Mortgage Research Center, which does business as Veterans United Home Loans, originated $12.8 billion in total volume in fiscal year 2019. With this total volume, Veterans United remains the No. 1 lender for loans backed by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the recently released Department of Veterans Affairs annual report detailing lender volume for fiscal year 2019, Veterans United achieved the top spots for both overall volume and VA purchase volume.
In FY19, the VA backed more than 624,000 loans, with total loans up 2.3% year-over-year. Of the more than 624,000 loans, Veterans United recorded 53,328 total VA loans – 46,019 being purchase.
Veterans United has held the top spot for VA purchase lending for 16 consecutive quarters and is the country’s overall largest VA lender.
For FY19, purchase loans continued to drive the VA mortgage market, but refinance originations also experienced solid year-over-year growth (5.6% increase).
Record growth in VA lending
VA lending has surged since the housing crisis. Of the last seven years, five have seen record-breaking volume.
Lenders have originated more than 8 million VA loans over the last 20 years, with nearly 70% originated during the last decade.
The VA market represented about 2% of all mortgage originations in the years leading up to the Great Recession. Today, VA loans make up about 10% of the mortgage market.
The rise in VA lending came in the wake of the mortgage meltdown, as conventional lenders tightened credit requirements and demanded higher down payments. VA loans allow qualified buyers to purchase with no down payment or mortgage insurance and feature more flexible credit guidelines than conventional mortgages.
VA loans have also had the lowest foreclosure rate of any loan product for nearly all of the last decade, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Competition in the VA market has increased as more veterans and service members take advantage of their home loan benefit. About 1,500 lenders make at least one VA loan a year. However, nearly 40% of all VA originations last year came from just 10 companies.
The emergence of Veterans United as the nation’s largest VA lender in many ways mirrors the growth of the loan program.
Based in Columbia, Mo., Veterans United is a full-service lender that specializes in VA loans. The company lends in all 50 states and has brick-and-mortar operations in about two dozen cities nationwide, mostly near larger military installations.
The future of VA lending
Demographic and legislative changes point toward another big year for VA loans in 2020.
Millennial and Generation Z veterans accounted for nearly half of all VA purchase loans in FY19. Thanks to their VA loan benefit, younger veterans and service members don’t have to spend years building top-tier credit or saving for a down payment. These younger buyers will continue to play an outsized role in the growth of the program.
Another key growth factor is the removal of VA loan limits for qualified buyers. Starting on January 1, 2020, veterans with their full VA loan entitlement will be able to get a loan of any size without the need for a down payment.
In prior years, veterans purchasing above their county’s loan limit would need to factor in a down payment. This change will help veterans and service members keep pace in some of the nation’s costlier housing markets.
The VA loan program celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2019. In many ways, the benefit is more important today than it’s ever been.
Veterans United Home Loans, NMLS ID #1907, Equal Housing Opportunity, contributed to this article.