Best VA Loan Lenders of 2019 | Editors' Choice

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Our team of analysts and editors reviewed America's top VA loan lenders to find the cream of the crop. We selected the best VA lenders across five reader-nominated categories based on each lender's selection of mortgage products, record for customer satisfaction and overall track record in the VA program. Check out our picks below to find out more about our best VA home loan lenders of 2019.

Best Bank for VA Loans: USAA

USAA issued over $38 billion in VA home loans over the past 5 years, the greatest amount of any mortgage lender in the country.

USAA managed to snag J.D. Power's highest score in customer satisfaction for mortgage originations. Access to this bank is only available to those who are affiliated with the military and their families, which makes it an exclusive yet focused organization. USAA issued over 155,338 VA loans over the past five years, over three-quarters of those consisted of purchase loans, which represents the bank's affinity for getting first-time home buyers situated in the home of their dreams.

Runner-up comparison

USAAWells Fargo
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • Jumbo
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • HELOC
Learn moreRead Our USAA Mortgage ReviewRead our Wells Fargo Mortgage Review

Highlights Somewhere between a bank and a credit union, USAA is a full-service financial institution that offers banking, home loan and even insurance services to current and former military personnel and their dependents. VA home loans make up the lion's share of its business model, and the lender receives top marks in this category.

USAA offers a variety of lowdown-payment mortgage loans for veteran and first-time home buyers. These loans come in both standard and jumbo variants, making them ideal whether you're trying to move to an affordable rural area or are considering making the move into a high-cost urban neighborhood.

The bank also features the USAA Real Estate network, which links you with real estate professionals across top-rated firms, including Coldwell Banker and Century 21. Many of the realtors who participate in this program are veterans themselves, who understand your needs and the intricacies of the VA program. To top it all off, borrowers who buy or sell a home through the USAA Real Estate network qualify for cash rewards, whether or not they decide to obtain their mortgage through USAA.

  • USAA Real Estate network connects you with a nationally acclaimed network of realtors.
  • USAA first-time home buyer loan offers mortgage loans of as little as 3% down for borrowers who can't qualify for a VA loan outright.
  • USAA covers all the up-front fees on its VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (VA IRRRL).

Drawbacks While the lender has performed well among first-time home buyers, USAA doesn't seem to be nearly as competitive when it comes to refinancing. The lender completed only a quarter of the number of VA refinances as it did purchase mortgages and does not offer any home equity products, which makes USAA less than ideal for current homeowners. Additionally, it doesn't maintain nearly as robust of a branch network as its larger bank competitors, so if you're looking for traditional face-to-face service, you may be better off with a traditional national bank lender like Wells Fargo or Citibank.

Best Credit Union for VA Loans: Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union received J.D. Power's highest score for customer satisfaction among Mortgage Servicers for 2018.

Navy Federal services all of the home loans it underwrites in-house, ensuring that your mortgage loan receives the same quality of attention from the day it’s issued, to the day it's paid off. With over 108,000 VA loans issued over the past five years and J.D. Power's top score for customer satisfaction under its belt, you can rest assured that Navy Federal prioritizes customer service above all else.

Runner-up comparison

Navy Federal Credit UnionPentagon Federal Credit Union
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreVisit Navy Federal for more infoRead our PenFed Mortgage Review

Highlights

Few people are aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't actually list a minimum credit score requirement; the agency leaves that up to the lender's discretion, which gives lenders more flexibility when it comes to credit qualification. Most conventional mortgage lenders still choose to abide by set underwriting standards and may be unwilling to consider borderline applications with FICOs of 620 or less. Navy Federal distinguishes itself from its competitors thanks to its willingness to accept and underwrite applications based on less conventional forms of credit verification, including rent payments and monthly utility bills.

Not content to limit its choices to just 0% down VA loans, the credit union also offers its own brand of low down-payment mortgages, including its Homebuyers Choice program for first-time home buyers, which allows for 100% financing outside the VA program. This can be useful for military personnel who haven't met the minimum requirements for a VA loan, as well as an excellent alternative for military home buyers who may already exhausted their VA benefits. To top it off, Navy Federal also offers its own brand of home equity loans and HELOCs, making it a well-rounded option for new home buyers and current homeowners alike.

