2022 Mortgage Rate Predictions: Is This the Year They Finally Hit 4%?

Well, just like that it’s December again, which means it’s time for the 2022 mortgage rate predictions. This past year was filled with ups and downs (literally) when it came to mortgage rates, with plenty of surprises and unexpected turns along the way. I expect 2022 to be no different, seeing that COVID is still… Read More »2022 Mortgage Rate Predictions: Is This the Year They Finally Hit 4%?

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

What Is a VA Loan? | Rates & Guidelines 2021

A VA loan is a mortgage loan that’s backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These loans are reserved for military service members, veterans, and their spouses. The VA home loan program is one of the lowest-cost, most valuable mortgage loan options currently available.

See if you’re eligible for a VA home loan. Start here. (Dec 6th, 2021)

Benefits of a VA loan

VA loans come with a number of significant benefits to home buyers, particularly when compared with other types of mortgage programs.

Just a few VA loan advantages include:

  • No down payment required: Most other loan programs require at least 3% down ($9,000 on a $300,000 house).
  • Competitively low interest rates: Rates on VA loans are some of the lowest you’ll find. This saves you both monthly and in the long run.
  • Closing costs are limited: You can’t be charged an origination fee of more than 1%, and sellers can contribute a large portion of your closing costs.
  • No prepayment penalty: This means you can pay off the loan or refinance quickly without an added fee.
  • No private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required: The majority of other loan products require mortgage insurance, which adds upfront and monthly fees.

VA loans are also assumable, which means if you eventually sell the house, the buyer can take over your loan, too — a huge perk, given the low rates and other benefits VA loans come with.

VA mortgage rates 2021

When compared to other loan types — conventional loans and FHA loans, for example — VA home loans offer consistently lower rates than loans for the average consumer.

VA Conventional FHA
August 2021 2.88% 3.19% 3.23%
July 2021 2.94% 3.27% 3.27%
June 2021 2.92% 3.25% 3.23%
May 2021 2.98% 3.30% 3.25%
April 2021 2.95% 3.25% 3.23%
March 2021 2.72% 3.02% 2.99%

Source: Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, June 2021

*These rates are only averages. Your VA loan rate could be higher or lower than average depending on factors like your credit score and down payment size. Check with a lender to find out what rate you qualify for.

Click here to request a VA home loan quote. (Dec 6th, 2021)

Types of VA loans

There are several types of VA loans to choose from. The right one depends on your goals as a borrower, as well as how you’ll be using the funds.

The four main types of VA loans include:

  • VA purchase loan: These are VA loans designed for purchasing a property. You can buy a single-family home, a multifamily home with up to four units, a manufactured or mobile home, an approved condo unit, or a new construction home.
  • VA Streamline Refinance: The VA’s Streamline Refinance — also known as a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) — is for existing homeowners looking to refinance their mortgage and reduce their interest rate.
  • VA cash-out refinance: With a VA cash-out refinance, you take cash out of your home. It replaces your existing mortgage with a newer, larger one, giving you the difference in cash.
  • VA energy efficient mortgage: Also called EEMs, these are VA loans that can help you finance energy improvements on your home.

The VA also offers NADL loans, which are mortgages reserved strictly for Native American veterans buying on federal land.

VA loan eligibility requirements

VA loans are only for qualified veterans, active-duty service members, and, in many cases, their surviving spouses. To qualify, you’ll need to meet specific service requirements.

These service requirements vary slightly based on when you served, but generally speaking, you will need to have at least one of the following:

  • 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime
  • 181 days of active service during peacetime
  • 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves
  • A veteran/service member spouse who died in the line of duty or due to a service-related disability or injury

To prove you have the above service record, you’ll need to submit a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to your lender. This is a document that details your service record, the nature of your release from the military, and your VA loan entitlement.

You can get your COE through the VA eBenefits portal online. Or, when you apply for a VA loan, the lender can request a COE on your behalf. This usually takes only a few minutes.

Qualifying for a VA loan

Beyond service eligibility requirements, the VA doesn’t set specific financial standards for these mortgages. The individual private lenders that issue VA loans, however, often do. While these vary from one lender to the next, you can typically expect to need a 620 credit score and a 41% debt-to-income ratio or lower.

The good news is, there’s no down payment required for a VA loan. So eligible borrowers can qualify for a VA home loan with very little cash upfront.

VA property requirements

The VA home loan program is designed to help military service members and their families purchase a primary residence, which means you cannot use your VA home loan benefits to purchase a second home, vacation home, or investment property.

Additionally, the home must meet certain standards set by the VA to ensure the home is safe and livable.

How does a VA loan work?

