Veterans First Mortgage started in 1985 as Freedom Mortgage Corporation. It changed names and ownership status over the years until 2016 when the company rebranded itself as Veterans First Mortgage. In 2017 the company had some of its assets purchased by a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company and joined Chicago’s Wintrust Financial group.
Veterans First is a military-focused lender offering government-backed home loans and refinance loans; the company focuses on veterans using their VA home loan options, but there are also FHA and USDA mortgage options for qualified borrowers. Veterans First boasts a 175,000-transaction track record, “with over $21 billion” in home loans.
Veterans First Services
The following types of home loans Veterans First offers include:
- VA New Purchase Loans
- VA Refinance Loans (IRRRLs, Cash-out)
- USDA Purchase
- FHA Purchase
- FHA Refinance & Cash-out
Veterans First does not offer checking, savings, or investment accounts. Purchase and refinance loans are this company’s sole offerings. Conventional mortgages are not part of the company’s options.
Borrowers who need a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) can ask for help obtaining this certificate from the lender. The COE is required to use your VA benefits to get a loan or refinance loan.
Veterans First Pros & Cons
- Specializes in VA home loans for military borrowers
- Offers several low-down-payment government loan options
- Online mortgage application process
- Mortgages available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
- Online rates can’t be shopped
- No conventional home loans or renovation mortgages offered
- Very few physical loan centers
- Doesn’t offer home equity loans or HELOCs
Qualifying For A Mortgage Through Veterans First
The usual VA minimum requirements for a VA mortgage apply when exploring the options offered by this financial institution.
What may not be as obvious to some first-time home buyers is that if you are a veteran, currently serving military member, surviving spouse, Guard or Reserve member, etc. you also have government-backed loan options outside the VA loan program.
Some borrowers may not have enough remaining entitlement in their current VA loan benefit to purchase a new home; Veterans First offers alternative options with FHA and USDA mortgages that can help in such cases.
You do not need to be a military member to qualify for an FHA purchase loan, for example. You don’t need to have served in uniform to qualify for USDA home loan financing, either. With the FHA option, there are no income restrictions or need-based guidelines. The FHA is not a home loan program aimed specifically at first-time buyers or those with an economic need.
Why do we mention this? Because many people tend to confuse the FHA home loan program with the USDA mortgage option (also offered by Veterans First) which IS a need-based program. Veterans and others who may qualify for a VA mortgage may choose a USDA alternative instead of the VA option for a variety of reasons. USDA loans are open to veterans but income restrictions do apply.
Veterans First Mortgage Loans: For Owner/Occupiers
In all cases, the loan options you find here are intended for primary residences only. You cannot use a VA mortgage to purchase an investment property you don’t intend to personally occupy as your home, nor can you use the VA, FHA, or USDA purchase or refinance loan to fund non-residential property purchases.
In some cases, VA mortgage loan rules allow borrowers to refinance their mortgages and rent out the property. That is not specifically stated as such in VA home loan rules, but certain VA refinance loans only require you to certify the home was previously used as your primary residence prior to refinancing.
Ask your loan officer about this type of refi loan and how its requirements may affect your plans for the home.
Veterans First Mortgage Refinance Options
The official site for this financial institution reminds borrowers that it’s possible to save money every month on mortgage payments for those who choose to refinance an FHA or USDA mortgage into a VA home loan.
VA loans don’t require mortgage insurance premiums and you may save more than you realize each month through a VA refinance (depending on the nature and terms of your current mortgage).
For those with existing VA mortgages who want to refinance through Veterans First, it’s important to know that this company’s policies include a caveat for VA Streamline Refinance mortgages; with this lender if there are discount points in the transaction, a new appraisal is required.
VA Streamline Refinance loans, also known as VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans (VA IRRRL), normally do not have a VA-required appraisal or credit check for such loans, though the lender is free to require one or both. In this case, the lender requires a new appraisal if you need to purchase discount points to lower the rate on your mortgage.
Applying For A Mortgage Or Home Loan Refinance
The application process for Veterans First is fairly simple; there is a large “Start A Loan” button on the top of every page on the official site. Click the button, answer some basic prompts for contact information, and a representative will be in touch.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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