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Rocket Mortgage dominates the overall home-lending market, but when it comes to loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Rocket is in a race for second.
Freedom Mortgage kept its spot as the most active VA lender in 2021, finishing ahead of Rocket Mortgage by a wide margin. The top 10 list includes several lenders who specialize in VA loans, including Veterans United Home Loans, Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA.
These rankings are based on a Bankrate analysis of preliminary Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, with an assist from ComplianceTech’s LendingPatterns.com.
The VA market is more concentrated than the broader mortgage market. The 10 largest VA lenders accounted for nearly half of all VA home loans originated in 2021.
In an intriguing trend, VA lending slowed a bit in 2021 after strong growth in 2020. Total originations fell to 1.2 million in 2021 from 1.4 million in 2020, and volume dipped to $387 billion in 2021 from $427 billion in 2020.
The 10 biggest VA lenders
The Act ranks lenders by both loan volume and loan value. The top 10 VA lenders by number of loans:
- Freedom Mortgage. Freedom Mortgages focuses on loans offered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and VA mortgage programs. Freedom originated 155,000 VA loans worth $43 billion in 2021.
- Rocket Mortgage. Rocket originated more than 107,000 VA loans worth $29.73 billion in 2021, according to HMDA data.
- Veterans United Home Loans. This company originated 100,000 VA loans with a combined value of $29.7 billion.
- PennyMac. The lender originated nearly 59,000 VA mortgages worth $17.5 billion.
- United Shore Financial. Better known as United Wholesale Mortgage, this lender originated nearly 40,000 VA loans worth nearly $15.1 billion in 2021.
- Navy Federal Credit Union. This not-for-profit credit union moved up the list from 2020, originating 38,000 VA loans worth $12.7 billion.
- LoanDepot. LoanDepot originated 33,000 VA loans worth $12.1 billion in 2021.
- Caliber Home Loans. Caliber originated some 30,000 VA mortgages worth $10.6 billion.
- USAA. The military-focused lender originated nearly 28,000 VA loans worth $7.8 billion.
- Lakeview Loan Servicing. This lender originated 24,000-plus VA mortgages with a total value of $7 billion.
When VA lenders are ranked by dollars rather than by number of loans originated, Lakeview Loan Servicing drops out of the top 10. That spot is taken by Home Point, which originated nearly 24,000 VA loans worth $7.2 billion.
A quick guide to VA loans
VA loans can be a great deal. Despite requiring no money down and imposing loose requirements around credit scores, VA loans offer rates similar to those paid by conventional borrowers with stellar credit. VA loans are issued by banks and mortgage lenders, with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guaranteeing a portion of the loan.
As of 2020, VA loans no longer limit the amounts that current and former service members can borrow. That means first-time VA loan borrowers have no cap on the size of zero-down VA loans.
One downside applies: Most borrowers pay a VA loan funding fee. The fees range from 0.5 percent on some refinances to 3.6 percent for some home purchases. The exact fee varies depending on the value and type of your loan, how much you put down and whether it’s your first VA financing or a refinancing.
As for credit scores, the VA itself doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement. Instead, it requires lenders to look at the overall loan profile. However, mortgage lenders can set their own underwriting requirements, and many lenders require a credit score of 620 or higher.
VA mortgage rates can vary widely from lender to lender, so it pays to shop around. Bankrate maintains a list of the best VA mortgage lenders.