What Is Rent Control and How Does It Work?

Rent prices are on the rise. According to the latest data from Rent.com, in August 2023, the national median rent ticked up to $2,052 per month. That has many people wondering, what is rent control, and can it help curb prices?

Rent control is a term used to describe price controls implemented by local governments on apartment units. Rent control limits the amount a property owner can increase rent prices during a certain period of time. It’s also usually accompanied by tenant protections allowing for lease renewals and protecting against unwarranted evictions. Rent control is more common in larger, expensive population centers like New York and San Francisco.

How does rent control work? Read on to find out.

What Is Rent Control?


Rent control is a government regulation that puts a ceiling on the amount of rent that can be charged to a tenant. This means landlords can’t charge the market rate for a rental in rent-controlled jurisdictions. Rent increases may be allowed, but they are limited and regulated by law.

How does rent control work in NYC? In New York, rent control can also refer to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act. This act was first enacted in the demilitarization period following World War II when housing shortages resulted from the large number of soldiers returning home from the war.


💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.

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How Does Rent Control Work?


Your local government has the final say when it comes to rent control — unless they’re prohibited by law to enact price controls on housing units, as is the case in 33 states.

There’s often a rent board appointed, which is a mix of property owners, tenants, and other community members. The board has a say about rent adjustment amounts and other housing-related issues.

Rent control is usually applied to a specific area or building. For example, in New York, rent stabilization applies to buildings that were built between February 1, 1947 and December 31, 1973. (Pre-war, rent-controlled buildings revert to the newer rent stabilization program once a tenant moves out.)

The maximum price a landlord can charge can be set by the regulating agency. In New York City, rents are subject to the Maximum Base Rent Program, which is a formula for rents based on real estate taxes, utilities, operating and maintenance expenses, and vacancy allowances.

The economics of rent control can create a large demand. Because the supply of rent-controlled apartments is low, most tenants who want an apartment with rent control will wait on a list or enter a lottery system for many months or years.

History of Rent Control


New York City first enacted rent control when housing units were scarce following the end of World War II. It was called the War Emergency Tenant Protection Act and was later replaced by a different rent control method called rent stabilization. Rent stabilization has been in place since 1974 in New York City, and 1979 in San Francisco.

Rent Control vs Rent Stabilization


Discussions of rent control vs. rent stabilization are usually in reference to regulation in New York City.

In New York City, rent control generally applies to buildings constructed before 1947 with tenants in place prior to July 1, 1971. That date is important as it refers to a change in regulation laws where rent control gave way to rent stabilization.

Rent stabilization generally refers to price controls on buildings with six or more units constructed between 1947 and 1974. It can also include buildings removed from rent control that were constructed prior to 1947, as well as some other buildings that enjoy special tax advantages. Rent stabilization does not apply to co-ops or condos vs apartments. Tenants in rent-stabilized apartments have the right to renew their lease.

Today, the terms “rent control” and “rent stabilization” typically refer to the same thing: rent regulation.


💡 Quick Tip: Not to be confused with prequalification, preapproval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for preapproval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.

Pros and Cons of Rent Control


While rent control can protect tenants from large rent increases, it also means property owners have little incentive to maintain the property or create more housing units for the rent-controlled area. Here are some of the pros and cons of rent control.

Pros:

•   Tenants have some stability in the cost of their housing unit over time

•   Tenants usually also have some eviction protections

Cons

•   Landlords don’t have incentive to re-invest in other apartments or upgrade their current rentals

•   Unit size is not always a match for a family’s size

•   May contribute to housing shortages

Example of Rent Control


Rent control is determined by the local rent board or commission. That includes price increases. For example, if you started renting an apartment for $2,000 last year, and the maximum allowable amount for a yearly rent increase is 7.5%, the most your yearly rent would increase would be $150. That would bring your new rent to $2,150.

How to Find a Rent-Controlled Apartment


If you’re looking for a rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartment, your city’s rent regulation authority is usually one of the best places to find them.

