Guide to VA Home Loans in Tennessee | Best VA Mortgage Lenders in Tennessee [2022]

Tennessee has it all: huge cities (like Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville), sprawling fields, and small towns–bordered by the Mississippi River and Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Whether you’ve lived in Tennessee your entire life and are looking to purchase a new home, or are just moving there now as a veteran or active-duty service member, a VA Home Loan from the best VA mortgage lender in the state can help support your home-buying journey.

What are VA Loans? 

The VA Loan is a mortgage option that requires zero down payment. Active service, select military spouses, and veterans are some of the people who are eligible for this kind of loan. With backing by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Loans are issued by a mortgage company or a bank, which are private lenders. To date, the VA Loan program has resulted in more than 25 million houses for active-duty service members, veterans, and their families.

Created in 1944 by the United States government, the VA Loan was one of the initiatives which were intended towards the assistance of returning service members in the business of buying a home for themselves without depending on a down payment or good credit. 

In the wake of the Great Recession, many prospective military and Veteran homeowners found it significantly difficult to get decent home financing. And again, after the 2020 pandemic, many lenders tightened up their guidelines to the point where getting a home loan simply became untenable. 

With a VA Loan, retired, active service-members and surviving spouses get competitive interest rates while putting no money down. You also won’t be required to pay private mortgage insurance, which would be the case if you didn’t put 20% down on a conventional loan.

Tennessee VA Loan Requirements 

A common misconception is that the VA Loan is put together by the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, the beauty of a VA Loan is that they are put together by private lenders, and then guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

This means that you’ll need to find a qualified lender in your state to put together a VA Loan for you. For example, The Home Loan Expert offers VA Loans for states all across the country–including Tennessee. 

To qualify for VA Loan benefits, you need to know if you fulfill the VA Loan eligibility requirements or not. 

These include:

  • Duty status
  • Length of service
  • Character of service

For service members and veterans who are on active duty, their history of active-duty service should look like this:

  • At least 2 years if you are a regular service member
  • At least 6 years if you are a member of the National Guard or a Reservist
  • During times of war, at least 90 days of active-duty service
  • During times of peace, at least 181 days of active-duty service

Something that might affect the final decision is a service-related disability. Furthermore, interested veterans will need to apply or qualify for:

  1. Certificate of Eligibility (CEO): This document allows a lender to know that you satisfy either the military service or the surviving spouse requirements to be approved for the VA home loan that you’re looking for.
  2. Lending Requirements: While the qualifying guidelines vary from individual lender to individual lender, generally a credit score of around 620 is satisfactory, along with a debt to income (DTI) ratio of around 41% or lower. If you have more than enough residual income, exceptions to the DTI rule apply.

VA Home Loan Benefits:

  • No down payment necessary
  • No private mortgage insurance (PMI) or mortgage insurance premiums
  • Average interest rates are lower
  • Absence of prepayment penalty
  • Lower closing costs
  • Large selection of purchase and refinancing options
  • For veterans who have entitlement remaining, VA Loans are reusable

VA Home Loan Limitations:

  • The VA Loan funding fee might be higher in each subsequent use
  • Only viable for people associated with the armed forces of the country
  • VA Loans are not offered by all mortgage lenders

What are VA Mortgage Lenders? 

VA mortgage lenders are (as it might sound) mortgage lenders that offer VA Loans. Not all mortgage lenders offer VA Loans because they must be approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs, who guarantees the loan. 

Steps to finding the best VA mortgage lender in Tennessee

  1. Check your eligibility. Not all veterans and service members are eligible for a VA home loan. You must have served in the military for a certain amount of time and meet other requirements. You’ll be required to produce a Certificate of Eligibility which is dependent on total time of service and which branch you are in. At Hero Loan, we work with you every step of the way to obtain this paperwork and apply for your COE. But if you’ve already got it, that’s great!
  2. Get your documentation ready to go for your mortgage company, like tax documents, pay stubs, W2s, bank records, and more. Check out our handy guide on How to Acquire a VA Loan here.
  3. Compare lenders and what each respective lender is offering. 
  4. Choose the VA mortgage lender that suits your needs. 

