If you are reading this, you are most likely a veteran and because of your service, you earned an amazing benefit – the VA Loan. Also, because this benefit is so amazing, many companies will try to take advantage of you and your benefit. So, to make your home buying experience great, you need to take the necessary steps to find the right company that can help you achieve your goals.
While most of the large national banks offer VA Loan services, it is extremely important to do your research instead of settling on just any lender. Here are some valuable tips to consider when comparing VA Lenders and Brokers.
1. VA Loan Expertise
A Loan Officer and his/her team will be with you every step of the way. They will answer questions, be your advocate, and process your loan. When getting your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), locking in an interest rate, and getting underwriting approval the VA Loan expertise of your Loan Officer will be vital in ensuring things go as planned.
First, consider asking a prospective lender how much of their business deals with VA loans. If a Loan Officer is well versed in the VA Loan, then it’s safe to assume they know the ins and outs of the VA-backed home mortgage.
Second, has your prospective lender had any VA training/education? This will help them know the unique requirements and challenges of the VA Loan program and how they relate to your specific situation.
2. Customer Service and Satisfaction
A lot of people focus on interest rather than the big picture. It is important to consider many factors, for example, the lender’s customer service. Try to find reviews on credible third-party websites, like Google, BBB, and Yelp. Most companies tend to pick and choose which ones to show on their own websites, but third-party websites tend to be more neutral. This will provide an objective look at what real customers are saying.
We all know to look for high rated reviews vs. low rated reviews, but don’t forget to look at the actual number of reviews a company has overall. The more positive reviews the better!
3. The Team
Another key aspect to finding the best lender is their team and how they organize it. Many large corporations can make you feel like you are on an assembly line being passed down the line from person to person until your loan closes. This will cause problems down the line as you will need to juggle the emails of multiple people and speak with different reps on the phone. A good lender will provide you with more personalization from its Loan Officer. Because you are current or former military, this will be closer to the structure you are looking for.
Also, a good VA Loan officer will have access to a Real Estate Agent that is just as educated in VA Loans as he is. Having a Loan officer/Real Estate Agent duo who is educated in the VA home loan benefit can help provide many benefits in the home buying process.
4. What kind of rates can they get you
Rates can be a tricky subject. Getting a low rate is a priority for almost every homebuyer. Who wouldn’t want to save a little bit of money? A half of a percent over the course of 15 – 30 years could cost you thousands of dollars.
We suggest to either start rate shopping online, or even better, find a VA Loan Mortgage Broker. A Mortgage Broker is a company that has access to many lenders and their interest rates. Instead of being tied down by a large corporation and the single rate they provide think about being able to shop multiple rates and picking the best one! One thing to remember is that the interest rate is impacted by many factors, including your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio. It’s important to ask your Loan Officer what rate they can get for you based on your specific scenario. Once you are under contract with that lender, they can lock in a rate for you.
5. Ask the right questions
Loan officers, Lenders, and Brokers are in the service business. That means you have every right to ask as many questions as needed to make your decision easier. Ask questions about their expertise, their history, and what kind of fees they charge. Here are some examples of questions you can ask:
o What credit score do I need for a VA Loan?
o How much debt can I be in and still get approved?
o What happens if my credit is bad can I still get a VA Loan?
o Do you have educational tools for the homebuyer?
o Do I need a Certificate of Eligibility?
o How much of your business comes from VA loans?
o How do your rates compare to other lenders?
o What is the fee structure?
o What is your customer service star rating?
o Have you been trained on the VA Loan product and how it works?
o Are your Loan Officers familiar with the needs of military homebuyers?
o Will I work with the same Loan Officer from start to finish?
What is important to you? This is just 5 tips we have for you, but you might have other requirements that you look for in a Lender. Make sure you write them down and rank them from most important to least important and then start comparing lenders. By doing this you will have a much better experience and potentially save money in the future. Please, if you have any questions, give us a call, or get started here.