New York City’s government website has a list of rent-stabilized buildings, as well as guidelines on how to know if an apartment is rent-controlled. It’s even possible to submit the building’s address in an online form to find out if rent is stabilized.

Recommended: 25 Things to Know When Renting Out an Airbnb

States With Rent Control


Only seven states have rent control laws in place. They are:

•   Oregon

•   California

•   New York

•   Maine

•   Maryland

•   Minnesota

•   New Jersey

•   District of Columbia

Thirty-three states have laws that preempt (or prevent) local governments from implementing some form of rent control.

One of the reasons states may outlaw rent control regulation has to do with housing supply. Economists note that while rent control affords price control and some protection for tenants, it also negatively affects the housing supply. That’s because limiting how much a property owner can make discourages housing investment, such as investing in duplexes, as well as housing development in areas where rent control exists.

If a property owner is limited on the money they can make on their unit, they will invest in other areas that do not have these restrictions and where they may even be able to rent out extra rooms. This, in turn, exacerbates housing affordability because there are fewer units with more people to compete for them.

The Takeaway


Rent control has benefits, especially in high-density areas where expansion is limited and long-term tenants need some affordability. However, it does come with downsides, including possibly limiting the housing supply.

In addition, rent-controlled properties can be difficult to come by because there aren’t a lot of them. In this case, or if you’re simply ready to move on from apartment life into something you own, you may want to look into buying a house, including checking out first time homebuyer programs.

Or, if you’re an investor, perhaps you’re thinking of investing in single family rental homes. Either way, whether you want to buy a house to live in, or buy it to rent it out, you can explore your mortgage options. There are many different types of mortgages available, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Who benefits most from rent control?

Tenants already in place may benefit from living in an apartment where price increases are limited or controlled. Rent-controlled apartments are typically reserved for individuals and families that need affordable housing.

What is an example of rent control?

One example of rent control is this: If you signed a lease on a rent-controlled apartment for $1,700 per month and the maximum allowable rent increase is 3.5%, then the most your landlord could increase your rent would be by $59.50. That would bring your new monthly rent to $1,759.50.

What are the negative effects of rent control?

Economists say rent control creates housing shortages and doesn’t incentivize landlords to maintain or repair their rental units.


Photo credit: iStock/gorodenkoff

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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How to Become an Airbnb Owner With a Cohost

If you own an Airbnb property or are contemplating offering one on the popular rental platform, you probably know that doing so can bring in a welcome stream of income. You also probably know that it can take time and energy to keep things running smoothly. Guests may cancel at the last-minute; your property’s dishwasher might break; and an array of other scenarios may arise, demanding your attention.

In this situation, you might want to find a cohost to assist you. A cohost can simplify the process by assisting with bookings, housekeeping, answering guests’ questions, and more responsibilities.

A cohost could be a friend or family member, a person you find and pay for their services, or a professional with whom Airbnb connects you.

Here, you’ll learn more about this option including:

•   What is Airbnb?

•   How does Airbnb work?

•   How does Airbnb work for hosts?

•   How to become an Airbnb cohost?

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


What Is Airbnb?

Airbnb is an online marketplace for private home stays (whether that means renting out a room, a floor of a house, or a whole property) as well as vacation experiences.

How does Airbnb work for hosts? Owners sign up to rent out a room, apartment, or house for a home stay. (Even treehouses turn up among the properties.) The hosts set their rates, and share their rental policies. Guests can then book via the Airbnb platform, which assists with communications and administrative tasks for a commission.

More than four million hosts now operate worldwide, with over 150 million users globally who have booked over one million stays. It’s a proven platform for coaxing an income stream out of any property, and it can be an enticing endeavor for first-time homebuyers.


💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage. Look for a mortgage lender who’s dedicated to closing your loan on time.

Who Books on Airbnb?

All kinds of people book on Airbnb: Recent grads, families, retirees, wedding guests, digital nomads, and more. Both frugal travelers and posh jetsetters alike are looking for lodging. Many people prefer the authenticity of an Airbnb to a cookie-cutter hotel or motel room.

