This process is pretty similar to getting pre-approved for any type of mortgage loan. Here's a
brief rundown of the steps you'll need to take to find out exactly how much home you can buy:
1. Complete a Loan Application. Don't worry about filling out every last little detail on the
application. Just fill out what you can, and if your Loan Officer needs anything else, he/she will
let you know.
2. Complete Form 26-1880. You can skip this step if you already have a copy of your Certificate
of Eligibility, which lets your lender know you're eligible for a VA Loan. This form is just a one-
page form that only takes about a minute to complete. You can obtain a blank form by visiting
Military.com or homeloans.va.gov and doing a search for "Form 26-1880."
3. Submit income docs, such as a current LES/pay stub, 2008 and 2009 W-2 Forms. Other
examples include your VA Award Letters (VA Disability) and a Retirement Statement.
4. With permission, your Loan Officer will pull your credit and review your credit report. If
anything negative shows up, this is the time your Loan Officer should let you know. Generally,
you want your middle credit score to be at or above 620. If you have any recent bankruptcies,
foreclosures, repos, liens, or judgments, it could prevent you from being able to buy a home
using ANY type of mortgage loan. And if your middle score, not the average of the 3 scores, is
below 620, you won't be able to get pre-approved for a VA Loan (or any loan for that matter). At
this time, if you cannot get pre-approved, your Loan Officer should provide you with an
explanation as to why this is the case and how you can improve your chances of getting pre-
approved as soon as possible.
5. Finally, a VA Loan Analysis is done to determine your pre-approval amount. Your Loan
Officer will then send you two things: a Pre-approval Letter and initial disclosures that you must
sign and return. Don't worry, the disclosures are non-binding, so by signing them, you're not
locked into anything. The only documents that you will sign that are binding are the docs you
sign at the closing table.
Now, it's important to note that the Pre-Approval Process should only take about an hour or two
max, and it can be done completely via email, fax, and / or phone. Most importantly, it shouldn't
cost you anything to get pre-approved. Lenders can legally charge certain up front fees if they
choose, such as a credit report fee or loan application fee, but the great majority of them will not
Pre-approvals are generally valid for 90 to 120 days, and a Pre-Approval does let a seller know
that you are a serious buyer.