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Navy Federal Mortgage Review: Rate Match Guarantee and 0% Down Are Rare Perks

Refreshed Review Updated Feb. 8, 2022
Kimberly Rotter
By: Kimberly Rotter

Our Mortgages Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) offers fantastic deals on mortgages to those who qualify for membership. If you have a military or Department of Defense affiliation (or you're a family member or share a household with someone who does), NFCU should be on your short list when you shop for a mortgage. In addition to low prices, Navy Federal tends to score very well in customer satisfaction rankings.

Read our full Navy Federal Mortgage review to find out if this might be the best lender for you.

Full Navy Federal Credit Union mortgage review

This mortgage lender is a good fit for: Any eligible U.S. service member shopping for a mortgage. Navy Federal caters to the military community with extremely low mortgage interest rates and a special loan program for people who have exhausted their VA mortgage benefits. Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage is also an excellent choice for a borrower who wants 100% financing with no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Pros

  • Very low mortgage rates
  • Transparent rates and fees
  • Free rate lock
  • Rate match guarantee
  • 100% financing with no PMI

Cons

  • Members only
  • Noncommittal pre-approval
  • Limited selection of loans

Top perks

Rate and fee transparency

NFCU shows its current mortgage loan rates on its website. Its detailed mortgage rate and fee sheet is public and extremely informative. That transparency can be very helpful for borrowers who are doing early research. (Although it's important to remember not all applicants qualify for the best mortgage rate.)

Super low mortgage interest rates

If you're rate shopping, prepare to be impressed. When we checked, the fixed-rate conventional loan interest rate was the lowest we found. What's more, Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage charges less in mortgage points than some other lenders charge to get their advertised mortgage rate.

Rate lock

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage offers a free rate lock (called Freedom Lock) for purchase and refinance applications. With the lock, if rates go up, yours stays the same. If rates go down, you can re-lock at the lower rate within 60 days. A purchase contract is required, and limits apply. VA loans are not eligible.

Rate match guarantee

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage promises that if you find a better rate with another lender, it will match it or give you $1,000.

Affordable closing

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage helps with closing costs in several ways. The 1% mortgage origination fee can be rolled into the loan so that you are responsible for less out-of-pocket closing costs. Or you can eliminate the fee if you opt for a 0.25% interest rate increase.

Special loan for members of the military

NFCU is a top VA loan provider. Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage also offers the Military Choice loan to active duty or veteran borrowers who have already exhausted their VA loan benefits. There is no down payment requirement and no private mortgage insurance.

100% financing loans with no PMI

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage offers the Homebuyers Choice Loan to first-time home buyers. This loan does not require a down payment or PMI. An additional one-time funding fee may be added to the loan balance, but the funding fee can be waived if you opt for a higher interest rate. You can use Homebuyers Choice for a conforming loan or a jumbo loan.

What could be improved

Members only

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage does not make mortgage loans to the general public -- you need to be a Navy Federal member. That said, many people are eligible for membership. NFCU isn't only for those who are on active duty, retired, or veterans of any branch of the U.S. armed forces -- it's also open to families and household members. Department of Defense employees, contractors, retirees, and annuitants also qualify. "Family" includes grandparents and grandchildren in addition to the nuclear family.

Noncommittal pre-approval

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage offers home buyers pre-approval without a commitment to lend. After you submit your financial information, Navy Federal tells you how much you're eligible to borrow, pending approval. You can use this information to learn how much house you might be able to afford, or to show sellers you are serious about buying. During pre-approval, however, the terms are not set. It's only after you choose a property that NFCU performs a more comprehensive review of your application and makes a firm offer.

The online pre-approval is easy to complete, even if it does not put a firm loan offer in your hands. And it's a good first step toward securing your mortgage.

Limited selection of mortgage products

NFCU sticks to a small number of mortgage products and does those really well. But if you need a different loan option -- such as one that allows alternative documentation, an FHA loan, or a construction-to-permanent loan, you will need to shop somewhere else.

Alternatives to consider

If you are not eligible to join Navy Federal, check out these lenders who also offer good mortgage rates.

