In order to use your VA home loan benefits, you need a COE or Certificate of Entitlement. Without it, lenders don’t know if you are eligible for a VA loan or how much entitlement you have. The amount of entitlement directly affects the loan amount a lender can give you and your eligibility ensures that the VA will guarantee your loan.
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This certificate is a vital part of the VA loan process, so how long does it take to get it? There are several ways you can obtain your certificate. The method you choose will determine how long it will take.
The Easiest Method
The easiest way to get your Certificate of Entitlement is to have your lender do it for you. If you know that you are eligible because you served the right amount of time and have an honorable discharge, you can let the lender get the certificate for you. In order to be eligible you must:
- Serve 90 days during wartime in the regular military
- Serve 181 days during peacetime in the regular military
- Serve 6 years in the National Guard or Reserve
Your lender can use their online system to request your COE and receive it within a matter of minutes. This is the fastest way to get the process rolling for you.
Getting the Certificate on Your Own
If you decide that you would rather get the certificate on your own either because you aren’t sure of your eligibility or you aren’t quite ready to apply for a loan, you have a couple of options:
- You can request it online via the eBenefits portal. You simply log into your account in the VA portal and follow the prompts. If the VA has all of the information that they need, they will provide your certificate quickly. If they need further information, you’ll have to provide it to your regional office in order to get your certificate.
- You can request it via mail. If you aren’t in a hurry to get your certificate, you must complete VA Form 26-1880 and mail it into your local office. It usually takes 4 -6 weeks for processing of the application.
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This is the First Step
Keep in mind that getting the certificate is just the first step in the process. The COE lets the lender know that you are eligible for the loan. it doesn’t mean that you qualify for it, though. That’s a whole different piece of the puzzle.
In order to prove that you qualify for the loan that you applied for, you must show:
- A minimum 620 credit score
- A maximum 43% total debt ratio
- Stable income
- Stable employment
- No defaulted federal loans
- No recent foreclosures
- No recent bankruptcies
Each VA lender has their own requirements regarding the VA loan. The best thing you can do is shop around with different lenders so that you have a feel for what they offer. This way you can make sure that you get the VA loan that is right for you.
If you know that you will apply for a VA loan in the near future, it’s best to get your hands on the COE now. The quicker you have the certificate, the easier it will be to apply for the VA loan.
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