Moving and military life are often synonymous — so much so that you could end up getting transfer orders just a few years after you’ve bought a new home.
Buying two houses back-to-back can be a tough hurdle, but VA loans can make it a little bit easier. In fact, there’s no limit to how many times you can use a VA loan to buy a home.
The biggest factor in buying a home with a VA loan is whether you have full entitlement benefit available at the time. That determines whether you can use a VA mortgage and whether you qualify for a 0% down payment option with no loan limits.
We’ll explain how to figure out your entitlement level and how you can strategically use your VA loan as many times as you need.
What's in this Article?
Can I use a VA loan more than once?
You can use a VA loan as many times as you need. There is no lifetime cap on the number of VA mortgages you can take out, but you will need entitlement benefit available to qualify for a new loan.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established the VA loan program to help veteran and active-duty military servicemembers, as well as eligible surviving spouses, purchase a primary residence. That means you cannot use a VA loan to buy an investment property or a vacation home.
You can, however, use a VA loan for a second home if it will become your primary residence. Let’s say you bought a house a few years ago with a VA loan, and you’re still paying off the mortgage. But you receive transfer orders and must relocate your family to another state.
You may be able to use a VA loan to buy the new house as well, as long as it will be your new primary residence and you have entitlement benefit available. Depending how much entitlement you have left, and the loan limits in the area where you’re buying, you may be able to get a second VA loan with 0% down.
If you have partial entitlement but not enough to buy with zero down payment, you may still qualify for a VA loan with a down payment.
For more on how this works, check out our article on how to buy a second home with a VA loan.
How do I find out if I have entitlement available?
Your available entitlement is listed on your VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which details your military status, dates of service, and entitlement benefit. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to have this handy or to figure out your entitlement level yourself.
You can request your COE through the VA’s ebenefits portal. But we suggest making it easy on yourself and asking your lender to request it for you. They can look it up when you apply for your loan, and it takes them just a few minutes. That way, you find out how much entitlement you have and whether you can buy a new home without a down payment.
Best case scenario, you have full entitlement. That allows you to put 0% down and exempts you from local loan limits.
But even if your COE shows partial entitlement or no entitlement available, you may still have options, as you’ll see in the next section.
For more on calculating your potential remaining entitlement, see our guide on buying an additional home with a VA loan.
Let’s look at some common scenarios experienced by repeat VA loan users
I want to keep my house and the VA loan and buy another home with a VA loan
Check if you have remaining VA entitlement. If the home cost less than $144,000, you may have some remaining entitlement amount.
If there’s no remaining entitlement, try refinancing out of the VA loan to another type of mortgage such as an FHA or conventional loan. Once you refinance and pay off the underlying VA loan in full, you may be able to keep the home and request a one-time entitlement restoration.
I own a home and had a VA loan on it but refinanced into another loan type. I want to keep the house and buy again with a VA loan.
You should be able to do this if you request a one-time restoration of your VA loan entitlement. This is the only time you’ll be able to request restoration if you choose to keep the original home.
I bought a home with a VA loan but sold the home and paid off the loan in full.
You are probably eligible to receive a restoration of entitlement. But you need to request it, because it won’t be automatically restored. You can do this as many times as you want, as long as you sell the home and pay off the loan in full each time.
I’m selling my home to an eligible veteran who is assuming my loan
It’s fine, as long as the veteran substitutes their entitlement for the same amount of entitlement you used originally. Restoration of entitlement can be requested in this case.
If you are working with a lender, they will help submit the request on your behalf with supporting documentation of the sale of your current home. These documents, such as the final closing disclosure, may be requested after the sale to ensure the VA has everything they need when providing the restoration.
I bought a home with a VA loan but sold it in a short sale/it was foreclosed
You are probably not eligible for another VA loan until you pay back any losses incurred by the VA.
How can I restore my VA entitlement?
You can request a restoration of entitlement under certain circumstances, including:
- The original home was sold and the VA loan repaid
- An eligible veteran has agreed to assume the original loan amount, substituting his or her entitlement for yours, and will meet the VA’s occupancy and income requirements.
- A “cash-out” refinance, in which the VA loan is paid in full
- A one-time restoration, in which the loan was paid off, but the property was not sold
If you’re eligible for restoration, you’ll need to submit Form 26-1880 to the VA (download it here). If you are already working with a lender, they will help assist you with this step to ensure it is done properly.
VA funding fee: What you’ll pay after your first loan
Unlike the other government-backed loan programs — FHA and USDA loans — VA loans do not have a monthly mortgage insurance requirement. However, you may owe a VA funding fee, which is calculated as a percentage of your loan amount.
As you can see in the chart below, VA funding fees increase after your first use of your VA loan benefits. The fees are also tied to the size of your down payment.
If you have a disability due to your military service, you may be exempt from paying the VA funding fee.
Use a VA home loan multiple times FAQs
There is no limit to how many times you can use a VA loan. However, you will need entitlement available to qualify for a VA home loan. To restore your entitlement again and again, you need to sell the home and pay off the VA loan in full.
Yes, as long as you have entitlement available and the second home will become your primary, or full-time, residence. You cannot, however, use a VA loan for a vacation home. VA limits use of these loans for primary residences.
Possibly. Eligibility for a VA loan depends on how much entitlement benefit you have available. If you have remaining entitlement, you may be able to use it to buy another home as long as the new property will be your primary residence. See our guide on calculating remaining VA loan entitlement.
You can get a second VA loan if you have entitlement benefit available and you are purchasing a new primary residence. The VA does not limit the number of times eligible VA borrowers may take out a VA home loan.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can refinance, as refinancing does not tap into your available entitlement. However, your lender will likely only approve a refinance request if there is substantial benefit to be gained. Refinancing again and again is usually a bad idea, since there are potentially thousands of dollars in fees each time.
If interest rates have dropped significantly or your credit score has improved, a refinance may be warranted. So, the VA won’t cap the number of refinances you can take.
A VA loan for a second (or third or fourth) home
If you’re strategic about how and when you apply for them, you may be able to use VA loans for all of your home purchase needs.
And depending on your entitlement level when buying each of those homes, you may be able to purchase them with no down payment and no loan limits.
A down payment is required if the borrower does not have full VA entitlement or when the loan amount exceeds the VA county limits. VA loans subject to individual VA Entitlement amounts and eligibility, qualifying factors such as income and credit guidelines, and property limits. Fairway is not affiliated with any government agencies. These materials are not from VA, HUD or FHA, and were not approved by VA, HUD or FHA, or any other government agency.
Some references sourced within this article have not been prepared by Fairway and are distributed for educational purposes only. The information is not guaranteed to be accurate and may not entirely represent the opinions of Fairway.