Veterans First Mortgage Review for 2022

Veterans First specializes in VA loans for veterans and active-duty service members. But FHA and USDA financing is also available.

Veterans First
Minimum down payment0%
Minimum credit score620
Loan Products Offered

VA mortgages
FHA mortgages
USDA mortgages
Fixed-rate mortgages

Best Features

  • VA lender specializing in zero down home loans for military families
  • Offers other government-backed loans like FHA and USDA 
  • Licensed in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Drawbacks

  • Doesn’t offer conventional home loans, home equity loans, or HELOC
  • No initial online application or instant rate quotes

Overview

Veterans First Mortgage has provided military borrowers with affordable home loan solutions for more than three decades.

This lender specializes in VA loans — those backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs — which offer zero-down financing and low interest rates.

Along with VA home loans, Veterans First offers FHA and USDA home loans.

Mortgage interest rates vary by customer, but Veterans First is generally competitive. Check with the company to find out what rate you qualify for.

 


Veterans First mortgage rates

The average Veterans First mortgage interest rate for a 30-year VA loan was 2.77% in 2021 (the most recent data available). This was a slightly lower VA mortgage rate than those offered by major lenders like Wells Fargo (2.98%), Veterans United (2.85%), and USAA (2.84%).

Veterans First Mortgage’s average loan origination fee for 2021 was on par with major competitors, but its borrowers often paid less in total loan closing costs. Other VA lenders charged higher upfront costs than this specialty lender.

Borrowers can further lower their mortgage rates by purchasing discount points, which is a fee paid alongside closing costs. However, discount points won’t make sense for all home buyers.

Average mortgage rates at major lenders

Veterans FirstRocket MortgageWells FargoFreedom Mortgage
Avg 30-Yr VA Interest Rate, 202112.77%2.51%2.98%2.45%
Median Total Loan Costs, 20211$3,971$4,670$3,600$3,880
Median Origination Fee, 20211$1,315$2,430$1,330$0

Average rate and fee data for Veterans First reflect data filed with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) under Barrington Bank & Trust Company. Veterans First is a trade name of Wintrust Mortgage, a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company.

Veterans First Mortgage review for 2022

Veterans First Mortgage is based in Salt Lake City and has branches in Utah, California, and Virginia.

Even though Veterans First specializes in zero-down VA loans, this mortgage lender also offers low-down-payment alternatives, including government-backed FHA loans and USDA loans.

VA loans are attractive because they don’t require a down payment or annual mortgage insurance. Borrowers using a low-down-payment conventional loan pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). And borrowers using an FHA loan pay mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). But VA loan borrowers only pay a one-time VA funding fee, which can be rolled into the loan amount.

VA loans also tend to have the lowest mortgage rates of any loan type.

Veterans First’s focus on VA loans means it has extensive experience helping VA home buyers and homeowners looking for a VA refinance. This could make it an attractive option for borrowers looking for hands-on service.

Those who prefer an all-digital experience might be disappointed by the fact that you have to contact a loan officer to get your loan application started. But after that, the company does offer online resources throughout the mortgage application process.

Veterans First Mortgage eligibility

One of the biggest drawbacks to this specialty mortgage company is that not all borrowers are eligible. Veterans First Mortgage helps military service members and veterans achieve their goals of homeownership. Qualifying borrowers include:

  • U.S. Air Force
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Marines
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. National Guard and Reserves

Many widows, widowers, surviving spouses, and un-remarried former spouses are also eligible.

The Veterans First website says commissioned officers with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Public Health Services (USPHS) may also qualify.

Working with Veterans First

The process of getting a loan with Veterans First Mortgage is slightly different from how some mortgage lenders operate.

This lender doesn’t provide instant rate quotes online, nor does it have an online application for mortgage preapproval. Instead, you’ll work person-to-person with a loan officer to start your application.

To get started, visit the Veterans First website and click “Get Started Today.” Here you’ll indicate whether you’re interested in purchasing a home or refinancing your existing mortgage loan.

Next, enter basic information about yourself such as your name, phone number, ZIP Code, and email. After you complete the form, a loan officer will contact you to discuss your options.

If you decide to apply for a home loan with Veterans First, you’ll complete a loan application and provide supporting documentation. This includes the following:

  • Tax returns for the past two years
  • Recent paycheck stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Divorce decree, if applicable

If you’re applying for a VA loan, you’ll also need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This is the first step to getting a VA-backed home loan, as this certificate confirms that you meet the minimum service requirement for VA loan eligibility. The lender should be able to retrieve your COE online in a matter of minutes.

Veterans First customer service reviews

Choosing a lender with an excellent reputation can result in a more positive experience when buying or refinancing a home.

Although Veterans First Mortgage isn’t included in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, many of its customers have been impressed with the level of service they’ve received from the lender.

Out of 1,600 reviews on the website Trustpilot, Veterans First Mortgage received a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Several customers praised the company for employing knowledgeable, competent professionals, and a number of reviewers spoke of low rates, a smooth process, and timely service.

CFPB Complaints, 20214Complaints Per 1,000 Mortgages, 20215J.D. Power Satisfaction Score, 20216
Veterans First431.18850/1,000
Rocket Mortgage3760.24876/1,000
Wells Fargo4880.58832/1,000
Freedom Mortgage2620.35829/1,000

Still, Veterans First logged more than one complaint per thousand mortgage loans with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPB). This is more, on average, than its competitors — presumably because Veterans First underwrites fewer loans than major lenders.

