pre-approval process.

Wait for the Pre-Approval Decision

Patience is key at this stage. The lender will review your application and documents thoroughly. If all goes well, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter detailing the loan amount you qualify for, based on your income, credit score, and other factors.

Understand the Pre-Approval Letter

The pre-approval letter will contain important information:

  • Loan amount: The maximum loan amount the lender is willing to offer.
  • Interest rate: The estimated interest rate for your loan.
  • Validity period: Pre-approval letters have an expiration date, typically up to 90 days.
  • Conditions: Any additional conditions you must meet for final approval.

Use the Pre-Approval to Your Advantage

Now that you have the pre-approval letter, it’s time to house hunt! You can confidently search for homes within your pre-approved budget, knowing that the financing is within reach.

Keep Your Finances Stable

Remember, pre-approval doesn’t guarantee final approval. Lenders may re-check your financial status before closing the loan. Avoid significant financial changes, like making large purchases or switching jobs, as it could affect your final approval.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask your lender any questions you may have about the pre-approval process. Understanding every aspect will give you peace of mind and confidence moving forward.


1. Can I use my VA loan benefit more than once?

Yes, in most cases, you can use your VA loan benefit multiple times. However, some conditions may apply if you currently have an active VA loan or defaulted on a previous one.

2. Is there a minimum credit score requirement for VA loans?

While the VA itself does not set a minimum credit score requirement, most lenders have their own credit score standards. A score of around 620 or higher is typically required for a VA loan.

3. Can I get a VA loan if I’ve had a bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past?

Yes, it’s possible to get a VA loan after bankruptcy or foreclosure, but there may be waiting periods and additional requirements. Check with your lender for specific details.

4. Can I use my VA loan to buy investment properties?

No, VA loans are intended for primary residences, so you cannot use them to purchase investment or rental properties.

5. Do VA loans require mortgage insurance?

One of the great benefits of VA loans is that they typically do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI), saving you money on your monthly payments.

6. How long does the pre-approval process take?

The pre-approval process can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the lender’s workload and how quickly you provide the required documents.

7. Can my spouse’s income be included in the pre-approval decision?

If your spouse is a co-borrower or co-signer on the loan, their income can be considered in the pre-approval decision, potentially increasing your loan eligibility.

8. What happens if my pre-approval expires?

If your pre-approval letter expires, you’ll need to reapply with the lender and provide updated documents for a new pre-approval letter.

9. Can I switch lenders after getting pre-approved?

Yes, you can switch lenders after getting pre-approved. However, keep in mind that changing lenders might result in additional paperwork and delays. It’s best to carefully consider your options and consult with both lenders before making a decision.

10. Can I make an offer on a home without a pre-approval?

Technically, you can make an offer on a home without a pre-approval, but it’s not recommended. Sellers may not take your offer seriously, especially in competitive markets, and you risk losing out to buyers with pre-approval letters. It’s wise to get pre-approved before making an offer.

11. What if I find a home that exceeds my pre-approved amount?

If you find a home that exceeds your pre-approved amount, you have a few options. You can negotiate with the seller to lower the price, cover the difference with a larger down payment, or explore other financing options.

12. Can I use a VA loan to buy a condo?

Yes, you can use a VA loan to buy a condo, but the condo complex must be VA-approved. Check with your lender to ensure the condo you’re interested in meets the VA’s requirements.

13. Can I refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan?

Yes, you may be able to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan through the VA’s Cash-Out Refinance or Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) programs, depending on your eligibility and circumstances.

14. Are there any fees associated with the pre-approval process?

Typically, lenders do not charge a fee for pre-approval. However, some may request a small fee to cover the cost of obtaining your credit report or other administrative expenses. Always clarify any potential fees with your lender upfront.

15. How long is the pre-approval letter valid?

Pre-approval letters are usually valid for up to 90 days. If you haven’t found a home within that timeframe, you’ll need to reapply for pre-approval.

16. What if I have a service-related disability?

If you have a service-related disability, you may be eligible for a VA funding fee exemption, potentially saving you money at closing. Check with your lender and the VA for more information.

17. Can I include the VA funding fee in my loan amount?

Yes, you can include the VA funding fee in your loan amount instead of paying it upfront. However, keep in mind that financing the fee will increase your overall loan balance and monthly payments.

18. How can I improve my chances of getting pre-approved?

To improve your chances of getting pre-approved, focus on maintaining a good credit score, reducing debt, and having a stable income. Additionally, try to save for a down payment to increase your loan eligibility.

19. Is there a limit on how much I can borrow with a VA loan?

Yes, the VA sets loan limits based on the county where the property is located. These limits vary by location and can change annually. Check the VA’s website for the most up-to-date loan limits in your area.

20. Can I get a VA loan if I’ve previously had a foreclosure on a VA-backed loan?

If you had a foreclosure on a VA-backed loan, you may still be eligible for another VA loan. However, there may be specific waiting periods and additional requirements. Consult with a VA-approved lender for guidance on your situation.


Congratulations! You’ve completed the pre-approval journey for a VA home loan. By now, you should have a clear understanding of the process, the benefits of pre-approval, and how to maximize your chances of securing your dream home. Remember to stay informed, ask questions, and work with a reputable VA-approved lender to ensure a smooth and successful homebuying experience. Best of luck on your path to homeownership! See you again in another interesting article!