When you decide to leverage your VA loan benefit, you have to follow a checklist of criteria to assess the property’s value. There are two goals: 1) To make sure your intended purchase is worth what you’re offering to pay for it. 2) To ensure the property meets VA and lender guidelines.

These goals are met by having a VA appraisal done that follows the VA’s Minimum Property Requirements checklist.

This list of requirements are unique and can be somewhat frustrating for unprepared home buyers. This why it is important to have a basic understanding of what they are looking for during the appraisal.

While the MPR list is quite comprehensive, there are major MPR “issues” that tend to surface time and again. Let’s take a look at what those major points involve.

Residential ONLY. Only residential properties are eligible for VA loans. In fact, the property needs to have at least 75% residential space, a bathroom and space for living, sleeping, cooking and dining. The property must be a single dwelling that has adequate living space for daily life.

Adequate Roofing. The roof must be free of leaks and provide reasonable functional utility. This means that any repairs for missing shingles or gapping holes should be completed before the VA appraisal. 

Problem-Free Crawl Spaces. Attics, basements and crawl spaces must be easy to access, have natural ventilation and free of debris. These areas need to have enough room to make electrical, plumbing or ductwork repairs.

Year-Round Access. All VA loan homes need to be easily and safely accessed from the street. Private driveways or permanent easements should safely allow entry that is independent of a neighbor’s property. There should be enough space between dwellings to allow for exterior maintenance and upkeep.

Acceptable Heating. The home must have a safe heating system that keeps the temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Homes with wood-burning stoves as the primary heat source need a conventional heating system, too, to help maintain the temperature.

Safe Mechanical Systems. All electrical and plumbing systems must be safe and usable. Minor electrical issues are not problematic and can be easily fixed. However, entire home wiring challenges could present a major issue.

Available Water. A safe water supply is mandatory. This includes a safe water supply, water heater and sewage disposal. Private water supplies and wells must meet local water quality standards. This will require water testing.

Sound Structure. The property must be clear and free of hazards. These red flags include dry rot, fungus, broken windows, leaks, exposed wires, mold, decay, peeling paint and more. Any evidence of termites or pests can also be problematic. Poor workmanship, defective construction and settlement issues are not allowed.

This is not an exhaustive list but it does provide a high-level overview. The VA MPRs are designed to uncover anything that could prevent you from enjoying the property and potentially cause you harm. You can view the comprehensive MPR list here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/roanoke/rlc/forms/ci_guide_2005.pdf