You've found the house of your dreams, but you're just not sure where to find a mortgage. Should you go to the local bank? Should apply for a loan online?

You have options for financing your house. But how do you choose a mortgage lender? 

By the time you've finished reading this article, you will understand how to choose a mortgage lender and move forward with your house purchase with confidence. 

Types of Mortgage Lenders

The term "mortgage lender" is a broad term referring to any entity that will lend you money for a mortgage and help you unlock your dream home. Here are some common types of mortgage lenders.


Traditionally borrowers would go to local banks to finance their homes. These are still a viable and strong option if you want all of your finances with one organization. You can go to the bank where you have a checking and savings account. 

This organization already knows you, so they should be able to make a decision pretty quickly on if you're a good candidate for a mortgage. Sometimes, though, the lending process can take longer with a bank compared to other types of lenders. 

Credit Unions

Credit unions differ from banks in that they are not-for-profit organizations. When you bank at a credit union, you're a part owner of it. This means getting a mortgage from the credit union also benefits you in the long run, helping your credit union stay financially healthy. 

Credit unions offer lower loan rates and lower fees than banks. Unfortunately, many have limited loan products as well, so you may not be able to get the mortgage that you need.

Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage lenders exist specifically to lend money for mortgages. As a result, their process is faster than a bank process. They're also typically more flexible with you if you have poor credit. 

The lender will examine your credit history, credit score, assets, and income when they consider offering you a mortgage. Often mortgage lenders have programs specifically for first-time homebuyers or individuals who need help with their downpayment. 

Mortgage Brokers

As you look for a mortgage lender, you may come across a mortgage broker. Brokers aren't lenders, but they can help you find a good mortgage. 

The mortgage broker acts as the middle man between the lenders and the borrowers. They do the shopping for you to find the best mortgage available in light of your finances and credit report. 

They do the legwork for you when looking for a mortgage. Because of their relationship with lenders, they may be able to get you a premium rate with a lender. 

You typically pay the mortgage broker their fee when you close on your house. 

Vet Your Mortgage Lender

If you believe you've found a good mortgage lender, then it's time to interview them. You're looking at a 15 to a 30-year relationship with this organization, so you need to make sure you've found a good fit. Here are a few basic questions to ask about: 

You should also ask them about fees and commissions up front, who pays for these fees, and how many quotes they typically review.

How to Choose a Mortgage Lender

Once you ask these questions, begin to look at the lender. Your final decision should depend specifically on your financial needs and financial situation. What mortgage can you afford today and in the long run? 

Here are a few ways you can narrow down your choices to the final mortgage lender you will use. 

Use Filters

Come up with a list of filters that helps you weed out the lenders you don't want. For example, if you have a credit score below 600, look only at lenders that accept credit scores under 600. 

Consider how much financing you need as well. For example, if you need 80% financing, only look at the lenders that offer 80% financing. 

Compare and Contrast

Remember that you're shopping for a mortgage. This means you need to consider more than just one lender. Get quotes from your top three choices and then place them side by side to see their similarities and differences. 

Compare Fees

You will have to pay the lender for their work in the form of fees. Ask about the specific fees that you need to pay, and then compare those between lenders. Here are some common fees that borrowers must pay: 

Fees, in general, should not exceed more than 1% of the loan total. So take your total loan and compare it with the fee total. If a lender has more than 1 percent, take them off the list. 

Final Checklist

When you think you've found a lender, read the reviews online. Customers are brutally honest online, whether they've had a good or poor experience. Then ask the lender about the following topics regarding their institution: 

The best lenders exist to serve you. So look for a mortgage lender that wants to give you the best deal possible and who can answer all of your questions. 

Choose a Mortgage Lender With Confidence

When you're looking for a mortgage lender, ask all the questions. Compare the lenders side by side so you know who offers you the best deal. Then move forward and choose a mortgage lender with confidence. 

Are you preparing to finance your dream home? If so, contact us. We will answer your questions and work hard to serve you well. 

Around 23% of people purchase homes with cash, but the other 77% of home sales require mortgage loans. A mortgage loan offers a long-term repayment plan, making it easier for a person to afford a home. 

