VA Loan Buyer’s Guide: Eligibility, Benefits and How to Apply
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7 Best VA Loan Lenders of 2022

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The best VA loan lenders provide eligible military borrowers with competitive rates, online convenience and a variety of VA loan options. Whether you’re looking for a zero-down-payment purchase mortgage or a 100% loan-to-value (LTV) refinance, you can jumpstart your shopping by perusing LendingTree’s seven best VA loan lenders.

Summary of best VA mortgage lenders of 2022

LenderLendingTree rating* and best of categoryMinimum credit ScoreMinimum down paymentLender review
Truist9/10
Best overall for  VA loans
6200%Lender review
Veterans United 10/10
Best overall for VA loans
6200%Lender review
Veterans First5/10
Best for VA loan variety
Mid-600s0%Lender review
AmeriSave8/10
Best overall for low credit score VA loans
5800%Lender review
Rocket Mortgage9.5/10
Best online VA experience
5800%Lender review
Carrington Mortgage Services8/10
Best for low credit score VA loans
5000%Lender review
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage8/10
Best online VA mortgage rates
Not disclosed0%Lender review

*LendingTree mortgage lender rating methodology

LendingTree’s mortgage lender rating is based on a 10-point scoring system that factors in several features, including digital application and closing processes, available loan products and online and in-person accessibility. LendingTree’s editorial team calculates each rating based on a review of information available on the lender’s website. In some cases, additional information is provided by a lender representative.

LendingTree’s “best of” methodology

To determine the 7 best VA loan lenders, we reviewed fully vetted data from more than 30 published LendingTree mortgage reviews evaluating key areas, including:

  • Online convenience and accessibility
  • Helpful online articles about VA mortgages and homebuying
  • Variety of VA loan types offered
  • Online information about how to qualify for a VA loan
  • Access to loan officers outside of standard business hours
  • Options for VA borrowers with bad credit
  • Number of years of experience originating VA loans
  • Lender-published online mortgage rate information

LendingTree’s 7 best VA mortgage lenders of 2022

Veterans United — Best overall for VA loans

Veterans United offers all types of VA purchase and refinance programs, including the energy-efficient mortgage program, which allows borrowers to add the cost of energy-saving upgrades to their loan. The lender also provides valuable online information about VA loans and publishes rates daily on its website.

Veterans First — Best for VA loan variety

Veterans First provides VA loan options for borrowers in all 50 states and has been serving military borrowers since 1985. Besides no-down-payment VA purchase loans, Veterans First offers the VA interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL) and VA cash-out refinance options. The lender can also help obtain VA paperwork needed for a VA loan.

AmeriSave — Best overall for low-credit-score VA loans

Borrowers with credit scores as low as 580 may qualify for a VA loan at AmeriSave Mortgage.  The lender offers a digital mortgage experience in 49 states (excluding New York), with informative online articles about mortgages and loan products, as well as online rate quotes.

Rocket Mortgage — Best for VA online experience

Rocket’s website provides an online application link and helpful articles about how to get a loan. The site also provides interest rate and VA loan product information. An added bonus: Rocket Mortgage offers VA loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580.

Carrington Mortgage Services — Best for low-credit-score VA loans

Carrington Mortgage Services offers VA loans to borrowers with scores as low as 500 and is licensed to lend in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Truist — Best overall for VA loans

Truist is an Atlanta-based bank that offers mortgages in most states, including VA loans. The bank recently merged with BB&T to become Truist, and offers helpful online information about products and mortgages, along with rate information and after-hours access to loan officers.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage — Best online VA loan rates

Wells Fargo updates its online VA rates daily. Online users can click on the quoted rate for a detailed breakdown of the rate parameters, including annual percentage rate (APR), discount points and the estimated monthly payment.

How to get a VA loan

Only active-duty service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses can take out a VA loan. Below is a quick overview of the five steps typically taken to get a VA loan:

1. Find out if you’re eligibleYou can check your VA entitlement by requesting an online certificate of eligibility (COE) or filling out a VA Form 26-1880 and mailing it with a copy of your form DD Form 214 to the address on the form.

