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Similar Homes - Conventional Vs Va Mortgage

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Conventional vs VA: Compare Side-by-Side

This guide to Conventional vs VA mortgages compares two popular mortgages among first-time home buyers to help you choose the best mortgage loan for your upcoming purchase.

The Differences Between Conventional and VA Mortgages

Choosing the right mortgage is crucial for home buyers. The two common mortgage types for many buyers, Conventional and VA (Veterans Affairs) mortgages, have several similarities and differences.

When you’re buying your first home, you want to finance it with the optimal mortgage for your finances and future. The two popular mortgages for first-time buyers – the Conventional mortgage and the VA mortgage – share a lot of traits. They’re also quite different.

Highlights: Conventional Mortgage

Conventional mortgages are mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac under the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Conventional mortgages come in two varieties: conforming and non-conforming. Conforming mortgages are conventional mortgages falling within the FHFA’s mortgage loan limits, whereas non-conforming mortgages, often termed jumbo mortgages, exceed these limits.

Conventional mortgages are available with fixed-rate options of 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, and adjustable-rate mortgage options, too.

Conventional mortgage qualification criteria typically include:

  • A down payment of at least 3 percent
  • A verified source of income
  • A minimum credit score of 620
  • Loan sizes within local mortgage limits
  • Structurally sound and habitable homes

Highlights: VA Mortgage

VA loans, guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are exclusively available to active duty military, veterans of the armed forces, and eligible surviving spouses. VA loans offer benefits including no down payment options and no private mortgage insurance to assist in homeownership.

VA mortgages are available as 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, or adjustable-rate. There are no loan limits for VA loans.

Key VA loan features include:

  • No down payment required in most cases
  • No private mortgage insurance (PMI) needed
  • More lenient credit requirements compared to conventional loans
  • Eligibility for primary residences only, not for investment properties
  • Assumability clause for future home buyers

VA mortgages offer more favorable loan terms than conventional loans, especially for those with limited down payment capabilities or less-than-perfect credit.

Mortgages At-A-Glance

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Minimum Loan Size AllowedNoneNone
Maximum Loan Size AllowedSee Loan LimitsNone
Maximum Household Income AllowedNo RestrictionsNone
Minimum Credit Score Required620None
Debt-to-Income Maximum - Standard50.00%41.00%
Debt-to-Income Maximum with Compensating Factors50.00%None
Minimum Downpayment Required3.00%None
Maximum Loan-To-Value Allowed97.00%1
Maximum Combined Loan-to-Value Allowed1.051
First-Time Homebuyer Education RequiredNoNo
Minimum Age AllowedMinimum Legal AgeMinimum Legal Age
Maximum Age AllowedNoneNone
First-Time Home Buyers AllowedYesYes
First-Time Home Buyers OnlyNoNo
Low-Down Payment Mortgage ClassificationNoYes
Income Verification RequiredYesYes
Military Service RequiredNoYes
States AllowedAll StatesAll States
Homeowners Insurance RequiredYesYes
Escrow Taxes & Insurance RequiredRecommendedYes

Compare Mortgage Statistics

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Average Interest Rate: Last Year4.97%4.72%
Average Loan Size: Last Year$402,642371,121
Average Approval Rate: Last Year70.51%76.33%
Market Share: Last Year69.70%10.63%
Purchase Mortgages Originated: Last Year3,442,038525,022

Compare Mortgage Products

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
1-Year ARM AvailableYesNo
5-Year ARM AvailableYesYes
10-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage AvailableYesYes
15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage AvailableYesYes
20-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage AvailableYesYes
25-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage AvailableNoYes
30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage AvailableYesYes
Temporary Buydowns AvailableYesNo

Compare Mortgage Insurance

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Funding Fee / Guarantee FeeNoYes
Upfront Mortgage Insurance PremiumNoNo
Annual Mortgage Insurance PremiumNoNo
Private Mortgage InsuranceYesNo

Compare Occupancy Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Primary ResidenceYesYes
Second HomeYesNo
Vacation HomeYesNo
Investment PropertyYesNo
Non-Occupant Co-BorrowerYesNo

Compare Citizenship Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
U.S. Citizen AllowedYesYes
Permanent Resident Alien AllowedYesYes
Non-Permanent Resident Alien AllowedYesNo
Foreign National AllowedYesNo
Buyers With Diplomatic Immunity AllowedYesNo

Compare Credit Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Credit Scoring ModelTri-mergeTri-Merge
Non-Traditional Credit References AllowedYesYes
Deferred Student LoansLesser of 5% of balance or monthly paymentN/A for Deferral of 12+ Months
Deferred Debt CalculationLesser of 5% of balance or monthly payment5% of balance or monthly payment
Pay Off Medical Collections Prior To ClosingNot RequiredNo
Pay Off Non-Medical Collections Prior To ClosingNot RequiredNo
Bankruptcy, Chapter 72-Year Waiting Period2-year waiting period
Bankruptcy, Chapter 134-Year Waiting Period12-month waiting period
Short Sale4-Year Waiting Period2-year waiting period
Foreclosure7-Year Waiting Period2-year waiting period
Judgments & Liens AllowedMust be satisfiedYes
Federal Income Tax Delinquency AllowedMust be satisfiedNo

