VA Loans and Occupancy Requirements
When a retired or separated military member wants to purchase a home with a VA mortgage, there’s not as much to worry about when it comes to meeting VA occupancy requirements once the home is purchased. At least not when compared to their active duty counterparts who could be deployed or reassigned to another base in a different state.
The Department of Veterans Affairs requires all VA loan applicants to certify they will occupy the home as the primary residence before it will approve a VA mortgage. While retired and separated military applicants may face some uncertainty when it comes to new careers and relocation, a whole different set of challenges await the active duty military member, Guardsman and Reservist.
The VA requires VA mortgage holders to make the new home their primary residence within a “reasonable amount of time”, usually no later than 60 days after the closing of the loan. So what does a military member do when he or she wants to buy a home in a different location in anticipation of a change of military assignment or other common situations. Can a military member deployed to a war zone get a VA loan even though they might be six months away from coming home or more?
In these cases the VA does make provision to help out those in special circumstances. According to VA rules, the 60 day requirement can be waived if certain conditions are met. The Veteran must certify he or she will move into the property on a specific date after the loan is closed, OR “there is a particular future event that will make it possible for the veteran to personally occupy the property as his or her home on a specific future date.”
That language is pretty flexible, but the VA does impose some limitations. The “particular future event” can’t be an anticipated, open-ended committment. A veteran may know they are due to be reassigned soon and even have advanced notice of where they are going. But unless the buyer can show a specific time frame for the relocation, it’s difficult for the VA to process and approve the loan based on its occupancy requirements.
If the veteran does have a specific date, the VA is willing to work within that time frame, but VA regulations state that any time longer than 12 months is not considered reasonable by the VA. Within a year is usually no problem, which would normally accommodate most military change of station moves, the end of overseas deployments or service in a war zone.