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Find the Best VA Loan Lenders

AUTHORIZED PARTNER
AUTHORIZED PARTNER
by Michele Lerner Mortgage & Real Estate Contributing Editor

VA home loan is a mortgage loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our research team vetted 11 VA lenders rated by over 27,613 borrowers. If you’re a veteran, you can use our guide to find the best VA loan lenders by comparing lender requirements, potential fund uses and loan benefits.

Our picks for VA loan lenders

To select our top picks, we started with the companies on this guide, then eliminated those without at least a 3.5-star overall satisfaction rating, leaving 12. To stay on the list, lenders also had to have a 2:1 ratio of 5-star to 1-star reviews over the last year (April 29, 2020, through April 29, 2021).

We based our recommendations on recurring themes in recent 5-star reviews. For example, NewDay USA is the pick for VA refinancing because a comparatively high number of happy customers mention it.

Our top pick overallVeterans United
  • Purchase loans
  • IRRRL
  • Cash-out refinance
  • VA Energy Efficient Mortgage
  • Available nationwide

Veterans United offers VA loans exclusively, so it’s very familiar with the programs. Homebuyers can get status updates on loans, submit documents and service payments through an online portal, MyVeteransUnited.

For those who prefer in-person services, the company has a network of local branches across the country. Realty, insurance and credit counseling services are also available.

What reviewers say

Our pick for VA loan refinancingNewDay USAAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • 100 VA Cash Out program
  • Streamline refi
  • Purchase loans
  • Available in most states

With NewDay USA, you can refinance up to 100% of a home's value through the NewDay 100 program. On average, vets take out $53,812 in loan proceeds. You can start the process by requesting information about its loans online or contacting one of its loan officers.

The website has a wide variety of educational articles and other resources to guide you through the loan application process. The lender also has a strong reputation for giving back — it partners with organizations dedicated to assisting veterans and children of veterans.

What reviewers say

  • Great communication
  • Efficient process
  • “I appreciate working with such a professional staff.” -Edward of Auburn, GA
  • “The process was very straightforward and easy to navigate.” -Daryl of Owosso, MI
Our pick for helpful loan officersClearPath LendingAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • VA purchase loans
  • VA IRRRL
  • Available in some states

ClearPath Lending offers purchase and refinance programs for VA loans and other mortgages. Through the website, you can access free calculator tools and connect with experienced loan officers.

Several customers who refinanced a VA loan through ClearPath say that the reps are professional and trustworthy. The process seems pretty easy, even for those who are currently traveling with the military.

What reviewers say

  • Simple process
  • Good rates and terms
  • “They were very helpful and did everything they could to make it easy for me to do what I wanted to do.” -Brian of Corryton, TN
  • “If I was grading this, I would have graded it an A.” -William of Las Vegas, NV
Our pick for quick processMr. CooperAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • VA purchase loans
  • VA IRRRL
  • Available nationwide

Mr. Cooper’s website is easy to use, and the company guarantees its closing dates. It has many online resources to help answer questions about the VA loan process for purchasing or refinancing.

Use Mr. Cooper’s online calculators to learn more about your potential refinancing rates, monthly mortgage payments and early payoff amounts. It doesn’t charge fees for online payments, and it has a fully U.S.-based customer service department.

What reviews say

Our pick for first-time buyersCaliber Home LoansAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • VA home loans
  • Streamline refi
  • Available nationwide

Caliber’s VA loan options include those with fixed and adjustable rates and loans for high-balance mortgages. The company’s online process is user-friendly and accessible for experienced and first-time homebuyers.

If you apply online, you can verify your identity and required documents electronically. You can also apply for Caliber’s VA loans over the phone. Its loan consultant program is available in most states.

What reviewers say

Our pick for competitive ratesAmeriSave MortgageAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Purchase loans
  • Streamline refi
  • Cash-out refi
  • Available nationwide

AmeriSave Mortgage is a national mortgage company that offers VA purchase and refinancing programs. It offers competitively low rates for VA loans. Plus, there are no loan origination fees, and other lender fees are minimal.

AmeriSave makes it easy to get pre-qualified online — no Social Security number or hard credit pull is required. You can also find mortgage payment calculators and other free resources through its website.

What reviewers say

Our pick for easy applicationsRocket MortgageAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Purchase loans
  • IRRRL
  • Cash-out refi
  • VA Native American Direct Loans (NADL)
  • VA renovation loan
  • Available nationwide

Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans makes it easy to get started online. You simply upload the necessary documents, and then a loan representative guides you through the underwriting process. Once approved, you can shop for homes or start the refinancing process.

