VA Loan Income Requirements 2024
The Department of Veterans Affairs requires a borrower to have adequate income to cover the repayment of the mortgage. Sufficient income consists of two factors:
- Amount of income
- Likelihood of continuance
Both factors must be documented and examined by the mortgage lender.Check your VA home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 3rd, 2024)
Amount of income
The lender calculates your gross monthly income (before taxes and other deductions) based on current documentation such as your:
- Most recent 30 days’ paystubs
- Most recent Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
- Last 2 years’ tax returns and year-to-date profit and loss statement if you are self-employed, have rental property, have a side business, or earn commission income.
The lender will compare your monthly income to your proposed housing expense plus monthly debt obligations like car payments, student loans, and credit card minimum payments. This is your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The benchmark ratio of debt compared to income is 41%.
Here’s an example:
Your annual salary is $60,000 = $5,000 per month
$5,000 x .41 (41%) = $2050
Assuming you have no other debts, you could have a $2050 monthly payments including principle, interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and HOA dues, if applicable.
Or, if you have $500 in car payments, student loans, and credit cards, your maximum housing cost per month would be $1550.
VA allows the ratio to be above 41% in some cases. If you have compensating factors like good credit, a down payment, or extra money in reserve, you could be approved for more. Also, keep in mind that if you are applying for a VA streamline refinance, no income documentation or ratio calculation is required. Talk to one of our VA home loan experts to find out more.Check your VA mortgage rates. Start here (Mar 3rd, 2024)
Likelihood of income continuance
Stability of your income is generally determined by examining your previous work history. VA requires employment verification for the previous two years. Usually, this is documented with W2s or verifications from current or former employers.
The lender will determine if your income is expected to continue through the first 3 years of the mortgage loan. If you plan to retire during this period, the expected retirement income, social security benefits, etc. should be used. Any gaps in employment must be reasonably explained by the borrower. Schooling or education for the borrower’s profession (e.g. nursing school) can be counted toward the two-year requirement.
Allowances for seasonal employment, such as is typical in the building trades for example, may be used in some cases.Check your VA home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 3rd, 2024)
VA loan requirements: Types of acceptable income
These types of income can usually be counted toward qualification income for a VA loan:
- Salary / W-2 income
- Military income as shown on your LES
- Overtime or bonus income: Both may be used to qualify if the income has been received for the past two years and is likely to continue. The lender will use an average of the last 2 years of bonus or overtime income received.
- Part-time income: Part-time income may be used in qualifying if the borrower has a two-year employment history without interruption.
- Seasonal employment: May be used if the borrower can demonstrate a two-year history of regular amounts of time on and off work. There must be a strong likelihood that the borrower will go back to work after each lapse in employment.
- Second job: The borrower must show that he or she has had two jobs simultaneously for 2+ years. Income from a new 2nd job will not be used for qualification.
- Commission income: Must be averaged over the previous 2 years. The borrower must provide his/her last 2 years of Federal tax returns (1040s) with all schedules. Any un-reimbursed business expenses must be subtracted from the gross income.
- Retirement / Social Security Income: Verification from the source is required. If the income should expire within 3 years, the income cannot be used to qualify.
- Alimony, child support or separate maintenance: Though not required to be disclosed, a borrower who chooses to use this income must 1) provide a 12-month payment history from the ex-spouse or courts showing timely payment and 2) provide evidence that such payment will continue for at least 3 years. A copy of the divorce decree and child support order, if applicable, will be necessary.
- Notes receivable: A copy of the note and evidence that payments have been received for a minimum of 12 months are required. Should the note expire within 3 years, it can be used as a compensating factor only.
- Interest and dividends: Interest and dividend income may be used provided documentation (such as tax returns or account statements) that supports a two-year history of receipt. This does not include dividend reinvestment plans. There must be substantial assets remaining after the proposed costs of closing the loan.
- Rental income: Rent received from investment properties may be used, subject to the proper documentation. Income from roommates or boarders in a single-family property to be occupied by the borrower is not acceptable. The rental agreement on the rented property or the tax returns from the past two years showing actual rents will be required. Keep in mind that the veteran may have to provide proof of experience as a landlord and bank statements showing three months of rental property mortgage payments in reserve.
- Self-employed income: A borrower with 25% or more ownership interest in a business is considered self-employed. If the borrower has been self-employed for less than one year, this income will not be used for qualification. Borrowers must supply the following: 1) personal tax returns for the most recent 2 years (with all schedules), 2) K-1s, 1120s or 1120s, if applicable; 3) a year-to-date profit and loss statement and a balance sheet; 4) A signed 8821 or 4506 form so the lender can order copies of your filed income tax returns directly from the IRS.
VA loan eligibility requirements
The VA loan program is intended to help active-duty service members, , National Guard members, veterans and surviving spouses to make a home purchase.
You’ll need to confirm that you meet the VA’s service requirements. Your lender can help you request your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to confirm your military service and demonstrate that you qualify.
You’ll also have to qualify for the mortgage itself. Though the VA sets the qualifying minimums, each VA lender will have its own requirements for credit history, DTI ratio and loan limits that may be higher than the VA’s threshold. For example, while the VA might have a minimum credit score, a lender will have its’ own credit score requirements and will independently determine whether your credit report qualifies for the loan amount you’ve applied for. You’ll need to ensure you meet these requirements to be able to go from loan application to loan approval.
If you’re a fist-time home buyer, then an experienced VA loan officer can help walk you through the underwriting and loan process.
VA loan program benefits for those who qualify
The VA home loan program is an excellent deal for active-duty military personnel and non-active-duty veterans.
Take advantage of the VA programs significant benefits:
- Zero down payment
- No mortgage insurance
- Lower interest rates than conventional or FHA loans