Best VA loan lenders
To choose our top picks, we started with VA mortgage lenders that are on the VA-approved lender list. This means the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved them to originate and fund loans backed by the VA office. From there, we compared the VA loan application process, VA loan rates, maximum debt-to-income ratio accepted, refinancing options, services offered and assistance programs.
Best VA lender overall: NewDay USA
NewDay USA is a lender focused exclusively on VA loans for veterans, billing themselves as “for veterans, by veterans.” NewDay offers both VA-guaranteed home loans and refinancing options. Online, you’ll find a plethora of educational articles and other resources to guide you through the loan application process.
It’s easy to get started with NewDay with free home appraisals and help from personal loan officers. Start your application process online, or reach out to one of NewDay’s dedicated loan officers. Later on, in-house loan processors and underwriters speed the process along. 70 percent of NewDay loans close in 30 days or less after the issue of the appraisal receipt.
NewDay has loans for every budget. The NewDay 100 VA loan option allows borrowers to refinance 100 percent of a home's value. NewDay is also involved philanthropically with organizations dedicated to assisting veterans and children of veterans, making them a great choice for veterans wanting to “pass it on.”
Best VA refinance loan: Mr. Cooper
Mr. Cooper, formerly known as Nationstar, offers VA loans, VA loan cashout and VA IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan). Like all VA loans, there is no required down payment, other than a potential finding fee, which varies based on factors like loan terms. Additional services include repayment plans, loan modifications, short sales and deeds-in-lieu. Customer service is available until late in the evening Monday through Friday and on Saturday morning.
Mr. Cooper has a wealth of online resources to answer any questions homebuyers might have about VA loans and their associated options. Use their online calculators to investigate refinancing, monthly mortgage payments, early payoff, renting vs. buying, potential loan amounts and optimal price range in a house. Homeowners who refinance with Mr. Cooper save on average $200 a month on their mortgage payment.
Best online VA lender: Caliber
Caliber’s VA loan options include fixed and adjustable rates and high-balance mortgages. One notable feature of Caliber is their high maximum debt-to-income ratio requirement: 50 percent. This high maximum from Caliber means you can have relatively large amounts of debt in comparison to your income and still qualify for certain loans. A minimum credit score of 580 is required to get approved for a VA loan from Caliber. If you have a credit score of 580 to 618, you will be eligible for a fixed-rate loan. A credit score of 620 or higher will leave you eligible for an adjustable-rate loan.
Property types approved for VA loan recipients include single-family homes, condos (if VA approved), manufactured homes, multi-unit properties, as well as homes in Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Financing may also be available for second homes and investment properties.
Homebuyers can apply online or speak with a loan consultant to begin the application process. Caliber’s Centralized Loan Consultant program is available in every state but New York and Utah. If you are applying online, you can verify your identity and necessary documents electronically. Caliber services approximately 94 percent of their closed loans. The company’s online process is user-friendly and simple, whether you are an experienced or first-time homebuyer.
How to apply for a VA loan
- Verify your VA loan eligibility
Before you apply for a VA loan, you must first be eligible and meet the requirements. VA loan requirements include being a veteran or an active member of the military for a certain number of days. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty and who haven’t gotten remarried can also qualify.
- Find a VA loan lender and get pre-approved
Get quotes from a few vs mortgage lenders since they set their own interest rates and impose their own minimum credit score requirements. You can see how much you’re pre-qualified for through an informal application.
Once you’re more serious, you can get pre-approved for a loan by submitting documentation like W2s and pay stubs. Having a pre-approval letter can make sellers more interested in you since it demonstrates that you can afford the house you’re looking at.
- Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
This is how the lender validates that you meet all the eligibility requirements to fill out a VA home loan application. See what forms you need based on your specific situation by checking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Many lenders will fill this out on your behalf and handle the application process for you.
- Complete the VA loan application
You can usually apply for a VA loan online or over the phone from the lender of your choice. When you apply, you’ll need to include documentation of income and debt. You will also authorize the lender to pull your credit history at this point. Your lender will work with you on your VA home loan application to make sure you have all the necessary information. Plan on it taking 30 days for your VA loan to be approved.
- Schedule your VA appraisal
All VA lenders are required to order VA appraisals to ensure the property is up to VA standards and to determine the home’s value. The appraiser will assign an appraisal value to the home. This is important because VA loans can’t be approved above the home’s appraisal price.
VA appraisals are generally completed in about ten days, but they can take longer, especially in parts of the country where there is a high demand for VA loans and a low amount of VA appraisers, such as in certain rural areas. You want to get this scheduled as soon as possible in case the appraiser finds anything that needs to be repaired.
- Await VA loan underwriting
Underwriters are responsible for making sure every part of your loan is accurate and that you are highly likely to be able to make your monthly mortgage payments on time. Depending on what they find, underwriters could deny your file, issue a conditional approval of your loan (which means they’ll need additional documents or answers to specific questions) or clear you to move forward with closing.
- Close on your property
The last step in securing a VA loan is to attend the closing on your new home. Closing usually takes a few hours and involves the buyer signing off on all the final required documents to complete the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer.
You’ll have to pay your VA loan guarantee to the VA office within 15 days of closing. This payment can be made either up front in cash, or it can be rolled into your monthly payment. First time home buyers will pay a 1.75 percent guarantee fee, and all other homebuyers will pay a 2.25 percent guarantee fee.
Top 14 Best VA Lenders
|Mr. Cooper||Read 7761 Reviews|
This non-bank mortgage servicer offers conventional, HARP, FHA, VA and jumbo loans. It also provides access to an online app and no online transaction fees. Minimum down payment is 3.5%.
Read 297 Reviews
This lender is 100% focused on the needs of veterans and only offers VA loans. Most loans are funded in 30 days or less. Company's executive team includes top retired military leaders.
|Caliber Home Loans|
Read 2612 Reviews
This full-service national mortgage lender requires a minimum 580 credit score and 3% down payment. It offers conventional, jumbo, FHA, USDA and VA loans.
Read 2801 Reviews
This lender offers fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA, jumbo, HARP, VA and USDA loans, along with cash-out refinances. A minimum credit score of 620 is required for conventional products; 580 for FHA, VA and USDA loans.
Read 4155 Reviews
This lender offers conventional, FHA, VA and jumbo loans along with fixed or adjustable rates. 580 minimum credit score required for FHA; 620 for VA and conventional. Fast, online application process with no additional fees.
Read 1220 Reviews
This online marketplace connects consumers with lenders. Credit score of 640-750 required. FHA, VA, USDA and Community Homebuyer loans require a minimum down payment of 0-10%; conventional loans require a 5-20% down payment.
Read 704 Reviews
This nationwide mortgage lender offers VA, FHA, jumbo, HARP and conventional loans. No hidden fees. Most loans are funded within 30 days. Track loan progress via an online portal.
|J.G. Wentworth Home Lending|
Read 242 Reviews
This direct mortgage lender offers conventional, fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA, VA, USDA and HARP loans. No points or hidden fees. Minimum credit score of 580.
Read 1838 Reviews
This national lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate loans for purchase, and refinance, FHA, jumbo, HARP and VA loans. A minimum 620 credit score and 3% down payment are required.
Read 16 Reviews
This veteran-focused loan company only services VA home loans and VA refinance loans.
|VARateLock.com||Read Expert Review|
This mortgage service helps qualified veteran or active military borrowers find VA-approved loans.
|Veterans First||Read Expert Review|
Formerly iFreedom Direct, this veteran-focused company services VA, FHA and Conventional loans for home buyers who qualify for VA loans.
Compare VA loan reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Best for: current military members and former military members.