How does Airbnb work for guests? They search for and book a property based on location, price, available dates, and desired amenities, among other factors.

When potential guests submit inquiries, owners receive immediate notification of the reservation request. Airbnb has technology in place to block guests with a record of negative behavior (such as property damage) from reserving properties.

How Does Airbnb Work for Owners and Cohosts?

There are many things to know when renting out an Airbnb. Here’s how Airbnb works for owners: Those who list new properties on Airbnb receive step-by-step instructions for setting up their space. They can be matched with a successful Superhost (that’s Airbnb’s term for highly rated and reliable hosts) to assist them.

If you bring aboard a cohost, they will be verified by Airbnb (submitting ID may be required). Once approved, they will have full privileges to help you with managing and optimizing your listing(s). Tasks can include:

•   Managing booking and reservation-related tasks

•   Answering prospective and current renters’ questions

•   Stocking and otherwise maintaining the property

•   Updating the listing as needed

•   Enhancing guests’ experience.

Recommended: Is It Smart to Buy an Investment Property While Renting?

How Much Do Airbnb Owners Get Paid?

If you are offering a property for rent on Airbnb, you are probably interested in turning a profit. So how does Airbnb payment work? The price you charge for your property and the number of nights you book will determine how much you earn.

If you consider this in more detail, the income from an Airbnb depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the property for rent, amenities (does it have a spa-style bathroom? A swimming pool?), the tourism market, local housing market trends, and the number of other Airbnbs you’re competing with.

Looking at the Airbnb site and sizing up your competition can help you determine how much to charge and how rates vary over the year.

In terms of how much Airbnb owners get paid of the amount renters pay, consider that most hosts pay a service fee of 3% of the rental subtotal (the nightly cost plus any fees you charge guests, such as cleaning charges). Airbnb doesn’t charge its hosts a payment processing fee.

In addition, guests usually pay Airbnb a 14% service fee on top of the subtotal.


💡 Quick Tip: A home equity line of credit brokered by SoFi gives you the flexibility to spend what you need when you need it — you only pay interest on the amount that you spend. And the interest rate is lower than most credit cards.

How to Become an Airbnb Owner with a Cohost

Want to launch your property on Airbnb with the help of a cohost? The platform makes it simple:

•   Go to the listing(s) where you’d like to add a cohost.

•   Click on “Cohosts” and then “Invite a Cohost.”

•   Add their location and their email or phone number, and click “Next.”

•   You’ll be prompted to select permissions for this person; then click “Next.”

•   You can add a note if you like, and then hit “Send.”

Airbnb will then handle inviting and verifying the cohost and adding them to your listing. You can have up to 10 cohosts per listing.

In terms of how to become an Airbnb cohost, the person you’ve invited will likely have to accept your invitation and then provide information and ID to Airbnb.

Airbnb Owner Requirements

Here are some of the owner requirements to offer a property as a rental on Airbnb:

•   Be of legal age. Perhaps it goes without saying, but minors shouldn’t be involved in renting out properties on the platform. While it may sound like a cool summer project for a teenage cousin to help manage a family lakehouse, that would be a no-go.

•   Make sure renting your property is legal. Depending on the home’s geographical area, a host may need to register the property or obtain a short-term rental license. Or you may not be allowed to rent out your property at all. A call to your city hall may be the best way to learn the details.

•   Know the tax implications. In some tax areas, Airbnb will handle the calculation, collection, and remittance of any local occupancy taxes on your behalf. In other locations, you may be responsible for this.

•   Cover yourself. Hosts should understand the liability insurance that Airbnb automatically applies to rentals. Hosts may want to also confirm that their homeowners’ insurance policy provides coverage for short-term rentals.

Recommended: What Is the Cost of Living by State?

Pros and Cons of Being an Airbnb Owner

As you consider becoming an Airbnb host with a cohost or without, you may want to review the benefits and disadvantages of renting in this way.

Pros of Being an Airbnb Owner

Are you thinking about how to become an Airbnb host for others? Among the upsides to consider are the following:

•   Hosting short-term rentals can bring in cash. This can help ensure you’ll have resources to make your home loan payments.

