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    Obtaining a VA loan is a way for active duty service members, veterans, and their spouses to take advantage of numerous benefits unavailable through any other loan program. A VA loan provides the borrower with a loan without requiring a traditional down payment or private mortgage insurance. Additionally, there are few closing costs that come with a VA loan.

    At the same time, the VA loan program has very specific requirements for borrowers when it comes to qualifications and occupancy. For those who are interested in getting a VA loan, learning about the VA loan occupancy requirements is essential to ensure that a VA home loan is the right fit for your needs.

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • Service members and veterans must meet VA loan occupancy requirements in order to remain eligible for their VA loan. 
    • VA loan borrowers must use their VA-backed home as their primary residence and occupy the property within a reasonable time after finalizing their loan. 
    • VA loans are not intended to be used to purchase vacation homes or investment properties. 
    • Several exceptions to VA occupancy requirements exist to accommodate spouses, dependents, active duty service members, impending retirees, and more.

    Before applying for a VA loan, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with VA loan residency requirements. Currently, the VA requires that any qualifying veteran who applies for a VA loan must intend to occupy the property they are purchasing themselves. This means veterans who intend to purchase a property that is not their primary residence cannot do so with a VA loan.

    Once the loan has been approved and certified, the veteran must intend to live on the property themselves. If he or she does not move immediately into the home after it has been purchased, they must intend to do so within a reasonable timeframe. A reasonable time is not defined by law, but 60 days is generally considered an adequate amount of time to move into the residence under normal circumstances.

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    What is the minimum VA loan occupancy time?

    When applying for VA loans, it is important to account for any VA loan occupancy time requirements. In some respects, getting a VA loan is a major commitment, as the borrower is expected to occupy the residence for a certain amount of time after closing. This is one of the notable differences between VA loans and other more conventional loan types.

    Although there is no legally required time for occupancy under the law, borrowers typically must intend to reside at the residence for at least 12 months after the closing date. Since this is a somewhat flexible requirement, you can speak with your lender to work out a different arrangement if you’d like. At Griffin Funding, we have plenty of experience in dealing with VA loans, and we can help customize your loan terms to arrange financing that works for you.

    Can I buy a second home with a VA loan?

    While buying a second home with a VA loan may be possible under specific circumstances, it’s important to keep in mind that VA loans are intended for use as primary residences. They are not intended to be used for investment properties or vacation homes.

    If you have already paid off your first VA loan and you want to keep your home with its secured backing, you may be eligible for a one-time restoration of your individual VA entitlement. This may allow you to move forward with applying for a second VA loan without jeopardizing the security of your first VA loan and home.

    If you choose to sell your first VA-backed property, keep in mind that the VA loan you acquired is assumable. This means that a borrower can potentially take on the same loan terms as the seller when they purchase the home, even if the borrower doesn’t qualify for a VA loan themselves.

    In many cases, if you have occupied the home you obtained with an existing VA loan for at least 12 months and are in need of a transfer where you are stationed, you can rent your home out as you seek a new residence. This is possible even if the renter is not an active military member or a veteran.

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    When researching VA occupancy requirements, it’s important to keep in mind that there are exceptions to some requirements in place. Below are some of the main exceptions to the VA occupancy requirements.

    Spouse occupancy

    When it comes to spouses and VA loans, it is essential to remember that spouses typically satisfy the occupancy requirements for a VA loan. This is true if the active military member is currently stationed away on duty, is unable to occupy the residence themselves due to employment requirements, or is otherwise unable to occupy the home for a valid reason. In cases like these, a service member’s spouse is allowed to essentially stand in place of the service member and fulfill the VA’s occupancy requirements.

    Dependent child occupancy

    If you are an active military member or a veteran and you have a dependent child, that child can occupy the home if you’re unable to move in within a reasonable timeframe following the closing of the VA loan. In order for this exception to apply, the dependent’s legal guardian or your attorney must provide written verification to the VA that the dependent will be occupying the property.

    Intermittent occupancy

    Intermittent occupancy is permitted for veterans and/or active military members who need to leave the home for employment or due to service-related activities. It is not required that those who qualify for a VA loan live on their property 24/7. However, it is assumed that those who receive a VA-backed loan for a home residence have the following qualities:

    • Is a member of the local community and has ties to those in the area from being a full-time resident.
    • Has the intention of living on their property full-time
    • When leaving their main place of residence, they return within a reasonable time, even when tending to their employment

    It is important to note that using a VA-backed property as a seasonal residence is not permitted under the current occupancy guidelines and requirements in place.

    Retirement occupancy

    Active military members and/or veterans who intend to retire can do so while attempting to apply for a VA loan. However, there are a few qualifications to keep in mind, such as:

    • Those who intend to retire while applying for a VA loan for a primary residence must be retiring within 12 months of obtaining a VA loan.
    • Borrowers must provide their lender with a copy of their application for retirement.
    • Borrowers must prove to lenders that they will generate sufficient income in retirement to keep up with mortgage payments as needed.

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    Delayed occupancy

    In some cases, a home may be able to pass a VA home inspection but, at the same time, you may want to undertake significant repairs before moving in. The process of making renovations or repairs can prevent borrowers from moving into the home within a reasonable timeframe.

    So, if you purchase a home with a VA loan but you intend to make significant changes and/or updates to the property, you may qualify for a delayed occupancy exception. This means that you can coordinate with the VA to move into the home at some point beyond the typical 60 day move-in requirement.

    Meeting the VA loan residency requirements is key in maintaining your eligibility for a VA home loan. While VA loans do have more requirements that the borrower must meet when compared to other types of loans, this is balanced out by all of the benefits provided by the VA home loan program. The prospect of no down payment, low interest rates, no PMI requirements, and beneficial loan terms make VA loans an attractive option for qualifying borrowers.

    If you are thinking of investing in a primary residence or if you are interested in a potential second VA loan, contact Griffing Funding to see if you qualify for a VA loan. At Griffin Funding, we’re happy to help assist you through the process of applying for and obtaining a VA loan. Check out current VA loan rates and apply for a VA loan that is right for you at Griffin Funding today.

    Bill Lyons

    Bill Lyons is the Founder, CEO & President of Griffin Funding. Founded in 2013, Griffin Funding is a national boutique mortgage lender focusing on delivering 5-star service to its clients. Mr. Lyons has 22 years of experience in the mortgage business. Lyons is seen as an industry leader and expert in real estate finance. Lyons has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wall Street Journal, HousingWire, and more. As a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association, Lyons is able to keep up with important changes in the industry to deliver the most value to Griffin's clients. Under Lyons' leadership, Griffin Funding has made the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list five times in its 10 years in business.