va home loan process step by step

It’s no secret that navigating the homeownership journey can seem daunting. But if you’re a veteran or member and qualify for the VA home loan, it offers you a golden pathway to your dream home here in paradise.  This step-by-step guide describes the process and sheds some light on the Hawaii VA home loan process work, as well as provides a detailed walkthrough of the VA home loan process and tips to streamline it for your convenience.

Let’s dive in!

Detailed Walkthrough of the VA Home Loan Process

Step 1: Obtain Your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

Your journey begins by obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE verifies to lenders that you meet the necessary service requirements for a VA loan. You can obtain your COE through the VA’s website, or you can contact our team and we can pull your COE for you.

Step 2: Pre-qualification

After obtaining your COE, the next step is prequalification. It is a preliminary evaluation of your financial status to gauge how much you might be eligible to borrow. You fill out an application , give permission to pull credit, and discuss how much you are looking to borrower with your lender. Getting a pre-qualification gives borrowers an idea of how much they can afford, but in order to place an offer on a property you need complete step 3.

Step 3: Loan Pre-Approval

Next, is the pre-approval stage. Getting pre-approved, means you have submitted an application and given your mortgage professional supporting documentation. The lender will analyze the information provided and verify information given in the loan application.  A pre-approved VA buyer means sellers can rest assured the VA buyer will have no issues qualifying for a loan up to the pre-approved amount.

Step 4: House Hunting

Knowing how much you can borrow is essential to ensuring you are looking for homes within your budget. Now, you’re equip to go house hunting! At this stage your mortgage professional will step back and work with your realtor on tailoring the pre-approval letter for any specific offers our VA buyers will want to make.

Step 5: The Purchase Agreement

Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll make an offer and negotiate the terms until both parties agree. This agreement will outline in a purchase contract.

Step 6: Home Inspection

After the contract was signed, an inspection and VA appraisal will be conducted to ensure the home’s value and condition meet the VA’s standards. While an inspection is not required, it is a good idea as often inspectors will catch many things that an appraiser might miss. The home inspection is often scheduled a few days after contract acceptance and after receiving the report members utilizing their Hawaii VA home loan typically have 2-4 days to accept the condition of the property or to reach an agreement on seller credits and/or repairs to be made to the property. Once the inspection is completed and VA buyers accept the report, the appraisal is ordered.

Step 7: Initial Disclosures, Loan processing, & VA appraisal

A loan estimate and initial disclosures will send to the VA borrowers. These will electronically sign and allow the mortgage professional to then order the VA appraisal. An appraisal is always required for members utilizing their Hawaii VA home loan for purchasing or doing a VA Cash-out refinance. Currently the cost is a $900 flat fee in Hawaii, regardless of if the appraiser is appraising a 3000 sq ft home, or a 600 sq ft condo. This is often the longest part of the process, but the loan is submitted to underwriting for conditional approval while the appraisal is in queue to be completed.

Step 8: Conditional Approval / Final Approval

You can get a conditional approval in as little as one to two days. The underwriters will review documents, ensure accuracy of income, verify assets, and when the underwriters have confirmed the loan meets all necessary requirements the underwriting team will issue a conditional approval. These conditions can range from obtaining updated paystubs or bank statements, to submitting letters of explanation for large deposits in the VA borrowers bank statements.

After meeting the conditions, including receiving the appraisal and receiving a Notice of Value (NOV) for a dollar amount at/above contract price the loan will submit for final approval. When your loan officer submits your loan for final approval they will often order Closing Disclosures at the same time. Closing disclosures are an updated loan estimate which gives the VA buyer more fidelity on final numbers. There is a 3 business day waiting period after buyers sign their Closing Disclosures.

Step 7: Closing

Congratulations! The last step is closing, where all the loan documents will sign, and the keys to your dream home will hand over to you. This process typically takes 4-5 days. Borrowers will sign the loan documents, which will upload and review, and after the loan is funded (1-2 days after signing) Hawaii buyers wait 2 days until the loan is recorded with the local government. Buyers receive the keys to their house on the recording date.

What to Expect at Each Stage of the VA Home Loan Process

Navigating the VA loan process can be exciting and challenging, but knowing what to expect at each stage will make your journey smoother.

During the COE, prequalification, and pre-approval stages, anticipate documentation and financial checks. You’ll need documents proving your military service, income, and credit history.  It’s crucial to have an excellent real estate agent to ensure the terms are favorable. The inspection and VA appraisal might seem nerve-wracking, but they’re there to protect you from overpaying or purchasing a home with severe defects. Lastly, you can expect to sign a pile of documents at the closing stage. But don’t worry, at the end, you’ll have your keys to your home in paradise! !

Tips to Streamline the Process

While the VA loan process might seem overwhelming, there are ways to streamline the journey to homeownership.

Tip 1: Get Your Documents in Order

Before starting the process, gather all the necessary documents. These include your proof of service (DD214) income verification (pay stubs), and last two months of bank statements.

Tip 2: Work with a VA Loan Specialist

Working with a VA loan specialist can ensure that the process runs smoothly. Their experience and knowledge can be invaluable in guiding you through each stage. Although in many areas VA loans are simpler, there are much different rules/regulations with regards to counting income, boarding income, credit requirements, etc. Further, a VA loan specialist will be able to ask you specific questions which other mortgage professionals might not even know to ask ie. will you still be getting sea pay, are you on shore duty, etc.

Tip 3: Maintain Your Credit Score

A good credit score is vital for a pre-qualification and pre-approval for the maximum amount possible. A bad credit score might not prevent you from using your VA home loan entitlement, but it could lower your pre-approval amount by hundreds of thousands. Make sure to pay bills on time and keep credit card balances low to maintain a good score and receive the best interest rates possible.


Understanding what to expect and implementing these tips can make the process smoother and more manageable. As your guide on this journey, we’re here to assist you every step of the way. Let Elias helps you navigate through this process-whether you’re wondering how the VA home loan process works or you’re ready to start the journey, Elias is here to guide you.

Contact us today, and let’s start your journey to homeownership together.