Like most government-backed loan products, VA loans focus on helping homebuyers purchase primary residences, not vacation and rental properties. The VA enforces this through VA loan occupancy requirements, with notable exceptions for certain rental properties and streamline (IRRRL) refinancing.
VA loans come with a primary residency requirement. That means VA borrowers must certify they intend to occupy the purchased property as their primary residence after closing. So, if you're looking to purchase a vacation home or plan on renting the entire property, this isn't the program for you.
However, if you're considering a multi-unit property, the VA's occupancy requirements may allow it.
It's possible to use a VA loan for a rental property if the purchased property is a multi-unit property and you intend to occupy one or more of the adjoining units.
VA borrowers must either personally live in the property as their home or intend to move into the property and use it as their 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 60 days to move in because:
For married active-duty service members, a spouse can fill the occupancy requirement. The same can be true for married Veterans 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 for work related reasons.
In instances where your job keeps you from home for extended periods, the VA is fairly flexible. You don't need to be at your house every day to satisfy occupancy requirements, but you are expected to be there for a reasonable amount of time.
If your employment requires absence from home for a substantial amount of time, the following two conditions must be met:
Those are just a few examples. Occupancy situations vary on a case-by-case basis, so talk with a VA lender about your particular circumstances.
For Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRLs), or VA Streamline loans, the Veteran need only certify that they previously occupied the property as their home. A VA Cash-Out refinance will require the borrower to certify occupancy to be eligible for refinancing.
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.