VA Loans: Facts, Myths, and More You Should Know

Bethany White November 15, 2022 | 4 min read
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VA loan fact: The benefits are tough to beat for qualified borrowers (what’s a qualified borrower? More on that later). Another VA loan fact? There’s a lot of not-so-factual information out there about who can get one, how to get one, and why you might want to get one in the first place. So, we’re here today to bust some VA loan myths and get the facts straight.

Top 5 VA Loan Myths

  • You need perfect credit to qualify
  • Only combat veterans are eligible
  • You can only get a VA loan once
  • Veterans are guaranteed a VA loan
  • The VA appraisal process takes longer than average

VA Loan Fact: You DON’T need perfect credit to qualify.

It’s a myth that you need perfect credit to apply for ANY mortgage, but VA loans especially offer some of the most flexible credit requirements out there. Currently, you could get approved with a FICO score as low as 550. With a “perfect” score being 850, that’s plenty of wiggle room to meet your homeownership goals while you grow your credit. Just keep in mind that, in general, a lower score equates to higher rates.

Pro Tip: Is your credit a work in progress? We’ve been there. Try these tips for overcoming common credit challenges.

VA Loan Fact: VA loans aren’t JUST for combat veterans.

Not just anyone can get a VA loan, but the list of qualified borrowers (told you we’d get back to this) may be longer than you think. You can apply for a VA mortgage if you’re a:

  • Military veteran
  • Active-duty service member
  • Reservist or National Guard member
  • Surviving spouse of a veteran
  • Public Health Service officer
  • Cadet at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy
  • Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy
  • Officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

To apply for financing, you’ll need to get your Certificate of Eligibility from the VA. You can learn more about VA home loan eligibility requirements here.

VA Loan Fact: You can use a VA loan AS MANY TIMES as you want.

Or, at least, as many times as your entitlement allows. Your entitlement is how much money the VA will repay on your behalf if you default on your loan with a private lender. The VA offers a basic entitlement of $36,000 and your private lender will typically offer up to four times that entitlement. That means your VA mortgage likely covers a $144,000 loan.

Pro Tip: Get the full breakdown of how many times you can use a VA loan here.

VA Loan Fact: Being a veteran does NOT guarantee you a VA loan.

Just like any home loan, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved for VA financing just because you qualify to apply. You’ll still need to meet your lender’s financial requirements with documentation of your credit history, employment (thank you for your service), and more.

Pro Tip: Guarantee and guaranty are not the same thing. A VA loan guaranty refers to how much of the loan is backed by the government, not a commitment to lending you a specific amount.

VA Loan Fact: The VA appraisal process is similar to ANY home loan appraisal.

The VA appraisal process can be rough if you’ve got your heart set on a fixer-upper. Otherwise, it isn’t much different from the average home appraisal. VA loan appraisers use the VA Minimum Property Requirement guidelines to determine if a home is safe, structurally sound, and sanitary. If the home doesn’t meet their standards, the process can take a while. These requirements include:

  • Plumbing and electrical systems must be safe and in good condition
  • Heating must be adequate
  • Roofing must be adequate
  • No leaks, excessive dampness, defective construction, or decay
  • No termites, destructive insects, fungus growth, or dry rot

Bottom line, VA loans aren’t designed to fund fixer-uppers. So, if you choose a home that’s in good condition, you shouldn’t have any unexpected problems with the appraisal process.

Pro Tip: So, you can’t use a VA loan for a fixer-upper. If you’re committed to renovating, here are some ways you can finance it.

Are there any other VA loan facts I should know?

If the process of getting a VA loan is feeling daunting, just know that the benefits are well worth a little extra paperwork. For qualified borrowers, VA loans offer:

  • No down payment required
  • No private mortgage insurance required
  • Competitive interest rates
  • VA streamline refis with no appraisal

Before you make your decision, take our mortgage calculator for a spin to see what you can expect.

VA loans are more flexible than you might think! And with competitive interest rates and credit requirements, the benefits are worth getting to know.

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About the Author
When Bethany was a kid, her mom took her to the zoo, museums, and more fun spots—then made her write essays about them. Now, Bethany deploys those skills as a copywriter at Cardinal Financial and has to admit: she owes her mom one. When Bethany’s not dreaming up fresh takes on mortgage lending, you can find her running, spoiling her cat, and refusing to improve as a chef.