Mortgages come in all shapes and sizes, but each type has requirements the borrower must meet to qualify for the loan. Do you need a loan? If so, do you have any military experience in the books? 

You can apply for a VA loan if you do. However, you might want to research the requirements for a VA loan before applying to make sure you meet them.

If you're unsure what they are, keep reading this guide as we explain the requirements needed to qualify for a VA loan. 

VA Loan Basics

Before understanding the VA loan requirements, you might benefit by learning a few basic facts about VA loans. 

First, the Department of Veteran Affairs is the entity that sponsors (backs) VA loans.

The VA developed these loans to help veterans become homeowners. Therefore, they're only available to people with military experience.

This program began in 1944 but has expanded over the years. More than 25 million veterans have benefited from this program over the years, and many will continue to benefit in the future. 

VA loans offer competitive rates but have eased requirements, making it easier for vets to qualify for mortgages. 

Requirements for a VA Loan

You must meet the requirements for VA loans to get one. Here are the primary things a lender looks for when a person applies for a VA loan:

Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

One of the main eligibility requirements for VA loans is the COE. The COE is a certificate that proves you meet the VA's standards for VA loans. You won't qualify for a VA loan without a COE.

So, how do you get one? You must apply with the Department of Veterans Affairs to get one. When they evaluate your application, they'll determine if you served the appropriate time in the military. If so, they'll give you a COE.

There are several ways to qualify for a COE. One option is by serving 90 consecutive days in a war. Another option is by serving 24 consecutive months in active military duty. 

Credit Score

The VA doesn't set credit score requirements for approvals. Instead, they let the lenders set their score requirements. As a result, every lender that issues them sets credit score rules. 

Most lenders have lenient credit score rules. If you compare the requirements, you'll likely notice that a score of 620 is average. Therefore, you meet this requirement if your score is at least 620. 

Down Payment

One of the best parts of a VA loan is the down payment requirements. You don't need any money down to get a VA loan. However, you must pay a one-time funding fee.

Lenders determine the fee rate by your down payment amount. If you want to pay a lower funding fee, you need to put more money down. The funding fee rate is the highest when you put no money down. 

The current rate for a no-money-down VA loan is between 2.3% to 3.6%. On the flip side, you'll pay 1.4% if you put at least 10% of the home's purchase price as your down payment. 

Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio

The DTI is a ratio that lenders use to see if a person can afford to repay a loan if approved. Lenders compare the person's income to debts to determine the answer. 

Lenders generally set their DTI ratios themselves, so they vary. You should have no trouble qualifying for a VA loan if you have a steady job with enough income to cover your bills and a mortgage.

Benefits of VA Loans 

Next, you might wonder about the benefits these loans offer to borrowers, and there are many.

First, they offer competitive interest rates. The rates you get through VA loans are comparable to the rates of other loan types.

Next, you can choose from various durations, allowing you to customize your loan. For example, you can choose a 30-year loan if you need 30 years to repay it, but you can also choose a 15-year loan if you prefer.

Additionally, you won't pay private mortgage insurance with a VA loan. You must pay a one-time funding fee when the lender originates the loan, but you won't have ongoing fees to pay throughout your loan duration. 

One final note about the benefits is that you can get a VA loan a second or third time. So, for example, if you had a VA loan in the past, you're not disqualified from getting another one. Instead, they're reusable. 

Where to Get a VA Loan

Learning the requirements for VA loans can help you determine if this is the right mortgage type for you. If you believe you meet the VA loans requirements, you can contact a lender that offers them.

Some mortgage lenders don't specialize in VA loans, while others do. It's important to know that the VA doesn't issue these loans. Instead, they back them while mortgage lenders issue them.

When you're ready to get one, you can contact a lender, such as Southern Home Loans. They'll ask you to fill out an application and assist you with the other steps required in the loan application process. 

Learn More

You can determine if you meet the requirements for a VA loan before applying. Additionally, you can talk to a lender to learn more. VA loans are ideal for anyone who meets the requirements, as they offer numerous benefits.

Are you ready to learn more about VA loans? Contact Southern Home Loans if you'd like more information.

We offer VA loans and other loan types and can help you find the right mortgage. You can also apply for a loan online or call us if you have questions. 