The VA loan process is fairly similar to that of other mortgage programs, just with a few added steps along the way.

Are you considering a VA loan for your home purchase or refinance? Just follow these steps:

#1. Verify eligibility and request your Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

The first step is to make sure you meet the VA’s service requirements (you can see the full list here). If you do, you’ll need to request your Certificate of Eligibility, which proves you’re eligible for the program. You can get your COE in your eBenefits portal, request it by mail, or ask your lender to pull it on your behalf.

#2. Get prequalified

The next step is to get prequalified for your loan. To do this, you’ll give a lender some basic information about your finances. They’ll then determine if you’re a good candidate for a VA loan and how much home you can likely afford.

#3. Get pre-approved

Next, you’ll apply for a full pre-approval. This requires filling out an application and submitting to a credit check, both of which your lender will consider in detail. Once they’ve analyzed it all, you’ll get a pre-approval letter stating how much you can borrow and at what interest rate. You can use this to guide your home search.

#4. Put in an offer

After you’re pre-approved, you can start shopping for a house. When you’ve found that perfect property, submit an offer, and include your pre-approval letter. If the seller accepts, it’s time to move through the rest of the VA loan process.

#5. Go through the VA appraisal and underwriting

You’ll need to fill out your lender’s full loan application next, and your lender will order an appraisal of the property you intend to buy. They’ll also begin underwriting your loan, which essentially means verifying all your information to ensure you can meet the obligations and pay your mortgage.

#6. Close on your new home

When your loan is fully underwritten, you’ll be scheduled for a closing appointment, which is when you’ll pay your closing costs, sign your paperwork, and get your keys.

What is the VA funding fee?

The VA funding fee is a one-time fee you’ll pay at closing. It varies from 0.5% to 3.6% of your loan amount and is used to help sustain the VA mortgage program.

The amount of the VA funding fee you’ll pay depends on the nature of your military service, the size of your down payment, the type of loan you want and the number of times you’ve previously used your VA home loan benefit.

First-time use purchase VA funding fee

Down Payment Veteran/Active Duty Reservist/National Guard
Less than 5% 2.3% 2.3%
5% to 9.99% 1.65% 1.65%
10% or more 1.4% 1.4%

How does VA loan assumption work?

With a VA loan assumption, the VA loan transfers with the house. The buyer assumes the seller’s VA loan, including its same rate, terms, and balance, and resumes making payments as initially planned through the original loan. Though the buyer doesn’t need to be a veteran or military member to assume a VA loan, they do need to meet all the financial requirements of the loan program (and the lender) to be eligible.

Ready to get started? Request a VA home loan quote here. (Dec 6th, 2021)

VA Home Loan FAQ

What is a VA loan?

A VA loan is a mortgage backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Only active duty military members, veterans, and their spouses are eligible.

What are the benefits of a VA home loan?

There are many benefits to a VA loan. They require no down payment, have low interest rates, and do not require mortgage insurance. They also come with limited closing costs and are assumable.

How does a VA loan work?

VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, meaning it will pay back the lender if a borrower defaults on the loan. This reduces the risk that lenders take on and allows them to offer loans with no down payments, no mortgage insurance, and lower credit score minimums.

What’s the difference between a VA loan and a regular loan?

VA loans are only for military members and veterans, so that’s the biggest difference. They also require no down payment, which is rare when it comes to mortgage loans. Most other loan programs require 3% to 3.5% down payments minimum.

What is the interest rate on a VA home loan?

Your interest rate will vary depending on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, loan amount, down payment, and other details. Generally speaking, VA loan rates are lower or comparable to rates on other loan programs.

What credit score is needed for a VA home loan?

The VA doesn’t have a set credit score minimum for its loans, though individual lenders often do. This is typically between 620 and 640, depending on your mortgage company.

What is the minimum income for a VA loan?

There is no minimum income to be eligible for a VA loan. Your lender will, however, consider your debt-to-income ratio to be sure you can comfortably make your monthly payments.

What are VA loan limits?

There are no limits on VA loans. You can borrow as much as you can financially qualify for, given your credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and other financial details.

What is the VA funding fee?

The VA funding fee is a one-time fee all VA borrowers pay at closing. It goes toward supporting and sustaining the VA loan program. Funding fees vary between 0.5% and 3.6% of the loan amount depending on your down payment size, type of loan, and the number of times you’ve used your VA loan benefit.

What is needed for a VA home loan?

For a VA loan, you (or your spouse) will need to meet the military service requirements set out by the Department of Veterans Affairs. You will also need to submit a Certificate of Eligibility, as well as various forms of financial documentation, including tax returns, W-2s, and more.

