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Your Loan Officer will set expectations for a closing timeline, which is generally around 45 days, dependent upon the complexity of your transaction. Follow the guidelines your Loan Officer provides and be up-front with any changes in your status in order to minimize the chance for delays.
An active member of the armed forces or a Veteran of the military may be eligible for VA benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs determines eligibility for the VA Loan program. Loan approval is determined by a lender and primarily based on your income, debts and credit history. It is possible to be eligible for a VA loan but not approved for financing and vice versa.
A pre-approval is made official by reviewing income, asset and credit documents. Your Loan Officer will communicate what you should expect to need throughout the process. However, in order to receive final loan approval, specifically once a contract is signed, an underwriter will typically ask for supplemental information. Requests for updated income and asset documents, borrower letters of explanation, or any number of items related to the specific property are common and should be expected.
Becoming prequalified for a loan is a basic step the applicant can complete in a conversation with a Loan Officer, as documents are not required to be submitted at this time. Prequalification gives you a ballpark estimate of your purchasing power while pre-approval is a more formal stage of the process in which you provide, on paper, confirmation of the information translated at prequalification. A real estate agent will generally require a pre-approval letter before a purchase offer can be made.
The money a buyer puts toward down payment goes toward equity (the portion of the home's value that you own) while closing costs cover fees and services for the work performed by the lender, title agent, and to establish tax and insurance escrows. The seller may cover some or all of these costs, or they become the responsibility of the buyer. Your lender will estimate closing costs for you; however, exact numbers are usually not determined until final loan approval, just before settlement.
A lender cannot finance a loan above what a real estate appraiser determines the value to be. Often a seller will lower their sales price to match the appraised value but it is possible to file an appeal with the VA in the event of a low appraisal. This method does not commonly lead to a significant change of the original appraised value. As a buyer, you also have the right to pay the difference beyond the appraisal value, negotiate with the seller, or walk away from the property.