If you are a military, veteran or qualifying spouse, the government has made it easy for you to obtain a low cost mortgage in the form of a VA loan. There are many mortgage lenders who offer VA loans, which have some key advantages, including no down payment and no mortgage insurance requirement. Bankrate has evaluated dozens of mortgage lenders to determine the best lenders for VA loans. Here’s our guide to the best VA mortgage lenders in 2021.
To determine the best VA mortgage lenders, Bankrate evaluated lenders based on several criteria, including cost (competitive VA loan rates and low or no fees); experience (VA loan volume); and the scope of VA loan offerings.
Best VA Mortgage Lenders
Federal Navy Credit Union
The Navy Federal Credit Union serves over nine million military personnel and specializes not only in mortgages, but also in banking and other types of loans. The Credit Union is a leading lender of VA loans, and its offerings include VA loans for purchases; VA Streamline Refinancing (an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL); and Military Choice loans for borrowers who have exhausted their VA benefits, with no down payment or mortgage insurance requirement. In addition to VA loans, the credit union offers conventional loans.
The Navy Federal Credit Union has very competitive VA loan rates compared to others, but it is only open to military personnel, veterans, and their families. Membership has its privileges, including the absence of fees for processing or taking out a loan, or for relocking your rate; the possibility of reblocking your rate up to twice in the event of a reduction in rates and a rate match guarantee that pays you $ 1,000 after closing if the credit union can’t match a better rate offered by a competitor.
Navy Federal Credit Union was also named one of the Bankrate’s best mortgage lenders globally in 2021.
USAA Federal Savings Bank
USAA Federal Savings Bank is one of the most trusted names among the military and their families, serving over $ 13 million in VA loans and a solid line of other banking, insurance, investment, and lending products.
The bank is another major VA loan lender, with VA loans for purchases, VA jumbo loans up to $ 3 million, and VA Simplified Refinancing (IRRRL) among the options available. It also offers some of the lowest VA loan rates, with the best rates usually reserved for people with a credit score of 740 or higher.
The benefits of the USAA include a quick online prequalification process, and for IRRRL refinancers, the bank will cover the cost of your title, VA financing fees, appraisal fees, and origination fees.
However, there are only 11 physical branches for in-person consultations and of course VA loans through this lender are only available to eligible members.
United Home Loans for Veterans
Veterans United Home Loans is one of the top five VA loan lenders, and for good reason: it offers VA loan products to military families and veterans in every state and is rated A + from Better. Business Office. It’s no surprise that over 1,000 Bankrate users give this lender five out of five stars.
Veterans United Home Loans deals exclusively with VA loans, including VA loans for purchases; jumbo VA loans; VA cash-out and streamline refinancing (IRRRL); and VA Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM), which allow borrowers to pay for energy efficient home improvements when they buy a home or refinance. It also has some of the lowest VA loan rates.
Borrowers who do not qualify for a VA loan through this lender can take advantage of the Lighthouse Program, a free credit counseling service that helps them improve their finances and credit. Plus, borrowers who work with a Veterans United Realty partner agent can save on closing costs or get an even lower rate.
Veterans United Home Loans requires a minimum FICO score of 660, which could be higher than the requirements of some other VA lenders. Additionally, it does not make its fees public and only has branches in 18 states (many of which are located near or on military bases).
BNC National Bank
BNC National Bank is a bank with physical locations, but its mortgage division operates as a full-service hybrid online lender that provides financing across the country. The bank has gained a strong allegiance from the military and veterans, with VA loans making up a significant portion of its business, according to a company official.
The bank does not charge origination fees on VA loans and offers manual underwriting to borrowers in special circumstances. Plus, current clients looking to refinance can qualify for a free appraisal.
However, BNC National Bank does not advertise its VA lending rates or publicize its lender fees, and if you need to enter a branch, they are only available in a few states.
Movement Mortgage is more than a catchy alliterative name – it’s representative of a new generation of physical and online lenders.
One of the leading VA loan lenders, Movement Mortgage lends in all states, offering VA loans for purchases with no origination fees, as well as VA collection and Simplified Refinancing (IRRRL). In particular, the withdrawal program may be accompanied by a 100% withdrawal for some borrowers.
However, the lender does not make their VA loan rates public, so you will need to fill out a quote form to find out what rates are available and what you may be entitled to.
In addition to VA loans, Movement Mortgage offers conventional loans, jumbo loans, FHA loans, and USDA loans. Borrowers can get personalized rate quotes quickly and free of charge and easily apply for any type of mortgage online or over the phone. Plus, most documents can be signed electronically in advance, saving you time.
Who is eligible for a VA loan?
VA loans are only available to eligible borrowers. To be eligible, you must meet these conditions:
- Be in active military service or a veteran who has been honorably released and has met minimum service requirements;
- Have served 90 consecutive active days, at a minimum, in wartime or at least 181 consecutive active days in peacetime, or served six years or more in the National Guard or the selected Reserve; or
- Being a surviving spouse
To qualify for a VA loan, you must also:
- Obtain a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
- Meet your lender’s minimum credit score requirements, typically 620
- Meet your lender’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) requirement, typically no more than 41% (unless there are “compensating factors” the lender can use to qualify you)
- Demonstrate proof of income
The following qualifications and rules also apply:
- You will be billed in advance VA financing fees, which you can integrate with your loan or ask the seller to pay. These fees vary from 1.4% to 3.6% of the loan amount.
- You must move into the house within 60 days of the loan closing, although there is some flexibility with this time frame.
- The loan must be for a primary residence only (no investment properties, second homes or vacation homes).
Is a VA loan better than a regular loan?
There are at least two important advantages of choosing a VA loan over a conventional loan, even if you are eligible for both:
- Unlike a conventional loan, you are not required to put any money in with a VA loan. This means that you don’t have to save enough money for a down payment.
- You won’t have to pay for mortgage loan insurance, which a conventional loan requires if you put in less than 20 percent.
Together, these benefits can accelerate your dreams of buying a home and save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
There is also another advantage to a VA loan over a conventional loan: it might be easier to refinance down the line. This is because of a program called the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), or VA Streamline Refinancing, which allows you to refinance without a credit check, and usually without a valuation.
Plus, there is usually no loan limit on the amount you can borrow with a VA loan.
However, if you have 20% for a down payment, it may make more sense to get a conventional loan instead of a VA loan, as your down payment amount means you won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance. (PMI) in the conventional market. loan, and with a VA loan, you would be responsible for financing costs.
How to Choose the Best VA Mortgage Lender
Every borrower’s needs and circumstances are different, but it’s worth doing your homework and shopping around for different VA mortgage lenders. This means paying close attention to credit score requirements; lender fees; time estimated to be necessary for the request, subscription and closing; and the quality of customer service.
Note that some VA mortgage lenders have been caught in unreliable practices, especially by making misleading statements about low rates and closing costs. Be sure to do thorough research and review testimonials and reviews from the Better Business Bureau or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before committing to any loan or loan offer.
Here are some more tips to help you find the best VA mortgage lender.
How to Apply for a VA Loan
You can apply for a VA loan through a VA mortgage lender often online or over the phone. If your lender has branches, you may also be able to apply in person. Keep in mind that not all banks or lending institutions offer VA loans, but many do. If you need help, you can contact a VA Regional Lending Center for information.
Here are some more tips to help you apply for a VA loan.