California VA Loan Requirements & Eligibility
The VA loan program allows for $0 down financing, which is great for California Veterans and active duty military personnel. What who is eligible for this program, and what does it take to verify your eligibility?
These are important questions, which we’ve tried to answer below. California Veterans with active duty service (who were not dishonorably discharged) during World War II and later periods are eligible for VA loan benefits.
- World War II (September 16, 1940 to July 25, 1947)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955)
- and Vietnam era (August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975) veterans must have at least 90 days of service.
There are many veterans who served for short periods of time 30 years ago who even now do not realize they are eligible for a VA loan. Veterans and active duty military personnel who served during peacetime must have had more than 180 days of active service.
Veterans of enlisted service starting after September 7, 1980, or officers with service beginning after October 16,1981, must in most cases have served at least 2 years.
Credit Requirements for a VA loan in California
The VA does not require that you have a certain credit score in order for approval. However, VA does not actually make loans, they just insure a portion of the loan.
Most lenders, including Direct VA mortgage loan lenders in California, are allowed to set their own minimum credit requirements for California VA mortgage loan . Currently, most Direct California VA lenders require a minimum 620 FICO score. (that is the “middle” score) Changing economic conditions and increased losses due to loan defaults have motivated lenders to tighten their guidelines.
Only a few years ago many California lenders were willing to lend to Veterans with FICO scores as low as 580. Not anymore. But achieving a 620 FICO score it not difficult.
As a result of these tightened guidelines, getting a loan without a down payment is more difficult than a few years ago, though one of the few remaining options for 100% financing is a VA loan.
To learn more about credit score requirements for California VA loans, our article on Credit Score Requirements For California VA Mortgage Loans is a great place to start.
Eligibility Documentation or a California VA Loan
There are three specific pieces of documentation a lender will need to determine your eligibility:
- A DD214 for discharged veterans.
- A statement of service for active military personnel. Active Duty military are able to get this through their base or commanding officer.
- A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to determine you have VA entitlement. Your California VA lender or loan officer can get this for you very quickly through if you can provide one of the two items listed above.
Because each lender has different qualifying guidelines, the next step is to contact your California VA lender to find out if you meet their VA loan requirements such as minimum FICO/credit scores, debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, and find out what your California county’s maximum 100% VA loan amount is.
Lastly, if you have either had a divorce, filed bankruptcy, or had a previous home go into foreclosure, you are not immediately disqualified from a VA loan, although there are some additional restrictions. Most California VA lenders adhere to general VA guidelines, which allow VA financing only two years after a foreclosure, short sale, or bankruptcy.
You can find more information regarding these topics in these related articles
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