  • Navy Federal will match your best competing offer or pay you $1,000 at closing.
  • Freedom Lock allows you to keep your mortgage rate if rates rise and relocks your interest rate to a lower level if rates fall within 60 days of your application.
  • One of the select few VA lenders who also offers home equity loans and HELOCs.

Drawbacks Navy Federal's non-VA 100% financing options have higher credit hurdles if you want to qualify for their best terms. Also, because the lender is a credit union, you'll need to become a member before you're eligible to apply for any of its products. For someone who was looking for a no-strings-attached-type of application, you might be better off with a top competitor like Veterans United or Quicken Loans, who offer no-obligation consultations for prospective clients.

Best Online Mortgage Company for VA Loans: Quicken Loans

Quicken received J.D. Power's Highest Customer Satisfaction Award for 9 Years in a row and its loans are available in every state across the United States.

Quicken was the most active VA lender in the country over the past five years, having issued over $37 billion dollars in VA mortgage proceeds in that time. For every dollar it lent out, it produced legions of satisfied customers; just 0.08% of all mortgages reported ever receiving a complaint through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the lowest complaint ratios we've seen in the industry. Quicken combines the ease of a full-service digitized mortgage process with a pedigree for customer satisfaction that few competitors can match.

Runner-up comparison

Quicken LoansJ.G. Wentworth
AvailabilityAll 50 states45 states
Minimum credit score620600
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead our Quicken Loans Mortgage ReviewRead Our J.G. Wentworth Review

Highlights Quicken Loans and J.G. Wentworth are two household names that go neck and neck when it comes to online VA loans: Both offer lucrative VA refinances that allow you to withdraw up to 100% of your home's equity; both lenders feature automated online preapprovals with personalized rate estimates; and both have decades of experience lending in the VA program. However, few competitors are able to maintain consistently high loan volumes, low rates of complaints and the phenomenal growth that Quicken Loans manages to achieve year-over-year. Quicken's Rocket Mortgage program is also capable of closing your home loan in weeks instead of months; as a result, we chose to tip the edge in favor of Quicken for this category.

Drilling down into its loan selection, it's easy to label Quicken Loans as a jack-of-all trades contender based on its massive origination volume. However, our investigation into its portfolio revealed that this wasn't the case. Quicken managed to hold its own against established competitors like USAA and Navy Federal when it came to its featured VA options. All of the bread-and-butter VA loans, including the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance (IRRRL) and VA cash-out refinance, are offered as part of Quicken's diverse loan portfolio. In fact, the online lender managed to out-lend established competitors like USAA and Wells Fargo in VA loan volume over the past five years.

  • Quicken's proprietary Rocket Mortgage application process can get you preapproved in record time.
  • Digital online origination process cuts down closing times from months to weeks
  • 99% of Quicken home loans are serviced in-house, ensuring the same quality of service from issuance to payoff.

Drawbacks While many consider online lenders to have a looser set of lending requirements, Quicken actually runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to its minimum qualification requirements and is less forgiving when it comes to borderline approvals. The online lender lists explicit credit score requirements of 620 at a minimum and a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 60% to qualify for a VA loan. As a result, it might be difficult to make it past Quicken's automated underwriting process if you don't meet the threshold. If you're having credit issues, you may want to check with a credit union like Navy Federal first, as they may offer an alternative underwriting process which allows for more flexibility when it comes to reviewing your application.

Best VA Refinance Company: Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage completed more VA refinances than any other lender in the industry over the past 5 years.

Freedom Mortgage refinanced over $29.6 billion in mortgage debt over the past five years with VA cash-out and streamline refinances. The lender draws the overwhelming bulk of its business from government-backed mortgage lending under both the VA and FHA programs, demonstrating a competitive advantage in this field.

Runner-up comparison

Freedom MortgageLoanDepot
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead our Freedom Mortgage ReviewRead our LoanDepot Mortgage Review

Highlights Freedom Mortgage features streamline and cash-out refinances under each of the big three government agencies, including the FHA, USDA and the focus of our roundup, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA streamline refinance is a fast, easy way to take advantage of lower rates while minimizing the need for many of the major checks that can delay your closing, including standard appraisals and full income verification. This eliminates much of the time and expense associated with refinancing and makes it easier to qualify if you're facing credit issues.

