California VA Loan Requirements & VA Eligibility

California VA loans are allowed for purchase of an owner-occupied home (California Veterans may receive 100% financing—$0 down payment), for the refinance of a current VA loan (even if it has been converted to a rental or second home), and sometimes allowed for conversion from another loan type (lender restrictions apply).  In general, California VA Loan Eligibility Requirements are met if you qualify under one of the following:

Active Duty:

  • Not dishonorably discharge
  • Active duty during war time: 90 consecutive days
  • Active duty during peace time: 181 consecutive days

Veterans: honorably discharged and served

  • Active duty during war time: 90 consecutive days
  • Active duty during peace time: 181 consecutive days

Reservist:  minimum 6 years service in any of the following:

  • Army National Guard
  • Army Reserve
  • Air National Guard
  • Coast Guard Reserve
  • Navy Reserve
  • Marine Corps Reserve
  • Air Force Reserve

Spouse of Active Duty or Veteran

  • Un-remarried and serving spouse died while in service or from service-connected disability
  • Serving spouse was MIA or POW

There is no minimum VA Credit score required for California VA Loan Eligibility, but the individual lender who provides the money is allowed to set their own minimum VA Credit standards. (The VA doesn’t lend money.  The VA provides an insurance policy that insures the institution lending money.  If a VA Loan borrower should default on or stop making payments on the California VA Loan, the VA will reimburse the lender for a portion of their loss—usually 25%).

Changing economic conditions and increased losses due to loan defaults have motivated lenders to limit to whom they will lend.  In terms of credit scores and FICO requirements (FICO is a branded credit score issued by Fair Isaac Corporation), most lenders who provide the money for a California VA Loan, as well as to those Veterans in other states, require that a Veteran or Active-Duty person have a minimum credit score of at least 620 (middle of three issued scores).  In rare instances, lenders will allow a California Veteran to have a FICO score that is lower.

Don’t think you have the minimum score required to get a VA loan?  DO NOT LET THIS DISCOURAGE YOU.  Ask a qualified California VA Lender their requirements.  If you don’t have the needed FICO score, many times they can advise you of steps to take to raise your score and get yourself qualified to buy.

Determining California VA Loan Eligibility can be accomplished through WealthWise Mortgage Planning or another experienced VA lender (To make your VA Loan process as easy and painless as possible, experience is key when getting a California VA Loan.  Find a loan professional, like me, who is licensed by the California Department of Real Estate and by the National Mortgage Licensing System). 

Determining your VA Loan Eligibility requires the following paperwork: 

  • Discharged Veterans:  Form DD214
  • Active-Duty:  Statement-of-Service
  • National Guard/Reserve, never activated:  NGB Form 22 or 23
  • Any of the above:  Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to determine you have VA entitlement.

WealthWise Mortgage Planning, as an experienced California VA Lender, has direct access to the Veteran’s Administration and can help you get your Certificate of Eligibility much quicker than if you did it on your own.

Lastly, if you have either had a divorce, filed bankruptcy, or had a previous home go into foreclosure, you are not immediately disqualified from a California VA Loan, although there are some additional restrictions.

California's VA
Home Loan Specialist

Andrew is a Senior Mortgage Banker with years of experience with residential home mortgages. Andrew is proud to specialize in VA Home Loans to help active-duty and retired military personnel realize the dream of home ownership. Andrew and his team are also skilled in Conventional and FHA financing to help homeowners decide on the loan program that suits their needs.

Andrew Vierra
NMLS #230799
Branch Manager
(916) 932-7160
Licensed in CA

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