Mortgage loan products at Veterans First

Veterans First mortgage products include:

  • VA home loans: These loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A VA loan offers zero down payment and borrowers don’t pay mortgage insurance. The minimum credit score for a VA loan with Veterans First is “around 620,” according to its website (though this may be subject to change over time)
  • FHA home loans: Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, some first-time home buyers can qualify for this loan product with a minimum down payment of 3.5% and a minimum credit score in the “mid 600s.” Keep in mind that FHA loans require mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan
  • USDA home loans: These zero-down loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they require a minimum credit score in the “mid 600s.” Borrowers can use this loan program for buying a property in a qualifying rural area

These loan products are intended for the purchase of a primary residence, meaning a home that is not a rental property or second home.

The company takes several factors into account when underwriting mortgage loans, so a credit score within these ranges doesn’t guarantee loan approval. In addition, according to a representative for Veterans First Mortgage, “credit guidelines can change from time to time.”

Limited mortgage products

Home buyers who are in the market for conventional mortgages or jumbo loans will have to look elsewhere. Veterans First Mortgage does not offer non-conforming or conventional loans.

Your real estate agent or Realtor can help you find the best lender for your financial situation.

Refinancing with Veterans First

Veterans First isn’t only an option for home purchase loans. You can also use the lender for a mortgage refinance. Refinancing can help lower your interest rate and monthly payment, cash out your home equity, or pay off your mortgage faster.

Veterans First offers:

  • Rate-and-term refinance: Exchange your original mortgage with a new one that offers loan terms that are more favorable
  • Cash-out refinance: Access your home equity by replacing your current mortgage with a new, larger loan amount, and then receiving the difference as a lump sum of cash
  • VA cash-out refinance: Access up to 100% of your home’s value
  • FHA Streamline Refinance: No cash-out but allows you to refinance with minimum fuss, perhaps without an appraisal. You must be current with your mortgage payments
  • VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL): Like the FHA Streamline Refi but for VA loans

Veterans First refinance rates are similar to its home purchase rates, but you’ll need to get a quote to see the specific rate that you qualify for.

The lender doesn’t offer home equity loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Veterans First FAQ

Where can I get a loan with Veterans First? 

Veterans First has a nearly 400-person team and loan centers in California, Utah, and Virginia. The mortgage lender is licensed to operate in all 50 states and Washington D.C. Most borrowers apply by entering their information online, then speaking to a loan officer who will reach out to discuss loan options.

Are VA loan rates the same at all banks? 

No, VA loan rates are not the same at all banks. VA mortgage rates can vary a lot from lender to lender, so it’s important to shop around and get quotes. Ideally, you should request free rate quotes from a minimum of three lenders.

What's the minimum credit score for Veterans First mortgage?

Credit guidelines can change from time to time, according to a Veterans First representative. Currently, the minimum credit score for a VA loan is in the range of 620. The minimums for FHA and VA loans are in the “mid 600s.” But you’ll need to speak with a loan expert to see if your specific score qualifies.

Can I get a VA loan with bad credit?

Most VA lenders allow credit scores starting at 620, though it may be possible to find a lender with credit score requirements starting at 580. Veterans First currently requires a FICO score “around 620” for a VA loan.

Does Veterans First do VA cash-out refinancing? 

Yes, you can apply for VA cash-out refinancing with Veterans First Mortgage. This involves borrowing cash from your home’s equity. You can use funds for debt consolidation, medical bills, home remodeling, college tuition, etc.

What is the IRRRL program? 

The interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL) is a VA Streamline Refinance to reduce the rate and mortgage payment on a current VA loan. You can’t cash-out your equity with a streamlined refinance. However, the process is simpler because you don’t need a new Certificate of Eligibility or a new appraisal. Credit and income verification may not be required, either.

How do I find the best VA loan rate? 

Shopping around with several mortgage companies can help you get the best deal and find low VA loan rates. Factors that impact your VA loan rate include your credit report, loan-to-value ratio, and loan term.

Is Veterans First the best mortgage lender for you?

Veterans First Mortgage is an option if you’re a military borrower looking for a no-money-down mortgage, or if you’re interested in another government-backed loan (FHA or USDA).

The main drawback is that Veterans First has higher credit score requirements than many other lenders. So credit-challenged VA borrowers may do better elsewhere.

Veterans First refinance rates and purchase rates are competitive, and the lender’s loan fees are lower than some major lenders. But rates and fees vary by customer. So you’ll want to compare your offer from Veterans First with comparable offers from a few other mortgage lenders before signing on.

Sources:

  1. Average mortgage rates and fees sourced from self-reported data mortgage lenders are required to file under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Rates and fees shown reflect the previous year’s data and may not align with today’s mortgage rates
  2. Monthly principal and interest payments calculated using TheMortgageReports.com mortgage calculator. Payments shown are based on a $200,000 loan amount and assume a “very good” credit score. Property taxes and homeowners insurance are not included. Your own monthly payment will vary
  3. Number of mortgage originations for the previous year sourced from self-reported data mortgage lenders are required to file under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
  4. CFPB Complaints reflect the number of mortgage origination or closing-related complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the previous year
  5. Complaints per 1000 mortgages reflect the number of official complaints filed against a lender with the CFPB for the previous year, compared to the lender’s total number of mortgage originations for the previous year
  6. JD Power Rating reflects the company’s customer satisfaction score according to JD Power’s most recent Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. Survey respondents score their lenders in four areas: application/approval process, communication, loan closing, and loan offerings