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VA Loan eligibility

VA Home Loan Occupancy Requirements

The VA home loan program was created to help military members and veterans have better access to the housing market. But like most government-backed loan products, VA home loans are focused on the purchase of primary residencies, not vacation and rental properties. Because of that, the VA loan program has occupancy requirements in place for purchase and some refinance loans.

VA Loans and Primary Residences

Eligible borrowers who obtain VA loans need to certify that they intend to occupy the purchased property as a primary residence. VA loans cannot be used to finance the purchase of property for business, rental or seasonal vacation purposes. But it’s possible to use this loan to buy a multi-unit property, as long as you intend to live in one of the units.

Occupancy Situations

As of the date of certification, the veteran must either personally live in the property as his or her home, or intend to move into the property and use it as his or her home within 60 days of the loan closing. This two-month moving window is “reasonable time,” according to the VA.

The VA can extend that 60-day window in some cases. Borrowers may want or need more than the 60 days to move in because:

  • Military retirement is within 12 months of closing date;
  • Employment or military service prevents moving in within 60 days;
  • Repairs are being made after loan closing.

For married active duty service members, a spouse can fill the occupancy requirement. The same can be true for married veterans who are working overseas as contractors or in other capacities.

Things can be more difficult for single civilians working overseas or for married veterans trying to buy a home in another part of the country while staying in the old locale.

Note that lenders will consider a couple’s second living situation when it calculates debt-to-income ratios. Other housing and travel costs can impact your affordability situation and possibly impact your VA loan application.

Those are just a few examples. Occupancy situations are examined on a case-by-case basis, so talk with a VA lender about your particular circumstances.

VA Loan Refinancing and Occupancy

For Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRLs), or VA Streamline loans, the veteran need only certify that he or she previously occupied the property as his or her home. A VA Cash-Out refinance will require the borrower to certify occupancy.

It’s important for every borrower to have a firm grasp of VA occupancy requirements to avoid confusion during the VA loan process.

Compare Top VA Purchase Lenders

Take the guesswork out of finding a VA Loan provider. Veterans United Home Loans created this site to educate and empower military homebuyers. Regardless of what lender you pick, it's always a good idea to compare and know your options.

  • NMLS #1907
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    • Veterans United ranks No. 1 in Customer Ratings for VA purchase lenders, according to ratings and reviews collected by TrustPilot.
    • In 2017, Veterans United closed 37,696 VA Purchase Loans, which was 9% of all VA Purchase Loans closed nationwide last year.
    • VA Loans were 97% of the company’s total loan volume.
  • NMLS #401058
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    • USAA ranks No. 5 in Customer Ratings for VA purchase lenders, according to ratings and reviews collected by TrustPilot.
    • In 2017, USAA closed 29,781 VA Purchase Loans, which was 8% of all VA Purchase Loans closed nationwide last year.
    • VA Loans were 70% of the company’s total loan volume.
  • NMLS #399807
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    • Navy Federal ranks No. 3 in Customer Ratings for VA purchase lenders, according to ratings and reviews collected by TrustPilot.
    • In 2017, Navy Federal closed 17,613 VA Purchase Loans, which was 5% of all VA Purchase Loans closed nationwide last year.
    • VA Loans were 48% of the company’s total loan volume.
  • Customer Ratings: Customer Ratings based on ratings and reviews provided by TrustPilot. VALoans.com is not affiliated with TrustPilot and has no control or influence on how users rate each lender.
  • 2017 VA Loans: Total VA loan volume for fiscal year 2017 as reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA Home Purchase, VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance, VA Cash-Out Refinance).
  • % VA Volume: Percentage of lender's total loan volume which is comprised of VA Loans, determined from Product Mix data found under Lender Search located here.