How do I go about purchasing a home with a VA Home Loan?

Asked by sarahb8420, Strafford, NH Fri Dec 2, 2011

We are looking to buy our first home (but know nothing about real estate).
We found one that we really like within our price range. He sent in for the VA eligibility certificate. What's the next step?
I just would like the step-by-step process to buying a home (it's a short sale, if that matters) via a VA Home Loan.
How long will it take?
Thank you.

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Dana Curtis, , Manchester, NH
Fri Dec 16, 2011
The first step that you will always want to take before putting an offer on any property is to get preapproved first. Basically, a preapproval is where you give your Lender copies of your pay stubs, W2 statements, and asset information (checking, savings, etc etc). With that material, plus with pulling your credit we'd know exactly what would be the maximum that you could qualify for. Once we know that, then we can give you a preapproval letter that you can show your Realtor, so he can supply that letter with the offer he presents to the seller's Realtor.

When your offer is accepted, then that would be we would order the appraisal and the title search. The actual closing timeframe is usually 3-4 weeks, but it may take a few weeks to a few months on getting the short sale approval. I had one client that had to wait for 13 months!!

One thing that I run into a lot when it comes to a VA loan, is the potential Buyer is expecting to purchase a home with no money out of pocket. Where the VA loan is a 100% finance product, please do remember that you will have closing costs that either you or the Seller will need to pay on your behalf. Closing costs tend to be expensive here in New Hampshire, and even without having a downpayment you will still be looking around $6-7,000 out of pocket. Hope this helps!
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Jim Simms, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Louisville, KY
Fri Dec 2, 2011
Have your Realtor introduce you to the loan officer they trust the most. Gather all of the support documents that will be needed to apply for a loan and meet with the LO face-to-face, have them walk you through the process and options available.

There are several versions of the certificate of eligibility provided by the VA, your LO can get the proper one online if you furnish them the dd214.

As for how long it will take to purchase a short sale, there is no guarantee it will even happen, the seller is asking the lender(s) to take less than what is owed. The lender is going to investigate deeply to make sure they are not being cheated by anyone. Hope this is helpful, good luck,
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Sally Grenier, Agent, Boulder, CO
Fri Dec 2, 2011
Tammy is right on. To answer your question about "how long will it take?" -- If you're buying a regular house (not a short sale) it can take as little as a few weeks to a month or two. The most time consuming part is getting the loan approved. The timeline is addressed in your contract to buy, where you have to identify a closing date, and other dates & deadlines for things to take place, such as inspection, appraisal, title, etc.

Keep in mind that dates in the contract are also up for negotiation with the sellers. Some sellers may prefer an earlier close date, while other may prefer something later. All depends on their situation.

Your Realtor will be able to guide you through the whole process. Good luck!
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Tammy Hayes, Agent, Port Charlotte, FL
Fri Dec 2, 2011
I will answer two different questions. First time home buyer steps and short sale information.

First time home buyer tips
Are you a first time home buyer? Here are some helpful tips to get you started on the right path.

1. The first step before you do anything is to find out how much money you can borrow from a bank/mortgage company. Check with different lenders to see who can get you the best deal. Once you know what you can afford, then you can begin to plan.

2. Determine what you need in a home, not necessarily what you want in a home. Make a list of those needs to give to your Realtor. When you are searching for homes you will find that it is very rare to find a home that has absolutely everything you are looking for. If you stick to what you actually need, you will have better success in your search.

3. Research areas/communities that are of interest to you. Determine what things are important such as schools, proximity to shopping, restaurants, and local activities. Drive through the communities to get a feel for what they are like.

4. Learn as much as you can about the process of buying a home. Some local Realtors or lenders will offer first time home buying seminars. If you can find one in your local area it would be helpful to attend. If you cannot attend a seminar, look on the Internet for a home buyers guide such as the one at -…

5. Select a local Realtor to help you begin your search for a home. You can search Internet sites such as or, but a Realtor has access to all of the homes in the local MLS. They can provide you with information on the home, the area and answer any questions you may have. A Realtor can show you properties of interest.

6. Learn about the contract and what is involved. Your Realtor can take you through step by step the process of a contract. After it is signed by buyer and seller, it is called an executed contract. Then you would want to get a home inspection. If everything is fine with the inspection, then you can go forward towards closing.

7. Know what happens at closing. Again, a Realtor can walk you through what to expect at closing. You will need to have money for closing costs such as title search, processing fees, taxes, and insurance.

Buying your first home is an exciting and overwhelming experience. So make sure you are prepared.

Buying a Short Sale

Buying a short sale is not like buying a property in a traditional way. A short sale may have some risk but it also can be very rewarding. When you are searching for a short sale you will want to make sure you are prepared. Here are some things you will need to consider.

First of all, you need to make sure that you have enough time. It takes anywhere from 30 days to 6 months or even more to get an answer on a short sale. It really depends on many factors. It requires a proof of funds letter if paying cash or a pre-approval letter from a lender if obtaining a mortgage. The seller must approve the purchase offer before it gets submitted to the bank. The bank may come back with a counteroffer or reject your offer completely. In some instances you may not even hear back from the bank at all.

Short sales take a long time because the bank has to review it and they are back logged with many short sales and don't have enough coverage to complete them in a timely manner. The bank typically is willing to work with the seller and buyer on short sales to help avoid foreclosure. The bank can ask the buyer to pay some of the liens or HOA fees. Some lenders will only pay up to a certain dollar amount and ask the buyer to pay the remainder or there is no deal.

One of the benefits of buying a short sale is that the bank is typically willing to accept less money for the property because of the time and risk involved. So you generally are getting the home at below market value.

If you have the time to wait, a short sale is a good way to go. One thing to be sure to ask when purchasing a short sale is, "who is handling it?" Is the Realtor an experienced short sale expert? Or is the listing agent using a Short Sale company that strictly focuses on short sales? By having someone with knowledge and expertise in short sales, it will make the process go much smoother and faster.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL
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Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Fri Dec 2, 2011
Sarah your first step should be to meet with a loan officer to get preuailified. You have done the right thing to get your eligibility certificate as you will need that. The second step is hiring a buyer broker to assist you in finding a home and guiding you through the buying process. If you would like some help, please feel free to call. As far as the types of sales, short sales can be the hardest and longest, making an offer on a short sale can take time and it is not guaranteed. It is important to work with an agent well experienced in short sales to guide you through the process. There are just as good deals on bank owne dhomes and resales these days. Good luck with your search and please feel free to email me any questions.
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