VA Loans 101
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If you serve in the military or are a veteran and want to buy a house, you probably qualify for a loan insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A VA loan requires no down payment, provides a favorable interest rate and fees, requires no private mortgage insurance and allows borrowers to qualify without a perfect credit history. Use this VA mortgage loan calculator to understand the costs of a VA loan.
How we got here
Monthly payment: What’s behind the numbers in our VA mortgage calculator
As a service member or veteran, a VA home loans is likely to be the best way to buy a house. Yet, like every mortgage, it can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to figuring out exactly how much it will cost to finance a home with a VA loan.
The NerdWallet VA loan calculator can tell you just that — and the total includes costs other calculators forget to add.
As a true PITI mortgage calculator, we factor in principal, interest, taxes and insurance. That’s what PITI stands for. But your VA home loan includes another cost. That’s why we also calculate your funding fee, an important number you’ll want to know before you sign up for a VA mortgage.
What the VA loan calculator does
The NerdWallet VA home mortgage calculator looks deceptively simple, but there’s some heavy number crunching behind the scenes.
To start, fill in the fields:
The price you want to pay for a home
Your down payment
Your interest rate
Years of the loan term
Information about your service
If this is your first VA home loan
You’ll see what your monthly payment will be, as well as the total cost of your VA mortgage over the life of the loan. To look at the details, check the “Monthly” or “Total” box under “Breakdown of costs.”
Some VA borrowers roll their funding fee into the loan total. If that’s your plan, take the funding fee amount, found under the “Total cost breakdown,” and add it to the amount you expect to spend on a home under “Mortgage Details.” That will adjust your monthly payment to include the financed VA funding fee.
Now that you have a good idea of your loan costs, you’ll be ready to shop for some of the best VA lenders.
How to use a VA mortgage calculator
NerdWallet’s VA loan calculator is one tool to help you answer the question “How much house can I afford?” There are many other questions to consider when making the jump into homeownership:
Should I choose a long-term or shorter-term VA loan? Of course, there is a big difference between the housing needs and a home’s “shelf life” for active-duty military compared with a retired service member. A 30-year fixed rate VA loan may be perfect for one, but not the other. Longer loan terms mean lower monthly payments with more interest paid over time. A 15-year fixed-rate VA mortgage will reduce the total interest you pay, but your monthly payment will be much higher.
What about an adjustable-rate mortgage? ARMs can be a good choice for many active-duty military. For example, a 5/1 VA ARM locks in a low rate for five years, then resets higher or lower annually. That can work well for a military lifestyle that requires location changes due to reassignment.
Does this home fit my budget? The VA home mortgage calculator helps you avoid sticker shock at loan closing. Because it considers many factors that can be included in a monthly payment — including the VA funding fee — our calculator provides a more accurate view of just how much a home will cost each month.
Should I make a down payment? VA mortgages are known for not requiring a down payment, but putting some money toward your loan reduces the VA funding fee. It’s another what-if situation to consider in loan calculations.
VA mortgage monthly payment 101
What are the monthly costs built into a VA mortgage payment?
Many first-time homebuyers consider only principal and interest when calculating their potential monthly mortgage payment. The NerdWallet VA loan calculator factors in all of the typical costs, including:
Principal. The amount you paid for your home and are financing, minus your down payment, if any. For example, if you buy a $400,000 house and put down $40,000, the principal would be $360,000.
Interest. The interest rate to be paid on the loan.
Property taxes. Taxes assessed on your home and land each year, which are often collected into and paid from an escrow account.
The VA funding fee. This fee can either be paid upfront at closing or rolled into the principal of your loan. Remember, you can see what the VA funding fee will be on your mortgage when you click on “Total cost breakdown.” Then, you can add that amount to “How much do you expect to spend on a home” under “Mortgage Details” and your monthly payment will reflect the financed VA funding fee.
Homeowners association (HOA) fee. In some subdivision and condo associations, you pay for improvements and upkeep on shared amenities. These HOA dues are sometimes included in your monthly payment.
Can I lower my VA monthly payment?
Don’t like what the calculator is saying? If your monthly VA mortgage payment is higher than you would like, you can:
Extend the loan term. You may not expect to be in a home for 30 years, but amortizing the loan for that long will lower your monthly payment. The downside: You’re paying much more interest if you live there over the long term.
Downsize your wish list. Buying a smaller house with fewer amenities means less money borrowed — and a lower monthly payment.
Put money down. While a VA loan typically requires no down payment, making one will reduce the size of your mortgage and reduce the VA funding fee, too. And this results in a lower monthly payment.
Get a better interest rate. Shop at least three VA-approved lenders to strengthen the odds of getting a better interest rate.
Can my VA monthly payment go up?
On the other hand, say you like the numbers the NerdWallet VA loan calculator is showing. Is it possible for things to move the other way and for your monthly VA home loan payment rise? Here are three example when that could happen:
If the initial guaranteed rate on an adjustable-rate VA mortgage expires and your interest rate resets higher, your monthly payment will follow.
Property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums that are included in your monthly mortgage payment are quite likely to slowly rise over time.
A late payment fee will change the amount due.