Based on 42 Reviews
Emily Riesco
June 1, 2022

Brandon, Paulette, and Christie were all amazing with helping me buy my first home! Everything was done promptly and I was able to close quickly. It was overall a wonderful experience and highly recommend them! Thank you Southern Home Loans!!

sandi breaze
April 11, 2022
Deanna Batt
February 16, 2022

Brandon, Kristie & Ann at Southern Home Loans are the most professional and experienced team. Their organization in describing which documents or paperwork needed on our end was extremely thorough where we were able to understand what was needed to get everything submitted quickly. In turn, we were able to close early. Brandon was our Angel in getting this property. We had a seller on New Year’s Day require an approval letter. We were so stressed sharing to each other how will we get this on a holiday. We reached out to Brandon and he not only responded quickly to us, but had the letter in our hands to satisfy the seller’s realtor. In our past experiences with mortgage lenders, some good some not so, all fall short of the experience we had with Southern Home Loans. We had a partner with us that walked with us all the way and made this the best buying experience we have ever had. Our own realtor shared not only did they see their commitment to the client but they will be using them with future clients as well. We can only say from the bottom of our heart, thank you, and know others will benefit from this amazing group.Deanna Batt and Paul V. Poliseo

February 1, 2022

Could not express enough how amazing this team is. Dave Engel was amazing and got stuff done very quick. The entire team was responsive and was happy to answer any questions I had at any time. Initially I tried using Wells Fargo and regretted it immediately. Yes their fees were lower but who cares if you can’t anything done. You truly get what you pay for. There is no question as to who you should use during this process! Thank you team!!

Kenneth Daniels
January 6, 2022

I would like to thank Brandon and his staff at Southern Home Loans for making the mortgage process smooth and efficient. From application to funding in about 3 weeks! God Bless

Nicole Moneymaker
August 24, 2021

Big big big shout out to Brandon and Paulett for making my fiancé‘s first experience buying a house amazing we appreciate everything that you have done for us and being so patient thank you so very much from the bottom of our heart we are so excited to have our new home❤️

Robin Losapio
May 31, 2021

We were very pleased with southern home loans, we worked with Brandon, he was very helpful with purchasing our new home. We also worked with Paulette, who was excellent at communication and knowledge. We highly recommend them and we would definitely use them again

Giz S.
January 3, 2021

Simply the besttttttttttttttt. Thanks so much to Brandon & Paulette that made it possible for us to purchase our first home. We appreciate all their help and great communication throughout the entire process.

Aiza Velazquez
November 5, 2020

Brandon was awesome highly recommended him made it possible and more for home thanks Brandon and team

Sarah Taylor
July 30, 2020

Southern Home Loans is the greatest group of people to work with specifically Brandon and Paulette. They made the loan process very easy and they were beyond helpful answered anything I asked and made sure I had everything I needed to close on the house I had my heart set on.5 star review all the way.

justin turner
June 24, 2020

We refinanced to take advantage of low rates and Brandon’s team had us at “clear to close” in 30 days! I didn’t know it was possible. Perfect team to work with!

Seven T
May 14, 2020

We definitely recommend this company, they made this possible! Our first house on a pandemic situation, with a great interest rate. They never said is not possible! They always looked for a way to get it done and the right way. Thanks Brandon, and Paulette for all the hard work. God bless!

Virginia Ortiz
April 14, 2020

Brandon could not have made the process any easier! We closed two weeks early and found the home of our dreams! I am so thankful Ashley Yates with Magnolia Homestead Realty sent us to you! Highly recommended!!

Shelly Schenck
April 9, 2020

Brandon and his team at southern home loans went absolutely above and beyond for my family we truly are so blessed with all the work Brandon did for us, there are not enough thank you's we could say. We probably drove him crazy with this whole process but he never once lost his patience with us! I would HIGHLY recommend Brandon and his team they make dreams come true! Thank you for all your hard work you did for us and making sure my family got into our home!

Karla Franco
March 8, 2020

When I first decided to buy a house, I was extremely nervous, didnt know what to expect. But between my realtor and Southern Home Loans the experience was very smooth. There did everything possible to make sure every step was firm and looked for our best interest. They always kept in touch through phone calls and emails, always keeping us updated with every status of every step. I was always inform, therefore I fully trust them and recommend them to anybody who wants an enjoyable purchase, from the beginning until you can finally walk through the doors of your dream home. Thank You!!