Compare Property Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Minimum Square Footage AllowedNo minimumNo minimum
Maximum Square Footage AllowedNo maximumNo maximum
Single-Family Residences AllowedYesYes
Condominiums AllowedYesYes
Non-Warrantable Condominiums AllowedNoNo
Co-ops AllowedYesNo
Townhomes AllowedYesYes
2-4 Unit Homes AllowedYesYes
Manufactured Homes AllowedYesYes
Fraternity and Sorority Houses AllowedNoNo
Tiny Homes AllowedYesNo
Modular Homes AllowedYesYes
Cob Homes AllowedNoNo
Shipping Container Homes AllowedYesNo
Condotels AllowedNoNo
Bed & Breakfast AllowedNoNo
Working Farms AllowedNoYes
Working Ranches AllowedNoYes
Houseboats AllowedNoNo
Log Homes AllowedNoYes
Geodesic Homes AllowedNoNo
Timeshares AllowedNoNo
Homes with Solar Panels AllowedRestrictedYes
3-D Printed Homes AllowedYesNo
Leasehold Estates AllowedYesYes
Mixed-Use Properties AllowedNoYes
Flood Zones AllowedOnly where insurableYes
Properties With More Than 20 Acres AllowedNoYes
Properties with PACE AllowedNoYes

Compare Ownership Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Inter Vivos Revocable Trust AllowedYesNo
Closing in a Corporation AllowedNoNo
Community Land Trust AllowedYesYes
Non-Profit Organizations AllowedNoNo
Municipal Government Agencies AllowedNoYes

Compare Income Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
W-2 Income AllowedYesYes
Self-Employment Income AllowedYesYes
Investment Income AllowedYesYes
Retirement Income AllowedYesYes
Trust Income AllowedYesYes
Social Security Income AllowedYesYes
Military Income AllowedYesYes
Rental Income AllowedRestrictedYes
Asset Depletion as Income AllowedYesYes
Offer Letter Income AllowedYesYes
Disability Income AllowedYesYes
Alimony and Child Support Income AllowedYesYes
Boarder Income AllowedNoYes
Accessory Dwelling Unit Income AllowedNoYes
Cannabis Industry Income AllowedYesNo
Automobile Allowance as Income AllowedYesYes
Housing Allowance as Income AllowedYesYes
Temporary Leave Income AllowedYesYes
Bank Statements as Income AllowedNoNo
Debts Paid By Others as Income AllowedYesNo

Compare Assets & Downpayment Rules

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Seasoning Requirements60 Days60 days
Reserves RequiredNoNo
Cash Gift For Downpayment AllowedYesYes
Seller Concessions, Maximum3.00%4.00%
Salary Advance for Downpayment AllowedNoYes
Relocation Funds for Downpayment AllowedRestrictedYes
Gift of Equity AllowedYesYes
Sweat Equity AllowedYesNo
Crypto for Downpayment AllowedYesYes
Cash Value For Credit Card Rewards AllowedYesNo
Cash Value For Airline Rewards AllowedYesNo

Compare Loan Traits

Loan FeatureConventionalVA
Assumable Mortgage AllowedNoYes
Trailing Co-Borrower AllowedYesYes
Maximum Properties Financed Allowed10Unlimited
Flipped Homes AllowedRestrictedNo
Arms-Length Transaction RequiredYesNo
Occupancy Deadline60 days60 days
Delayed Financing AllowedYesNo
Prepayment Penalty AllowedNoNo
Termite Inspection RequiredNoYes
Power of Attorney AllowedYesYes
Repair Allowances AllowedNoNo
Gifts From Charitable Organizations AllowedNoYes
Sources: FHFA, Department of Veterans Affairs

Important Notice For Home Buyers

This mortgage comparison between conventional and VA mortgages is based on official mortgage guidelines from the FHFA and VA and is subject to change should mortgage guidelines change.

Furthermore, Individual mortgage lenders may use variations of these guidelines, called lender overlays, which may affect a mortgage approval.

If one lender turns down your conventional or VA mortgage application, it does not necessarily mean all mortgage lenders will turn down your application. Different mortgage companies use different eligibility criteria, and getting approved with another lender may be possible.

Consult with multiple lenders to explore your mortgage choices.

Find Out More: Conventional vs VA Mortgages

Want to make an informed decision? Dive into details by visiting our comprehensive conventional Mortgage and VA mortgages guides. And when you’re ready to move forward, start your mortgage pre-approval at Homebuyer.com.

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       This guide to Conventional vs VA mortgages compares two popular mortgages among first-time home buyers to help you choose the best mortgage loan for your upcoming purchase.

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