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As a member of our military community, one of the most valuable tools at your disposal is the Veteran Affairs (VA) loan program. This exclusive advantage supports eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and their families in getting closer to purchasing the home of their dreams with favorable terms and competitive interest rates.

Many members of the military community know they want to take advantage of the VA home loan program but feel stuck with questions about eligibility, rate influences, and how to potentially secure a great deal.

That’s why we’ve developed this comprehensive guide. Keep reading to equip yourself with the knowledge and confidence to potentially unlock competitive VA loan rates.


VA Loan Rates vs. Other Mortgage Options

One of the most exciting VA loan advantages is the potential for interest rates that are substantially lower than conventional mortgage rates.

On the surface, the difference between a VA mortgage rate and a conventional mortgage rate may not seem substantial. But even a fraction of a percentage can lead to tens of thousands of dollars saved over the life of your loan.

Imagine for a moment that the interest rate for a 30-year fixed VA loan is around 5.25% compared to 5.55% for a conventional loan. This may seem like a small difference, but over the life of a $300,000 mortgage, it translates to savings of over $20,000 in total interest paid. That’s $20,000 you could put toward other financial goals like your child’s education or home renovations.


VA Home Loan Eligibility and Requirements

Before diving deeper into the intricacies of VA loan rates, it’s important to understand the eligibility requirements for this valuable program. VA loans may be available to eligible:

  • Active-duty service members
  • Veterans who meet specific service requirements
  • Members of the National Guard and Reserves
  • Surviving spouses of veterans (provided they haven’t remarried)

You’re eligible if you’re an active-duty service member and have served for at least 90 consecutive days.

If you’re a veteran, eligibility requirements vary based on when you served. Click here to learn more about minimum active-duty service requirements for veteran eligibility.

In addition to service-related criteria, veteran loan lenders will also consider factors such as credit history, debt-to-income ratios, income stability, and employment history when evaluating your loan application.


Factors that Influence VA Loan Rates

Mortgage rates are determined by the lender on an individual basis. Let’s look at the key factors that will likely influence the rate you receive:

  1. Credit Score: Your credit score serves as a reflection of your financial responsibility and creditworthiness. Generally, the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you’ll be offered – a testament to the importance of maintaining a solid credit history.
  2. Loan Amount: Larger loan amounts may be subject to higher interest rates, as lenders perceive a greater risk with higher debt levels.
  3. Loan Term: 30-year mortgages are popular because they typically have lower monthly payments. However, it’s worth considering the potential savings offered by shorter loan terms, such as 15-year mortgages, which typically feature lower interest rates.
  4. Discount Points: You may have the option to pay discount points upfront, which are essentially prepaid interest and will lower your interest rate.
  5. Lender Credits: Some lenders may offer credits that can be applied towards closing costs or to buy down the interest rate, further enhancing the affordability of your VA loan.
  6. Loan Type: Interest rates can vary depending on whether you’re pursuing a purchase loan, a refinance loan (IRRRL), or a cash-out refinance loan.


Tips for Securing Better VA Mortgage Rates

While your lender determines the interest rates, there are steps you can take that may help you secure the most competitive rates:

  1. Improve Your Credit Score: Even a small increase in your credit score can result in a lower interest rate, potentially saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Focus on paying down debts, correcting errors on your credit report, and maintaining a positive payment history.
  2. Shop Around with Multiple Lenders: Just as you would for any major purchase, it’s essential to shop around and compare offers from multiple lenders experienced with VA loans. Each lender may offer varying interest rates and terms, and by exploring your options, you’ll be well positioned to identify plenty of competitive packages available.
  3. Consider an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL): If you already have an existing VA loan but interest rates have dropped, an IRRRL could be a powerful tool for reducing your monthly payments and overall interest costs. By refinancing at a lower rate, you may be able to redirect those savings toward other financial goals or enjoy a little extra breathing room in your budget.
  4. Understand the Impact of Discount Points: While paying discount points upfront can seem daunting, it may be a wise investment if you plan to stay in the home for an extended period. The savings from a lower interest rate can quickly help offset the upfront cost, making this a strategy worth considering for those with a long-term vision for their homeownership journey.


VA Loan Limits and Entitlements

It’s important to note that VA loans are subject to loan limits, which vary based on geographic location and are adjusted annually to reflect changes in home prices. For reference, most parts of the country had a VA loan limit of $726,200 in 2023. In more expensive housing markets like Alaska and Hawaii, the limit was $1,089,300.

These limits are based on your VA entitlement, which is the amount of funding the VA will guarantee for your loan. In other words, this is the amount that the VA is willing to pay your lender if, for some reason, you don’t repay your mortgage.

You can borrow up to the loan limit without making a down payment if you have a full entitlement. However, if you’ve used a portion of your entitlement or defaulted on a previous VA loan, your borrowing limit may be reduced.


Maximize Your Military Advantages

Securing quality VA loan rates not only gets you closer to moving into your dream home but also ensures that you maximize the advantages of your service. Take the first step today by exploring your VA loan options, shopping around with multiple lenders, and seeking assistance from knowledgeable professionals.

This information is intended for educational purposes only. Products and interest rates subject to change without notice. Loan products are subject to credit approval and include terms and conditions, fees and other costs. Terms and conditions may apply. Property insurance is required on all loans secured by property. VA loan products are subject to VA eligibility requirements. Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) interest rates and monthly payment are subject to adjustment. Upon submission of a full application, a mortgage banker will review and provide you with the terms, conditions, disclosures, and additional details on the interest rates that apply to your individual situation.