Sarah Haydu
January 29, 2020

Brandon and his team are exceptional! I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do our mortgage. They were extremely responsive and kept us updated throughout the entire process, regardless of the time or distance. Great experience and highly recommend SHL!!

Todd Yocum
January 29, 2020

Great company. Brandon and his team will make sure to give your loan top priority and service the whole way.

Rich M.
January 10, 2020

Brandon and his team did a great job guiding me through the home buying process. Professional, prompt, thorough and knowledgeable is how I would describe everyone at SHL. Brandon bent over backwards to get my deal done and I will be a customer for life.

Danny Parsons
December 17, 2019

I used SHL for both of my homes and everything went smoothly. Even though I was out of town for the most recent process, they were able to get me closed before the projected closing date.

Jon McGraw
December 16, 2019

Brandon and his team go above and beyond to get their deals to the closing table. He has closed my loan on my personal residence and I could not be happier w his team’s service. Great people and great product!!!

Larry Smith
November 11, 2019

Big call out to Southern Home Loans, especially Brandon C.!! These guys helped us when no one else could. Highly recommended!!!

Josh Nevelson
October 30, 2019

Knowledgeable about the industry having worked with Brandon a number of times now. Would not hesitate to work with.

Scott Kaser
August 5, 2019

I had a great experience. Southern Home Loans had good communication throughout the process and were able to get an FHA loan on a foreclosure.

Hope B.
May 21, 2019

As first time home buyers we had no idea what we were doing. Brandon answered all of our questions, gave good advice and helped us through the entire process. It was fast and painless. If you're serious about buying a house and in the position to do so, they will make it happen.

Preston Garrison
November 11, 2018

I can’t say enough good things about Southern Home Loans! As first time home buyers, we had absolutely no idea where to start with this process. Brandon and his team were always there whenever we had questions, and they made our first time home buying experience go so smoothly and efficiently. We highly recommend them and we are so appreciative for all of their help.

Joshua Stein
May 26, 2018

Very pleased with the results with this company. First time buying a home and Brandon and his team helped explain every step. Definitely recommend anyone looking to buy a house to work with this company. Everyone is pleasant and patient even with our work schedule. Thanks for making our experience so wonderful!

Bill Agar
May 25, 2018

Brandon was very professional and efficient. He answered all my questions in a timely manner, and I truthfully felt he had my best interests in mind. I would recommend him to all of family and friends.

Anthony Alfarone
August 8, 2017
David Glorius
June 29, 2017

When we were looking for a house, we finally found one that met our needs...Quiet neighborhood, slow street, 5 bedrooms and a small piece of property. We finally found our dream home. We went to an old friend for a mortgage that drug us through the mud and back, and after 3 agonizing weeks of "just hold on" we couldn't get financing. Went to our bank (1 point higher interest) and they drug us through the mud and back for 2 weeks and nada...Our realtor suggested Brandon Crysler at Southern Home Loans. She called him on a Saturday, we had out paperwork over that afternoon...few more pieces of paperwork on Monday and by the end of the week, we had financing for $190,000. We closed 2 weeks later. We are so happy with My. Crysler. He came through in a pinch when two others failed! 5 *

Just closed on our house last week Annie , Brandon, and Paulette were awesome! Any calls and questions were answered promptly and professionally. I would strongly recommend.

cecelia NARDI
May 21, 2017

This was our first time buying a house in another state. Annie, Brandon and Paulette were very helpful, and returned our phone calls promptly. We were living at a RV park with very limited computer ability. We were able to go to the office to bring over any necessary documents. Not being familiar with e-signatures Brandon helped guide us through it. Would recommend them for a loan company.

Emily Wojcik
May 12, 2017

This was my first home and my lender was G.A. Douglas. He kept me updated on everything and was there to answer any questions that I had. lord knows I called or texted him a thousand times during the processes.He was very patient and understanding. I 100% recommend G.A. Douglas from Southern Home loans!

Stephanie Edwards
December 5, 2016
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