Can a VA Loan PreApproval be done in 5 Minutes over the phone?

orange county va loan preapprovalVA loan PreApproval should not be confused with a verbal “Prequalification” over the phone. The most important and first step in the home buying process is to find out the price of the home you can afford. Ultimately the price will be determined by a combination of things, including how much money will be needed for the home purchase, the borrowers credit score, income (as shown on the tax returns), debts, and the Veterans payment comfort level. And while a 5 minute call to a lender is a good start, an actual PreApproval will take more than a brief phone call.

There are some mortgage websites that allow the borrower to print out their own PreApproval letter based on information they enter into an online form. The letter is available without a loan officer or underwriter reviewing any documentation.  This is scary, because in today’s underwriting environment there are hundreds of potential issues that can arise during the loan process. Things that someone outside of the mortgage industry may not even think is an issue could be a deal killer if not dealt with prior to having an accepted offer to purchase a home.

VA loan PreApproval can be a fairly quick process depending on whether there are complications with the loan. Below are a few things that could cause serious headaches for the home buyer if they were to come up after an offer is accepted.

  • Depositing cash into an account to be used for closing costs. While depositing cash may sound like it’s not so bad, it can actually be disaster. All funds for closing a purchase need to be documented and come from an acceptable source. Cash cannot truly be documented. It could come from anywhere and with no paper trail . It could be a loan from a friend, which would not be acceptable. It could be a credit card advance, which would also not be acceptable. If you are planning to deposit cash into your bank account, discuss this with you loan officer prior to the deposit.
  • Paying off an old collection account just prior to making an offer on a home. This sounds like a good idea, and the lender may even need the collection to be paid off prior to closing. But paying off an old collection will “update” an old derogatory item on your credit report, which could lead to a lower FICO score. Your lender may suggest holding off on paying the collection until the loan is officially in process and a credit report with an acceptable FICO score has been pulled. The lender can have the credit bureau do a credit supplement during escrow to verify the account is paid off.
  • Closing credit card accounts prior to offer acceptance. Depending on your current FICO score, closing old credit card accounts could actually lower your FICO score. This is because those old accounts show that the borrower has a history of credit, hopefully in this case “good” credit. By closing the account, it will no longer be updated in the credit report, and the borrowers score could drop due to a lack of history.
  • Shopping for condos that are not on the VA approved list. There  are ways to find VA approved condo’s that will save time if you are working with a local Orange County VA Loan Officer.

What is Needed for VA Loan PreApproval?

A more thorough review of the Veterans documentation will be needed before an offer to purchase is made if the odd’s for a smooth transaction are to increase. The VA lender will want to see the following items:

  • Paystubs for the most recent 30 days. For a self employed borrower, a Year to Date Profit and Loss statement.
  • Federal tax returns for the most recent two year time period, including all schedules. For a self employed borrower, the lender will also need their business tax returns for the most recent two years.
  • W2’s, 1099’s, and or K-1’s (self employed) for the most recent two years.
  • Bank statements for the most recent two months, including all pages (even if the last page is blank – if the first page shows “1 of 5” then provide all pages. The lender won’t know the last page is blank unless they have it in hand).
  • DD214 – this will be used by the VA lender to retrieve the Certificate of Eligibility. The Certificate of Eligibility will verify that the Veteran can use the VA program to finance their home. Making sure the Veteran’s Eligibility is in place prior to an accepted offer is very important.

The lender may also ask for additional items depending on the Veterans situation. Items like a divorce decree, bankruptcy papers, or documentation to back up derogatory items on a credit report will be needed. Also, if there are deposits that are not payroll related on the bank statements, then documentation to prove the deposits are from acceptable sources will be needed. Knowing this and already clearing these types of conditions will result in a very smooth and stress free closing. And no, this can’t all be done in 5 minutes. But it can be done quickly if you’re working with a loan officer who is dedicated to the VA loan program.

Authored by Tim Storm, a California Mortgage Loan Officer MLO 223456 – Please contact my office at the Emery Financial. Direct line at 949-640-3102.