Why This VA Loan Lender Is the Best-Kept Secret in the Business

Written by Military.com. Published 6/21/ 2024

When it comes to using your VA loan benefit, you’ll find several big, well-known lenders serving the military community and vying for your business. But is bigger always better?

The Department of Veterans Affairs encourages veterans to shop around for the best rate and service options and consider all possibilities, but often the big lenders with the most advertising dollars are the ones you see and might consider first.

The best-kept secret in VA lending these days are midsize and smaller banks with deep roots in the military community that provide a more personalized experience, and because most banks now have a digital presence, they can offer all the real-time access the big banks provide.

Armed Forces Bank is a great example of a lender that may not be as well-known but should be an option you consider. Founded and headquartered in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Armed Forces Bank is a full-service bank serving the military community since 1907. It clearly checks the important boxes of what to look for in a VA loan lender: customer service, experience and military affinity.

Customer Service

Any bank worthy of earning your loan business needs to be accessible and have great customer service. We’ve all heard nightmares about trying to lock in a loan at a specific interest rate, only to find out everyone at that bank has gone home for the day. Talking to someone and getting the information you need when you need it is vital. Armed Forces Bank, for example, has loan officers in every contiguous time zone so they are available when customers are.

“Buying a home can be a race against other buyers or against time, especially if you are PCSing, so having exceptional customer service available when you need it is crucial,” said Melanie Aguto, senior loan officer at Armed Forces Bank.

While you may be interested in a VA loan right now, it helps if your lender is also a full-service bank that offers other financial services, such as personal loans and refinancing, and finance products, including checking and savings accounts, to save you from juggling multiple accounts across several institutions.

“Customers may start by getting their VA loan with us, but we are looking to build a lifelong relationship with them, and we do that by offering a full suite of products and services for all of their financial needs,” said Tom McLean, military regional executive for Armed Forces Bank.


Your bank should be a trusted partner in your financial life, but especially when it comes to your VA loan benefit, you must be sure it knows what it is doing. A lender with little experience in VA loans could miss important details and cost you money.

First, find out whether your bank is an approved VA lender. That allows your lender to work directly with the VA and lessens the work you must do to connect the dots.

Second, ask how long they have been handling VA loans and have them walk you through your eligibility to get a VA loan, the VA loan-specific appraisal process and any current market challenges that could impact your ability to use your VA loan benefit.

Third, when you find a home you want to buy, have them project what money you may need. While the VA loan requires no down payment, there may be closing costs or fees you need to know about. No one should find out at closing that they need to write a big check for costs their lender missed because they were new at servicing VA loans.

“For people who are unfamiliar with the VA loan process, it may seem complicated. This is a government-secured loan, and that means there are specific rules and regulations that need to be met. However, having the right lender to guide you through the process can make all the difference. Experience matters in this business, and you need a bank that knows every aspect of VA loans,” emphasized Aguto.

Military Affinity

Lots of brands out there jump at the opportunity to say they serve the military and veteran audience, but not all of them truly connect with the military community. If your bank has no connection with the military and veteran community other than servicing VA loans, that is a definite red flag.

Look for banks with a history of serving the community, whose employees have served or have a connection to the military, and seek out lenders that have been recognized by the Department of Defense.

For example, Armed Forces Bank has been honored with the Distinguished Bank of the Year award from the Departments of the Navy, Army or Air Force 12 of the past 13 years. It also earned the Designation of Savings Excellence (DOSE) & Community Impact Award from America Saves as a result of its work during Military Saves Week. Armed Forces Bank is also a member of the DoD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership and is proud that 75% of its employees are affiliated with the military.

Armed Forces Bank also participates in the U.S. Army PaYS Program and supports several military and veteran nonprofits, including Wreaths Across America, Operation Homefront and events sponsored by United Service Organizations (USO).

Armed Forces Bank even has a podcast called “Militarily Speaking” that offers advice and explores the military lifestyle, featuring guests from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Folds of Honor and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

Finding a lender that is actually a part of and invested in the military and veteran community means they are willing to earn your trust and your business.

You worked hard to earn the right to use your VA loan benefit and plenty of banks want your business, but it pays to be picky and you owe it to yourself and your finances to choose a lender that knows what they are doing and can be a long-term partner in your financial success. Look beyond the big names and consider looking deeper into lenders with deep ties to the community, and you may discover bigger isn’t always better.

For more information on using your VA Loan benefit, contact an Armed Forces Bank VA Mortgage Expert today. Click here to get started. Subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender. Member FDIC


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