•   Income from rentals can fund renovations and other improvements, or it could help finance your long-term financial goals.

•   A successful rental history can increase the value of your property when you’re ready to sell.

•   Many people find hosting a rewarding activity, both as a business and a personal pursuit.

Cons of Being an Airbnb Owner

Here are some of the downsides of being an Airbnb owner:

•   It can be a big leap to give total strangers the key to your home. For instance, if the property is your primary residence, you will have to vacate for bookings. If your home contains treasured furniture or tableware, you may worry about damage.

•   Some cities, towns, and homeowners associations have passed legislation against short-term rentals.

•   Owners who rent their properties, even a few days a month, must pay taxes on the earnings.

•   While Airbnb provides insurance coverage automatically to hosts, you may want to make sure your homeowners insurance can cover short-term rentals as well.

•   It can be a time-consuming endeavor, and some people may find being a host to be frustrating in some ways.

Writing an Airbnb Host Listing

A successful Airbnb host listing is typically a combination of an enticing portrait of your property and all the vital, nitty-gritty details.

Usually, the listing will share:

•   A short introduction, which delivers an overview and highlights why it’s a terrific property

•   Room-by-room descriptions

•   Details about the property/outdoor features

•   Information about the location and things to do nearby.

Be sure to define terms that bookers may not know, such as what is a duplex or pergola.

Tips on Hosting on Airbnb as an Owner with a Cohost

Here are some ways to collaborate with a cohost:

•   Have your cohost manage the calendar, set holiday/peak rates, and answer questions.

•   Ask your cohost to share ideas for area attractions that draw guests. Mention these in your listing, including distances from your property.

•   Talk to your cohost about personal touches they think would please guests, like sharing a list of good local restaurants that don’t require reservations.

•   Ask your cohost to create house rules and determine how to share and enforce them with guests.

•   Have your cohost review the property and highlight anything that needs maintenance or that could be improved.

•   Give your cohost the job of restocking the property after each guest stay.

The Takeaway

If you’re considering offering a property on Airbnb or are already doing so, a cohost could make the management easier. A cohost could be a family member who helps out for free, or they could be a paid professional who manages a number of Airbnb rentals and has considerable experience. A cohost could help you boost the success of your hosting on this popular platform.

Are you just pondering becoming an Airbnb host and currently eyeing the perfect bungalow to rent out? Finding the best mortgage for your purchase is an important step.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

What percentage does Airbnb take?

Airbnb typically collects a flat service fee of 3% of the rental fee subtotal. In addition, the guest pays Airbnb a 14% fee directly.

How much do owners have to pay Airbnb?

Airbnb will deduct a 3% fee from a rental subtotal (which includes the nightly fee, plus any other fees the host charges, such as a cleaning fee).

Do Airbnb hosts get all the money?

Here’s how Airbnb payment works: Airbnb hosts do not get all the money. They typically pay 3% of the subtotal (nightly plus other fees) to Airbnb and then get the rest. Airbnb doesn’t charge any payment processing fees.


Photo credit: iStock/AJ_Watt

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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How to Get Preapproved for a VA Home Loan

The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors the VA loan program to help military members and surviving spouses become homeowners. If you’re interested in how to get a VA loan, you’ll need to first make sure you meet the government’s requirements and then find a VA-approved lender and seek preapproval for a loan.

Getting preapproved for a home loan can give you an idea of how much you’ll be able to afford. Having a VA loan preapproval letter in hand can also give you some leverage when it’s time to make an offer. Here’s a closer look at how to get preapproved for a VA home loan.

What Is a VA Loan?

A VA loan is a mortgage loan that’s backed by the federal government. The Department of Veterans Affairs works with a network of approved lenders that grant VA loans to military members and surviving spouses. Should a borrower default on a VA loan, the federal government steps in to help the lender recoup some of its losses.

What is a VA loan good for? There are four ways that borrowers can use them.

•   VA purchase loans allow you to buy a home through an approved lender.

