There are many benefits to getting a VA loan. Just like with any mortgage, there is still plenty of paperwork required when applying for a VA loan. As a home buyer you’d expect to be required to produce documents such as credit reports, tax returns and job history. One requirement stands out apart from what most common mortgages ask for, however. Because a VA loan is a special mortgage made available to military families, a special document known as a VA Certificate of Eligibility must accompany the home buyer’s application.
The Certificate of Eligibility, also known as the COE, is evidence of VA eligibility. This piece of paper lets lenders know a buyer meets minimum standards of eligibility for a VA loan set by the federal government for their service. Getting a VA loan without the proper COE accompanying the application is nearly impossible, although there may be extenuating circumstances that will allow it in extreme cases.
THE EASY WAY TO GET YOUR COE
For most people who currently serve, or have served in the U.S. military, getting a COE is a rather routine process. In most cases your lender can get it for you. That is the easiest method of acquiring a COE. You simply ask your lender to go to the Department of Veterans Affairs website and access the area called Web LGY. That is the loan guaranty system of the VA. Neither the public, nor veterans can access this for themselves. Only approved VA lenders can gain access to this area of the website. In the Web LGY portion of the site, a lender can establish a veteran’s eligibility easily and get the COE directly issued from there. It only takes a few minutes. The certificate can be printed out directly from the site without waiting.
Under certain circumstances, the VA may not have the proper date to grant a COE from the website. This does create a little bit of a problem for a lender, and in those cases a request needs to be sent in writing through the USPS. The VA would prefer all requests be fulfilled through their online website and that all active duty personnel and veterans ask the lender to get the information for the COE from the Web LGY.
The COE is required of all VA mortgage loan applications. The only time a COE is not needed is when a current VA mortgage loan holder is getting refinanced via the IRRRL, also known as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. When refinancing a VA loan with the IRRRL there is no COE required, because the refi loan is just replacing an original VA loan that already had a COE in the application process.
FILING A VA FORM 26-1880
If you have met the terms of service time to obtain a VA loan, but those records are not showing up on the VA website, you can file form 26-1880. This form gives the VA all of the information they need to verify the length of time spent in service and if the requirements of types of service have been met. This is most often required of National Guard and Reserve servicepersons although in some cases active duty or veterans may also need to furnish this information.
The information on form 26-1880 can be sent to the VA via email or in writing via the post office. It isn’t a long form, and it is easy to fill out. Information on the form includes:
• Date of birth
• Telephone number
• Home address
• Possible aliases
• Dates of service
• Current service status
• Prior VA loan approvals where applicable
Active-duty personnel may also need to add a statement regarding current status of their service. This statement will need to be signed by, or under the direction of, the serviceperson’s adjutant, personnel officer or commander. If necessary, your VA lender can help you write the necessary information out. A veteran must also include a copy of their discharge papers, DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This document will state the terms of discharge, reason of release and character of service.
Like the simple request, your lender can send all of this to the VA through their access of the Web LGY. It isn’t necessary to send it yourself.
FILING VA FORM 26-1817
All reserve military personnel, National Guard and military spouses can get a VA loan, however they will be required to show a COE as well. This isn’t always the same as the COE a veteran or active duty serviceperson would have.
A Form 26-1817 is required of any surviving spouse to determine loan guaranty eligibility for unmarried surviving spouses. An important difference for this form is that it can’t be delivered via the Web LGY. It must be sent in writing via the post office, which means there will be a delay while waiting for a response. Since it can take as much as three months to get Form 26-1817 processed, spouses of veterans should prepare in advance to get their loans approved.
BEGINNING A VA LOAN APPLICATION
The VA loan program is only available to military personnel and their families. It is a reward program for time served in the U.S. military or its branches such as National Guard. It is a loan guaranty that allows for 100% financing without any other mortgage insurance. The VA loan program covers standard and “jumbo” loans that are larger, and typically used to by high income properties, at standard interest rates. Remind your lender that you need to obtain your COE, and ask them to begin the process. In most cases it is a simple process that only takes minutes.