As a direct-endorsed VA Lender, Hero Loan can close VA Loans in as little as 14 days–compared to most lenders that take up to 60 days. And you can get started with their 5-Minute Loan Approval* application right now! 

Best VA Mortgage Lenders in Tennessee

When you’re looking for a VA Home Loan in Tennessee, you want the best VA mortgage lender to suit your needs. 

Hero Loan

Hero Loan–one of the fastest growing lending platforms in the country–serves active- duty military, veterans, and their families to provide fast, personalized loan services.

As a direct-endorsed VA Lender, Hero Loan can close VA Loans in as little as 14 days–compared to most lenders that take up to 60 days. We underwrite all VA Loans in house, meaning lower mortgage rates and no upfront or out of pocket costs—that includes the appraisal. 

How It Works: 

Hero Loan has an enticing roster of loans and services that they offer. Apart from the standard VA Loan, some of these also include: 

  • VA Streamline Refinancing
  • Conventional Loan Refinancing
  • VA Cash-Out Refinancing 
  • FHA Loans

After you’ve made your choice, you can use the website to fill out a few preliminary details and apply for the loan or service that you have chosen. From there, a loan officer will be assigned to you who will take you through the minutiae and explain the details of the loan that you are about to borrow.

In addition, we’ll also help you get the all-important VA Loan Certificate of Eligibility and fill out all the VA paperwork for you. After you’ve sorted out the necessary details, all that remains for you to do is wait till the loan is closed. But don’t worry–with Hero Loan that takes as little as 14 days (compared to the standard two months)!

Pros: 

  • Complete all VA paperwork for clients 
  • Underwrite all VA Loans in-house
  • Can close VA Loans in as little as 14 days
  • No appraisal fees or out-of-pocket fees (we pay for appraisal) 

Cons: 

  • Services are for active-duty military, veterans, and their families only

The Home Loan Expert 

If you’re looking to get a VA Home Loan in Tennessee, then you can’t go wrong with The Home Loan Expert. The Home Loan Expert keeps everything as hassle-free as possible, featuring a seamless online experience and a plethora of options for mortgages and home loans. 

The best part is: they understand that the process of getting your first mortgage can feel like a lot. That’s why they work to ensure that the process of getting a VA home loan is as straightforward and approachable as possible. 

In addition to VA Loans, The Home Loan Expert also offers Adjustable-Rate Mortgages, Bank Statement Mortgages, Cash-Out Refinances, Conventional Loans, Debt Consolidation, FHA Loans, a First Responder Program, and a lot more. You can see them all here. 

Pros: 

VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans and Cash-Out Refinancing options available

  • A robust Native American Direct Loan program at your disposal, if you need it
  • In case you need to accommodate a disability, house grants can be adapted
  • Includes a nifty VA Home Loan calculator, among others

Cons: 

  • You might be tempted to consider other types of loans from their varied roster, instead of the VA Home Loan that you wanted in the first place

Ready to learn more? To find out what rates you could qualify for, start 5-Minute Loan Approval* application right now!

Veterans United Home Loans

Veterans United Home Loans is a prime direct mortgage lender which specializes in VA mortgages, but also offers FHA, USDA, conforming, and jumbo mortgages. You can choose between: 

  • VA IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan), which is used to convert an ARM to an FRM, or to reduce the interest of the borrower
  • Cash-Out Refinance

Unlike many other lenders, Veterans United Home Loans allows you to apply for mortgage credit data, which is not your primary credit data. For instance, you could potentially show proof that you usually take care of your bills on time. This makes this particular lender a good option if you have a lower than optimum credit score.

Pros: 

  • Convenient application online or at a brick and mortar location
  • Has other loan options apart from VA Home Loans 
  • Can use alternative forms of credit (like utility bills) because you have a low or no credit score

Cons: 

  • No common loan types like the home equity loan, home equity line of credit loan, or construction loan
  • Customized rates are not available online

Carrington Mortgage Services

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in California, Carrington Mortgage Services is a fairly new entrant to the VA Home Loan game. Carrington Mortgage Services is proud to support The United States Department of Veterans Affairs by offering VA loans to active duty and retired members of the United States Military. 

