Compare VA loan rates from lenders. VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Members of the military are eligible for a VA loan after they have actively served for 90 days during wartime or 180 days during peacetime. Members of the National Guard and reservists are eligible after 6 years or, if they have been called for active service during wartime, 90 days. Surviving spouses of someone who died during active duty or due to a service-related disability are also eligible for a VA loan.

The VA loan limits conform to the limits for conventional financing established by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The limit is $417,000 in most areas and up to $625,500 in high-cost housing markets.

VA loan overview

Who they’re for: Most active-duty military and veterans qualify for Veterans Affairs mortgages. Many reservists and National Guard members are eligible. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability may also apply.

How they work: No down payment is required from qualified borrowers buying primary residences. The VA does not lend money but guarantees loans made by private lenders.

Cost: The VA charges an upfront VA funding fee, which can be rolled into the loan or paid by the seller. The funding fee varies from 1.25 percent to 3.3 percent of the loan amount. Use the VA mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment.

The VA allows sellers to pay closing costs but doesn’t require them to. So the buyer might need money for closing costs. Borrowers may also need money for the earnest-money deposit.

Benefits: VA borrowers can qualify for 100 percent financing. Veterans do not have to be first-time buyers and may reuse their benefit.

Drawbacks: The are limits on how much liability the VA can assume, which can affect the amount the lender will lend you.