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The VA Loan Process in California: Updated for 2018

Are you planning to buy a home in California with a VA loan sometime in 2018? Smart move. This program offers a lot of benefits for borrowers. At this point, you probably have questions about how the process works. Here’s a step-by-step look at the VA loan process in California, fully updated for 2018.

The California VA Home Loan Process

Many of the steps in the mortgage process are the same, regardless of whether you’re using a VA-guaranteed home loan or a conventional (“regular”) mortgage product. But there are some differences when it comes to paperwork and home appraisals. Here are some of the basic steps in the VA loan process for California home buyers:

1. Get your COE: Borrowers who wish to use a VA home loan to buy a house must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, from the Department of Veterans Affairs. As its name suggests, this document tells the lender that you are eligible for the program. Here are the basic eligibility requirements. You’ll need a copy of your DD214 (for veterans) or a statement of service signed by your CO (for current military). We can help you obtain your certificate, or you can request it through the VA’s eBenefits website.

2. Document roundup: You’ll need to provide several documents to begin the VA loan process in California. (This is true for conventional mortgage loans as well.) These documents will help us review your financial situation to determine how much you can borrow. Common documents for VA loan applicants include tax records, pay records, bank statements and the like. Check out our A-to-Z list of mortgage documents.

3. Get pre-approved: Mortgage pre-approval is the next logical step in the California VA home loan process, and it goes hand it hand with the documentation mentioned above. You can think of mortgage pre-approval as a kind of financial pre-screening. We will review your current income and debts to determine how much you might be able to borrow, and provide you with a pre-approval letter. This helps you narrow your housing search to a specific price range, and could also make sellers more inclined to accept your offer. Here’s more information about VA loan pre-approval.

4. Find an agent: We encourage home buyers to seek help from an experienced real estate agent. This is especially important when buying a first home, or when purchasing in an area you’re not familiar with. An agent can help you find the right house, evaluate the price, and make a strong offer based on current market conditions.

5. Home appraisal: Once you’ve made an offer on a house and the seller has accepted, you’ll move into the “escrow” stage of the process. Several things happen at this stage, and the home appraisal is one of them. A VA-approved property appraiser will conduct a thorough inspection, and for two reasons. He wants to determine the market value of the property, and he’ll also ensure there aren’t any issues with it (disrepair, safety issues, etc.).

6. Underwriting and approval: Once the appraisal has been competed, you’ll move into the final underwriting and approval stage of the VA loan process. The underwriter will review your file to make sure it meets all requirements established by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If so, you’ll be “clear to close.”

7. Closing: You’re now ready for the final step in the VA home buying process. You’re ready to close. This is where you (and the co-borrower, if applicable) sign all of the finalized paperwork relating to the sale of the home. This process is usually managed by a closing escrow agent, and that person can explain all of the documents you are signing. After all parties have signed their respective paperwork, the loan “closes” and you will receive the keys to your new home!

Have questions? We are passionate about the VA program because it rewards our brave women and men in uniform. Please contact us if you have questions about the VA home loan process in California, or if you’d like to get started.

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