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9 Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2021

These lenders are all experts at VA loans and among the best for a VA streamline refinance, or IRRRL, in 2021.

NerdWalletSep 13, 2021

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The VA's IRRRL — Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan — is loved by military borrowers for its easy efficiency. It's also called a "VA streamline refinance" because of its stripped-down processing requirements: No appraisal is needed, and underwriting is simplified.

Shop around when looking for an "Earl" — VA lenders vary in requirements and costs. Here are lenders that excel at IRRRL refinancing in five key ways.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, getting a mortgage may be a bit of a challenge. Lenders are dealing with high loan demand and staffing issues that may slow down the process. Also, some lenders have increased their fees, adjusted their minimum required credit scores or temporarily suspended certain loan products. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For the latest information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

Summary of Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2021

New American Funding
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at New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding

Min. Credit Score

640

Min. Down Payment

0%
Learn more

at New American Funding


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who need to be evaluated on the basis of nontraditional credit and those interested in various down payment assistance programs.

Pros

  • Uses manual underwriting to evaluate creditworthiness, in some cases.

  • Offers full online mortgage application, rate quotes, document upload and loan tracking.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates offered to borrowers are higher than the government-reported median of all lenders.

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Veterans United
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at Veterans United

Veterans United: NMLS#1907

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Veterans United

Min. Credit Score

640

National / Regional

National
Learn more

at Veterans United


Why we like it

Good for: veterans, active-duty service members and eligible reservists looking to refinance VA or non-VA loans.

Pros

  • Offers VA IRRRL, or “streamline,” and cash-out refinance loans.

  • Access to 24/7 customer service over the phone.

  • Has online application and pre-qualification.

  • Offers a free credit counseling service.

Cons

  • Veterans United has physical branch offices in only 18 states.

  • Information on refinances for FHA, USDA and conventional loans is harder to find on their website.

  • Charges higher rates and fees than some other lenders.

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Quicken Loans
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at Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Quicken Loans

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

0%
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at Quicken Loans


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers looking for just about all of the services your neighborhood lender offers — with online convenience.

Pros

  • Quicken Loans couples a fully online application with available mortgage advisors for those who want a human touch.

  • Instantly verifies employment and income for many working Americans.

  • Offers custom fixed-rate loan terms that are between eight and 30 years.

  • Provides a wide variety of loan types, including renovation loans and all government-backed mortgage products.

Cons

  • Quicken Loans doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOCs.

  • Quicken's lender fees can be stout and it doesn't offset those fees with particularly low mortgage rates.

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Guaranteed Rate
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at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Guaranteed Rate

Min. Credit Score

600

National / Regional

National
Learn more

at Guaranteed Rate


Why we like it

Good for: homeowners who are looking to refinance conventional, FHA or VA mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers the ability to securely upload and digitally sign loan documents.

  • Displays detailed sample rates for many of its refinance loan products.

Cons

  • Charges some fees, such as a lender fee which includes an application fee.

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Fairway Independent Mortgage
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at Fairway Independent Mortgage

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Fairway Independent Mortgage

Min. Credit Score

640

Min. Down Payment

0%
Learn more

at Fairway Independent Mortgage


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who want access to a wide variety of mortgages and the convenience of a comprehensive mobile application process.

Pros

  • Offers a robust suite of loan products, including a variety of renovation loans.

  • Has a digital application that can be completed in 10 minutes.

  • Works with some state housing finance agencies to offer mortgages with down payment and closing cost assistance.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates aren't posted online.

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Veterans First Mortgage: NMLS#449042

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Veterans First Mortgage

Min. Credit Score

660

Min. Down Payment

0%

Why we like it

Good for: veterans and active military members interested in a VA, FHA or USDA home loan.

Pros

  • Specializes in VA loans and working with military borrowers.

  • Offers several low-down-payment government loan options.

Cons

  • You can't shop rates online.

  • Doesn't offer conventional home loans or renovation mortgages.

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Citibank: NMLS#412915

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Citibank

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

0%

Why we like it

Good for: borrowers wanting to compare mortgage rates online for a variety of loan options.

Pros

  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including low-down-payment mortgages and jumbo mortgages.

  • Provides customizable mortgage rates on its website.

  • Offers low rates and fees compared with other lenders.

Cons

  • Charges a mortgage application fee.

  • Requires help from a mortgage loan officer to complete the loan application online.

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Navy Federal: NMLS#399807

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Navy Federal

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

0%

Why we like it

Good for: military members and their families looking for low-down-payment mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of affordable mortgage products designed for military members.

  • Has an online application for preapproval.

  • Offers low rates compared with most lenders.

Cons

  • Website does not provide customized mortgage rates based on credit score or other factors before you apply.

  • Credit union membership is limited to veterans and current military members, their families, and certain federal employees, retirees and contractors.

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Alterra: NMLS#133739

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Alterra

Min. Credit Score

N/A

Min. Down Payment

0%

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers and those with nontraditional incomes.

Pros

  • Offers an ITIN qualification path for undocumented borrowers.

  • Has a digital application process.

  • Offers several mortgage options for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

  • Borrowers can qualify with income from self-employment and other nontraditional sources.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates published online.

  • No home equity loans or lines of credit.

  • Generally has higher rates and fees than other lenders.

  • Branch offices not available in all states.

Read Full Review

More from NerdWallet:

VA IRRRL Refinance FAQ

What is a VA IRRRL?

A VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) lets eligible borrowers refinance a VA loan quickly and easily. Nicknamed the “VA streamline” loan, an IRRRL’s attractions include a stripped-down approval process, lower fees and no appraisal.

With a VA IRRRL refinance, you can add the closing costs to your loan balance or accept a higher interest rate to pay for them.

How can you use a VA IRRRL?

An IRRRL can be used only to refinance from a VA loan to a VA loan. Taking cash out is generally not allowed, with an exception, which we explain below.

Borrowers typically must use an IRRRL to reduce their monthly mortgage payments or lower the mortgage interest rate. But here’s another quirk: It’s OK to bump up your interest rate when converting an adjustable-rate VA mortgage to a fixed-rate IRRRL.

Who is eligible for a VA IRRRL?

Here’s what it takes to be eligible for an IRRRL:

  • You’re an active-duty member of the military, reserve or National Guard, or a veteran or surviving spouse.

  • You’ve served for a minimum length of time without dishonorable discharge.

  • You meet the lender’s minimum credit score requirement and certify that you’ve previously lived in the house.

Can you get cash out with a VA streamline refinance?

In one case only. You may be able to get a limited amount of cash for making energy-efficient improvements to the home. You may need to get a home energy audit to show the investment will lower your utility costs.

Last updated on September 13, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet's star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services each lender offers to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The five key areas we evaluated include the variety of loan types and products offered, online conveniences, online mortgage rate information, and the rate spread and origination fee lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2021