Veterans United Home Loans Review 2019
Ideal for veterans and active-duty service members. Veterans United is the nation's largest VA home loan lender but also offers an excellent selection of other government and conventional loans.
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The Bottom Line: A national VA home loan lender with a history of excellent customer service.
Pros & Cons
- Also offers FHA, USDA and conventional loans.
- Offers 24/7 customer service.
- Has online application and pre-qualification.
- Offers a free credit counseling service.
- Employs advisors from each branch of the armed forces.
- Charges origination and other fees that can vary greatly by borrower.
- Doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOCs.
- Loans are available in all 50 states, but Veterans United has branches in only 18.
Veterans United is the largest VA home loan lender in the nation.
Mortgages backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are among the most valuable benefits provided to active-duty service members, as well as veterans and their families.
Nationally, VA loan volume has reached record highs in recent years and topped $161 billion in 2018. Riding that wave of popularity, Veterans United has originated more than $10 billion in VA loans annually since 2017.
If you are shopping lenders that offer VA loans, here’s what to expect from Veterans United.
Veterans United loan products
The lender also offers the VA’s energy-efficient mortgages, which allow veterans to roll the cost of efficiency-boosting improvements into their mortgage payment. Like most non-bank lenders, Veterans United does not offer home equity loans or HELOCs.
Veterans United loan process
VA loans are a powerful tool for homeownership. To start, they’re easier to qualify for than conventional loans and require no down payment, subject to certain loan limits.
"Veterans, service members and their families can face unique financial and credit challenges, given the nature of their service,” Birk says. “It can also take military families years to save the typical 5% down payment for a conventional loan."
» MORE: Calculate your VA loan payment
Another unique characteristic of the VA loan approval process is the consideration of residual income, not just the typical debt-to-income ratio.
This underwriting standard looks for a certain amount of money left over at the end of the month after you pay major debt obligations — including your mortgage, home insurance, taxes, student loans — but not typical living expenses like your cell phone bill and food.
That "after the bills are paid" income requirement varies by the cost of living in your area and the size of your household.
Also, credit score standards are less stringent for VA loans, though they vary by lender. At Veterans United, the minimum credit score is 620. Borrowers with a limited credit history may be able to use the on-time payment of other accounts, such as a cell phone, P.O. box or cable subscription, to help them qualify, Birk says.
With an “any time, any place” client base, Veterans United offers 24/7 customer service, so getting a mortgage — or just a question answered — works on your schedule. And while lending to customers in all 50 states, Veterans United has branches in only 18 of them.
To get a mortgage with Veteran’s United, most people start online or over the phone. You can complete a loan application and prequalify online, through the My Veterans United portal.
Once you’re under contract for a house, you’ll be assigned “tasks” to complete using this online portal, such as uploading required documents. Your loan team will stay in touch throughout the process, letting you know what’s needed along the way, Birk says.
Veterans United fees and mortgage rates
The lender’s fees vary "based on the loan product, the borrower’s credit profile and the market area we’re serving," Birk says.
For VA loans, many of those fees are standardized. The VA charges a “funding fee” for regular military borrowers that can range from 1.25% to 3.30% of the loan amount, depending on the amount of your down payment. That funding fee is slightly higher for members of the Reserves and the National Guard.
And lender fees — such as origination, underwriting and processing charges — can amount to no more than 1% of the loan amount, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. You may also pay typical closing costs and third-party fees, such as appraisal, credit report and recording fees. Often, you can negotiate a deal where the home seller pays some fees, but the VA limits those “concessions” to 4% of the loan.
Veterans United only publishes example mortgage rates on its site, and not all available mortgage products are included. To get a rate quote based on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and desired loan term, you can fill out an online form or call Veterans United to speak directly with a loan specialist
» MORE: Compare VA mortgage rates
Veterans United customer service
The home loan process is hard enough without having to deal with bad service. Veterans United gets high marks for a low volume of complaints registered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to NerdWallet analysis. Veterans United’s client advocate team provides additional assistance if customers encounter any issues during the loan process.
Veterans United also has what it calls the Lighthouse Program: a free counseling service for those with less-than-perfect credit scores.
"If you come to us, not in a position to qualify, a Lighthouse credit expert will take a look at your credit profile, talk with you about your finances and your goals, and whether it's for three weeks, three months or three years, they will work with you to develop a personalized plan to tackle your credit and financial issues and get you on the path to prequalification," Birk says.
The program can also benefit those who can qualify for a home loan but simply want to build their credit score — and perhaps earn a better mortgage rate.