VA loans are available with 15-, 20- and 30-year terms. Quicken Loans is a national mortgage company that offers VA loans and other conventional, conforming and jumbo loans.

What reviewers say

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What is a VA loan?

VA loans are a type of home loan exclusively for military service members and veterans. VA loans are available through private mortgage lenders and backed by the VA. These loans often have lower credit score requirements than traditional mortgage loans, and you typically don’t need a down payment.

VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, so if you can’t repay your loan, the VA will pay a set portion of the amount to your lender. You also could get more competitive interest rates and loan terms by applying for a VA loan.

There are a few different types of VA loans with purposes ranging from purchasing to refinancing. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the VA loan types in order to see which one best suits your situation.

VA loan requirements

While specific eligibility criteria vary depending on the mortgage lender, the basic requirement for a VA loan is service experience in the military, National Guard or Reserves for a predetermined amount of time (ranging from 90 days to six years, depending on your area of service).

Private mortgage lenders typically have more specific VA loan requirements, such as minimum income amounts and credit score ratings or a maximum debt-to-income ratio.

How to choose a VA lender

Every mortgage lender is different, so it’s important to find a lender that’s compatible with your circumstances. Below are a few tips to help choose the right VA lender for you.

  • Decide if you want in-person or online services. If you like the convenience of an online lending process, check out VA lenders with an online service option. If you’d rather work with an in-person lender, find out which national lenders have branches in your area or look into working with a local VA lender.
  • Read reviews and compare lenders. Apply for pre-qualification with more than one VA lender before choosing a company. Mortgage rates change frequently, and comparing rates and terms can help you find the best VA loan for your situation.
  • Make sure you meet the lender’s VA loan requirements. Each mortgage lender has different VA loan requirements. While they tend to be less restrictive than the requirements for traditional mortgage loans, you should still familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements. Ask potential lenders about any credit score, down payment or income requirements they have for VA loans.
  • Double-check that the lender offers the services you’re interested in. VA loans aren’t limited to new home purchases. If you want to refinance an existing VA-backed loan, make sure your potential lender offers this service before committing to work with them.

How to apply for a VA home loan

Applying for a VA loan is very similar to applying for a traditional mortgage loan. However, there are a few extra steps you need to take to confirm your eligibility and move forward with the lending process:

  1. Verify your eligibility. Before you apply for a VA loan, make sure you’re eligible by reading over the VA’s requirements.
  2. Find a VA loan lender and get preapproved. You can get preapproved for a loan by submitting documentation like W-2s and pay stubs. If you have a preapproval letter, sellers might be more interested — it shows you can afford the house you want.
  3. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Your lender uses your Certificate of Eligibility to verify that you meet all the eligibility requirements to fill out a VA home loan application. To find out what forms you need, check our guide to getting a VA COE.
  4. Complete the VA loan application. When you apply for a VA loan, you’ll need to include information about your income and debt. You’ll also authorize the lender to pull your credit history. Your lender will work with you on your VA home loan application to make sure you have all the necessary information. Plan to wait 30 days for your VA loan approval.
  5. Schedule your VA appraisal. VA loans can’t be approved above a home’s appraisal price, so VA lenders are required to order an appraisal to ensure the property meets VA standards and determine its value. VA appraisals generally take about 10 days, but they can take longer, especially in parts of the country where there’s a high demand for VA loans.
  6. Have your VA loan underwritten. Underwriters verify that your loan is accurate and determine whether or not you’ll be able to make your monthly mortgage payments.
  7. Close on your property. The last step in securing a VA loan is closing on your new home. You’ll have to pay your VA loan guarantee to the VA office within 15 days of closing. You can pay it upfront in cash or roll it into your monthly payment. First-time homebuyers have to pay a 1.75% guarantee fee, and all other homebuyers pay a 2.25% guarantee fee.

