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7 min read May 30, 2023

VA Loan VS Conventional Loan: Which one is Better?

When it comes to financing a home, two common options are VA loans and conventional loans. By understanding the distinctions between VA loan vs conventional loans, borrowers can make informed decisions about which option best suits their needs.

Difference between Conventional loan vs VA loan

VA loans vs conventional loans are two popular options for financing a home, each with its own set of features and benefits.

VA loans are backed by the Department of VA and are available exclusively to eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and surviving spouses. One significant advantage of VA loans is the ability to obtain financing with no down payment, making homeownership more accessible. Additionally, VA loans often have more lenient credit requirements and do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Conventional loans, on the other hand, are not backed by a government agency. They are typically offered by banks and mortgage lenders and have broader eligibility criteria. While conventional loans may require a higher down payment, they offer more flexibility in terms of loan amounts and property types. Borrowers with strong credit profiles may benefit from lower interest rates and more streamlined approval processes with conventional loans.

Ultimately, the choice between a VA loan and a conventional loan depends on the borrower’s eligibility, financial situation, and specific needs. Homebuyers should carefully consider their options and consult with lenders to determine which loan type is the best fit for their circumstances.

VA Loan vs Conventional Loan Mortgage Requirements

VA loan mortgage requirements and conventional loan requirements have notable differences.

For VA loans, the primary requirement is being eligible as a veteran, active-duty service member, or surviving spouse. VA loans typically have more lenient credit score requirements and may not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, there is a funding fee that is typically added to the loan amount.

Conventional loans generally have stricter requirements. They often require a higher credit score and a down payment, usually ranging from 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price. Conventional loans also typically require PMI if the down payment is less than 20%.

Furthermore, conventional loans have loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. On the other hand, VA loans do not have strict loan limits but are subject to a “guaranty” or coverage limit by the VA.

It is important for borrowers to consider their eligibility, financial situation, and preferences when deciding between a VA loan and a conventional loan, as each option has its own specific requirements and benefits. Consulting with lenders and loan officers can provide valuable guidance in making an informed decision.

Credit Score Requirements

The credit score requirements for a VA loan and a conventional loan differ to some extent. Here’s a brief overview:

VA Loan:

  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guarantees VA loans for eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and some surviving spouses.
  • The VA does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders typically have their own credit score standards.
  • Generally, a credit score of 620 or higher is considered favorable for VA loans.
  • Some lenders may be more flexible with credit requirements due to the VA’s guarantee, but lower credit scores may still result in higher interest rates or additional requirements.

Conventional Loan:

  • Conventional loans are not guaranteed or insured by the government, and they follow guidelines set by private lenders or investors.
  • Lenders usually require higher credit scores for conventional loans compared to VA loans.
  • A credit score of 620 or higher is typically required for conventional loans. Some lenders may have stricter criteria and require scores in the mid- to high-600s or even higher.
  • Lower credit scores may result in less favorable loan terms, including higher interest rates or the need for a larger down payment.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and individual lenders may have their own specific credit score requirements. There are other factors such as income, debt-to-income ratio, and employment history also play a significant role in loan approval. It determines the interest rates for both VA and conventional loans.

Down Payment

One of the main advantages of a VA loan is that it typically allows for no down payment or a very low down payment option. With a VA loan, borrowers may be able to finance up to 100% of the home’s purchase price without requiring a down payment.

The down payment requirements for conventional loans can vary depending on factors such as the borrower’s creditworthiness, loan program, and the lender’s specific criteria. Typically, conventional loans require a down payment of at least 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price.

Property Eligibility Difference between VA Loan and Conventional Loan

Generally, the property must be a primary residence and meet minimum property requirements (MPRs) established by the VA. Certain property types, such as single-family homes, multi-unit properties up to four units, and VA-approved condos, are generally eligible for VA financing.

Conventional loans have more flexible property eligibility criteria compared to VA loans. They can be used for various types of properties, including primary residences, second homes, and investment properties. The property must meet the lender’s guidelines and requirements, which may include factors such as the property’s condition, location, and marketability.

Debt to Income Ratio

The Department of Veterans Affairs sets a flexible DTI limit for VA loans. The general guideline is a maximum DTI ratio of 41%, although exceptions can be made for borrowers with strong compensating factors.

Conventional loans typically have stricter DTI requirements compared to VA loans. The maximum allowable DTI ratio may vary depending on the lender and loan program but is generally around 43% to 50%.

Borrowers Eligibility

To be eligible for a VA loan, borrowers must be current or former members of the military, meet specific service requirements, and obtain a VA Certificate of Eligibility from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The COE verifies their eligibility and determines their entitlement amount for the loan.

Borrowers seeking a conventional loan must typically have a good credit score, stable employment history, and a down payment of at least 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price, depending on the lender’s requirements. Additionally, they may need to meet debt-to-income ratio guidelines set by the lender.

Pros and Cons of VA Loan vs Conventional loan

Pros of VA Loans:

  • VA loans offer the benefit of requiring little to no down payment, making homeownership accessible for eligible veterans and active-duty service members.
  • VA loans often come with lower interest rates compared to conventional loans, potentially resulting in significant long-term savings.

Cons of VA Loans:

  • VA loans typically require borrowers to pay a funding fee. It helps sustain the VA loan program but adds to the upfront costs of the loan.
  • VA loans have certain limitations on the amount they can fund, which means borrowers may face restrictions when purchasing higher-priced homes.

Pros of Conventional Loans:

  • Conventional loans offer more flexibility in terms of loan amounts, property types, and borrower qualifications. It makes them suitable for a wide range of homebuyers.
  • Unlike VA loans, conventional loans do not require borrowers to pay funding fees, reducing upfront costs.

Cons of Conventional Loans:

  • Conventional loans typically require a higher down payment, usually ranging from 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price, which can be a barrier for buyers with limited savings.
  • Conventional loans often have stricter credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements. It makes it more challenging for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit histories to qualify.


Both VA Loan vs Conventional provides benefit and drawback in their particular process. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on the borrower’s eligibility, financial situation, and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a VA Loan?

A VA loan is a mortgage program for veterans and active-duty military personnel with favorable terms.

2. What is a Conventional loan?

A conventional loan is a type of mortgage that is not guaranteed or insured by a government entity. It typically requires a higher down payment and meeting stricter credit and income criteria.

3. Who can apply for VA loans?

Active duty service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and some surviving spouses are eligible to apply for VA loans.

Related: va loan rates, conventional vs va loan, va vs conventional loan, va loans vs conventional loans, Houzeo reviews.


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