What is needed to get a VA home loan?

To get a VA loan, you’ll need to work with a VA-approved mortgage lender, submit your COE, and meet the remaining eligibility and documentation requirements of your lender.

How does a VA assumable loan work?

VA loans are assumable, meaning when a VA-financed home is sold, the buyer may be able to assume the VA loan attached to it, too. The buyer does not need to be a military member for this to happen, though they will need to meet other financial requirements set out by the VA and the lender.

What are the pros and cons of a VA loan?

The pros of a VA loan are many. There’s no down payment or mortgage insurance, and rates are competitively low. On the downside, they come with strict appraisals and can sometimes take a bit longer to process than loans through other programs.

Is a VA loan really worth it?

If you can qualify, VA loans are most often worth it. With zero down payment and no mortgage insurance requirement, they can make buying a house much more affordable than an FHA or conventional mortgage. They also have no hard-and-fast credit score minimum.

Do you pay back a VA loan?

You repay a VA loan just as you would any other type of mortgage or loan product. VA loans come with either a 15- or 30-year loan term, which means your monthly mortgage payments are spread out over either 15 years or 30.

If I’ve previously used a VA loan, can I use it again?

Your VA loan benefit never expires. After you pay off your existing VA loan, you can continue to use the VA loan again and again. In some cases, you may be able to have two VA loans simultaneously.

Are VA loans a good deal?

When compared to other mortgage loans, VA loans are absolutely a good deal. Thanks to the VA guarantee, your mortgage lender can afford to pass significant benefits along to borrowers. VA home loans have fewer upfront costs, low interest rates, and no mortgage insurance, making them one of the best mortgage loan products on the market.

See if you’re eligible for a VA home loan. Start here. (Dec 6th, 2021)

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Current VA Mortgage Rates | December 2021

According to a weekly survey of 100+ lenders by Freddie Mac, the average mortgage interest rates fluctuated slightly week over week — 30-year fixed increased (3.1% to 3.11%), 15-year fixed decreased slightly (2.42% to 2.39%) and 5/1 ARM increased slightly (2.47% to 2.49%).

VA rates are no different. In fact, when compared to other loan types — conventional and FHA, for example — VA home loans offer consistently lower rates than for the average consumer.

Shop and compare your personalized rates with multiple lenders (Dec 2nd, 2021)

VA Mortgage Rates 2021

VA Conventional FHA
August 2021 2.88% 3.19% 3.23%
July 2021 2.94% 3.27% 3.27%
June 2021 2.92% 3.25% 3.23%
May 2021 2.98% 3.30% 3.25%
April 2021 2.95% 3.25% 3.23%
March 2021 2.72% 3.02% 2.99%

Source: Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, June 2021

How to get the lowest VA mortgage rate

If you’re getting a VA loan, you already have a head start on getting a great deal. VA loans typically offer the lowest rates of all mortgage options.

Still, there are more ways to ensure you’re getting the lowest rate possible:

  1. Make yourself into the most attractive borrower you can
  2. Shop around for the lender that suits you best

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting the best mortgage rate.

5 tips for strengthening your VA mortgage application

Work to improve your personal finances before you start shopping for a loan can make a big difference to the interest rate you’re offered. That’s because mortgage lenders offer the best rates to the borrowers deemed least risky.

Here are some of the variables a mortgage lender will consider when evaluating your application and determining your interest rate:

  1. Credit score
  2. Existing debt
  3. Down payment (if any)
  4. Employment history
  5. Discount points

Below, we’ll explore the steps you can take to make your application as attractive as possible — and potentially help you save thousands of dollars with the lowest interest rate.

1. Improve your credit score

Although the VA doesn’t set a minimum credit score, most lenders impose their own credit thresholds. These minimum credit score requirements vary by lender but typically range from 580 to as high as 660.

Still, there’s good reason to get your credit score as high as you can, not just over the credit score minimum. The higher your credit score is, the lower interest rate you’re likely to receive. Raising your credit scores is one of the best ways to bring your interest rate down.

To improve your score, start by requesting free copies of your credit report from the Big 3 credit bureaus. You can get these all at once at AnnualCreditReport.com. You’re entitled to one free report every year so be wary of sites that try to charge you.

Review your report carefully and have any mistakes corrected. Errors are commonplace on these and adverse ones can seriously lower your score.

