What Are the VA Minimum Property Requirements?
The VA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs) are the standards that the VA imposes on any residence that is going to be purchased with a VA-guaranteed loan. From the VA Lender’s Handbook: “VA Minimum Property Requirements (MPRS) provide general acceptability criteria for properties which will become the security for VA-guaranteed loans.” The purpose of the VA MPRs is to make sure that each and every home that a veteran uses their VA loan benefits to purchase is truly suitable for them and will be a good investment that is not likely to turn into a liability for the veteran in the future.
Most Are Fairly Basic
Most of the MPRs cover basic stuff. For example, it is required that the property must be a single, readily marketable real estate entity. If the property has some commercial function, it must be subordinate to the residential use of the property. Specifically, the commercial portion cannot exceed 25% of the total floor area, and it cannot “impair the residential character of the property” (if you aren’t sure what that means, join the club and ask a VA loan officer). The MPRs also cover other basic stuff like having enough space for living, sleeping, eating, and…sanitary facilities. The mechanical systems must be safe to use and safe from destructive elements (water leakage, flooding, termites, etc.). The HVAC systems must be adequate for the size of the home and the climate in which it is located, homes with wood-burning stoves must also have a conventional heating system that maintains a certain temperature in areas with plumbing, and any solar heating systems have to meet with HUD requirements and be backed up with a conventional heating system in case the solar goes kaput.
The house needs to have hot water, water that is safe for drinking, and a safe method for sewage disposal. The roof needs to be waterproof (they are asking for so much!), the crawl space must have adequate access and ventilation, and the attic must have adequate access and ventilation. Oh yes, the property needs to have electricity as well, so I suppose that rules out all the properties you were really interested in.
Some Are Less Obvious
While most of the MPRs are pretty basic and obvious like the ones mentioned above, others can come as a surprise, particularly in special types of properties like shared units or properties with shared areas. Homes considered SAH (Specially-Adapted Housing) also have some case-specific MPRs that may apply. For homes with shared facilities, the VA MPRs are that laundry and storage areas can be shared, but utility services must be independent unless the units are all under a single mortgage, in which case each unit must have its own shutoffs for each utility. The MPRs are extensive enough that they even cover access-related issues, which is a good thing. It’s a VA MPR that the rear yard be accessible without having to cross any other properties, as well as access to the property itself and the living area of the property be accessible without having to cross over any property lines.
All Are Important
While some of the MPRs may be obscure and a very few of them can seem like overkill, they are all important. All of them have been added because they are considered things that can make a house unsuitable for long-term occupancy by a veteran. It may be annoying to have to coordinate a VA appraisal and perhaps have to walk away from a house you really like because it doesn’t fit the VA MPRs, but in nearly every case, you’ll be better off looking for a house that does qualify. In the event that you don’t feel that the VA MPR should apply in a certain case and would like an exception, you can work with your loan officer to apply for one.
Most of the VA MPRs are very basic, and most homes will meet the majority of the MPRs with no problem. However, some of the MPRs can come as a surprise, so it would be smart to become familiar enough with the MPRs that you can tell when a prospective property may not meet one or more of the MPRs.