VA Approved Lenders

Veterans of the U.S. military, with anything other than a dishonorable discharge, are eligible for loans insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Instead of making direct mortgage loans to veterans, the government allows private mortgage lenders to issue VA mortgages to those borrowers. To become an approved VA lender, mortgage companies must follow guidelines set by the VA, including a promise to verify that borrowers meet VA credit score and income standards.

Although the VA doesn't lend directly, it guarantees VA loans. This means it will repay lenders if the borrower defaults. That guaranty, in turn, gives private lenders an incentive to offer VA mortgages with attractive terms.

Finding a VA lender is easy. There are many VA home loan lenders ready to service veterans across the country. But not all VA lenders are created alike.

Finding a VA Lender

It's best to find a lender experienced in VA loans. The requirements to qualify as a VA lender are low, so checking references and finding a VA-experienced lender are keys to success. You don't need to know the details of exactly how a lender qualifies for VA lending. We include a brief glimpse behind the scenes in VA lending so that you can find a well-qualified lender.

One way to ensure a lender is well versed in VA loans is to learn if the company, individual loan officer, or both are qualified to take part in the VA Lender Appraisal Processing Program or LAPP. The LAPP is designed to speed up the time it takes for the loan to close. LAPP allows VA-authorized lenders to receive and process appraisal reports directly from an appraiser, without the involving the VA.

For a VA home loan lender to take advantage of LAPP, the lender must have a full-time appraisal reviewer on staff, and that person must have a minimum three years' of qualifying experience to perform administrative appraisal reviews when underwriting VA loans. In addition, the VA home lender must show it has an effective quality control system in place to ensure the accuracy of the staff appraisal reviews.

The VA puts its lenders into three categories:

SUPERVISED LENDER

The VA considers lenders who are already subject to FDIC or similar federal oversight as Supervised Lenders. These lenders tend to be banks and credit unions. Supervised Lenders have the authority to close VA-guaranteed loans without the approval of the VA, with some exceptions. There are no VA lending experience requirements to become a Supervised Lender.

NONSUPERVISED LENDERS

Nonsupervised Automatic Authority lenders can underwrite the loan and order a VA-approved appraisal. To attain this designation, a lender must have:

  • Two or more years of active VA origination experience, and

  • Originate and close 10 or more VA loans within the past two years

  • Alternatively, originate and close more than 25 VA loans

A VA lender with Nonsupervised Automatic Authority designation means the lender has a minimum amount of experience in VA loans.

WHERE TO FIND A GREAT VA LENDER

Finding a VA loan is easy with our handy lender finder tool. You can search for nearby lenders, ones with great rates, and lenders who have the fewest complaints.

VA LENDER AGENTS

You can also use a third-party originator or mortgage broker to obtain a VA loan. The VA calls these independent loan officers agents. Agents work with a sponsoring lender who handles the mechanical, back-office tasks necessary to close a mortgage.

Agents can be excellent loan officers, especially if you have unique challenges in your loan application the loan officer has seen before. Be sure the agent and his or her sponsoring lender have experience with VA loans and seem to meet the necessary requirements to close your loan successful.

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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

Buying a home will likely be one of the largest purchases you will make, so it's important to work with an experienced VA lender. Undoubtedly, you will encounter bumps along the way, thus you want a lender who solves problems and responds to your needs throughout the process.

How to Select a VA Lender

Buyer beware when applying for a VA mortgage. A lender may say it is approved to issue VA-backed home loans, but that doesn't mean the loan officer assigned to you will be a VA expert. It's one thing to call yourself a VA-approved lender and an entirely different thing to be well versed and experienced in VA loans. Do your due diligence and ask the potential lender qualifying questions.

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8 QUESTIONS TO ASK A POTENTIAL VA LENDER
  • How long has your company processed VA loans?
  • How long have you been a loan officer?
  • How many VA loans have you closed?
  • How long do you estimate it will take to process my VA loan application?
  • Will I be assigned one loan officer or will I work with a team of loan officers?
  • How will you communicate with me and how quickly can I expect a response?
  • Are you, or the company you work for, a Lender Appraisal Process Program lender?
  • Is the lender an automatic non-supervised lender?

Applying and getting approval for a mortgage can be complicated. For a VA loan, it requires a lender and/or loan officer that not only understands how conventional mortgages work, but also the inner workings of a VA home loan. Take heed. Communication is key. Seek out a lender who is willing to explain both the process and requirements for your loan. This will help you determine the lender's level of experience. If the loan officer or mortgage firm isn't adequately experienced, a mistake could result in a denial of your VA loan.

If the VA lender doesn't have two or more years' experience, refuses to answer any or some of the questions, makes you feel uncomfortable, or can't explain in laymen terms how the process works, those are red flags and you should look elsewhere. Also, if the mortgage lender intends to assign you to a team of loan officers instead of one, it's a good idea to continue to shop around. A responsive and informed VA mortgage lender is extremely important to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Questions & Answers About VA Loans

About the Author


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Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing from Long Island, New York. She is a regular contributor to Bankrate.com, Glassdoor.com, SigFig.com and FoxBusiness.com who focuses on personal finance and real estate.