Those who want to apply for a VA home loan when preparing to retire from the military have a unique situation compared to other house hunters. For example, military members are allowed something called "Permissive TDY" (a type of temporary duty as opposed to taking personal leave or vacation time) to go house hunting prior to retirement from the military.
The government provides this option because military careers often require service members to be out of the country or far from home quite often. The military places a big emphasis on its members preparing for transition out of the military; house hunting is an important part of that preparation.
VA rules for occupancy require a veteran approved for a VA mortgage to move into the property within 60 days of closing the deal on the home. Some veterans close to retirement may want to purchase a home, but can't move in within 60 days because their military retirement date is several months away.
In these cases, the VA agrees to examine special needs requests on an individual, case-by-case basis. Keep in mind, too, that lenders will want to know more about your post-separation income if you’re closing within 12 months of separating from the military.
If a VA loan applicant has a spouse that could move into the property within 60 days, there is no need for additional attention on the loan beyond what's required to establish the spouse's occupancy and get VA acknowledgment and/or approval for the arrangement.
But for veterans who don't have a spouse, the VA permits the VA loan applicant to submit their situation in writing for a possible exception to the 60-day rule. The veteran must explain the delay and request an exception.
The VA may accept a later move-in date, but generally nothing longer than 12 months past the closing date of the VA loan is accepted. The VA is fairly strict about this, requiring veterans to submit proof of a retirement date and written intent to take possession of the home in a specific date range.
The VA does not make exceptions except in cases where there are specific dates involved. The retirement date cannot be "soon" or "within a few years." In addition to the required letter of explanation, the VA may also require the borrower to show he or she can afford to maintain the costs of a current residence plus the VA mortgage payments between closing the loan and moving into the new home.