VA loans are mortgages and mortgage refinances specifically for military servicemembers, veterans, and spouses that are backed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. They are technically normal home loans issued by everyday banks and lenders, but because of the VA’s insurance they feature lower than average rates, less stringent requirements, and other special stipulations.

VA loans are an excellent program for qualifying active and former servicemembers and their spouses who wish to purchase a home or refinance their existing home. One can also use a VA loan for new home construction in certain situations.

When taking out a VA loan there are a series of factors to consider that will affect monthly payments and interest rates. Seeking to purchase or refinance a single-family home, compared to a condominium, for instance, does make a difference. You must also determine if you are looking for a VA loan for purchase, refinance, or streamline refinance loan. If you are a veteran or spouse, you’ll also need to see if you qualify for a certificate of eligibility.

Prior to the finalization of a VA loan, make sure to look at the fine print. Is there an appraisal fee? Will there be origination, closing, and inspection fees? Is mortgage insurance required? Are credit reports provided? By and large, the answers to these questions will depend on the lender, so make sure to ask and addressed thse upfront, then there won’t be any surprises later.


Top 10 Companies

#1
Our Partner
10 / 10
  • Easier qualification compared to conventional loans
  • Quick, easy application process
  • Get the best rates by letting banks compete for your business
  • Calculate what you can afford with VA Loan Calculator
  • Free personalized mortgage rates in minutes
#2
Our Partner
9.8 / 10
  • Low interest rates and award-winning customer service
  • A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • Equal Housing Lender
  • Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and GNMA Seller/Servicer
  • Online mortgage calculator and quotes
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Member
  • Top 10 Home Lending Customer Satisfaction on Lending Tree Platform – 1Q 2017
#3
Our Partner
9.5 / 10
  • Up to 100% financing available with no mortgage insurance
  • No appraisal needed for VA Streamline Refinance loans
  • Get pre-qualified online
  • Free personalized rate quotes
  • Approved Equal Housing Opportunity Lender
  • Mortgage Bankers Association Member
  • Mortgage tools and tips
#4
Our Partner
9.4 / 10
  • A+ BBB Accredited
  • Equal Housing Lender
  • Online Mortgage Calculator
  • No Steering Policy
  • VA mortgage calculator available
  • VA loans for purchasing and refinancing home
  • loanDepot Lifetime Guarantee
#5
Our Partner
9.3 / 10

 

  • $36,000 basic entitlement available to each eligible veteran
  • Wide network of VA loan providers
  • Free loan inquiry
  • Request a $0 down VA Loan of up to $417,000
#6
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • Get up to 5 quotes free
  • A+ BBB Accredited
  • Equal Housing Opportunity Lender
  • Mortgage Bankers Association Member
  • Large network of lending companies and financial institutions
  • Find and compare VA loans from multiple lenders
#7
8.9 / 10
  • Low down payment options and origination fee
  • Free, personalized rate quote in just a minute
  • Get email alerts when interest rates change
  • Mortgage calculator available
  • FDIC Member
  • Equal Housing Lender
  • A+ BBB Accredited
#8
8.5 / 10
  • Get Pre-Approved VA Loans in Few Minutes
  • Loans up to $417,000
  • Rated an A+ by the BBB  
  • Up to 100% VA Cash out
  • Funding Fee waived for Disabled Veterans
  • No Down Payment
  • 2.15% Funding Fee for 1st Time Use
#9
Our Partner
8.2 / 10
  • Refinance up to 120% of your home’s value with VA loans
  • Dedicated VA mortgage bankers that are professional in VA loan process
  • Track your mortgage process with MyQL
  • Gives rates right on your phone with Mortgage Calculator app
  • Buy a home without money down
  • Jumbo VA loans up to $1,500,000
  • 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed rate loans and 5-year ARM loans
  • No monthly private mortgage insurance
#10
Our Partner
8.0 / 10
  • Equal Housing Opportunity Lender
  • Completely paperless mortgage application process
  • Customizable mortgage solution based on real-time rates
  • Get approval for home purchasing or mortgage refinancing in minutes
  • Share financial information securely at the touch of a button
  • Adjust your down payment to find a solution suitable for your needs
  • 24/7 security monitoring
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How We Compare VA Loans

Loan Options

40%

As with any other form of debt instrument, deciding which VA loan is right for you is no easy task, regardless of whether you borrow from a broker, marketplace, or direct lender. First, consider which VA loan variant you may require. Options include Jumbo, Streamline Refinance, or Cash-out Refinance. In any case, the final decision depends on your current financial situation, especially as regards home ownership and debt. VA loans cover nearly every conceivable type of home, from single family to mobile, so that does not have to be a concern.