VA loan lenders FAQ

Is a VA loan worth it?
VA loans are designed to help service members and veterans become homeowners. If you’re a qualifying service member, we recommend checking rates and terms on VA loans before committing to a traditional mortgage loan. You could get a loan with no down payment, a lower interest rate, lower closing costs and no mortgage insurance. If you’re having difficulty qualifying due to lender-set credit score requirements, you may also consider an FHA loan.
How long does it take to get a VA loan?
The average time to close a VA loan is about 50 days, which is slightly longer (by two to three days) than the average time it takes to close a conventional mortgage.
Can I get a VA loan with a 500 credit score?
Yes, you can get a VA loan with a 500 credit score. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have a credit score requirement for loans, so it’s possible to qualify with a credit score of 500. For VA-backed home loans, lenders are required to review an applicant’s entire profile — not just their credit scores.
What are the benefits of a VA loan?
You can use a VA-backed home loan to buy a single-family home, buy a condo, build a new home or make energy-efficient improvements to your home. There are several benefits to VA loans, including:
  • Ability to qualify with a relatively low credit score and high level of debt
  • Lower interest rates than those from private banks or mortgage companies
  • No down payment requirement
  • No private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums
  • Fewer closing costs
  • No prepayment penalties
What is the lowest interest rate for a VA home loan?
VA home loan rates can change daily. Rates vary slightly from lender to lender, but they’re typically lower than conventional mortgage rates. In early May 2021, the lowest interest rates for a VA home loan were around 2.25%.
Does a VA Certificate of Eligibility expire?
No, a VA Certificate of Eligibility doesn’t expire. However, if you obtained a certificate while on active duty and have since been discharged, you’ll need to get a new one.
Does VA offer construction loans?
Yes, you can use a VA loan to build a new home. However, fewer lenders offer VA-backed loans for new home construction, and the process is usually a bit more complicated. Talk to a lender that offers VA construction loans to learn about how they work.
Are VA loan rates lower than conventional?
VA loan rates are often lower than conventional mortgage rates, but this varies by lender. Check with individual lenders to find out what rates you qualify for.
Are VA appraisals tougher?
There’s no evidence that VA appraisals are tougher than conventional mortgage appraisals. However, the VA does have relatively strict minimum property requirements. The main point of the appraisal process is to assess the home’s value and ensure that it is safe to inhabit. During this time, an appraiser evaluates the general condition of the property.
Who accepts VA mortgages?
VA loans function just like conventional mortgages, so almost every seller accepts them.

Article sources

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ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.

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    VA loan lender information

    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    NewDay USA

    NewDay USA is a mortgage team that is mostly comprised of veterans. It is dedicated to providing veterans with maximum benefits, including special mortgage or reverse mortgage terms.

    • Offers VA benefits as well as reverse mortgages: Veterans may qualify for even more funds as a result of having served or continuing to serve with the U.S. military.
    • Quick turnaround: NewDay USA processes reverse mortgages within 30 days of application, so consumers get access to money quickly.
    • Online and phone customer support: Customers can get support online or over the phone 24 hours a day.
    • Focus: Consumers may have a hard time finding information on reverse mortgage products because NewDay USA offers other types of loans as well.
    • Information: NewDay USA doesn’t offer any information online about what reverse mortgages are or how they work.
    Read 1341 Reviews
    Veterans United

    This veteran-focused loan company only handles VA home loans. Their website has a lot of information about veterans loans and refinancing options, including calculators to help you estimate your monthly payments. Homefront Academy, available on their website, is a series of courses designed to help first-time home buyers through the process of buying a home.

    Read 419 Reviews
    Veterans First

    Formerly iFreedom Direct, this company focuses on VA home loans and VA refinance loans. Obtain your COE online, over the phone or through the mail, depending on your preferences and situation.

    • Veteran-focused: By focusing on VA home loans and VA refinance loans, the experts at Veterans First can give you all the help and information you need for your VA loan. They can also help you decide if a VA loan is a better option for you than an FHA or Conventional loan.
    • Streamline VA refinancing: Most Streamline VA refinance loans are processed within 30 days start to finish.
    • Home loan assistance: If you already have a home loan and you are having trouble making payments, talk to a loan expert at Veterans First. They can talk you through your options and help you stay in your home instead of turning to bankruptcy or foreclosure.
    VARateLock.com

    This Arizona mortgage service helps qualified former or active military borrowers find VA approved loans or home mortgages. The company seeks to match military customers with lenders who can assist with filling out mortgage applications and obtaining a home mortgage.

    • Active or retired military: The company serves customers who are active military members or retired in the VA, so it is a good choice for anyone who formerly served or currently serves in the military.
    • Approved network: This company only works with lenders who are approved by the VA.
    • Customer service: While the primary focus is with online service, the company also offers personalized customer service options through the telephone or a direct email connection.
    • Simple online application: To find a loan, customers have to fill out their information on a straightforward online form, making the company's process simple and easy to initiate.
    • MBA member: The company is certified as a member in good standing of the Mortgage Bankers Association, which means it is a reputable organization with knowledgeable staff and online assistants.
    by Michele Lerner Mortgage & Real Estate Contributing Editor

    Michele Lerner, author of “HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time”, has been writing about personal finance and real estate for more than two decades. Michele writes for regional, national and international publications in print and online for a variety of audiences including consumers, real estate investors, business owners and real estate professionals.

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