Veterans First Mortgage Review 2021
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Editor’s note: Parts of this article were reviewed by a lender to ensure accuracy prior to publication. The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone. The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.
Veterans First is a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lender. The Salt Lake City-based company was originally founded in 1985, under the name Freedom Mortgage Corporation.
Since early 2017, Veterans First has been a part of Wintrust Mortgage’s family of companies.
Pros and cons of a Veterans First mortgage
- Specializes in home loans for military borrowers
- Provides FHA and USDA loans for civilians
- Provides a digital mortgage application process
- Offers mortgages in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
- Has very few loan centers available for in-person service
- Doesn’t offer conventional loans
- Doesn’t offer home equity loans or HELOCs
Working with Veterans First
Veterans First primarily offers VA loans, though you don’t have to be a member of the military to get a mortgage through this lender — loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are also available.
Veterans First has loan centers in California and Utah and a team of more than 400 employees. The lender is licensed to operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In 2019, Veterans First originated more than $1.3 billion in mortgages.
Veterans First borrowing requirements
Veterans First doesn’t publish minimum credit score requirements on its site, though VA lenders typically require a 620 credit score to qualify for a VA loan. However, you may qualify for an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500 and a 10% down payment; if you plan to contribute the minimum 3.5% down, you’ll need at least a 580 score. VA loans usually don’t require a down payment.
The lender doesn’t provide details on its website about the property types that are eligible for its home loans.
Veterans First mortgage products
- VA loans. Veterans First offers VA home loans to military members, veterans and eligible spouses. No down payment or private mortgage insurance is required.
- FHA loans. Borrowers with lower credit scores may qualify for an FHA loan, which requires a minimum 3.5% down payment. Upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums are also required.
- USDA loans. The USDA insures home loans for borrowers in designated rural areas. There’s no down payment required, but income limits do apply.
Veterans First offers the following types of mortgage refinance products:
- VA interest rate reduction refinance loans (IRRRLs). A VA IRRRL helps existing VA loan borrowers save money on their mortgage by refinancing into a loan with a lower interest rate.
- VA cash-out refinance loans. Current VA loan borrowers can borrow up to 90% of their home’s equity through a cash-out refinance.
- FHA cash-out refinance loans. FHA loan borrowers who need to tap their available equity may qualify for a cash-out refi, though their new loan must have a maximum 80% loan-to-value ratio.
- FHA streamline refinance loans. If you’re an existing FHA loan borrower and need a simpler refinance process that involves less paperwork, you might consider a streamline refi.
The mortgage application process
- How to apply. Military service members, veterans and eligible spouses who want to apply for a VA loan with Veterans First must obtain a certificate of eligibility (COE) before moving forward. Prospective applicants can then call Veterans First or fill out a quick form online to start the application process. A loan officer will assist with understanding loan options and working on a mortgage preapproval. This process will involve reviewing credit history and verifying assets and income.
- Disclosure process. The disclosure process is done electronically for a Veterans First mortgage application. Applicants send and receive documents and information through Veterans First’s secure online portal. Applicants who prefer not to use the online portal can mail in their required documentation. Borrowers can lock their mortgage rate as soon as the application is complete.
- Submitting loan for approval. Before submitting a loan for approval, Veterans First will order a home appraisal to determine the home’s value.
- Final approval. Once the underwriting team has all outstanding documents and information in place, Veterans First can finalize the loan and get it cleared to close.
- Closing. Borrowers may pick the date and time of their mortgage closing, so they can close at their convenience.
Communication during the process
Throughout the loan process, borrowers will communicate primarily with an assigned loan officer, who will explain the lending process and discuss loan options and the documentation necessary for approval.
The Veterans First team can be reached by phone at 800-217-1596 or by email at [email protected].