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California VA Loan Eligibility Requirements, at a Glance

Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans are a popular mortgage financing option in California. There are two reasons for this.

This program offers eligible borrowers 100% financing, which eliminates the need for a down payment. Secondly, California has a large military population, which means a lot of folks are eligible for the VA loan program.

This page explains the basic eligibility requirements for California VA loans in 2016 – 2017. It is based on official guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Home buyers: Please contact us if you have questions about California VA loan eligibility requirements, or to get a no-obligation rate quote.

Eligibility Requirements for California VA Loans

In order to qualify for a VA loan in California, borrowers must have suitable credit, sufficient income for the amount being borrowed, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility. These are the minimum eligibility requirements for California VA home loans.

Additionally, the home being purchased must be used as your own primary residence. This means you cannot use a VA-guaranteed mortgage loan to purchase a second home or vacation property. Borrowers are expected to live in the properties they purchase.

California VA loans can be used to:

  • Buy a home
  • Purchase a condo unit that’s located in a VA-approved project
  • Build a new home
  • Purchase and improve a house simultaneously
  • Improve an existing property with the addition of energy-related features
  • Buy a manufactured home and/or lot

The Certificate of Eligibility

The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is one of the most important documents for borrowers, because it determines whether or not you are eligible for the program. This is a fundamental eligibility requirement for California VA loans. In order to participate in the program, borrowers must obtain a COE.

The good news is that most military members and veterans in California are eligible for the VA loan program, and can therefore obtain a COE.

Here’s a summary of basic eligibility:

  • If you’re currently on active duty and have served at least 90 days continuously, you are probably eligible for a COE.
  • If you’re a veteran who has served at least 90 consecutive days during wartime, or at least 181 days during peacetime, you are likely eligible for a California VA home loan.
  • National Guard and members of the Selected Reserve are generally eligible after six years of service. (Exception: Those who served in the Gulf War may obtain a COE with at least 90 days of service.)
  • Spouses of military veterans are eligible for VA loans in some cases. According to official guidelines, this applies to the “Unremarried spouse of a Veteran who died while in service or from a service connected disability, or spouse of a Servicemember missing in action or a prisoner of war.”

Other Eligible Groups

In addition to the groups listed above, borrowers might be eligible for a California VA loan if they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Certain U.S. citizens who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in World War II
  • Individuals with service as members in certain organizations, such as Public Health Service officers, cadets at the United States Military, Air Force, or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, merchant seaman with World War II service, and others

VA Loan Income Requirements

There isn’t a specific income level requirement for California home buyers seeking a VA loan. But borrowers are expected to have an income that is sufficient to repay their loan obligation. Mortgage lenders will review your current income situation to ensure you are able to cover your monthly expenses, including your monthly mortgage payments.

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not impose any specific requirements for credit scores. (More on that here.)

In addition, the VA requires that borrowers maintain a certain amount of “residual income.” This is income left over each month after all major debt obligations have been paid. Residual income is meant to cover basic necessities such as food, transportation, etc. Residual income requirements vary based on location and family size.

Borrowers also need to have sufficient in the bank to cover their closing costs, which could add to thousands of dollars. Learn more about these closing costs.

Please contact us if you have questions about these or other California VA loan requirements.

Want to Know if You Qualify for the Program?

Bridgepoint Funding offers a variety of mortgage options for California home buyers, including VA loans. We are passionate about this particular program, because it serves the military members who serve us. Please contact us with any questions you have about this program.

How to reach us: Please call us at (925) 478-8630 to get started. You can also email us at We look forward to hearing from you!

Mike Trejo

Mike Trejo is a Bay Area mortgage broker with 20+ years of knowledge and experience.

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