Veterans United – A Leader in the VA Loan Industry
Veterans United was founded in 2002 by two brothers from Columbia, Missouri – Brock and Brant Bukowsky who are still actively involved in the business today. Initially employing just four people, the company currently employs 2400 associates and has grown into one of the leading lenders in the VA loan industry.
Veterans United is a full service mortgage lender with 26 offices across the country and is licensed in all 50 states. In 2016, Veterans United financed $10.3 billion in VA loans, making it the third largest vendor in the nation.
A Distinguished History of Growth
Veterans United has a distinguished history of success and growth. The company has helped thousands of military families to purchase the home of their dreams, and, as a result, they have earned numerous industry awards and recognition:
- In 2007, Inc. Magazine put the company at No. 96 on its list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies based on its three-year sales growth of 1,553.3 percent and loan volume of $10.2 million.
- In 2012, Inc. Magazine named Veterans United the No. 29 top job creator in the country.
- In 2013, Veterans United financed $4.1 billion, accounting for 3% of the VA’s total loan volume. The company held 4.4% of the VA loan market share in 2014.
- In 2016, the Virginia Beach Amphitheater announced a 4-year naming rights agreement with Veterans United to rename the venue to The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater.
- In 2017, the company was named by Fortune Magazine to its 100 Best Companies to Work For list at No. 27.
In addition, Veterans United has earned the respect and recognition within the home loan industry for its spectacular growth and unmatched customer service:
- Veterans United is the nation’s #1 VA Home Purchase Lender
- Most VA Purchase Loans of any lender in 2017
- Veterans United is recommended by 97.8% of Veterans & Military Families
- 100,000+ verified customer reviews, averaging a 4.7/5 rating
- Network of 6,000 Veteran-friendly real estate agents
- VU Loan Specialists undergo extensive training on the VA loan process
- 150,000+ loans closed for Veterans and service members nationwide
- Representatives available 24/7 to serve our troops overseas
- Extensive resources to help educate military homebuyers
Making Homeownership Possible for Veterans
Homeownership rates across the country have been declining for many years. Last year the U.S. homeownership rate fell to about 63%, down from the all-time high of 69.2% reached in the fourth quarter of 2004.
However, homeownership among veterans and their families remains strong. According to the Veterans Administration, the homeownership rate among veterans is nearly 82%. For this group of military service members, homeownership is a priority.
Of course, the VA loan program provides powerful incentives to veterans to make it easier for them to own a home. To begin with, VA loans are easier to qualify for than conventional loans and they also require no down payment or monthly mortgage insurance.
However, recognizing that many veterans still face challenges in their quest for homeownership, Veterans United provides valuable guidance to them by offering a first-time home buyer course online.
In addition, the company has created the Lighthouse Program – a free credit score education and repair service. If a prospective veteran homeowner is not in a position to qualify for a loan, a Lighthouse credit expert will review their credit profile, consult with them about their finances and goals, and work with them to develop a personalized plan to improve their credit and financial issues in order to put them on a path to prequalification.
The Lighthouse Program can also benefit loan applicants who can qualify for a home loan but simply want to build their credit score, and in the process, perhaps earn a better mortgage rate.
As a result of programs like these and the strong demand for homeownership among veterans, the national VA loan volume has reached record highs, topping $179 billion in fiscal 2016.
Veterans United also benefited from that national wave of veteran homeownership. In 2014, the company funded $5.1 billion in loans; in 2016, they nearly doubled their loan volume to $10.3 billion.
Advantages for Military Homebuyers
VA loans are available to Veterans, Service Members and select military spouses. These loans are issued by private lenders and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The VA home loan was created in 1944 by the United States government to help returning service members purchase homes without needing a down payment or excellent credit.
This historic benefit program has guaranteed more than 22 million VA loans to help veterans, active duty military members and their families purchase homes or refinance their mortgages.
Although the VA Loan is a federal program, the government generally does not make direct loans to veterans. Instead, private lenders – like Veterans United – finance the loan while the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a guaranty.
This guaranty, which protects the lender against total loss should the buyer default, provides incentive for private lenders to offer loans with better terms.
The primary features and benefits of VA loans include the following:
(for qualified borrowers)
VA Loans are among the last 0% down loans on the market today.
No Private Mortgage Insurance
Since VA Loans are government backed, banks do not require PMI.
Competitive Interest Rates
A VA guaranty typically means a more competitive rate than non-VA loans.
Easier to Qualify
Because the loan is backed by the government, banks assume less risk and have less stringent qualification standards for VA Loans, making them easier to obtain.
Another way the VA loan program makes it easier to qualify for a loan is their consideration of residual income. Residual income is not the same as the typical debt-to-income ratio that most lenders use as part of the loan approval process.
When underwriting a loan, a residual income standard looks for a certain amount of money left over at the end of the month after major debt obligations are paid, including a mortgage, home insurance, taxes, and student loans, but it excludes typical living expenses like a cell phone bill and food.
Also, credit score standards are less stringent for VA loans. Generally speaking, the average FICO score for a VA loan is about 50 points lower than the average score required for a conventional loan.
Veterans United Customer Service
Customer service is another reason why Veterans United has become so successful. Because their customer base is frequently mobile – including being stationed abroad anytime, anywhere – the company offers 24/7 customer service.
It is possible to complete a loan application and prequalify online. Or, if a customer prefers, they can have their questions answered via telephone support. The goal is to provide customer service based on their customer’s schedule.
The process of applying for and being approved for a home loan is hard enough without having to deal with bad customer service. Veterans United enjoys a sterling reputation due to its low volume of service complaints registered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In addition, Veterans United provides a client advocate team staffed by former senior enlisted leaders from each branch of the armed forces. These are former military leaders who understand what military life is like and the importance of housing to military families.
VA Loan Fees
Though a VA loan does not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance, there is a funding fee that must be paid to obtain a VA loan. This funding fee goes directly to the VA to ensure the program is available for future generations of military homebuyers. The fee varies depending on the borrower’s circumstances; however, the fee is waived veterans with service-connected disabilities.
The amount of the funding fee is based on the type of loan, the borrower’s credit profile and the area of the country in which the borrower resides. The fees can range from 1.25% to 3.30% of the loan amount, depending on the amount of the down payment. Instead of paying for this fee at closing, VA borrowers can roll the funding fee into their overall loan amount.
The VA also limits closing costs for veterans. Lender fees – such as origination, underwriting and processing charges – can amount to no more than 1% of the loan amount. The borrower is also responsible for typical closing costs and third-party fees, such as appraisal, credit report and recording fees. However, often, a deal can be negotiated which allows sellers to pay most or all of those expenses. Many of Veterans United customers purchase a home with no money due at closing.
Veterans United Foundation
In November 2011, Veterans United launched a 501(c)(3) charitable entity, Veterans United Foundation. It is a non-profit charitable organization created by Veterans United employees who support the foundation with employee contributions that are matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.
Veterans United Foundation partners with hundreds of military-related and supports families in need. Whether it’s providing the children of a fallen hero the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, or joining forces with Welcome Home, A Community for Veterans to end Veteran homelessness, the Veterans United Foundation has made a major impact on thousands of military service members and their families.