•   Native American Direct Loans (NADL) help Native American veterans or veterans married to Native Americans buy, build, or improve a home on federal trust land.

•   Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans (IRRRL) can help make existing VA-backed loans more affordable through interest rate reductions.

•   Cash-out mortgage refinance loans can help eligible borrowers tap into their home equity to withdraw cash, while refinancing into a new loan.

In terms of how to get a VA loan, each of these options has different requirements that borrowers need to meet.



💡 Quick Tip: Apply for a VA loan and borrow up to $1.5 million with a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage. The flexibility extends to the down payment, too — qualified VA homebuyers don’t even need one!†^

How Does VA Home Loan Preapproval Work?

Mortgage loan preapproval simply means that a lender has reviewed your financial situation and made a tentative offer for a loan. It doesn’t constitute final approval for a mortgage, but getting preapproved is often beneficial, as a mortgage preapproval letter can give you an edge if you’re vying with another buyer for a particular property.

VA home loan preapproval works much the same as any other type of mortgage preapproval, with one extra step: Before you apply for the loan, you’ll need to get a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. This document shows your lender that you’re eligible for a VA loan, based on your service history and duty status. The minimum service requirements for a COE depend on when you served. You can request a COE online through the VA website.

After you have the COE, you’ll need to give the lender some basic information about your household income, assets, and how much you’re hoping to borrow in a process called prequalification. This will allow you to see — often in just a few minutes — what kind of mortgage terms you might qualify for. From there, you can choose a lender and go through the next step, preapproval.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


How to Get a VA Home Loan Preapproval Letter

Getting a VA home loan preapproval letter is a relatively straightforward process. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

•   Obtain your COE from the Veterans Administration.

•   Choose a VA-approved lender.

•   Complete the lender’s preapproval application.

Let’s get into the details of securing a VA home loan preapproval. First, you’ll need certain documents on hand to apply for the COE, and those documents are specific to your military status. If you are a veteran, you’ll need a copy of your discharge or separation papers. Active-duty service members will need to furnish a statement of service signed by their commander, adjutant, or personnel officer. This statement needs to include your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, date you entered duty, duration of any lost time, and the name of the command providing the statement. You can find full details and an online COE application on the VA website.

Once you have your COE and have found a prospective lender, the lender will likely ask to see certain documents to verify your income and financial situation, including:

•   Tax returns

•   Pay stubs

•   Bank account statements

•   Investment account statements

You’ll also need to provide a valid photo ID, your date of birth, and Social Security number. This information is needed to process a hard credit check, which can impact your credit score.

After your lender has everything it needs to process your preapproval, it will review your finances and complete a hard check of your credit history. Assuming your credit score and income check out, and there are no issues with your COE, you should be able to get a preapproval decision within a few days.

How to Buy a Home With a VA-Backed Loan

Home mortgage loans offered through the VA are attractive for a few reasons. For one thing, you can buy a home with no down payment required. For another, VA loans can offer more attractive interest rates than other types of mortgage loans.

Now that you know how to get a VA home loan, if you’d like to buy a home with a VA-backed loan, getting preapproved is the first step. Again, VA loan preapproval can give you an idea how much you’ll be able to borrow, which can help you narrow down your search for a property. Once you find a home that you’re interested in, making an offer is the next step.

You can use a VA-backed loan to buy:

•   Single family homes with up to four units

•   Condos in a VA-approved project

•   Manufactured homes

VA loans can also be used to build a home. You’ll need to have the home inspected and appraised to make sure that the property is structurally sound and that its value aligns with the amount you want to borrow. If there are no issues, you can move on to the closing to sign final paperwork and pay the VA loan funding fee.

This fee is a one-time payment VA borrowers are required to make to help cover the costs of the VA loan program. The amount you’ll pay for the funding fee depends on whether you’re a first-time homebuyer and how much money you put down on the home, if any. Some buyers may pay no fee at all, or have it refunded.

Recommended: Cost of Living by State

Who Is Eligible for a VA Loan?

