Conventional loans. FHA loans. VA loans. When buying a home, these phrases have probably come up in conversation once or twice. One of the perks our military members receive is the ability to purchase a property with a VA loan. But what does that mean for a San Antonio home buyer? For one thing, no money down. But, there are stipulations involved.

What is a VA Loan?

VA Loan and the San Antonio Home Buyer - Search homes for sale in the San Antonio areaOne of the things that sets a VA loan apart from others is that the Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees these loans for qualified individuals. Even so, they don't actually approve mortgage loans. You must still go through a private lender. But, with the VA guaranteeing it, you can purchase a property for no money down. This helps our cash-strapped military men and women become homeowners without having to come up with a huge chunk of change up front. Also, lenders tend to provide VA loans at lower rates than traditional financing.

Who's Eligible for a VA Loan?

First of all, you or your spouse must currently serve or have previously served in any branch of the military, including the National Guard and reserves. Active-duty members qualify after six months of continuous service. National Guard and reservists qualify after six years. However, if you are called to active duty before your six years are up, you qualify after 181 days of service. Anyone who served active duty for at least 90 consecutive days during times of war qualifies for a VA loan. During peacetime, you qualify after 181 active days of service. Spouses of those who died during service or as a result of their service also become eligible for a VA loan.

How Do I Qualify?

First, you must receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Active members can request one from the lender. Or visit, sign in to your account, and find out which forms you need. If you'd prefer, download a COE form here, fill it out and mail it in. Make sure you include your proof of eligibility with your completed application. After you receive your COE, take it to your lender. Then, proceed with the mortgage loan process. The bank will check your income to make sure you qualify financially for the loan. The VA guarantees home loans up to $484,250. But you still must qualify with the bank in order to receive approval.

If you have any questions about VA loans, talk to your lender. Not all lenders offer VA loans. Terms vary from lender to lender. So, make sure you spend the time to shop around.

LUX Move Up* by Christine Aldrete Banks, CRS, SRS, RSPS