The 8 Best VA Loan Lenders of 2019
VA loans are a type of mortgage loan backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA. Through the VA program, loans are issued via private banks and other lenders and guaranteed by the VA. This helps military service members and their families buy a home with no down payment and easier qualification requirements.
VA home loans have been around since 1944, and are available for qualifying applicants with 0% down and no private mortgage insurance (PMI). When it comes to applying, it is important to consider the costs involved, even if you do get a discount thanks to the VA. Look at interest rates first. Interest is generally the biggest cost of any mortgage, so shopping around for the best rates can be very beneficial. Closing costs can add up as well, so you’ll want to consider that. That said, VA loans fees are capped at 1% of the loan value, which is a great benefit of VA loans over other borrowing options.
Outside of the costs, the application process, customer service, and the online mortgage management experience are less important but can help one company stand out as better than the rest. Let’s dive in and look at the best VA loan lenders in the market today.
Best Overall: Veterans United Home Loans
Veterans United Home Loans specializes in just one thing: VA loans. When a company does just one thing above all else, it tends to do it very, very well. That’s the case here, and why Veterans United Home Loans earned the top spot on our list.
Veterans United offers competitive interest rates and fees and can help any military applicant through the steps of the VA loan process. In addition, Veterans United Home Loans has generally very good reviews, scoring above the average financial institution.
Thirty-year fixed rates start at 4.625% (4.893% APR) and 15-year fixed loans start at 4.125% (4.587% APR). To qualify for a 0% down VA loan, you’ll need a credit score of at least 620 or above.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Veterans First Mortgage
Veterans First Mortgage is another highly ranked lender with a focus on military families. That military focus helps them rise above general lenders that happen to offer VA loans as a part of their suite of mortgage products. From deployments to moving around the country regularly, military families have a lot on their plate. Having an understanding and supportive lender goes a long way.
Veterans First charges a 1% origination fee. It does not publish a required minimum credit score. The rates available from Veterans First are a bit foggy. The term “APR” does not exist on its “What are the VA loan rates and costs?” page. You have to apply to see any interest rates, which is a downside of this lender.
However, it scores well in customer service and does a great job of helping military members buy a home. They also offer a great online application experience, though they have a limited footprint of physical locations. As long as you get a competitive interest rate, you should do well with a VA loan from Veterans First Mortgage.
Best Online: Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans
Quicken Loans is best known for Rocket Mortgage, its online mortgage application platform. Rocket Mortgage is one of the simplest and fastest mortgage applications out there, and you can get a VA loan through Rocket Mortgage. Quicken Loans requires a minimum 620 credit score for VA loans. A 30-year fixed VA loan starts at 4.50% (4.779% APR).
When you are busy with a military job, a family, and other demands on your time, spending hours on paperwork for a loan is not something to get excited about. Rocket Mortgage really stands up to the reputation for quick and easy applications and industry-leading loan management options. Quicken Loans was the number two mortgage originator nationwide in 2017.
Runner-Up, Best Online: loanDepot
LoanDepot is another nationwide mortgage lender with a focus on online loans, though they have over 180 physical locations as well. VA mortgage rates at loanDepot are not published. The company does not publish a minimum VA loan credit score but does share a minimum 600 credit score for general loans.
LoanDepot made this list thanks to an easy application process with a dedicated loan consultant that stays with you through the application process. Because they are a large mortgage lender even outside of VA loans, they have an efficient process to get through the loan approval and closing process with as little hassle as possible.
LoanDepot has generally great reviews from financial review sites. This company is a top 10 lender nationwide, ranking number five in the United States for 2017.
Best Credit Union: Navy Federal Credit Union
As a credit union, Navy Federal is a not-for-profit financial institution. Because nonprofits are less worried about making money, you can usually get more favorable rates for both banking and borrowing products. Navy Federal is a military-focused credit union and another excellent choice for VA loans.
Navy Federal may be a good choice for all of your banking and borrowing needs in addition to your VA loan. It is known for good customer service and competitive rates. Navy Federal does not publish a minimum credit score for VA loans. The most popular 30-year fixed loan starts at 4.000% (4.319% APR) and the 15-year starts at 3.750% (4.276% APR).
As a veteran-focused credit union, members of any military branch get great service tailored to your unique needs. Whether you are on a tour abroad or stationed stateside, Navy Federal is prepared to give you the customer service you need.
Want to learn more? Check out our full review of Navy Federal Credit Union.
Runner-Up, Best Credit Union: PenFed Credit Union
Unsurprisingly, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, better known as PenFed, is headquartered near the Pentagon just outside of Washington, DC. As a credit union, PenFed is another great nonprofit financial institution with a focus on military servicemembers and their families. While it doesn’t publish a specific minimum score for VA loans, PenFed does publish a minimum 620 credit score in general.
PenFed offers personal customer service and a specialty in dealing with military finances. If you are not tied to the military or a supported organization, you can join with a small donation to a PenFed supported non-profit. VA loans start at 4.500% (4.810% APR) for a 30-year loan and 4.25% (4.786% APR) for 15-year loans.
Outside of VA loans, PenFed offers an interesting loan that may offer a better deal depending on your circumstances. The 15/15 ARM is ideal for military families, as you get the lower rate from the ARM, but the first 15 years is locked. Because many active military families will be in their homes less than 15 years, this can be a big money saver over time.
Best Bank: USAA
USAA is the biggest bank built just for military members and families. While it is not a nonprofit credit union, it still offers very competitive rates paired with great customer service. USAA offers VA loans started at 4.375% (4.663% APR) for a 30-year fixed loan. While it doesn’t publish a specific minimum for VA loans, USAA does publish a minimum 620 score for mortgage loans.
One unique loan at USAA is a VA 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). The rate for the first five years is 4.688%. After the five years, the rate adjusts up or down to market interest rates. In the current rising rate environment, many expect rates to be higher in five years than they are today.
As a military service member or veteran, you should also consider USAA for its well-known, competitively priced insurance products. If you join USAA for a VA loan or any other reason, be sure to shop its insurance products to compare if you have auto, home, or other insurance elsewhere.
Best for Poor Credit: New American Funding
New American Funding isn’t as well known as many others on this list, but it is one of the best options for VA loans when your credit isn’t up to par with others on this list. New American is willing to look at other factors in addition to your credit score when approving your loan application.
Unlike places like Quicken Loans where most everything is done with a computer, at New American Funding a human reviewer does the loan underwriting and approving. This gives you more flexibility than the rigidity of a fully digital approval system. They take credit scores as low as 580 for VA loans.
In addition to credit flexibility, New American offers competitive rates. While it does not publish separate VA loan rates, regular mortgage interest rates are quite competitive.