Editorial Review

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage Review 2019

Ideal for military members and their families. Navy Federal Credit Union offers a wide range of mortgage products and an online application, and considers alternative credit data for certain loan types.

NerdWalletOctober 11, 2019

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Military-focused with strong customer service, an online application and easy-to-find rates, but the website does not offer customized rates based on credit score or other factors before you apply.

Navy Federal

Navy Federal

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

0%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

Pros & Cons

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

  • Willing to look at nontraditional credit data, such as rent payments, as part of its credit evaluation for certain products.

  • Has an online application for preapproval with quick decision.

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

Compare to Other Lenders

Veterans United
Quicken Loans
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

0%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Full Review

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a broad menu of mortgages, including no-down-payment home loans tailored to its members.

Founded in 1933, the credit union's mission is to serve the military community. Veterans, active-duty military and their families are eligible for membership. U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees, retirees and some contractors can also join, as well as federal employees assigned to Department of Defense installations.

The Vienna, Virginia-based credit union is the largest in the world, with more than 8 million members. It has more than $100 billion in assets, according to internal data.

Navy Federal Credit Union mortgage products

Members can choose from a wide variety of purchase and refinance loans, including mortgages with no- and low-down-payment requirements. Navy Federal offers the following:

  • 30- and 15-year fixed-rate loans.

  • FHA and VA loans.

  • Interest-only loans.

  • Adjustable-rate mortgages with 1/1, 3/1, 5/1, 3/5 and 5/5 terms.

  • Jumbo loans.

The various adjustable-rate loan options can be especially useful to families who must relocate every few years. The credit union also offers mortgages for second homes and investment properties.

Navy Federal has two cornerstone loans geared to military members and their families: the HomeBuyers Choice Mortgage and the Military Choice Mortgage.

The HomeBuyers Choice program is for first-time home buyers. It offers fixed-rate loans of 15 or 30 years with up to 100% financing and no mortgage insurance premiums. The 1.75% funding fee can be waived in favor of a higher interest rate, which minimizes the amount of cash you need at closing.

The Military Choice program has the same benefits as the HomeBuyers Choice, but with special pricing on mortgage interest rates and origination fees for active-duty and veteran borrowers, according to the lender. Also, Navy Federal’s standard 1% loan origination fee can be rolled into the loan or waived in exchange for paying a higher mortgage rate, further reducing the amount of cash you need to close.

Navy Federal also offers fixed-rate home equity loans with 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year terms and a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, with a variable interest rate. The lender doesn’t charge an application or origination fee, and the HELOC does not have an annual or inactivity fee.

Navy Federal mortgage application process

Navy Federal has a new digital application platform called “HomeSquad,” which lets you get preapproved for a mortgage online. In some cases, you can get preapproved instantly, the lender says. With the new technology, you can upload documents, connect to your bank accounts to verify assets, get notified when you reach milestones, receive personalized help from credit union representatives and check the status of the loan.

You can also start an application over the phone or in person at a Navy Federal branch. No matter how you apply, a home loan advisor can help you choose the right mortgage for your situation.

The underwriting model for Navy Federal lets loan officers evaluate a borrower’s situation using alternative credit data in some cases instead of adhering strictly to traditional credit scores. Kevin Parker, vice president of mortgage lending, calls it “common sense underwriting.” Navy Federal can evaluate a buyer’s borrowing risk, taking the full financial picture into consideration.

Loan officers can look at whether a borrower pays rent and utility bills on time, keeps an existing Navy Federal banking account in good standing and makes timely payments on other credit accounts.

Navy Federal mortgage rates and fees

Navy Federal’s website displays sample interest rates for most of the mortgages and home equity loans it offers, along with annual percentage rates. You can also see monthly payment examples for certain products. The website does not offer personalized rate information based on location or credit score.

The lender says its origination fee is about 1% of the loan amount on most conventional conforming mortgages.

You can lock in rates on purchase loans for up to 60 days after preapproval. If you find a better rate with another lender, Navy Federal says it will match that rate or give you $1,000 at closing.

Navy Federal customer service

Navy Federal’s home purchase loan officers and processors focus exclusively on purchase loans, enabling them to bring specialized expertise when working with real estate agents, builders and members, Parker says.

Loan officers also have deep experience with the needs of military families, such as navigating the mortgage process in the midst of a relocation or deployment, or meeting the stringent documentation requirements for a VA loan, the lender says. The credit union is one of the top three VA mortgage lenders in the country by volume, according to federal data.

Serving first-time home buyers is a priority, Parker says. “We’re not only here to help members find a mortgage, we’re here to educate.”

Navy Federal also offers a free service that matches the member with a real estate agent and gives cash back at closing when the property is bought or sold through the referred agent. The cash back amount can range from $400 to $5,050, depending on the home’s purchase price. The program is not available in Iowa and does not offer cash back in Arkansas, Louisiana or Oklahoma.

Unlike many lenders that sell their loans to other institutions, Navy Federal services all of its mortgages.

“We’re literally going to be with that member from Day One to when the mortgage loan is paid off,” Parker says.

NerdWallet's star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The six key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, online capabilities, online mortgage rate information, customer service and the number of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a percentage of loans issued. We also awarded lenders up to one bonus star for a unique program or borrower focus that set them apart from other lenders. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.