Eligibility for a VA loan is a two-pronged test. You’ll need to be able to obtain a COE from the government on one hand, and on the other, you’ll need to be able to meet the lender’s credit score and income requirements.

COE requirements depend on your duty status and time served. Generally, you’re eligible if you are:

•   An active-duty service member who has served at least 90 days continuously.

•   A veteran who served at least 24 months continuously or 90 days of active duty.

•   A National Guard member who has served at least 90 days of active duty.

•   A Reserve member who has served at least 90 days of active duty.

These requirements assume that you served between August 2, 1990 and the present day. If you’re a veteran, National Guard member, or Reserve member who served before August 2, 1990, the service requirements are different.

You may also be able to get a COE under other conditions. Here are a few examples (find a complete list on the VA website):

•   Are a surviving spouse of an eligible service member

•   Are a Public Health Service officer

•   Served as an officer of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

•   Served as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy

If you don’t meet any of the requirements to get a COE for a VA loan, then you’ll need to consider other home loan options.

How to Get Preapproved for a VA Home Loan

VA loans can be attractive to buyers since the VA doesn’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance. If you’re wondering how to get approved for a VA loan, here are a few tips to qualify for a mortgage.

•   Consider your credit. The VA loan program has no minimum credit score requirement but the higher your score, the better your odds of being approved. A higher credit score can also help you get a lower interest rate on your loan.

•   Know your budget. Estimating how much you can afford when buying a home is important for ensuring that you don’t go over budget. If you know that you’re going to be looking at homes in the $300,000 range, for instance, then you wouldn’t want to ask for $500,000 when you’re trying to get preapproved.

•   Check the lender’s requirements. Researching VA lenders can help you find the one that’s the best fit for your needs and situation. Comparing minimum credit score requirements and income requirements can help you weed out lenders that are less likely to approve you.

Ideally, you should request preapproval from just one lender but that doesn’t mean you can’t shop around first by prequalifying with several lenders to compare rates.



💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

How to Find a VA Lender

The simplest way to find a VA lender is to use the resources available on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. You can also search for VA-approved lenders online. For instance, you might try searching for “VA lender near me” or “VA lender online application” to see what results turn up. If you aren’t sure a VA loan is right for you, check out a home loan help center to get more ideas for how to finance a home purchase.

Recommended: Cost of Living in California

How to Choose the Best VA Lender for You

One of the most important considerations when weighing how to get a VA loan is choosing a lender to work with. Comparing VA lenders is similar to comparing lenders for different types of mortgage loans, including conventional or FHA options. Here are some key things to consider as you shop around:

•   VA loan interest rates

•   Closing costs the lender charges, including origination fees

•   Minimum credit score and income requirements

•   Whether you have the option to buy points if that interests you

•   How long it typically takes for the lender to close a VA loan once you’re approved

It’s also a good idea to check out reviews from previous buyers to see what they have to say about a particular lender. The better the lender’s reputation is overall, the easier they might be to work with.

Tips on the VA Home Loan Preapproval Process

VA home loan preapproval may seem a little tedious with all the information that you need to provide. But it’s important that you don’t skip this step, as preapproval can work in your favor when it’s time to buy a home.

Here are a few tips for ensuring that your VA home loan preapproval goes as smoothly as possible.

•   Carefully read through the instructions for completing the application before you begin.

•   Organize your documents beforehand so that you’re not scrambling to find information later.

•   Review your application before submitting it to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything and there are no errors.

•   Opt for an online application process if possible, which could save you some time.

How long does it take to get a VA loan? While you might be able to get preapproved the same day or the next business day, closing can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days. That’s important to know as you plan out your home purchase.

The Takeaway

VA loans can offer some attractive benefits to homebuyers and getting preapproved is usually to your advantage. It’s important to take your time to find the right lender to work with so you can get the best loan terms possible.

SoFi offers VA loans with competitive interest rates, no private mortgage insurance, and down payments as low as 0%. Eligible service members, veterans, and survivors may use the benefit multiple times.

Our Mortgage Loan Officers are ready to guide you through the process step by step.

