How Long do VA Loans Take?
This is a good question, but unfortunately there’s not a set answer, and it can vary depending on the type of loan you’re getting (e.g. new purchase vs. refinance). However, we can give you ballpark numbers so you have a general idea. The general rule of thumb is that it takes around 45 days to get a VA loan. However, if you’re refinancing an existing VA loan with an IRRRL, you can get it done in as little as 10 days, while some new purchase loan can take up to 90 days depending on a variety of factors. We’ll cover some of the variables here so that you can get a better idea of what to expect, but to get an accurate answer for your situation, you’re going to be better off speaking with your loan officer, or a VA-approved lender if you don’t have a loan officer you’re working with.
One of the biggest variables that can affect how long your loan takes is whether it needs to be submitted to the VA for prior approval. There are two types of VA-approved lenders: those who have received automatic authority to approve most loans without prior approval from the VA, and those who have not received that authority. Instinctively, you may be inclined to avoid lenders that have not received that authority, but there are perfectly legitimate reasons for not getting it. For example, that particular lender may simply not do enough VA loan business to make the process of getting automatic authority worth it. In addition, there are some loan situations that must be submitted for prior approval before being closed regardless of whether the lender has automatic authority. Your lender will let you know if your situation is one of these.
The other major variable has nothing to do with the lender; it’s you. When my wife and I were buying our first house, there were several times my loan officer sent me an email requesting documents, and I took a week or two to get back to them. Consequently, the loan took a very long time to close, and I had no one to blame but myself. If you want to get your loan done quickly, respond within a day or two to any requests for information that your lender makes, and try to come prepared with everything you need from day one. Sometimes borrowers in a hurry can be their own worst enemy when they forget or postpone sending the lender the information they need to progress on the loan.
There are plenty of other variables that can contribute to how long it takes to get a VA loan. The schedule of the VA appraiser, for example, can set the loan back as much as a full week if they happen to be busy or out of town. Since the loan can only progress to a certain point before the appraisal has been done, it can often wait days for the appraiser to get to the home, appraise it, and get the report back to the lender. There is also the schedule and workload of the loan officer to consider, the schedule and workload of the underwriter, and issues with your loan application. There could be things that come up in your credit report that need to be resolved before the loan can move forward. How long it takes to take care of those things affects how long it will take for the loan to close. This is yet another reason why it’s wise to get your credit report cleared up before you ever apply for a VA loan.
There are some things you can’t control – if the underwriter comes down with the flu in the middle of underwriting your loan, there’s not much you can do about it. You also cannot control what information the loan officer or underwriter will request from you. You can’t control how quickly your employer verifies your employment, or how quickly your credit report comes back. However, there are plenty of things you can do to speed up the process. Start thinking about your VA loan at least a year before you intend to get it: clear up any issues on your credit report, pay off and close any credit cards you don’t strictly need, start saving up for closing costs and a down payment, and start striving to find full-time work if you’re only working part-time. If you do everything in your power to be prepared, you’ll find that getting a VA loan is a fairly painless process.