Navy Federal Lender Review for 2020


Heather Larson
Military VA Loan contributor

The Bottom Line

4.5/5 stars

4.5 stars

Navy Federal, the world’s largest credit union with more than 9 million members, ranks as one of the top five VA lenders. They offer competitive rates, a high level of customer satisfaction and a user-friendly web site. Navy Federal offers VA mortgage loans, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) and refinances.

Check today's VA rates by completing this quick online form.

Pros and Cons of Navy Federal

Initiated at the end of the Great Depression in 1933 by seven Navy employees who wanted to help their co-workers and themselves reach their financial objectives, Navy Federal is a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union. Because of that, they offer good rates, lower fees, and some good discounts.

In 2019, Navy Federal received 882 points out of 1,000 in the J.D. Power U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. That put them in third place, points-wise. They also received the distinction of being one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2019. That same year the Reputation Institute named Navy Federal, The Most Reputable Company in Financial Services while Computerworld ranked Navy Federal in the top 10 of Best Places to Work in IT.

But even with winning these awards and more, Navy Federal isn’t flawless, so their advantages and drawbacks are listed below.

Pros of Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Relock your loan if rates go down, at no cost, with Freedom Lock
  • No down payment*
  • No private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  • VA loan specialists
  • Track your loan status
  • Rate match guarantee
  • Online convenience
  • No minimum credit score
  • Live phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week

*Although a down payment may not be needed nor a minimum credit score, the VA requires any lender to review the borrower’s entire loan profile.

Cons of Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Customized rates not available before you apply for a loan
  • Must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to use their services
  • Credit union membership is limited to veterans and current military members, their families, and certain federal employees, retirees and contractors
  • Only 342 branches nationwide
  • No USDA loans
Talk to a lending specialist today.

How to Get a Mortgage With Navy Federal

First, you need to be eligible to join Navy Federal, which means you’re active military or a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy or National Guard or Reserves; or you’re a spouse of a veteran. After you join, then you can set your home buying in motion.

Navy Federal offers the following types of mortgages:

  • VA loans with zero down
  • Military Choice for service members, reservists, and veterans who have exhausted their VA loan benefits, also with zero down
  • Homebuyers Choice to qualified buyers with zero down
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) that start with a low fixed interest rate for a set term, and then adjust according to a certain index. Depending on the particular ARM, the down payment runs from 0-10 percent.

If you’re in the market for a vacation getaway place, Navy Federal finances second homes, as well. They also offer several options for refinancing.

The Homebuying Journey with Navy Federal

The home buying journey should start with a little education and end when you’re handed the keys to your dream home. After a Navy Federal home loan advisor verifies your eligibility for a VA loan, you can take the recommended steps described below:

1. Do your research. Before stepping out to shop for a new home, Navy Federal suggests you do some research. Learn some of the terms pertaining to mortgages and lenders, then decide whether you prefer a fixed rate loan or an adjustable rate loan.

2. Tally the costs. Gather more information about closing costs and the mortgage payment you can best afford, so you know to look for homes in that price range.

3. Check your credit. Get your free credit report from Experian, Transunion, Equifax, or annualcreditreport.com. Fix any errors you find.

4. Contact RealtyPlus. There you’ll work with a RealtyPlus coordinator to ensure smooth sailing and a positive home-buying experience. That coordinator will suggest a real estate agent who specializes in the veterans housing market who will guide you through the home-search process. That agent will contact you within one business day after receiving your request. Read more about RealtyPlus in the “special perks for veterans” section below.

5. Get your preapproval letter. This document spells out how much you can pay for a home, and it lets the sellers and agents know you mean business. It may even give you some bargaining power.

6. Gather the right paperwork. Instead of scrambling at the last minute trying to find what you need, have your tax returns and bank statements handy, either online or in paper form. This makes it easier for everyone involved.

7. Go house hunting. Enjoy the time you spend looking for your ideal home, knowing you’ve done all the preparing and planning you need to ahead of time.

8. Wait for final approval. Your home loan advisor will let you know when your loan is approved. This is also the time to schedule an appraisal and inspection plus shop for title insurance and homeowner’s coverage.