New American Funding is another great choice. Like PNC Bank, it's open to all applicants. This bank offers special loan options to serve a variety of borrowers. In addition, New American Funding actively seeks out those in underserved communities who might benefit from guidance in the home-buying process. New American Funding supports all types of government-backed loans, including USDA and FHA loans.

PNC Bank offers a wide range of mortgages and special homeownership grants for qualified applicants. PNC's pre-approval is fully underwritten -- so if you are approved, PNC is making a firm commitment to lend under those terms. PNC Bank's applications are open to any borrower.

Lender
New American Funding
PNC Bank Mortgage
Rating
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
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Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0 stars
Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
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Min. Down Payment
  • 0% - 3.5%
Minium Down Payment 0%-3.5% (FHA and VA loans) 3% (conventional loans)
  • 0% - 3.5%
Minium Down Payment 0% VA and USDA 3% conventional 3.5% FHA
Credit Score
  • 580 - 620
Minium Credit Score 580 FHA 620 other mortgage products
  • 580 - 620
Minium Credit Score 580 FHA 620 other mortgage products
Key Features
  • Fast service
  • High customer satisfaction, A+ BBB rating
  • 3% down no PMI offering
  • HELOC's
  • Home equity loans
  • Considers nontraditional credit history
Next Steps

How to qualify

NFCU only offers mortgages to its members. If you are eligible for membership, you can join online, by phone, or at a branch.

Before you start the mortgage process, check your credit report for errors. Some errors affect your credit score, so correct any discrepancies you find when you review your credit history. Check your credit score, too. Navy Federal Credit Union primary credit card holders get a FICO® Score for free -- just enable the feature while you log into your account.

If you're not an NFCU member yet, a free credit score online can tell you what ballpark you're in. Your credit score is a major factor in determining what mortgage interest rate you receive. It's to your benefit to improve your credit (to the extent you are able) before you apply.

Navy Federal is unusual in that it does not set strict cutoff points for your credit score or your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). DTI is the percentage of your gross income that you spend on required monthly debt payments, including housing. It's the main factor that lenders use to determine how much of a mortgage you qualify for.

Generally, the lowest mortgage interest rates are reserved for applicants with a credit score of at least 740 and a DTI under 36%.

When you're ready for pre-approval, you can apply in person or at a branch. You can also use the HomeSquad application platform on the Navy Federal website.

"HomeSquad is our digital mortgage application tool that's been designed to make the home-buying process simpler and easier for Navy Federal members," said Parker. "HomeSquad makes it easier to stay on track with the process and receive updates when key milestones are achieved. Members can link their various financial accounts to HomeSquad and upload important documents like tax returns, pay stubs, and other documents quickly and easily."

After you apply for a mortgage with Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage (or any lender), you receive a loan estimate. This is a standard document that shows the details of the loan offer. All lenders are required to use the same form so that you can easily compare offers.

How are Navy Federal's refinance rates?

Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage refinance rates are rock bottom. If you are eligible to apply for a mortgage at NFCU, looking at this lender is a must when you compare refinance loan offers. If your original home loan is with Navy Federal, a refinance loan is underwritten in much of the same manner as purchase loans. You can expect comparable rates.

How are Navy Federal's rates compared to the national average?

Navy Federal Credit Union's mortgage rates trend lower than the national average. If you qualify for NFCU membership, Navy Federal mortgage might be the best deal in town. Even if you don't qualify for the lowest advertised rate, mortgages from Navy Federal are a great deal. Include this credit union when you research options.

You're NFCU-eligible. If you're a member of the armed forces or a Department of Defense employee (or a family or household member of someone who qualifies), take a look at Navy Federal Credit Union Mortgage. NFCU caters to service members and their families with special products and programs that promote homeownership. A wide selection of loans with low or no out-of-pocket costs plus the free rate lock and rate match guarantee make Navy Federal hard to beat.

You've exhausted your VA benefit. Look into NFCU if you are eligible for the VA loan but have exhausted your benefit. Many of the advantages and benefits of the Military Choice loan are not available with most mortgages.

FAQs

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