Most VA buyers won’t encounter a Verification of Rent (VOR) as part of their homebuying process. But it can be a critical piece of the puzzle for those with more challenging loan files.
Verification of Rent is pretty much what it sounds like -- a lender wanting to verify your housing payments for the previous 12 months. Lenders can have different guidelines and triggers for when a VOR might be needed. They may also take varying approaches to how borrowers can satisfy the request.
Generally, VORs will come into play mostly with loan files that must be underwritten manually. A manual underwrite, as they’re known, occurs when a loan application can’t receive initial approval from a lender’s Automated Underwriting System (AUS).
Common issues that can lead to a manual underwrite include defaults or delinquencies on federal debt; a history of late mortgage payments; or issues surrounding bankruptcies or foreclosures in the previous two years.
At Veterans United, we’ll often require a Verification of Rent on manual underwrites when the buyer isn’t currently a homeowner.
Verification of Rent helps lenders assess a borrower’s ability to make their monthly mortgage payments. Veterans who haven’t been paying rent can face significant payment shock when they suddenly have to make regular mortgage payments.
How to Satisfy a Verification of Rent (VOR)
Guidelines for verifying your housing payments can vary among lenders.
At Veterans United, we will accept either a written Verification of Rent signed by your landlord or 12 months’ worth of canceled checks if the landlord is unwilling to sign the VOR document.
Things can get trickier when borrowers pay their rent in cash or don’t truly rent at all.
Prospective buyers who pay rent in cash may need to provide a 12-month banking history showing those withdrawals. Paying rent with a mix of cash and checks can require documenting both the withdrawals and the canceled checks.
Veterans who live with a family member or friend rent-free may need to provide a written letter of explanation to that effect. But lenders will be especially concerned about payment shock in a rent-free scenario. If you haven’t been paying rent for the last 12 months, lenders will take a closer look at your savings and assets -- they want to know what you’ve been doing with the money you didn’t have to spend on rent.
If you’ve saved a nice nest egg or used that money to pay down debt, these can be positives for your loan file. Borrowers who’ve been living rent-free but don’t have a lot of assets may have trouble. Providing a budgeting letter and a letter of explanation about your housing situation may help ease lender concerns.
VORs with Automated Underwriting Approval
It’s less common for underwriters to request a Verification of Rent on a loan file with initial approval from a lender’s Automated Underwriting System. Guidelines and policies can vary by lender.
Some lenders may want a VOR for buyers who continue to live in their home after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Others may request them for borrowers with thin credit histories.
Generally, borrowers may be able to negate the need for a VOR by producing alternative credit tradelines. Talk with a Veterans United loan specialist in more detail.