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Best VA Mortgage Lenders for Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) of 2018

Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help you understand your options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and information we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent. We spent over 400 hours reviewing the top mortgage lenders before selecting the best for our readers.

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.

» MORE: VA IRRRL FAQs

Top IRRRL lenders overall

When NerdWallet reviews VA lenders, these score high across several categories.

  • In addition to IRRRL, offers cash-out VA refinance on up to 100% of home’s value for debt consolidation, remodeling or other purposes.
  • Nearly as many loan products as banks offer, including FHA, VA and USDA loans.
  • Low complaint volume and transparent rate-comparison page.
  • Repeat customers offered a “Lifetime Guarantee” refinance program waiving lender fees and reimbursing appraisal costs.
  • LoanDepot review
  • VA lending experts with a strong online mortgage tool.
  • Works with most borrowers as long as they have good credit scores and incomes.
  • 170 branches across the country for in-person service.
  • Guaranteed Rate review

IRRRL lenders with the best online experience

These VA lenders have strong digital-application and loan-tracking options.

Quicken Loans
  • Experienced national expert in government-backed mortgages.
  • Largest online lender, with speedy approvals and cutting-edge technology.
  • Can instantly access employment and income verification for nearly two-thirds of working Americans.
  • Quicken Loans review
  • Fairway app lets borrowers close a mortgage in as few as 10 days.
  • Adjustable rate mortgages offered at over 250 local offices.
  • Applications can be completed and a local loan officer found online.
  • Fairway Independent Mortgage review

Best customer service from IRRRL lenders

NerdWallet rates these lenders high for engagement and responsiveness.

  • Experienced VA lender known for personal attention.
  • Online and mobile features make access easy from overseas.
  • Company stresses relationships, borrower education, military borrowers’ needs and VA lending expertise.
  • Veterans First Mortgage review
  • 24/7 customer service through Fairway mobile app, call center and email.
  • Licensed in all 50 states.
  • Full range of home loan options, including adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, cash-out refinance and interest rate reduction refinance loans (IRRRL).
  • Fairway Independent Mortgage review

Best traditional bank IRRRL lenders

These lenders excel at offering streamline refinancing in a familiar bank setting.

  • Offers a wide range of mortgage purchase and refinance options, including VA purchase and VA refinance loans.
  • VA IRRRL streamline refinance available if you have a VA loan currently serviced by Bank of America.
  • Low down payment options and flexible requirements on FHA loans are inviting to first-time borrowers.
  • Bank of America review
  • VA mortgage options include purchase, refinance and IRRRL streamline refinance.
  • A full line of purchase mortgages, including FHA, available in addition to VA loans.
  • Low down payment options available with no private mortgage insurance required.
  • CitiMortgage review

Best IRRRL lenders for borrowers with low credit scores

Flexibility and experience in qualifying credit-challenged borrowers count with these lenders.

  • Licensed in 50 states, with a wide range of affordable mortgage products for military members.
  • Underwriting model allows greater loan flexibility.
  • Willing to look at rent, utility and cell phone payments in evaluating eligibility.
  • Navy Federal Mortgage review
  • Government loan specialist offering VA, FHA and USDA loans, along with conventional mortgages.
  • Is experienced at qualifying borrowers with weaker credit and nontraditional credit, employment and income sources.
  • Spanish language website page and hundreds of Spanish-speaking employees.
  • Alterra Home Loans review

Best VA mortgage lenders for streamline refinance (IRRRL): summary

More from NerdWallet:

Calculate how much to borrow with a VA loan

Find the best VA mortgage lenders of 2018

Learn the basics about VA loans

VA IRRRL Refinance FAQ

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.

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.

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.
  • 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.