The home buying process in Washington State is generally the same for borrowers using a VA-guaranteed home loan, and those who are using a conventional mortgage. But there are a few minor variations. Here’s an overview of the home buying process in Washington when a VA loan is being used.
How Do VA Home Loans Work?
The Department of Veterans Affairs home loan program is one of a kind. It’s the only government-backed program that enables military members and veterans to buy a house with no money down (and usually without mortgage insurance). This is what makes the program so popular among military home buyers in Washington State.
This program is available to most military members and their families. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not actually give loans to borrowers. Instead, they guarantee / insure the loans made by lenders operating within the private sector. This government backing allows eligible borrowers to purchase a home with no money down. The program also has some fairly flexible criteria, which is another advantage for home buyers who use it.
The Process for Home Buyers in Washington
The home buying process in Washington State is fairly consistent across the board, for both VA and conventional mortgage borrowers. Aside from some extra paperwork on the front end, home buyers who use a VA loan typically go through all of the same steps as any other buyer.
Here’s what the process looks like for most buyers in Washington:
Step 1. Eligibility Check
The first step is to ensure that you are eligible for the VA loan program. The Department of Veterans Affairs has specific guidelines for borrowers. You’ll find an overview of those requirements here on our website, and also on the VA’s website. The bottom line is that if you’re currently on active duty, in the reserves, or a veteran, you’re likely qualified for this program (or soon will be).
Step 2. The COE
The next step in the VA home buying process is to apply for a certificate of eligibility (COE). This is an official document that shows you are, in fact, eligible to use a VA loan. You can apply for a COE by mailing a completed request form, or by using the department’s “eBenefits” website to do it electronically. We can assist you with this process as well.
Step 3. Loan Application
Once you’ve obtained your certificate of eligibility, you can move forward by actually applying for a loan. The application itself is a standard document used by nearly all borrowers, regardless of the loan type that’s being used.
Step 4. Pre-Approval
We encourage home buyers in Washington (and elsewhere) to get pre-approved for a mortgage before beginning the house hunting process. Pre-approval is an initial screening process lenders use to help determine how much you might be able to borrow. You benefit from it in several ways. You’ll be able to narrow your house hunting to a specific price range. It also shows sellers that you’re serious about buying.
5. Making an Offer
Once you find a home within your price range that checks all of your boxes, the next step is to make an offer. If the seller accepts your offer, you would then provide us with a copy of the signed purchase agreement. This document (including any addendums) is needed to move forward with the VA home buying process.
Step 6: Home Appraisal
A home appraisal is typically required when buying a house in Washington with a VA loan. The purpose of the appraisal is to determine the current market value of the property, and to ensure it meets the minimum requirements for this program.
As a home buyer, there’s not much for you to do until after the appraisal is completed. If the appraiser determines that the house is worth the price you’ve agree to pay (or more), the VA loan process can move forward. If the appraisal comes in below the amount you’ve agreed to pay, you might need to negotiate further with the seller.
Step 7: Final Closing
The closing process in Washington State is similar for home buyers using VA or conventional mortgage loans. This is where you review and sign all finalized documents relating to the sale of the home. It’s also where you pay any closing costs that might be due. Property ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer.