The state of Washington currently ranks #7 in the nation when it comes to the total number of military personnel living in the state. Because of this, plenty of folks could benefit from using a VA loan to buy a house.
But there are specific steps you’ll need to take to get the ball rolling. If you’re wondering how to apply for a VA home loan in WA State, we will answer that in this article.
VA Home Loans in Washington: The Perks
There are several reasons why you may want to consider a VA home loan if you’re a veteran or are currently on active duty:
Zero Down Payment. One of the biggest VA loan benefits in Washington is the zero-down payment option. This program allows eligible borrowers to finance up to 100% of the purchase price, avoiding the down payment altogether—among other benefits.
Lax Credit Requirements. Your credit score matters when you apply for a mortgage, but you may not necessarily need a strong credit score to get approved for a VA home loan in WA State. While the credit requirements for VA mortgage lenders can still be a challenge for borrowers to meet, it’s still possible even with less-than-perfect credit.
Limits on Closing Costs. Closing costs are part of the mortgage process, no matter what type of home loan you take out. However, there are limits to what fees veterans pay at the time of mortgage closing.
No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Conventional mortgages with less than a 20% down payment require the addition of private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can work out to thousands of dollars in extra payments. Even FHA loans require an upfront insurance premium and annual mortgage insurance. But with VA home loans, no mortgage insurance is required.
How to Apply for a VA Loan in WA State
In many respects, filling out and completing a VA mortgage application in WA is the same as regular conventional mortgage loans. But there are a few key differences when applying for a VA-guaranteed mortgage loan in Washington.
Here’s how the process usually unfolds:
1. Obtain your Certificate of Eligibility.
The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is an official document issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s essential to your eligibility for a VA loan in WA. All borrowers in Washington who wish to use a VA loan to buy a house will require a COE.
This document verifies to the mortgage lender that you are eligible to participate in the VA loan program. It also states whether or not you have used the program before and how much “entitlement” you have remaining.
Obtaining your COE is one of the first steps you need to take when applying for a VA loan in Washington. You can only continue the application process once you have obtained this certificate.
The good news is you have multiple ways to request this document. The easiest method is to request it online through the VA.gov website or have your mortgage lender request it for you.
You can also request your Certificate of Eligibility by mail, which tends to take longer. Requesting your COE electronically can help expedite the process, which is essential for many home buyers in Washington.
You’ll also have to provide some kind of verification of your military service to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility. Active-duty military personnel typically need a statement of service signed by their commander or personnel officer. Veterans who have previously served can provide a copy of their discharge or separation papers (e.g., DD Form 214).
2. Gather your supporting documents.
The rest of the VA loan application is nearly identical to the process used with conventional mortgage loans. In addition to the COE mentioned above, you’ll also need to provide various documents relating to your employment and financial status as part of the Washington State VA loan requirements.
To apply for a VA loan in the state of Washington, you will probably have to provide recent pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, bank statements, and information relating to other assets or debts.
Self-employed borrowers might need to submit additional documents during the VA loan application process, such as business tax returns and a profit and loss (P&L) statement.
Related: Documents needed for a VA loan
These days, most of the documents needed when applying for a VA loan can be submitted electronically. This helps to expedite the process by reducing the need for face-to-face office visits between you and your lender.
3. Complete a loan application.
In Washington, VA loans typically use the same application form as a conventional or non-government-backed home loan. It’s known as the Uniform Residential Loan Application or URLA.
It can also be referred to as “Fannie Mae Form 1003” or “Freddie Mac Form 65.” All of these labels and designations refer to the same loan application document.
The mortgage application requires personal details like your name, address, and employment history. You’ll also have to provide financial information such as income, assets, and liabilities. Mortgage lenders use this information to assess your creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan obligation.
The URLA also asks for information about the property being purchased, including the street address, legal description, and the year the home was built. But you might not have this information when applying for a VA loan—and that’s okay.
In a typical mortgage lending scenario, the borrower will apply and get pre-approved for a specific loan amount before starting the house-hunting process. Once you’ve signed a purchase agreement with the seller, the property-related information can be added later.
(Note: If you’d like to see an example document, just do a Google search for “Fannie Mae Form 1003 PDF.” This will give you additional insight into the information needed when applying for a VA loan in Washington.)
4. Get a pre-approval letter from your lender.
Once you’ve submitted a VA loan application and provided additional documents, your mortgage lender will pre-approve you for a certain amount. Your pre-approval represents the maximum amount you can borrow when using a VA loan to buy a house in Washington.
The application and the pre-approval are directly connected. When you apply for a home loan, the lender will review your finances to determine how much you can borrow. When you do this before shopping for a home, it’s referred to as “pre-approval.”
5. Start the house-hunting process!
After completing the basic application process for a VA loan, you’re ready to start looking for a house. When you find one that meets your needs and want to make an offer, you can attach your pre-approval letter as well. This shows the seller that you’re a serious buyer.
If you want to know more about how to apply for a VA home loan in WA State, check out our VA home buying guide in WA. And be sure to consult with a team of experts who can fill you in on the process from start to finish.
Need Help? Sammamish Mortgage is proud to offer VA loans to service members and veterans all across the state of Washington. We specialize in this program and can answer any questions you might have. Please contact our staff with your questions or to apply for a loan.