Second-Tier VA Loan Entitlement

How Many VA Loans Can You Have?

Second-tier entitlement is an additional loan benefit that gives a qualified military person the ability to buy a home after a default or they can have two VA loans at one time.

This may seem contrary to popular opinions on qualifying for a VA mortgage, but that is due to the lack of knowledge on this entitlement.

Qualifications for Second VA Loan

The service requirements for this second loan entitlement are the same as normal VA home loans. People who are in the reserves, full-time active duty, or a qualifying spouse of a veteran may all apply for the loan. Beyond this, the lender will consider several criteria.

First, the applicant must be current on their loan payments on their existing VA loan. The lender will look closely at the applicant’s credit report to make sure the last 12 months’ payments have also been made on time.

VA Second-Tier Entitlement

How to qualify for two VA loans at the same time. Purchase a second home with the a new VA loan

Additionally, there needs to be a clear reason why the family is looking to buy another property. Namely, a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or change in their family such as the arrival of another child or taking on the care of an elderly relative. Another example could be a family that has received orders to move to a different duty station. To state it clearly, a 2nd VA loan is not an invitation to veterans to intentionally purchase a home as a rental property.

The applicant’s debt-to-income ratio will be scrutinized to make sure the veteran can make all of their existing payments along with the 2 house payments. The applicant will also need to meet the requirements of residual income for their family size and their area.

If the applicant plans to rent out the first home to cover the costs, there will need to be a formal lease with clear terms and amounts. This lease agreement can help the applicant meet the debt-to-income guidelines.

For these reasons, it is highly advised that the applicant work with a lender experienced with this VA loan.

How To Calculate Entitlement Amounts

All across the country, eligible VA loan borrowers are told that they have a primary basic entitlement (VA loan benefit) that amounts to $36,000. They also can get a secondary entitlement for $91,600. The combined amount of the full entitlement is equal to $127,600. If the veteran is applying for a mortgage in a high-priced area it is possible to get a slightly higher entitlement.

When a person is approved for a VA loan, the Veterans Administration (VA) guarantees ¼ of the total loan amount. For example, if a person receives a loan of $225,000 that would mean the VA is guaranteeing $56,250.

Now, subtract the $56,250 from the $127,600 amount, and you are left with $71,350. This would mean that the qualifying veteran could get another VA home loan up to $285,400 (4 x $71,350).

There is no set maximum VA loan limit. As long as the applicant can meet the debt-to-income guidelines as well as the residual income guidelines, they can get a loan as big as they wish.

Keep in mind, if some/all of the veteran’s entitlement is tied up on the other property, that can impact the size of the loan they can qualify for without a down payment.

Understanding VA Loan Entitlement Following Foreclosure or Bankruptcy

There is another reason why a qualifying VA applicant could use this entitlement. A tough economic situation can force some people to make unpleasant decisions. These decisions can result in negative positions such as bankruptcy or foreclosure.

The recent recession saw a lot of families realizing that their homes were worth much less than they originally thought. This caused many homeowners to sell their properties for less than the balance owed on the mortgage, causing them into a short sale transaction.

With bankruptcy, foreclosure, and short sales, it is important to keep in mind that many lenders require a waiting period before a person can apply for another mortgage. However, for someone who previously used their VA entitlement, there is another thing to consider.

If a home is foreclosed, or the home is disposed of through a short sale, part of the veteran’s eligibility will be used up. This means that the veteran and their lender will need to determine how much eligibility is remaining.

Suppose a veteran originally qualified for a $190,000 loan and the loan was foreclosed. Using the VA calculation, the VA will guarantee 25 percent of the loan is guaranteed, $190,000 x 25% = $47,500. Thus, $47,500 of entitlement you’ve already used up in the first loan.

Since we previously determined that veterans have a total entitlement of $127,600 that would mean that $127,600 – $47,500 = $80,100. The veteran still has $80,100 of additional entitlement available.

This means that after the veteran has passed the necessary waiting period and reestablished his or her credit, it is possible that they could qualify for a second VA loan up to $320,400. (4 x $80,100 = $320,400).

Paying the Difference If You Are Short

One of the attractive features of the VA loan program is the fact that a down payment is not required. However, this does not mean that the qualifying veteran is not allowed to make a down payment. In the case of a 2nd Entitlement on VA loans, it may be necessary to make a down payment to get the right house.

How to get a second VA mortgage

How to get a second VA loan. Possible second-tier VA entitlement situations

For example, let’s look at the following hypothetical scenario. A veteran and his family purchased a home with a beginning loan balance of $250,000. The home was later sold in a short-sale situation.

$250,000 x 25% = $62,500 amount of entitlement used for first home.

$127,600 – $62,500 = $65,100 amount of remaining entitlement amount left for the veteran.

$61,500 x 4 = $260,400 maximum amount of 2nd VA loan that the veteran can get with zero down payment.

In this example, if the veteran chose to purchase a home valued at $280,000 then the veteran would be asked to pay the difference between the $70,000 ($280,000 X 25% = $70,000) and $65,100 (remaining entitlement left which was calculated above), or $4,900.

Besides being asked to pay the difference, all the other benefits of a VA loan would apply. No mortgage insurance, attractive interest rates, fixed terms, less stringent credit requirements, and the ability to pay the loan off early without penalty would still be available to the veteran as long as they are approved for the loan.

VA Minimum Home Loan Amount

Most of the article above explains the maximum loan that a veteran can get based on various circumstances. However, there is another point to keep in mind when using second-tier entitlement to purchase using a VA loan. The beginning loan amount must meet the VA amount of $144,000.

This minimum loan amount was enacted many years ago. The idea was to ensure that qualifying veterans were not being forced to choose cheap homes in questionable areas that could later turn out to be a detriment.

The qualifying veteran must get a home of at least $144,000, otherwise, the VA will not insure the home at all.

Summing Up Second Tier Entitlement VA Loans

Although this entitlement does not get the attention and advertising like traditional VA loans, they are important to veterans. Because military families are often asked to move to a new base, or with the growing number of families taking on the care of their elderly grandparents and parents, it is not uncommon to see a family suddenly in need of a different home.

With a seasoned lender at your side, it is possible that you can make your way through the qualification process and find that you are eligible for a tier 2 entitlement on another VA loan.

Important Disclosure

VA purchase and refinance loans are only available to eligible veterans and/or their spouses. is not acting on behalf of or at the discretion of the Department of Veteran Affairs or the Federal Government.

Additional Mortgage Resources:
Small Down Payment Doesn’t Mean The Buyer is Not Qualified via Bill Gassett
Down Payment: How Much Do You Need to Buy a Home? via Debbie Drummond

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Filed under: VA Loans

Luke Skar

Luke Skar is the web developer and content strategist for Currently working for NRL Mortgage which serves 47 states including Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Florida. Guided by his 20-plus years of various mortgage marketing experience, Luke provides top-quality SEO services, effective social media management, and web development and maintenance. Luke’s career in the mortgage industry began back in 2001, as a loan processor. After becoming a loan officer for a number of years, Luke now runs To ensure that all the information he posts is fresh, accurate, and up-to-date, Luke relies on the knowledge which his years of dedication to keeping up with the constant change that the mortgage industry provides.


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