FICO is the most widely used credit scoring system in the country and it determines your score based on:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Credit utilization: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Credit mix: 10%
  • New line of credit: 10%

That means you can improve your credit score by:

  • Paying your bills promptly
  • Keeping your credit card balances below 30% of the credit limit
  • Not opening new credit accounts or closing old ones where possible
  • Using a mix of loan types, including credit cards and installment loans (like auto loans or personal loans) rather than relying on just one kind of credit
  • Not opening many new accounts quickly

For a deeper dive into strategies to raise your credit ahead of a VA loan, check out this article: 6 Steps to Restore Your Credit

If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage, do your best to stick by those rules as rigorously as possible right up until closing. It could make a significant difference to the overall cost of your home loan.

2. Lower your existing debt

Lenders look closely at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This figure reflects the percentage of your monthly pre-tax income that goes to:

  1. Existing debt payments (including minimum credit card payments and installment loans)
  2. Other financial obligations, such as child support or alimony
  3. Projected mortgage payments and homeownership costs for your new home

For an in-depth look at how DTI can impact your borrowing, check out this article: How Does DTI Affect Loan Amounts?

DTI affects the amount you can borrow but it’s also key to determining your interest rate. The higher your DTI, the higher interest rate you’re likely to pay.

So what’s the best way to improve your DTI for the best possible interest rate? Start by paying off your debts strategically.

If you can, begin with credit card debt. Are any of your balances higher than 30% of that card’s credit limit? Bring them down to 30% (or lower!) as soon as you can. This offers the best bang for your buck in determining your mortgage rate. This is because you’re boosting your credit score and reducing your DTI at the same time.

Once you’ve done that, if you’re able, look at your installment loans. These days, most can be paid early without incurring a prepayment penalty. Confirm this with your lender before you make any early payments.

Your goal is to reduce the outstanding amounts, rather than paying them off entirely. If you do this, you can ask your lender to lower monthly payments to reflect the new balance. This way, your monthly payments will be smaller and this will be reflected in your DTI.

Paying off your debt takes time and dedication. Still, small changes can make a big difference to your VA mortgage interest rate.

3. Make a down payment

One of the biggest benefits of VA loans is that you don’t have to make any down payment.

Still, making a down payment can give you access to lower interest rates (and may reduce the amount of your VA funding fee).

If you can put together a 5% — or even 10% — down payment, you’ll likely pay a lower interest rate.

This can be very doable for existing homeowners, especially in areas with rapidly rising home prices since you’ve probably accumulated more equity in your home. That equity can be used to make a down payment on your next home.

It can be tough for VA first-time buyers to come up with such amounts. Still, if you can muster the funds, it could save you money on your funding fee and earn you a lower VA interest rate.

4. Don’t change jobs

Your mortgage lender will review your employment history when calculating your mortgage interest rate. When it comes time to apply, there’s not much you can do about your employment history. Lying on your mortgage application qualifies as fraud.

But by avoiding big employment changes in the months leading up to your application, you can demonstrate employment stability to your lender.

The lender wants to know your employment is stable and that you’ll have a reliable income stream to repay the loan.

Though it’s not impossible to change jobs once you’ve started the home buying process, it will help your application if you keep the same job in the months leading up to your application and through to closing. If you do change jobs, it’s best to stay in your field or profession.

5. Consider buying discount points

Discount points allow you to buy yourself a lower interest rate by paying more money upfront, at closing. As with a down payment, this is an option more accessible to borrowers with more money available at closing.

Still, if you can afford it, discount points can help you save money over the life of your loan.

This article will help you determine whether discount points are useful for your particular financial situation.

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Compare lenders to get the best rate

If you want to get the lowest possible interest rate on your VA home loan, shopping around for lenders is essential.

Start by looking for a VA lender who works with borrowers like you.

How do you know which lenders will work with you? Check out the lender’s website to find its minimum requirements, including credit score threshold, to see whether you’re likely to qualify.

Click here to connect with multiple VA lenders (Dec 2nd, 2021)

Request at least 3 to 5 quotes

Find at least three to five lenders and request quotes from each. The more lenders you apply with, the better your chance of finding a low rate.

Make sure that you request quotes for the same loan terms (i.e. 15-year term, 30-year term, fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, etc.) from every lender so that you’ll be doing an apples-to-apples comparison.

Review your loan estimates

Each lender is required by law to provide a quote in a standardized format called a Loan Estimate. Each LE will come in an identical format, which makes it easy for you to compare each one side-by-side. This Loan Estimate will contain all the figures you need — including interest rate and closing costs — to identify your best deal.

Take note especially of the “Comparisons” section near the top of page 3. It will show your annual percentage rate (APR), which represents your total loan costs as an annual amount. APR can help you determine which lender is least expensive in the long term when all costs — including interest and upfront fees — are considered.

Additionally, this section shows how much you’ll have paid — and paid off — at the end of the first five years, which will help you to determine the best offer.

