TABLE OF CONTENTS

    VA loans are government-backed home loans created for military members, veterans, and military spouses with a validated Certificate of Eligibility. VA loans offer numerous benefits, such as low VA loan rates, zero money required for a down payment, and no private mortgage insurance (PMI) requirements.

    In addition, the Va loan process is relatively simple if you’re eligible to participate. A VA mortgage calculator makes it even easier, as it can help you understand the amount you can afford when purchasing a home based on your current status.

    Keep reading to learn more about VA loan requirements, the amount you can afford to finance, and how to use the VA loan mortgage calculator.

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • VA loans were created for veterans, current military members, and eligible military spouses.
    • A VA funding fee helps fund the VA home loan program; some military personnel are exempt from paying this fee.
    • VA home loan calculator can help you get a better idea of what your VA loan costs will be.
    • To use the VA loan calculator, you will need information like the price of the home you’re looking to buy, the down payment percentage you think you can pay, the loan term, and the interest rate.

    VA Loans Explained

    VA home loans are exclusively available to qualifying veterans, military members, and their spouses. A VA loan is secured through a mortgage lender and backed by the VA.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs backs a portion of the loan to ensure that if the home loan goes into foreclosure, this guarantee allows the lender to recover some of the losses. This means less risk for the lender. In exchange, you can receive a loan with lower interest rates and better terms.

    Lenders are required to comply with VA standards when participating in this type of mortgage program. It’s important to note that applicants will also need to meet the lender’s specific requirements before being approved for the loan. For example, lenders will require a certain credit score.

    There are many benefits of using a VA loan to purchase a home. First, no down payment is required, which is a tremendous hurdle for those who may not be able to save up that lump sum. Many traditional loans need at least a 20% down payment.

    Man in military uniform sitting at a desk filling out paperwork.

    Second, VA loans boast competitively low-interest rates because the U.S. government backs the loans. Third, there are limited closing costs when purchasing a home because the VA has rules in place to protect borrowers. This can save you a lot of money, depending on the total home cost.

    Fourth, private mortgage insurance (PMI) isn’t required with a VA loan. Private mortgage insurance is a mortgage insurance policy that’s added to the monthly mortgage payment that protects the lender if you suddenly stop making loan payments. Since the U.S. government backs the loan, banks don’t require PMI from applicants, saving you even more money over long-term loans.

    Finally, the VA home loan is a lifetime benefit, which means you can use it multiple times.

    VA Loan Types

    There are three options when using a VA loan:

    VA purchase loan

    A VA purchase loan is the standard VA loan type and allows those eligible for this benefit to receive benefits like no down payment and better interest rates and terms. For those that qualify, a VA purchase loan is usually the best option for financing a home.

    VA purchase loans can be used for the following:

    • Purchase a home – the most common use of a VA purchase loan is to buy a single-family condo or home in a VA-approved lot, manufactured home, or project.
    • Build a new home – those looking to build a new home from the ground up can use the VA purchase loan. However, some lenders will add restrictions based on the property type. A VA loan for building a new home is commonly called a VA construction loan.
    • Renovate your existing home – eligible applicants can upgrade their existing home, such as required renovations or adding energy-efficient features, with a VA purchase loan. You’ll usually hear this referred to as a VA purchase renovation loan when used to renovate or upgrade the residence.

    With this loan type, you can achieve your dreams of owning a home and even use it for mobile homes and other non-traditional residences.

    To be eligible for a VA purchase loan, you’ll need to meet the VA requirements, that include being a current veteran, service member, or qualifying surviving spouse, using the home as a primary residence, and applying for a certificate of eligibility given to the lender.

    The lender requirements include a VA appraisal, pest inspection, proof of income, and a minimum credit score of 580. Additional terms could apply if you’ve recently had a bankruptcy or adverse credit event. To find out if you qualify for a VA purchase loan, you should speak with a loan specialist.

    VA streamline refinance

    A VA interest rate reduction refinance loan (VA IRRRL) is a loan that is used to refinance, or replace, your current VA home loan. This mortgage type is backed by the U.S. government, similar to a VA home loan, but allows current homeowners to improve their repayment period, interest rate, and overall loan amount.

    In most instances, this new loan offers better terms that reduce monthly payments because the borrower is in a better financial position than when they first applied.

    For those with a 30-year fixed mortgage, borrowers can maximize monthly savings and customize the term by selecting a new repayment plan that matches the remaining loan years. For instance, if the borrower wants to pay off their home as fast as possible and is eight years into a 30-year mortgage, they can use this loan type to streamline payments to a lower 22-year fixed rate.

    VA cash-out refinance

    Another option for those looking to refinance is the VA cash-out refinance loan, which turns home equity into cash. Borrowers can take the cash received to pay off other debt and emergency costs while leveraging the home as collateral.

    Unlike the VA streamline refinance loan, the original mortgage doesn’t need to be a VA loan. This option can be advantageous for veterans and service members who have built equity in their home and need cash for other expenses.

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    How to Use the VA Loan Calculator

    The VA loan calculator is simple to use.

    First, complete the “Home Details” section, including the VA loan benefit status dropdown menu, the target home price, the down payment percentage, and the zip code.

    Then, you’ll find out the “Loan Details” section, which includes the desired loan term, interest rate, and loan purpose. The results will populate next to the input section and list the house price, VA funding fee, down payment amount, and total loan amount. You’ll also see a pie chart that estimates your payment, including your interest, taxes, and P&I.

    How do I determine my VA loan benefit status?

    Select from one of the dropdown menu options to determine your VA loan benefit status. First-time use is designated for those who have never used a VA loan before. Subsequent use is for those who have used a VA loan at least once, at any point in their life.

    Finally, service-related injury is for those injured while in the service. Those who choose this option won’t have to pay a VA funding fee.

    What Is the VA Funding Fee?

    The VA funding fee is a single payment that a survivor, service member, or veteran pays on a VA loan. This fee lowers the loan cost for U.S. taxpayers since VA home loans don’t require monthly mortgage insurance or down payments.

    VA funding fee exemptions

    Those who are using the VA home loan program must pay the fee unless they meet one of the following requirements:

    • Are eligible for, or are receiving, VA compensation for a service-related disability.
    • Receive Dependence and Indemnity Compensation as a surviving spouse.
    • You’re a current service member who has received a memorandum or proposed rating before the loan closing date that states you’re eligible for compensation due to a pre-discharge claim.
    • You’re on active duty and can provide evidence of the Purple Heart before the loan closing date.

    See How Much You Can Afford Using Our VA Mortgage Calculator

    The VA home loan program is an excellent benefit to take advantage of if you’re in the military or are a veteran. If you’re eligible for a VA loan, our free VA calculator can help you get a better idea of what to expect regarding your costs and help you plan accordingly.

    Need help determining your eligibility or starting the application process? Griffin Funding is here for you.

    As a trusted VA loan provider, we are honored to be able to help veterans and military members make their dreams of homeownership a reality. Our loan specialists are extremely knowledgeable about the VA loan process and requirements.

    To get started, call us at 855-698-1320 or request a quote online.

    Bill Lyons

    Bill Lyons is the Founder, CEO & President of Griffin Funding. Founded in 2013, Griffin Funding is a national boutique mortgage lender focusing on delivering 5-star service to its clients. Mr. Lyons has 22 years of experience in the mortgage business. Lyons is seen as an industry leader and expert in real estate finance. Lyons has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wall Street Journal, HousingWire, and more. As a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association, Lyons is able to keep up with important changes in the industry to deliver the most value to Griffin's clients. Under Lyons' leadership, Griffin Funding has made the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list five times in its 10 years in business.