Want a VA Loan? Don’t Settle for Any Old Lender

Want a VA Loan? Don't Settle For Any Old Lender

The VA Home Loan Program was introduced at the end of World War II to help the returning men and women who served in the armed forces (and their surviving spouses) buy a home. The program provides easy access to mortgage loans for both purchase and refinance.

It streamlines the mortgage application process and offers excellent features. Benefits include no down payment, no monthly mortgage insurance payments, and closing costs can be either rolled into the loan or paid using gifted funds.

Because the VA loan is backed by a guarantee from the federal government, it is widely available through most banks and direct lenders.

But not all VA lenders are created equal.

How to Find a VA lender?

Experience

Customer service is a key differentiator with lenders because many of the products are the same in the case of the VA Loan Program, experience in assisting veterans counts.

Many veterans don’t know about the VA loan program or have concerns that they may not qualify.

Look for a lender with loan officers dedicated solely to veterans or a loan officer with experience. You may even find a loan officer who is a veteran.

Expertise

With experience comes expertise. The VA Loan Program has several very specific requirements.

You’ll want a lender:

  • Who understands the requirements for a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE. Your lender should be able to explain what discharge paperwork is needed and the specific requirements a borrower must meet to qualify.
  • Who is well-versed in the different types of VA loans for both purchase and refinance: These include the VA purchase loan, the cash-out refinance, and the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance or IRRRL, which is a streamlined refinance program that enables veterans to obtain a lower interest rate and/or shorter term with no appraisal and no income or asset documentation required.
  • Who understands the VA loan funding fee: This is a one-time fee that varies depending on the amount of your down payment (remember, no down payment is required) and the type of veteran you are. For example, a first-time borrower in the armed forces putting no money down would pay a fee of 2.15% of the total loan amount. If the same individual were to put 10% down or more, the fee would be reduced to 1.25% of the loan amount. National Guard and reservists pay about a quarter of a percentage point more than those on active duty. For veterans using the program a second time who do not make a down payment, the fee would be 3.3 % of the total amount they’re borrowing. The VA loan funding fee is waived for any vets currently receiving disability compensation.
  • Who can assist you in meeting the minimum credit score: While the VA loan has no credit score requirement, most lenders will require a minimum credit score between 580 and 620. If you have outstanding debt, other liens, or missed payments that have lowered your credit score, a good lender can instruct you on improving your credit score in six months to a year.
  • Who understands of the VA Minimum Property Requirements or MPRs: The VA loan requires that a home meets certain criteria as part of the appraisal process and determines the property’s value. The right lender can help educate you and your Realtor if he or she is unfamiliar with these requirements.
  • Who provides outstanding customer service: This means keeping you up-to-date throughout the loan approval process, making themselves available to answer your questions, assist you in identifying the necessary documentation, and resolving any issues that may arise.

Bottom line on finding an approved VA lender

The VA loan was created as one way for the federal government and the people of the U.S. to thank those who so selflessly served our country.

As a veteran, you have the right to access the full benefits of the VA Loan Program. To do this right, don’t choose just any lender.

Contact Embrace Home Loans to learn more about VA loans and find out if you may qualify.

Common VA loan question and answers

What does VA loan stand for?

VA loans are special mortgages that can help veterans and active military personnel purchase homes.

VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA backs these mortgages so they’re available to you, even if you have less than perfect credit or other financial issues.

What qualifies you for a VA loan?

VA loans are open to all active-duty members of the military and veterans who have served in any branch of the U.S. armed forces, including the National Guard or Reserves.

However, VA loan eligibility varies, with a full breakdown available on va.gov.

For service members
You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you’ve served for at least 90 continuous days (all at once, without a break in service).

For Veterans
The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

For National Guard members

The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

For Reserve members

The minimum active-duty service requirements depend on when you served.

What is the minimum credit score for a va loan?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but the VA does review the entire loan profile.

This means that VA will look at all aspects of a borrower’s financial situation, including the monthly payment amount, to determine if they can afford to repay the loan.

What are VA loan documentation requirements?

The documents required for a VA loan are highly similar to those required for a conventional mortgage but may vary based on the individual lender:

  • Driver’s license, passport, or alternative government-issued ID
  • Evidence of self-employed income (if applicable) or a recent pay stub
  • Two years of W-2 statements and tax returns
  • Checking, savings and retirement account statements
  • Your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
  • A DD-214, Statement of Service or Points Statement (this will depend on your type of service)
  • VA disability awards letter (if applicable)
  • Social Security awards letter (if applicable)
  • Divorce decree (if applicable)
  • Bankruptcy discharge letter (if applicable)
  • Bankruptcy history (if applicable)

What are VA loan occupancy requirements?

To fulfill VA occupancy requirements, you must live in your house for at least 12 months. Your lender will also require you to sign mortgage documents indicating your intention to live in the home as your primary residence.

Can you have two VA loans?

Yes, you can have two VA loans at one time for two different primary residences. In fact, this is something that is allowed by most lenders as long as they meet certain requirements.

Share this:
Related

Mary Mack

Mary is the Copywriter/Content Manager at Embrace Home Loans. She loves taking complicated subjects/ideas and making them easier to understand (and enjoyable to read about). Is there a topic you'd love to see covered in this blog? Email Mary at [email protected] to let her know!