If you are a military service member or veteran, you may be interested in buying your home using a VA loan. There are several lenders that offer VA loans in Florida to qualified individuals and families. Read on to learn more about the benefits of VA loans and the Florida lenders that offer them.
Best Lenders for VA Loans in Florida
If you’re seeking a VA loan, you’ll want to look at lenders who specialize in offering this loan type in Florida. Some of our favorite lenders for VA loans are:
1. Best Overall: Veterans United
One of the major factors lenders look into when you apply for a mortgage is what your debt-to-income ratio is. This is the ratio of how much you currently owe versus the amount of income you bring in.
Lenders use this information to determine how likely you are to make your monthly mortgage payments without issue. Veterans United Home Loans is unique in that it does not have a set limit on its maximum debt-to-income ratio.
Even with significant debt, you may be able to work with this lender to obtain a VA mortgage loan.
2. Best for First Time Home Buyers: Navy Federal Credit Union
This can be a great help to first time buyers who may need a little help throughout the mortgage process. Navy Federal Credit Union also evaluates its borrowers case by case.
3. Best for In-Person Bank Experience: USAA
USAA is a great option if you’re looking for the traditional banking experience with your VA home loan. It offers competitive rates and multiple adjustable-rate mortgage options available to VA home loan customers.
USAA also has the benefit of offering other insurance products to its customers. If you decide on USAA as your mortgage lender, you may be eligible for discounts for your other insurance products.
What is a VA Loan?
VA loans are home loans that are guaranteed by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA home loan program was created in 1944 to assist military members with their home purchases. This was a great asset for military members returning from World War II. Over the years since the program began, over 24 million VA loans have been guaranteed by the government.
The benefits of VA loans include:
- 0% down payment requirements
- No monthly mortgage insurance premiums or private mortgage insurance
- Limits on your closing costs
- Lower average interest rates than some other loan types
- No prepayment penalties
- Refinancing options to obtain lower monthly payments and interest rates
- Dedicated advocates to help homeowners avoid foreclosure
Requirements for a VA Loan
To qualify for a VA loan, you must meet the basic service requirements that are set by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first requirement that will determine your eligibility is the length of time you were a service member. You must meet one of the following requirements:
- You served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime.
- You served 181 days of active service during peacetime.
- You have 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves.
- You are the spouse of a military member who has passed away either in the line of duty or from a service-related disability.
Additionally, you need to meet requirements set by both the Department of Veterans Affairs and by your lender, including:
Certificate of Eligibility
Your Certificate of Eligibility proves to the lender that you qualify for VA loan benefits. While you do not need to have the certificate to apply for a VA loan, you will need to provide it at some point during your mortgage process. To get your certificate, provide your one or more of the following: Statement of Service, Report of Separation, Record of Service, Retirement Points Accounting and proof of the character of service.
If you are seeking a home loan as a spouse, you’ll need to provide your marriage license, your spouse’s death certificate and a form obtained from the VA. The form you need depends on whether you receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits.
Each lender sets its own minimum credit score requirement for all loan types, including VA loans. Most often, the minimum credit score requirement is 620, but this can vary depending on the lender and your circumstances. You can find some of the credit score minimums for lenders of VA loans in Florida below.
To qualify for a VA home loan, the Department of Veterans Affairs also has income requirements. The VA requires that all borrowers of VA loans maintain a certain amount of residual income each month after all major expenses are paid. This is required to ensure that all borrowers are receiving sufficient income to cover all of their financial obligations. The VA loan limit also helps determine the maximum loan amount eligible for a VA home loan.
Lender Specifics for VA Loans
While the Department of Veterans Affairs has requirements for VA home loans in Florida, you will find that each lender has its own set of requirements. This chart may come in handy as you compare some of the best mortgage companies available to you.
Interest Rates for VA
Your VA home loan will come with an interest rate that you will pay back throughout the lifetime of your mortgage. Most lenders offer many types of interest rates, including both adjustable and fixed-rate options. It is important to consider the pros and cons of each VA loan rate type before selecting the right one for you.
An adjustable interest rate may go up or down throughout the lifetime of your loan. Often, the starting interest rate with an adjustable-rate mortgage is lower than most fixed-rate mortgage options. However, your interest rate may increase in the future. If it does, you can expect to pay more each month on your mortgage. If you choose an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), you can expect your interest rate to be adjusted each year.
You could ask your lender these questions if you're planning to get an ARM:
- How much will my interest rate and monthly payments vary with each adjustment?
- Are there caps on how high or low my interest rate might go?
Fixed-interest rate mortgages are a more predictable option. With a fixed-interest rate, you receive the interest rate you will be charged throughout the entire lifetime of your mortgage upfront. With a fixed-rate mortgage, it is possible that your interest rate is higher than the starting interest rate of an adjustable-rate mortgage. However, you will benefit from predictable monthly payments and an interest rate that does not adjust during the lifetime of your loan.
Do You Need Mortgage Insurance?
There are 2 different types of mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is designed to protect the lender. Mortgage protection insurance is designed to protect the borrower. If you become unable to make mortgage payments due to disability, loss of employment or death, mortgage protection insurance will cover your mortgage payments for you.
Most lenders require borrowers to take out private mortgage insurance if they place less than 20% on their down payment. However, if you take out a VA loan, you are not required to take out private mortgage insurance no matter what your down payment is. This means you may see significant savings over the lifetime of your loan compared to other mortgage types.
How to Apply for a VA Loan in Florida
You will want to determine whether you are eligible for the VA home loan based on the requirements listed above. If you think you may qualify, you should apply for your Certificate of Eligibility. You can do this through your online eBenefits portal or through the lender you have selected.
Once you’ve selected your VA loan lender, they can assist you in completing the application process for your VA loan.
Is a VA Loan Right for You?
If you’re a protected veteran who qualifies for VA home loans under the requirements listed above, it’s worth looking into. As a qualifying individual, you can receive the benefits of 0% down payments and waive the need for private mortgage insurance. These benefits specific to VA home loans help make home ownership more affordable for many military members and their families.
Remember, before moving forward with any mortgage type, you will want to carefully compare and select your VA loan lender. Choose a lender that can offer you a competitive interest rate and customer service that you feel comfortable with committing to for many years to come. With the right lender and mortgage product, home ownership can be just around the corner.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get pre-approved?
First, you need to fill out an application and submit it to the lender of your choice. For the application you need 2 previous years of tax returns including your W-2’s, your pay stub for past month, 2 months worth of bank statements and the lender will run your credit report. Once the application is submitted and processed it takes anywhere from 2-7 days to be approved or denied. Check out our top lenders and lock in your mortgage rate today!
How much interest will I pay?
Interest that you will pay is based on the interest rate that you received at the time of loan origination, how much you borrowed and the term of the loan. If you borrow $208,800 at 3.62% then over the course of a 30-year loan you will pay $133,793.14 in interest, assuming you make the monthly payment of $951.65. For a purchase loan rate get a quote here. If you are looking to refinance you can get started quickly here.
How much should I save for a down payment?
Most lenders will recommend that you save at least 20% of the cost of the home for a down payment. It is wise to save at least 20% because the more you put down, the lower your monthly payment will be and ultimately you will save on interest costs as well. In the event that you are unable to save 20% there are several home buyer programs and assistance, especially for first time buyers. Check out the lenders that specialize in making the home buying experience a breeze.
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