FAQ

Can you get preapproval for a VA loan?

Yes, it’s possible to get preapproved for a VA home loan. You’ll need to find a VA-approved lender to work with and verify that you’re eligible to get a loan through the VA program. Having VA loan preapproval doesn’t guarantee that you’ll qualify for a mortgage, however.

What do I need to get preapproved for VA loan?

To get preapproved for a VA loan, you’ll need to find a VA-approved lender. Next, you’ll need to provide the lender with some information about your finances, along with a Certificate of Eligibility. You can obtain this document from the Veterans Administration.

How long does it take to get a VA loan preapproval?

Assuming that you have all of the necessary documents and information to process your preapproval application, it may be possible to get a decision the same day. VA loan preapproval shouldn’t take more than a few days to obtain if you’ve checked off all the lender’s requirements.


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SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
^SoFi VA ARM: At the end of 60 months (5y/1y ARM), the interest rate and monthly payment adjust. At adjustment, the new mortgage rate will be based on the one-year Constant Maturity Treasury (CMT) rate, plus a margin of 2.00% subject to annual and lifetime adjustment caps.

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What Is Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship? Examples

Owning a home — or another type of property — with another person comes with all sorts of complications attached. Along with figuring out who’s responsible for the dishes or how to agree on what color to paint the bathroom, you also have to discern who owns what.

That’s where joint tenancy comes in. Joint tenancy means that both (or all) parties have 100% ownership in a home (or other kind property, like a bank account), rather than each owning a 50% share. Right of survivorship means that, if one of the owners passes away, the other(s) will automatically assume full ownership of the property.

Let’s take a closer look at joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or JTWROS, as well as listing some specific examples so you can see exactly how it works in action.

What Is a Joint Tenant With Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)?


Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is — as mentioned — co-ownership in an asset like a home or bank account with assumed ownership after one party’s death. So a joint tenant with right of survivorship is any one person in that ownership relationship.

With JTWROS, two or more people jointly own an entire asset — rather than each owning some proportional measure of the asset’s value.

Requirements for Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship


In order to establish joint tenancy with right of survivorship, all parties involved must meet four criteria known as the “four unities” of joint tenancy. They must have:

•  acquired the asset at the same time

•  obtained the same title document

•  an equal share of interest in the property

•  equally exercised their right to ownership of the property

Keep in mind that specific laws around JTWROS vary by state, so to fully understand how it works where you live, you’ll need to look up your own state’s laws. For example, in California, the default state is for co-owners of property to be tenants in common — which is a different type of ownership structure (more on that below). You should always look up your own local laws, or speak to a local legal expert, in order to ensure you fully understand your ownership rights.

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Understanding Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship: Examples


Definitions are all well and good — but how does JTWROS work in practice?

One of the most common examples of joint tenancy with right of survivorship is when a married couple purchases a home together. Say Rebecca and Jane buy their first home as young newlyweds, preparing to build a family and a life together.

If both Rebecca and Jane meet the four unities of joint tenancy — including purchasing the home together and having both of their names on the home’s deed — they can share 100% ownership of the home, rather than each of them laying claim to 50% of the home’s value. That means that, if either one of them were to pass away, the other would immediately assume full ownership of the home rather than having to go through the process of probate. (Of course, it also means that neither Rebecca nor Jane could choose to leave the home to someone else — including their children — without first terminating the joint tenancy.)

You could also choose to enter into a joint tenancy with right of survivorship with a non-spouse. Say you and two friends choose to purchase a condo in Seattle together, which you plan to rotate between you as a vacation home. So long as you meet the four unities and specify it at the time of purchase, you can all share 100% ownership of the condo. That said, none of you would be able to leave the condo to your children in your will, sell your share of the property, or even specify what proportion of the property value you own. In order to do any of that, you’d need to be in a tenancy in common. So as you’re thinking about a home mortgage loan, a down payment, and other details around a home purchase, it’s important to think about how you want ownership expressed on the deed as well.