2. Meet the minimum VA mortgage criteria Although you can usually cross the down payment requirement off of your VA homebuying to-do list, you’ll still need to meet the following requirements.

  • Credit score and credit history. Although the VA doesn’t set a minimum, most VA-approved lenders require a 620 credit score. Your credit history is also checked for any federal loan defaults (such as student loans).
  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Lenders divide your total debt by your gross income to determine your DTI ratio, and the VA sets the maximum at 41%, although exceptions are possible if you meet the residual income test.
  • Residual income. VA lenders must calculate your “free cash” each month, based on your home and family size and location. In some cases, they may approve a higher DTI ratio if you meet the residual income guideline.

3. Determine your VA funding fee The VA charges a VA funding fee of 0.5% to 3.6% that varies based on whether you’re buying or refinancing, your down payment (if you choose to make one) and whether you’ve used your VA loan benefits before. Veterans with a service-connected disability may qualify for a funding fee exemption.

4. Provide requested documents and get an appraisal You’ll need to document your income and pay for a VA appraisal. One extra protection: The VA escape clause allows VA borrowers to cancel if the appraised value doesn’t at least match the sales price.

5. Review your closing disclosure and close You’ll receive a closing disclosure three business days before closing. Review the figures, and if everything looks right you can sign your paperwork, pay any closing costs due and become a homeowner.

How do I choose the best VA lender?

Not all lenders offer VA loans, and not all VA lenders offer the lowest rates. However, following these tips may help you get the best VA loan rates.

  • Keep your credit scores high. Although VA guidelines don’t set a minimum credit score, most lenders require a 620 VA home loan credit score. A higher credit score will get you the best VA loan rates, however, so pay off your credit balances and make on-time payments to boost your score.
  • Shop with at least three to five different lenders. Make sure you gather at least three to five loan estimates from different lenders including mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers and institutional banks. Rates change daily, so make sure to collect all the loan estimates on the same day.
  • Try a rate comparison tool. Answer a few questions on rate comparison sites and lenders will contact you to compete for your business. Even better: All VA home loan rates should be quoted on the same day, making it easy to sort through your quotes and choose the best offer.
  • Ask the lender if they’re experienced with VA loans. The VA loan program offers qualified borrowers a lot of bells and whistles you won’t find in other loan programs. The best VA loan lenders employ loan officers familiar with VA loans, so be sure you ask the loan officer you work with about their VA lending background.

VA loan FAQs

How do I know if I’m eligible for a VA loan?

Applying online for your certificate of eligibility is the fastest way to find out whether you’re eligible for VA financing. You’re typically eligible if you served 90 consecutive days during wartime, 181 days during peacetime or more than six years in the National Guard or Reserve.

Are VA loans reusable?

Yes. VA borrowers have both a basic and bonus VA entitlement and can even have two VA loans at the same time on different properties.

Do you need orders for a VA loan?

No. Retired veterans are eligible for VA loans as long they have enough entitlement or applicable service history.

What can disqualify you from a VA loan?

If you don’t meet the basic military service requirements, VA financing is not an option. Qualified borrowers must also meet minimum VA mortgage requirements.

Is a VA loan 100% financing?

In most cases, you don’t need a down payment for a VA loan. The exceptions are if you don’t have enough eligibility because of an outstanding VA loan balance, or are borrowing with an unmarried co-borrower.

What credit score do you need to qualify for a VA loan?

VA guidelines don’t require a minimum score. Most lenders set the minimum at 620, although some lenders may offer VA loans to borrowers with a minimum 500 score.

What is the current interest rate for VA loans?

VA rates vary based on your credit score, down payment, location and loan amount.  Average VA loan rates stayed below 3% from September 2020 to September 2021, according to data collected by ICE Mortgage Technology, a real estate data company.

 

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