They also offer a special Carrington Mortgage Advantage to borrowers who have low credit scores and high DTI (debt to income) ratios, and a Prime Advantage program, which is targeted at people who have very satisfactory credit scores but miss qualifying for loans due to having old credit events. 

Loans & Services

  • Conventional Loans
  • FHA Loans
  • USDA Loans
  • VA Loans
  • Adjustable-Rate Mortgages
  • Carrington Flexible Advantage

Pros: 

  • Plenty of options for a variety of credit score groups
  • Detailed monthly payment calculator with provision for comparing loans

Cons: 

  • Low selection of loans and services
  • Not licensed to originate mortgages in Massachusetts and North Dakota

Minimum down payment:

Ranging from 3.5% down to 0% (for VA members)

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is a well-established institution that has around 200 branches throughout the US, as well as nine in overseas locations and on U.S. military bases. 

At Navy Federal, even if you have used up all of your VA Loan benefits, you might qualify for a Military Choice Loan. This is a 30-year mortgage with no minimum down payment.

Apart from the usual Tennessee VA Loan requirements, you can also be eligible for a VA Home Loan if you live with a Navy Federal member, or qualify for a Navy Federal membership even if you don’t fulfill the eligibility requirements for a VA Loan.

You might also qualify for a Homeowners’ Choice Loan, which is very similar to Military Choice. However, it’s made for people who are not eligible for VA Loans.

You will also be able to refinance your:

  • VA Loan
  • Conventional Loan
  • Military Choice Mortgage
  • Homeowners Choice Mortgage

Navy Federal’s website has an easy-to-understand interface with facilities for online pre-approval applications.

Pros: 

  • You can opt for a no-down-payment mortgage
  • You can choose to apply with alternative credit data
  • A smooth and simple online application process
  • More competitive rates than the others

Cons: 

  • Certain loans like the USDA, FHA, home equity, construction loans, home equity line of credit, and reverse mortgages are not available 
  • Membership is not easily available
  • Does not include a VA Home Loan calculator
  • You won’t be able to see the personalized rates before applying for the pre-approval process

New American Funding

New American Funding promises to make the American Dream of owning a home within arm’s reach for potential clients, through its varied roster of loans and services, which include VA Loans. They offer both VA Refinance Loans, VA Fixed Rate Loans and VA ARM Loans. 

Loans & Services:

  • VA Loan IRRRL
  • VA ARM
  • VA Fixed-Rate
  • Fixed-Rate Mortgage
  • Conventional loan
  • USDA Loan
  • FHA Loan
  • Buydown Loan
  • ARM Loan
  • Reverse Mortgage

Pros:

  • Lots of loan options to choose from
  • Easy quote request mechanism
  • Convenient customer service contact options

Cons:

  • Higher interest rates than competitors
  • Website is a little cluttered
  • Not equity line of credit option

Minimum Down Payment: 3%–3.5% depending on type of loan

Truist (SunTrust)

Truist (formerly SunTrust) is an enormous company formed through the merger of the two large lenders. Nevertheless, it offers decent customer care and loan options, including VA Loans at an interest rate of 5.2%, or 5.4667% APR.

Loans & Services:

  • 30-year VA Loan
  • 30-year Fixed Mortgage
  • 15-year Fixed Mortgage
  • 30-year Jumbo Mortgage
  • 30-year FHA Mortgage
  • Home Equity Line of Credit

Pros: 

  • Transparent interest rates
  • Convenient pre-approval process
  • First-time buyer programs

Cons: 

  • Limited number of loan options
  • Higher interest rates than others on this list 

Minimum Down Payment: Varies by loan type, available through consultation 

Conclusion: Best Mortgage Lender for VA Home Loans in Tennessee

The best mortgage lenders in Tennessee should not only offer great VA Home Loan options, but also guide you through the entire VA Home Loan process. At Hero Loan, we built our Hero Loan program from the ground up to serve the needs of those who have so bravely served us. And that’s why we complete your VA paperwork for you, help with your COE, pay your appraisal fees…and then close in as little as 14 days. Get started with your 5-Minute Loan Approval* application right now!