Alternatively, if you own most of the equity in your home, the VA cash-out refinance is one of the best ways to cash out on up to 100% of your home value while refinancing your current home loan at market rates. The best part? You don't even need to have a VA loan outstanding. If you qualify for a VA-backed mortgage, a VA cash-out refinance can be used to pay off any kind of existing mortgage debt, be it conventional, FHA or USDA.

  • Freedom is the market leader in VA refinancing volume.
  • Freedom's Low Rate Guarantee promises to match qualifying competitor rates or send you $250 at closing.
  • Freedom allows you to finance the VA funding fee into your loan, avoiding up-front costs at closing.

Drawbacks According to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Freedom Mortgage drew a higher number of customer complaints than its other military-oriented competitors, representing an area where it could use improvement. Its lack of an optimized online application process also left something to be desired relative to its digital rivals. If you prefer a lender that allows you to apply online, you may be better off with a nationally ranked online lender like LoanDepot or Quicken Loans.

Best VA Loan Lender of 2019: Veterans United

Veterans United was named the top VA lender for 2018 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and remains one of the fastest-growing VA lenders in the nation.

Veterans United managed to achieve one of the lowest rates of complaints we've seen of any VA lender. According to data obtained from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, less than 0.05% of all of its mortgages originated over the past five years received complaints. Contrast that against its competitors and customer testimonials and you’ll see why more veterans chose Veterans United for their home loans than any other lender.

Runner-up comparison

Veterans UnitedUSAA
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
Learn moreRead Our Veterans United Mortgage ReviewRead our USAA Mortgage Review

Highlights Few lenders double down as deeply on the VA program as Veterans United. The mortgage company offers all of the major VA loan options, including VA streamline and cash-out refinancing as well as VA Jumbo loans. It also offers a no-obligation consultation with a VA loan specialist, which can be requested online, by phone or through any one of its 18 branch locations, making it easier to apply with Veterans United than some of its rivals, who might require you to join their network before you can even submit an application. To top it off, Veterans United's dedicated customer service professionals are available 24/7, making them easy to reach, whether you're a retired veteran or an active-duty service member stationed overseas.

For veterans with poor credit, Veterans United provides a dedicated credit-repair consultant to help guide you through the process of improving your credit under its Lighthouse Program, which puts you on the road to pre-qualifying for a mortgage. This free service can help you identify errors in your credit report and teaches you how to strengthen your overall credit profile. Veterans United's credit specialists will work with you regardless of how long it takes, all at no charge to you. This level of dedication is unmatched in the mortgage industry.

  • VA cash-out refinance allows you to pull 100% equity out of your home and doesn't require an existing VA loan.
  • Customer service advisors are available online and by phone 24/7, across all 50 states.
  • Veterans United's Military Advisors are staffed by former officers and enlisted personnel from every branch of the U.S. military.

Drawbacks While Veterans United does offer conventional financing outside the VA program, customer feedback has shown that some of its non-VA offerings aren't as competitive as other conventional lenders. If you eventually decide that a VA loan might not be the best choice for you, it may be a good idea to get competing offers from other lenders to confirm that you're getting the best deal around.

Our team of analysts and editors reviewed America's top VA loan lenders to find the cream of the crop. We selected the best VA lenders across five reader-nominated categories based on each lender's selection of mortgage products, record for customer satisfaction and overall track record in the VA program. Check out our picks below to find out more about our best VA home loan lenders of 2019.

Best Bank for VA Loans: USAA

USAA issued over $38 billion in VA home loans over the past 5 years, the greatest amount of any mortgage lender in the country.

USAA managed to snag J.D. Power's highest score in customer satisfaction for mortgage originations. Access to this bank is only available to those who are affiliated with the military and their families, which makes it an exclusive yet focused organization. USAA issued over 155,338 VA loans over the past five years, over three-quarters of those consisted of purchase loans, which represents the bank's affinity for getting first-time home buyers situated in the home of their dreams.

  • USAA Real Estate network connects you with a nationally acclaimed network of realtors.
  • USAA first-time home buyer loan offers mortgage loans of as little as 3% down for borrowers who can't qualify for a VA loan outright.
  • USAA covers all the up-front fees on its VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (VA IRRRL).

Runner-up comparison

USAAWells Fargo
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • Jumbo
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • HELOC
Learn moreRead Our USAA Mortgage ReviewRead our Wells Fargo Mortgage Review

Highlights Somewhere between a bank and a credit union, USAA is a full-service financial institution that offers banking, home loan and even insurance services to current and former military personnel and their dependents. VA home loans make up the lion's share of its business model, and the lender receives top marks in this category.

