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How to Purchase a Second Home with a Veterans Affairs Loan

kellykennedy
Kelly Kennedy Updated: January 16, 2024 • 6 min read
man sitting with VA loan document in his hand

Key Points:

  • VA loans, primarily for primary residences, can be used for second homes if eligibility criteria are met.

  • VA loans offer competitive interest rates and low or no down payments, making them attractive for purchasing second homes.

  • We'll explore the factors that could influence your decision in this article.

There are many reasons you might be considering purchasing a second home. Perhaps it's to live somewhere warmer for half the year, or maybe you're purchasing an investment property or anything in between. Regardless of your reasons for buying a second home, one of your top considerations will be how you'll pay for it. 

With that in mind, some people wonder if they should use their military benefits to help purchase a second home. We'll explore the factors that could influence your decision in this article.

Understanding VA Loans 

Let's briefly discuss what VA home loans are. These loans benefit veterans, active-duty service members, and some National Guard and Reserve members. They are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and are intended to help eligible individuals with home financing.

Read about the best personal loans for veterans here.

The Basics of a VA Loan 

When you apply for this type of loan, the primary purpose is typically to buy a home where you'll live full-time. However, there are scenarios where you can use the loan for a second home. The key lies in understanding the VA loan program's guidelines and the nature of your second home.

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Can You Use a VA Loan for a Second Home? 

Yes, you could use your loan to purchase a second home, but some factors must be considered first. VA loans come with specific restrictions and requirements, which may affect your ability to use them for a second property.

Eligibility for a Second Home VA Loan 

To use a VA loan for a second home, you must meet the eligibility criteria set by the VA. This usually means you've used your entitlement for your primary residence and still have some remaining.

Property Investment with a VA Loan 

Using a VA loan might be a smart move if you're considering a second home as an investment property. VA loans often come with competitive interest rates and require little to no down payment (up to the VA's loan limit), which can significantly improve the financial viability of your investment. Lower interest rates mean lower monthly mortgage payments, ultimately maximizing your potential rental income and return on investment.


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VA Loan Terms for a Second Home

These loans offer competitive interest rates, typically lower than conventional mortgages. However, the terms and conditions can vary, so it's essential to understand what to expect when using a VA loan for a second home.

How to Use a VA Loan for a Second Home 

Applying for a VA loan for a second home follows a process similar to obtaining one for your primary residence, which can simplify the experience if you're already familiar with VA loans.

  1. Verify Your VA Loan Eligibility: Begin by ensuring you meet the VA's eligibility criteria. This includes having a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and satisfying the service and discharge requirements.
  2. Find a VA-Experienced Lender: Search for a lender who is knowledgeable about VA loans. A lender familiar with the specifics of VA loan programs can efficiently guide you through the application process.
  3. Determine Your Loan Amount Eligibility: With your lender's assistance, calculate your eligible loan amount. This is based on your remaining entitlement and the loan limits in the area where you plan to buy your second home.
  4. Complete the Loan Application: Fill out the loan application form provided by your lender.
  5. Submit Financial Documentation: Provide the necessary financial documents as requested by your lender. This typically includes proof of income, employment history, and other relevant financial information.
  6. Undergo the Lender's Underwriting Process: Wait for the lender to complete their underwriting process. During this phase, they will review your credit history, employment background, and income to determine your loan eligibility and terms.
  7. Loan Approval: Once your loan is approved, you can proceed to the next step.
  8. Closing on Your Second Home: Finalize the purchase of your second home by signing all required documents during the closing process.
  9. Review and Understand Loan Terms: It's crucial to remain attentive and ensure you fully comprehend the terms of your loan. Make sure they align with your financial objectives and plans for the second property.

VA Loans and Second Homes: What You Need to Know 

While VA loans can be an exciting option for financing a second home, consider factors like eligibility, loan limits, and any additional costs associated with a second property.

So, now it's time to dig into those in more detail to learn more about using a VA loan for your second home.

The VA Loan Entitlement

Your VA loan entitlement is critical when considering a second home purchase. The entitlement is the amount the VA guarantees for your loan, which usually represents 25% of the loan amount. If you've used your entitlement for your primary residence, you might still have some remaining to use for a second home. However, keep in mind that the total loan amount may affect your eligibility, as the VA sets loan limits.

Loan Limits

The VA sets maximum loan limits for each county in the United States. These limits can change annually and vary based on the cost of living in your area. When using a VA loan for a second home, check the current loan limits for your desired location. If the property's price exceeds the VA's limit, you may need to cover the difference with a down payment.

Here's a handy tool to help you determine the VA loan limit in your county in 2024. For example, it will tell you that the VA loan limit for Marin County, California, is $1,089,300. Or, in Middlesex County, Connecticut, the VA loan limit for 2024 is $726,200. 

Occupancy Requirements

VA loans tend to require the borrower to occupy the property as their primary residence. However, there are exceptions for second homes. To qualify, you must intend to live in the second home for a significant portion of the year. Be prepared to provide a solid plan and proof of intent when applying for a VA loan for a second home.

Whether you're planning to buy a first or second home, don't miss this article next: Home Buying Checklist: 10 Steps to Buying a House.

Additional Costs

When purchasing a second home (or any home, for that matter), consider the initial purchase cost and the ongoing expenses that come with property ownership. Property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and regular maintenance costs are some of the recurring financial obligations that add up over time.

Moreover, suppose you intend to use your second home as a rental property. In that case, you should budget for potential rental management fees, advertising costs, and periods of vacancy when the property is not generating rental income. All these expenses can affect your financial stability and the overall profitability of your second home investment.

So, before deciding to purchase a second home, create a comprehensive budget that considers both the acquisition costs and the ongoing financial responsibilities associated with property ownership. This will help you make informed decisions and be sure your investment aligns with your long-term financial goals.

Bottom Line: VA Loans for Buying Second Properties

Using a VA loan for a second home is possible, but it requires careful consideration of eligibility, loan limits, and your intent to occupy the property. It can be a viable option for veterans and eligible service members seeking to invest in a second home or purchase one for personal use.

So, yes, it can provide financial benefits and opportunities for veterans and service members looking to invest or enjoy a second property. However, you must also carefully navigate the VA loan guidelines and assess your eligibility and intent to occupy the second home before deciding.

Stay up to date on financial topics, including home loans and the home buying process on the Lendstart blog.

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FAQ

Can I use a VA loan for a vacation home?

You can use your VA loan for a second home you intend to use as a vacation property. However, you must meet the VA's occupancy requirements, meaning you plan to spend a significant part of the year there.

Are there any restrictions on the location of the second home?

VA loans can be used for second homes anywhere in the United States. There are no specific location restrictions, but you should check the VA's loan limits for the area you're interested in.

What are the benefits of using a VA loan for a second home?

Using a VA loan for a second home can offer competitive interest rates, no down payment requirements (up to the VA's loan limit), and flexible qualification standards, making it an enticing option for eligible veterans and service members.

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kellykennedy
Written by Kelly Kennedy linkedin-icon

Kelly is an accountant, college accounting and finance instructor, entrepreneur, and freelance finance and business writer. He has a Bachelor of Management, an MBA, and a CPA. In his free time, he enjoys endurance cycling, and his only claim to fame is that he once rode his bicycle across Canada – 7,000+ km over 64 days.