Other Examples of Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship (JTWROS)


Although we’ve been talking primarily about homeownership in this article, keep in mind that joint tenancy with right of survivorship can apply to other sorts of ownership and property, too. For example, a married couple or pair of business partners might hold a bank account in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. The same may hold true of personal property, such as a vehicle, when purchased jointly.

Different Types of Joint Tenancy


In order to fully understand joint tenancy, you have to understand tenancy in common — which is the primary alternate ownership structure.

Tenancy-in-common allows mutual owners to designate proportional ownership (rather than sharing 100% ownership), and any tenant can sell their portion of the property whenever they choose. In addition, the right of survivorship clause does not hold, and each tenant-in-common can leave their share of ownership to a beneficiary in their will if they so choose.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

Tenants-in-Common

Each tenant enjoys full ownership of the shared property. Tenants may designate proportional ownership: 50/50, 60/40, etc.
If one tenant dies, full ownership is automatically bestowed on the surviving tenant(s). If one tenant dies, they can will their share of the property’s ownership to anyone they want.
The four unities must be met in order for joint tenancy to be established. Tenancy in common can be established without meeting the four unities.

What are the Tax Implications of JTWROS?


Part of the reason some people choose to enter into a joint tenancy with right of survivorship is to avoid probate — the lengthy, and often costly, legal process by which a person’s assets are assigned to new owners after their death. Still, it’s important for tenants to understand that JTWROS comes with certain tax implications.

For example, if your joint tenant is not your spouse, and the value of your shared property is higher than the annual gift tax exclusion ($17,000 in 2023), the transferal of ownership at the time of their death could trigger the federal gift tax. You may also be subject to estate taxes if the value of your shared property exceeds the IRS’s threshold for that tax — $12,920,000 in 2023.

Always check with a qualified tax professional to be sure you understand the tax implications of shared property ownership.

Advantages and Disadvantages of JTWROS


As you can see by now, joint tenancy with right of survivorship has both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of them at a glance.

Benefits of JTWROS

•  Right of ownership is automatically transferred at the time of a tenant’s death, avoiding the lengthy probate process and simplifying estate planning for families and married couples.

•  All tenants claim equal ownership over the asset, be it a home, bank account, or vehicle.

Drawbacks of JTWROS

•  No tenant can choose to leave their share of ownership to an heir in their will.

•  Because all tenants share 100% ownership of the property, if one tenant has financial trouble, this trouble affects other tenants even if their finances are in better shape. (For example, if two people share joint tenancy of a vehicle and one falls deeply enough into debt for their car to be repossessed, the other will, obviously, also be unfairly penalized in the process.)

When Does Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship Make Sense?


Joint tenancy with right of survivorship can be a great choice for families or married couples whose long-term financial goals and life plans are woven together — and who both have similar financial histories and habits. On the other hand, for those purchasing an asset together in the short term, or in situations where one tenant may have serious debt while another does not, joint tenancy with right of survivorship may not be the best choice.

How to Enter a JTWROS Agreement


Ensuring that a joint purchase is a JTWROS has everything to do with the wording on the asset’s title or deed — so it’s important to ensure that your mortgage lender, bank account representative, or whoever you’re making a purchase from, understands your intention to enter into a joint tenancy with right of survivorship at the time the asset is acquired.

The Takeaway


Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is an ownership structure in which all parties share 100% ownership of an asset such as a home, joint brokerage account, or vehicle. If one of the tenants dies, the ownership is automatically transferred to the other(s), which makes it a common choice for married couples and families.

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FAQ


What is the primary advantage of being a joint tenant with right of survivorship?


One reason married couples and families so frequently choose this ownership structure is that ownership of the property is automatically conferred to the surviving tenant if the other party dies — which avoids the lengthy probate process and doesn’t require anyone to move at a very difficult emotional time.

Which tenancy is best for married couples?


Although every couple is different, many married couples choose a joint tenancy with right of survivorship to simplify their estate planning.

What is a primary feature of property held in joint tenancy?


Property held in joint tenancy is owned 100% by all parties involved — rather than each party owning a proportional share of the property’s value.


Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

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