9. Meet at closing. Sign papers, pay fees, and cheer.

10. Take ownership. Get the keys to your new home and start packing.

Ready to buy a home? Start here.

Buying a House with Navy Federal

Navy Federal gives its members some valuable benefits when buying a home. For example, if you find a better rate, they will match it or pay you $1,000.

Navy Federal Rate Match

Navy Federal’s rate match guarantee does come with some requirements: You must lock your rate with Navy Federal before submitting a rate match for the credit union to beat. You must get a loan estimate from the competing lender that’s dated within three calendar days of you locking your rate with Navy Federal.

HomeSquad

HomeSquad, launched in 2019, is a digital mortgage application tool that lets you track your loan status any time of the day, gives you a personalized checklist, sends you notices when you reach certain milestones, and upload documents.

Their online services also have many valuable calculators so you can figure out ahead of time how the numbers will crunch. They have calculators so you can compute your closing costs, monthly payment, compare terms, and your mortgage tax deduction.

Military Choice / Military Choice Jumbo

You can use Military Choice to purchase a home if you’ve exhausted your VA loan entitlement with a previous home purchase or refinance. It comes with zero down and no PMI. However, rates are a bit higher than the going standard VA loan rate, and you must pay discount points. Still, it’s a great choice for those who need zero down but have no entitlement remaining. Navy Fed also offers a Jumbo option for loans that are over conforming loan limits, currently $510,400.

Click here to find out how much house you can afford.

Refinancing a House with Navy Federal

A refinance is sought after for one of four reasons; to get a lower interest rate, to take cash out of the equity you have in your home, to shorten the time you pay, or to convert from an ARM to a fixed rate loan.

Navy Federal offers the following types of refinances:

  • A refinance loan with no private mortgage insurance and fixed rates
  • VA Streamline Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) where you can get a lower rate, a smaller payment, and you don’t have to come up with much cash
  • Military Choice, for those who do not have remaining VA home loan entitlement. Keep in mind that these come with higher rates than traditional refinances, and there’s even a 0.75% add-on to the rate if the current loan is not with Navy Fed.
  • HomeBuyers Choice with a fixed rate and no PMI, a conventional fixed rate with no PMI, and interest only-loans for both primary and secondary homes.

To see how long it will take you to break even on one of these refinancing products, use Navy Federal’s “mortgage refinance break-even calculator.” Members receive even more benefits.

Ready to refinance? Connect with a specialist today.

Special Benefits for Veterans with Navy Federal

NFCU, a full-service credit union, has a network of 30,000 fee-free ATMs. Their banking product’s benefits include competitive rates for share certificates, no monthly fees on a basic savings account or specific checking accounts, and their term-based savings and money market accounts pay higher rates than most. Members pay no service fees on credit card balance transfers or foreign transactions. Navy Federal’s Optional Overdraft Protection Service goes by the title, OOPS.

If you decide on a Navy Federal home loan, they take care of most everything you need including title services and loan servicing.

Advantages of RealtyPlus

RealtyPlus, the free service mentioned before, offers veterans looking for a home “get acquainted with your neighborhood” packages. These include information about real estate market trends, shopping, attractions, health services, automotive and personal services, government offices, school and school district reviews plus school rankings and test scores.

The most alluring benefit to using RealtyPlus, though, is the cash back you could get after closing, if you stay with your assigned agent. This cash back, between $400-$8,000, is based on the sale and/or purchase price of your new home.

The cash back bonus you get, from RealtyPlus, is offered in most states. Other states either provide you with a gift card or a commission decrease at closing. You’re not even required to get your loan through Navy Federal to enjoy this benefit.

Navy Federal Gives Back to the Community

Under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility, Navy Federal gives back to its members, helps members in need, and strives for an environmentally friendly environment.

Annually Navy Federal members save an average of $289 when banking there. Navy Federal also comes to the rescue and helps members in disasters and during government shutdowns. They also host financial literacy workshops to help members with their money challenges. Their buildings and campuses tend to be energy efficient and Navy Federal recycles tons of materials.

The Bottom Line

As you’re shopping for a mortgage lender, be sure to consider Navy Federal. They offer competitive rates, a high level of customer satisfaction and a user-friendly web site.

Check today's VA rates by completing this quick online form.