USAA offers a variety of lowdown-payment mortgage loans for veteran and first-time home buyers. These loans come in both standard and jumbo variants, making them ideal whether you're trying to move to an affordable rural area or are considering making the move into a high-cost urban neighborhood.

The bank also features the USAA Real Estate network, which links you with real estate professionals across top-rated firms, including Coldwell Banker and Century 21. Many of the realtors who participate in this program are veterans themselves, who understand your needs and the intricacies of the VA program. To top it all off, borrowers who buy or sell a home through the USAA Real Estate network qualify for cash rewards, whether or not they decide to obtain their mortgage through USAA.

Drawbacks While the lender has performed well among first-time home buyers, USAA doesn't seem to be nearly as competitive when it comes to refinancing. The lender completed only a quarter of the number of VA refinances as it did purchase mortgages and does not offer any home equity products, which makes USAA less than ideal for current homeowners. Additionally, it doesn't maintain nearly as robust of a branch network as its larger bank competitors, so if you're looking for traditional face-to-face service, you may be better off with a traditional national bank lender like Wells Fargo or Citibank.

Best Credit Union for VA Loans: Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union received J.D. Power's highest score for customer satisfaction among Mortgage Servicers for 2018.

Navy Federal services all of the home loans it underwrites in-house, ensuring that your mortgage loan receives the same quality of attention from the day it’s issued, to the day it's paid off. With over 108,000 VA loans issued over the past five years and J.D. Power's top score for customer satisfaction under its belt, you can rest assured that Navy Federal prioritizes customer service above all else.

  • Navy Federal will match your best competing offer or pay you $1,000 at closing.
  • Freedom Lock allows you to keep your mortgage rate if rates rise and relocks your interest rate to a lower level if rates fall within 60 days of your application.
  • One of the select few VA lenders who also offers home equity loans and HELOCs.

Runner-up comparison

Navy Federal Credit UnionPentagon Federal Credit Union
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreVisit Navy Federal for more infoRead our PenFed Mortgage Review

Highlights Few people are aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't actually list a minimum credit score requirement; the agency leaves that up to the lender's discretion, which gives lenders more flexibility when it comes to credit qualification. Most conventional mortgage lenders still choose to abide by set underwriting standards and may be unwilling to consider borderline applications with FICOs of 620 or less. Navy Federal distinguishes itself from its competitors thanks to its willingness to accept and underwrite applications based on less conventional forms of credit verification, including rent payments and monthly utility bills.

Not content to limit its choices to just 0% down VA loans, the credit union also offers its own brand of low down-payment mortgages, including its Homebuyers Choice program for first-time home buyers, which allows for 100% financing outside the VA program. This can be useful for military personnel who haven't met the minimum requirements for a VA loan, as well as an excellent alternative for military home buyers who may already exhausted their VA benefits. To top it off, Navy Federal also offers its own brand of home equity loans and HELOCs, making it a well-rounded option for new home buyers and current homeowners alike.

Drawbacks Navy Federal's non-VA 100% financing options have higher credit hurdles if you want to qualify for their best terms. Also, because the lender is a credit union, you'll need to become a member before you're eligible to apply for any of its products. For someone who was looking for a no-strings-attached-type of application, you might be better off with a top competitor like Veterans United or Quicken Loans, who offer no-obligation consultations for prospective clients.

Best Online Mortgage Company for VA Loans: Quicken Loans

Quicken received J.D. Power's Highest Customer Satisfaction Award for 9 Years in a row and its loans are available in every state across the United States.

Quicken was the most active VA lender in the country over the past five years, having issued over $37 billion dollars in VA mortgage proceeds in that time. For every dollar it lent out, it produced legions of satisfied customers; just 0.08% of all mortgages reported ever receiving a complaint through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one of the lowest complaint ratios we've seen in the industry. Quicken combines the ease of a full-service digitized mortgage process with a pedigree for customer satisfaction that few competitors can match.

  • Quicken's proprietary Rocket Mortgage application process can get you preapproved in record time.
  • Digital online origination process cuts down closing times from months to weeks
  • 99% of Quicken home loans are serviced in-house, ensuring the same quality of service from issuance to payoff.

