My Perfect Mortgage
Achieve Your American Dream: Navigating VA Home Loan Types and Benefits
4 minute read
April 22, 2024

Are you a veteran, active-duty service member, or surviving spouse? If so, you have access to a valuable benefit: VA loans.

Offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), these mortgage options can help you achieve your dream of homeownership with several advantages.

This guide explores the different types of VA loans available, their benefits, and how to qualify.

  • available in AL, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA
  • Simple application
  • Quick decisions
  • Common sense underwriting
  • Fast closing period
  • Lend in all 50 states
  • Veteran lending specialist available to you, no matter where you are
  • In-house processing and underwriting
  • Express Loan Approval program, which allows you to be done with the whole process (minus the contract and appraisal), so you can focus on finding your home.
  • Rate Protect (Lock & Shop) lock in your rate before you even find a home!

Understanding VA Loans

The VA sets the standards and terms for VA loans but doesn't directly issue them. You'll work with a bank or mortgage lender to secure a VA loan. 

Because the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, it reduces risk for lenders, allowing them to offer borrowers better terms.

Key Benefits of VA Home Loans

  • No Down Payment Required: In most cases, a down payment isn't mandatory, making homeownership more accessible.
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): You won't need PMI, which typically comes with conventional loans and protects lenders in case of default.
  • Flexible Credit Score Requirements: VA loans have more flexible credit score requirements compared to traditional loans.
  • Limited Closing Costs: Closing costs associated with VA loans are typically lower than with other mortgage options.
  • No Prepayment Penalty: There's no penalty for paying off your loan early, allowing for greater financial flexibility.
  • Support from the VA: The VA offers ongoing support to veterans who experience repayment challenges.

The VA Funding Fee

While there's no PMI, VA loans require a VA funding fee. This fee, typically between 1.4% and 3.6% of the loan amount, can be paid upfront or rolled into your loan.

Eligible veterans may also be able to waive their funding fee payment. 

Qualifying for a VA Loan

To be eligible for a VA loan, you'll need to meet specific requirements and obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA. 

This document verifies your service history and entitlement to the loan program.

Here's what you'll need for your COE:

  • DD Form 214 (For veterans, retirees, or discharged personnel)
  • Statement of Service Letter (For active-duty service members)
  • NGB 22 Form (For National Guard veterans or retired military reservists)
  • Proof of service-related disability (if applicable)

The VA will use this information to issue your COE, which details your home loan benefit amount and potential funding fee waiver eligibility.

Types of VA Home Loans: Which One is Right For You?

VA loans cater to various needs, each with its own advantages:

  • VA Purchase Loan: This standard loan helps finance the purchase, construction, or improvement of a primary residence. It offers competitive interest rates and terms and often eliminates the down payment requirement.
  • VA Cash-Out Refinance: Similar to a conventional cash-out refinance, this option allows you to replace your current loan with a new VA-backed loan with potentially better terms. You can also access your home's equity to make improvements, pay off debt, or cover other expenses. Be mindful of closing costs associated with refinancing.
  • VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): If you already have a VA loan and want to lower your monthly payments or switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM), you can use an IRRRL. Unlike a cash-out refinance, an IRRRL focuses solely on refinancing your existing VA loan for better rates and terms.
  • Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program: This program is designed for veterans or their spouses who are Native American. It allows financing for purchasing, constructing, or improving a home located on federal trust lands.  You'll need to confirm your tribal government has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the VA for the NADL program to be available on your specific trust land. Similar to a VA purchase loan, NADL offers benefits like no down payment, no PMI, and competitive interest rates.
  • VA Construction Loan: Streamline the homebuilding process with a VA construction loan. This unique option combines construction financing and a permanent mortgage into a single loan. This eliminates the need for separate loans and allows you to cover everything from construction costs to permits with a single source of funding.

Get Started with Your Preferred VA Home Loan Type

Owning a home can be a major life goal, and VA loans offer a powerful tool to help veterans, active-duty service members, and surviving spouses achieve it. 

With their flexible requirements, potential for zero down payment, and competitive rates, VA loans open doors to affordable homeownership.  

If you're eligible, exploring VA loans is a great first step on your journey to turning your dream home into a reality.

Our advise is based on experience in the mortgage industry and we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal of owning a home. We may receive compensation from partner banks when you view mortgage rates listed on our website.