A home loan through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, called a VA loan, can be a great way to get a low-cost mortgage if you qualify as a military service member, veteran or their surviving spouse.
A VA loan requires no down payment and has no minimum credit score requirements. You can use this calculator to estimate how much house you can afford and your monthly mortgage payments if you qualify for a VA loan.
How to Use the VA Loan Calculator
To use this VA loan calculator, input the following general information:
The estimated home value
Your down payment amount, if any—but it’s often not required with a VA loan
The number of years you will repay the loan, called the loan term
Your estimated interest rate
The type of VA loan you’re interested in
You can also get a more detailed result by estimating the property’s annual tax cost and homeowners insurance fees as well as providing your military experience and whether you’ve used a VA loan in the past. The more information provided, the more specific results the calculator can provide. However, your exact loan cost and terms will ultimately be determined by your lender.
How Do VA Loans Work?
The Veterans Affairs office works with mortgage lenders by guaranteeing a portion of every VA home loan, so borrowers don’t have to make a down payment or pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This also means there is less risk to the lender, so you can get more favorable rates and terms.
With a VA loan, you usually have a low or no down payment requirement, and the interest rates tend to be lower than traditional mortgage options. They also have more flexible standards that allow for a higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and lower credit score, making them easier to qualify for if you have less-than-perfect credit.
VA Loan Requirements
In order to qualify for a VA home loan, you must have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard or reservist for a certain period of time. If you were dishonorably discharged or did not serve long enough, you may not be able to get a VA loan.
You’ll also need a certificate of eligibility (COE) to participate in the VA loan program. You can apply for your COE online or by mail, or your VA lender can get it for you.
Surviving spouses also can sometimes get VA loans if their husband or wife passed away while serving or due to a service-related disability, became a prisoner of war or went missing in action.
The lender will also require you to meet certain financial requirements, like demonstrating you can pay back your mortgage. You can check the VA’s full list of eligibility here.
You can only use a VA loan on a property that’s your primary residence; you can’t use it to buy a vacation home or an investment property. You can, however, use a VA loan to build a home, remodel an existing property or make a home more accessible if you have service-related disabilities. You also can use your VA loan benefits throughout your lifetime.
VA Loan Limits
The VA does not impose a limit on how much you can borrow with a VA loan as long as it’s more than $144,000. However, there is a limit to how much you can borrow without making a down payment, based on your VA entitlement. A VA entitlement is the maximum loan amount the VA office will pay your lender if you default on your mortgage loan, which is up to 25% of the loan amount.
If you have full entitlement, this means you do not have to pay a down payment and the VA covers that guaranteed percentage to the lender, so long as the loan was more than $144,000.
How to Find the Best VA Loan
Since the VA office itself does not directly offer VA loans, you will first need to find a VA lender on the department’s website, through online searches or at your existing financial institution. Many lenders offer VA loans, but there are some who specialize in it.
The lender should walk you through the application process, which will feel similar to getting a traditional mortgage. You can also check Forbes Advisor’s list of the best VA mortgage lenders to help with your search.
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