Runner-up comparison

Quicken LoansJ.G. Wentworth
AvailabilityAll 50 states45 states
Minimum credit score620600
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead our Quicken Loans Mortgage ReviewRead Our J.G. Wentworth Review

Highlights Quicken Loans and J.G. Wentworth are two household names that go neck and neck when it comes to online VA loans: Both offer lucrative VA refinances that allow you to withdraw up to 100% of your home's equity; both lenders feature automated online preapprovals with personalized rate estimates; and both have decades of experience lending in the VA program. However, few competitors are able to maintain consistently high loan volumes, low rates of complaints and the phenomenal growth that Quicken Loans manages to achieve year-over-year. Quicken's Rocket Mortgage program is also capable of closing your home loan in weeks instead of months; as a result, we chose to tip the edge in favor of Quicken for this category.

Drilling down into its loan selection, it's easy to label Quicken Loans as a jack-of-all trades contender based on its massive origination volume. However, our investigation into its portfolio revealed that this wasn't the case. Quicken managed to hold its own against established competitors like USAA and Navy Federal when it came to its featured VA options. All of the bread-and-butter VA loans, including the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance (IRRRL) and VA cash-out refinance, are offered as part of Quicken's diverse loan portfolio. In fact, the online lender managed to out-lend established competitors like USAA and Wells Fargo in VA loan volume over the past five years.

Drawbacks While many consider online lenders to have a looser set of lending requirements, Quicken actually runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to its minimum qualification requirements and is less forgiving when it comes to borderline approvals. The online lender lists explicit credit score requirements of 620 at a minimum and a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 60% to qualify for a VA loan. As a result, it might be difficult to make it past Quicken's automated underwriting process if you don't meet the threshold. If you're having credit issues, you may want to check with a credit union like Navy Federal first, as they may offer an alternative underwriting process which allows for more flexibility when it comes to reviewing your application.

Best VA Refinance Company: Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage completed more VA refinances than any other lender in the industry over the past 5 years.

Freedom Mortgage refinanced over $29.6 billion in mortgage debt over the past five years with VA cash-out and streamline refinances. The lender draws the overwhelming bulk of its business from government-backed mortgage lending under both the VA and FHA programs, demonstrating a competitive advantage in this field.

  • Freedom is the market leader in VA refinancing volume.
  • Freedom's Low Rate Guarantee promises to match qualifying competitor rates or send you $250 at closing.
  • Freedom allows you to finance the VA funding fee into your loan, avoiding up-front costs at closing.

Runner-up comparison

Freedom MortgageLoanDepot
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead our Freedom Mortgage ReviewRead our LoanDepot Mortgage Review

Highlights Freedom Mortgage features streamline and cash-out refinances under each of the big three government agencies, including the FHA, USDA and the focus of our roundup, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA streamline refinance is a fast, easy way to take advantage of lower rates while minimizing the need for many of the major checks that can delay your closing, including standard appraisals and full income verification. This eliminates much of the time and expense associated with refinancing and makes it easier to qualify if you're facing credit issues.

Alternatively, if you own most of the equity in your home, the VA cash-out refinance is one of the best ways to cash out on up to 100% of your home value while refinancing your current home loan at market rates. The best part? You don't even need to have a VA loan outstanding. If you qualify for a VA-backed mortgage, a VA cash-out refinance can be used to pay off any kind of existing mortgage debt, be it conventional, FHA or USDA.

Drawbacks According to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Freedom Mortgage drew a higher number of customer complaints than its other military-oriented competitors, representing an area where it could use improvement. Its lack of an optimized online application process also left something to be desired relative to its digital rivals. If you prefer a lender that allows you to apply online, you may be better off with a nationally ranked online lender like LoanDepot or Quicken Loans.

Best VA Loan Lender of 2019: Veterans United

Veterans United was named the top VA lender for 2018 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and remains one of the fastest-growing VA lenders in the nation.

Veterans United managed to achieve one of the lowest rates of complaints we've seen of any VA lender. According to data obtained from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, less than 0.05% of all of its mortgages originated over the past five years received complaints. Contrast that against its competitors and customer testimonials and you’ll see why more veterans chose Veterans United for their home loans than any other lender.

  • VA cash-out refinance allows you to pull 100% equity out of your home and doesn't require an existing VA loan.
  • Customer service advisors are available online and by phone 24/7, across all 50 states.
  • Veterans United's Military Advisors are staffed by former officers and enlisted personnel from every branch of the U.S. military.