Another decision is whether you prefer a fixed or adjustable rate term. Adjustable rates remain fixed for a given period of time, after which they vary at fixed intervals, reflecting market conditions. Fixed rates, on the other hand, stay stable throughout the entire loan term. Finally, the last decision is how much money you need to request Generally speaking, VA loan minimums and maximums are set by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.  

Lender Type

Lender types are broken down into three categories: Lender, Marketplace, and Broker. While lenders act as direct lender of VA loans, marketplaces are aggregators, finding offers across several lenders. Brokers, on the other hand, are individuals or firms who act as intermediaries between direct lenders and borrowers wishing to procure a VA loan.

VA Loan Types

There are various types of VA loan types, including Rate & Term Refinance, Streamline Refinance, Cash-out Refinance, Cash-in Refinance, and Jumbo. Rate & Term loans refinance mortgages with different interest rates and/or terms, without putting new money down. Streamline is a mortgage refinance method for those with VA loans. While Cash-out refinancing uses existing home equity to pay off debt, cash-in pays an amount towards an existing mortgage to reach a specific loan-to-value ratio. Lastly, jumbo VA loans refer to those that exceed the $424,100 limit.

Property Types

Lenders of VA loans offer terms for many property types, which include single-family homes, multi-family units, town homes, condos, and mobile homes.

Term Lengths

Available fixed year terms refer to the set life of the loan. These may include 8, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 year options. Adjustable rate term options are fixed for a set period, and then vary according to market fluctuations. They can include 10/1, 7/1, 5/1, 3/1, and 1 year.

Loan Size

Rather than setting absolute minimum and maximum loan amounts, the VA loan program only sets parameters on the amount that is guaranteed, which typically equals 50% of a home's value. The currently-set limits range from $22,500 to $424,100.


Application Process

30%

Consumers seeking a VA loan generally look for four things: Do I qualify?, How do I apply?, What will it cost me?, and How long will it take? Some of these questions are unanswerable for loan marketplaces, which are portals that offer to connect their customers with many different VA lenders. Since VA loans are guaranteed and heavily regulated by the federal government, there will be little difference between lenders in terms of loan requirements. However, lenders do charge different fees, as well as vary in the time they take to move a loan from application to closing. The application process itself will probably also vary amongst lenders.

Fee Information

The fees charged for loan origination, points, and other charges, as well as those that are waived, will all vary according to the lender. This isn't applicable to marketplaces.

Borrower Qualifications

Lenders usually have a maximum debt-to-income ratio which they look at in order to determine a borrower's ability to manage payments. They also have a minimum credit score requirement that also helps determine a prospective borrower's financial strength and history.

Closing Time

The average time from date of application to closing on a real estate deal can vary according to a number of factors, including the closing agent, corresponding legislation, necessary inspections, and legal documentation needed.

Application Process Fine Print

The fine print for a loan includes a detailed list of all application benchmarks, timelines, procedures.


Reputation

30%

Your lender's reputation should give you a good gage for measuring their reliability, trustworthiness, and how they treat their customers. In order to assess a VA loan lender's reputation, we took into account a number of independent factors, among them the size and financial strength of the institution, its memberships and licenses, as well as any and all regulatory actions taken against them. 


Customer Questions & Answers

What is a VA loan?

A VA loan is a loan backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Intended for American military veterans or their surviving spouses, VA loans offer favorable long-term mortgage options, with less stringent qualifying requirements than other types of loans. As opposed to standard loans, which may be issued by any lender, VA loans may only be granted by specifically qualified lenders.

How does a VA loan work?

Rather than issuing loans themselves, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees a percentage of loan repayment for lenders, should the borrower default. Eligible applicants, including active military, veterans, and surviving spouses, are able obtain financing through the VA loan program, provided that they meet the basic service time and individual loan requirements, which tend to be more lenient than for loans that aren't backed by the VA.

Who is eligible for a VA loan?

Active military members, veterans, and surviving spouses are eligible for VA loans. Eligibility is based on service minimums, which include 181 days during peacetime, 90 during wartime, or six years in the reserves. Surviving spouses are considered eligible if the service member in question died in combat, or from a disability sustained in the field.

What are the requirements for a VA loan?

VA loan requirements are much less strict than for other types. Applicants must be able to prove they have a stable source of income- especially residual income, which refers to the money left over at the end of the month, once your expenses have been covered. That way, not only will the loan be paid off, but familial expenses will not be neglected in the process.