Need more help understanding your Loan Estimates? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a Loan Estimate Explainer on its website, including sample pages so you know what to expect.

15-Year vs 30-Year Mortgage Terms: Which is cheaper?

Sometimes, borrowing over a shorter period — 15 years rather than 30 years — can get you a lower interest rate.

It’s important to note that with a 15-year mortgage your monthly payments will be substantially higher because you’ll be making fewer monthly payments overall. So while you’ll save money in the long run, you’ll pay more month to month.

The difference between 30-year VA loan rates and 15-year ones fluctuates so review current rates. If you can afford to borrow for a shorter amount of time, you may earn a lower interest rate — and you’ll own your home that much sooner!

Fixed-rate vs ARM: Which is cheaper?

As with loan length, rate type is a loan term that can impact your mortgage rate.

Adjustable rate mortgages are often available at lower interest rates but keep in mind that the rate will go up at the end of the introductory period. Depending on how long you plan to keep the loan before moving or refinancing, this could be a good deal. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll pay the same rate for the life of the loan but you are guaranteed an interest rate that won’t increase.

As with all mortgage terms, the most affordable option will depend on your personal financial situation.

How to get the lowest VA interest rate

To get the lowest interest rate possible on your VA mortgage, you’ll want to make yourself into the most attractive borrower possible, while also finding the lender who offers you the best deal.

If you take the time to do both, you’re likely to end up with a lower interest rate — something that could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your VA loan.

Shop and compare your personalized rates with multiple lenders (Dec 2nd, 2021)

The post Blog first appeared on MilitaryVALoan.com.

Source: militaryvaloan.com

2022 FHA Loan Limits: Floor Rises to $420,680, Ceiling to $970,800

Similar to the FHFA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces maximum loan limits each year for FHA loans. Today, they unveiled the 2022 FHA loan limits, which like the 2022 conforming loan limits, will be significantly higher than the limits in effect this year. This is thanks to continued home price… Read More »2022 FHA Loan Limits: Floor Rises to $420,680, Ceiling to $970,800

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Rates vs. Omicron

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated Omicron, formally known as B.1.1.529, a variant of concern. This news rocked financial markets nationwide amid concerns of another series of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and so on. In short, there’s renewed fear that we’re not out of the woods on COVID, as some seemed to think prior… Read More »Mortgage Rates vs. Omicron

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Neat Loans Will Give You a $500 Discount on Your Mortgage If You Got the COVID-19 Vaccine

This appears to be a first – digital mortgage lender Neat Loans will provide applicants with a $500 discount if they’re vaccinated for COVID-19. The Boulder, Colorado-based company believes they are the first mortgage lender, and indeed financial services company, to offer a discount for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. At a time when cases are… Read More »Neat Loans Will Give You a $500 Discount on Your Mortgage If You Got the COVID-19 Vaccine

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Mortgage Insurance vs. Homeowners Insurance: Only One of Them Protects You

These days, it seems as if you can insure just about anything. Your car, your house, your dog, your phone, and maybe even your hair? At one time, there was a form of home down payment insurance, which at last glance appears to no longer exist. While all these new policy options may be perceived… Read More »Mortgage Insurance vs. Homeowners Insurance: Only One of Them Protects You

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What the Names Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia Mean

Nowadays, just about everyone looking to buy or sell real estate begins their search online. And a small handful of websites seem to be dominating the home buying space, including oddly-named real estate tech companies. I use these websites all the time when researching real estate, but never actually knew the details behind their names.… Read More »What the Names Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia Mean

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Zillow Hits Pause on iBuying for the Rest of 2021: Should We Worry?

In a rather surprising turn, Zillow has suspended new home purchases via its Zillow Offers unit through the end of 2021. It’s actually the second time they’ve suspended iBuying this year, the first coming back in March due to “market uncertainty” related to COVID-19. This time, it’s for reasons more loosely associated with COVID, namely… Read More »Zillow Hits Pause on iBuying for the Rest of 2021: Should We Worry?

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Fixed-Rate Mortgages vs. ARMs: Which to Choose?

Mongoose vs. Cobra. Coyote vs. Roadrunner. Pirate vs. Ninja?  And finally, “fixed-rate mortgage vs. adjustable-rate mortgage.”  Yes, we’re talking about the greatest rivalries of all time. So what’s better, the boring old fixed-rate mortgage or the more provocative and often controversial adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)? Fixed-Rate Mortgage vs. Adjustable-Rate Mortgage During the housing boom in the… Read More »Fixed-Rate Mortgages vs. ARMs: Which to Choose?

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Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com