Runner-up comparison

Veterans UnitedUSAA
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
Learn moreRead Our Veterans United Mortgage ReviewRead our USAA Mortgage Review

Highlights Few lenders double down as deeply on the VA program as Veterans United. The mortgage company offers all of the major VA loan options, including VA streamline and cash-out refinancing as well as VA Jumbo loans. It also offers a no-obligation consultation with a VA loan specialist, which can be requested online, by phone or through any one of its 18 branch locations, making it easier to apply with Veterans United than some of its rivals, who might require you to join their network before you can even submit an application. To top it off, Veterans United's dedicated customer service professionals are available 24/7, making them easy to reach, whether you're a retired veteran or an active-duty service member stationed overseas.

For veterans with poor credit, Veterans United provides a dedicated credit-repair consultant to help guide you through the process of improving your credit under its Lighthouse Program, which puts you on the road to pre-qualifying for a mortgage. This free service can help you identify errors in your credit report and teaches you how to strengthen your overall credit profile. Veterans United's credit specialists will work with you regardless of how long it takes, all at no charge to you. This level of dedication is unmatched in the mortgage industry.

Drawbacks While Veterans United does offer conventional financing outside the VA program, customer feedback has shown that some of its non-VA offerings aren't as competitive as other conventional lenders. If you eventually decide that a VA loan might not be the best choice for you, it may be a good idea to get competing offers from other lenders to confirm that you're getting the best deal around.

VA Home Loan Program Explained:

The VA Loan program was designed to make home ownership more affordable and accessible to veterans. These loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), hence, why they're given the name "VA Loans."

VA loans are issued by private lenders and insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, rather than issued by the government. This means that if a borrower defaults on a VA loan, the government may step in to reimburse the lender. Due to the explicit government backing behind these mortgages, lenders are more willing to offer more lenient qualification requirements and allow for lower down payments than other conventional loan programs.

VA loans are defined by the following features:

  • No minimum down payment
  • No PMI
  • No explicit credit score requirement

No minimum down payment

VA loans are unique in that they allow for no money down on home purchases for qualifying borrowers. These standards may vary from lender to lender, so not everyone will be eligible for a 0% down VA loan.

No PMI

Unlike conventional mortgages which require that the borrower pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if a borrower puts less than 20% down at closing, VA loans feature no such PMI requirement. This means that VA borrowers can avoid extra mortgage insurance premiums that can cost as much as 5% of your loan balance each year.

No Explicit Credit Score Requirement

Unlike Fannie Mae, which defines lists a minimum credit score of 620 in their underwriting guidelines, the Department of Veterans Affairs lists no explicit credit score guidelines, instead leaving that to the lender's discretion. While most lenders will still feature their own credit requirements, this generally permits underwriters to be more flexible in the approval process.

How to Qualify for a VA Loan

To qualify for a VA loan, you will need to meet the following requirements at a minimum:

Service Requirement

Borrowers are eligible for VA loans if they meet one of the following service requirements:

  • Active Duty: 181 days of service in peace time
  • 90 days of service in wartime
  • Reserves/National Guard: 6 years of service

Other Eligible Services include but are not limited to the following:

  • U.S. Military, Airforce or Coast Guard Academy Cadets
  • U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen
  • National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration Officers
  • Merchant Seaman who previously served in World War II
  • Public Health Service Officer

Spouses of military service members who died on duty or as a result of a service-related disability also qualify under the VA service requirement. Spouses of Veterans who are missing in action or being held as a prisoner of war (POW) are also eligible.

Those discharged under dishonorable conditions are not eligible. Full eligibility details are listed on the VA website.

Certificate of Eligibility

Borrowers are required to produce a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in order to confirm that they qualify under the VA program. The VA Certificate of Eligibility provides proof of service and confirms your qualifications under the VA program.

You can obtain a VA Certificate of Eligibility by filing VA form 26-1880, applying online through the VA, or having a VA-approved lender file a request on your behalf.

Kenny Zhu

Kenny is a Banking and Mortgage Research Analyst for ValuePenguin and has worked in the financial industry since 2013. Previously, Kenny was a Senior Investment Analyst at PFM Asset Management LLC. He holds a Bachelors of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in International Relations & Politics. He is a CFA® charterholder.

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