Yes, you will need to get your eligibility certificate from VA. That is the relatively straight forward part of the process.
The next thing to do is get pre-approved for a home loan (not pre-qualified) with a reputable local lender.
Who you eventually choose will depend on where you are looking for a home exactly (which city).
I know for a fact that the ability of any particular lender to actually close a home loan at the terms they quote and by the required deadline varies widely from lender to lender. Unfortunately, a home buyer does not realize that they are working with a substandard lender until it is too late to find a replacement lender.
I know this as an agent, because I tend to work with the same local lenders over and over. I know which lenders can get the job done and which lenders can't.
If you are looking for a home in Yuba or Sutter county, please let me know, and I can refer you to a competent local lender.
Sorensen and Associates
A forty five day escrow was stretched to sixty days. The buyer was inconvenienced. Please shop around.. No lender is perfect. In fact most will make mistakes, and delays are common with all lenders. But USAA was pretty awful.
You will need your DD214 as proof of your separation from active duty. With this in hand, visit the following website for more information:
USAA does do a lot of military home loans. They offer an incentive for you to use them (like a rebate) but generally that rebate is coming out of the realtors pocket since they charge the real estate agent a referral fee for working with you. You may be more comfortable working with a local lender and selecting your own real estate agent.
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc
Lehigh Valley, PA
I am an expert in VA home buying and have helped several veterans like yourself, obtain homes. It is quite simple, but you must employ a full time realtor who knows the market and the area as well as the programs available for veterans. I am a retired Coastie (USCG) and have actually bought homes using my VA guarantee. Some of the advice given as answers may not be the most sound. I have clients who did not like USAA for the loan and used another lender because of rates, points and just communicability. The local lenders i generally use will actually get your VA Certificate of Eligibility for you which makes it convenient. Please give me a call Thursday and we can discuss it further. 530-701-6674. Thank you. Scott Thiel, Broker, GRI.