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If you seek lower monthly payments and a lower interest rate on an existing VA home loan, the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan or IRRRL is designed to help.

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National Averages for November 20, 2014

30 YEAR FIXED

3.375% Rate
3.474% APR

15 YEAR FIXED

2.75% Rate
2.93% APR
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Bruce Reichstein is an Expert on (VA) Military/Veteran Home Loan Guidelines for over 26 years — www.VALoans.com. He is an experienced VA Loan Mortgage Banker who is passionate about assisting US Military Veterans utilize their Veteran Eligibility to purchase a home.

About VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan

VA borrowers who want to refinance have many questions. That list of questions often starts with:

"I want lower payments and/or interest rates. Which type of refinancing loan is right for me?"

If you seek lower monthly payments and a lower interest rate on an existing VA home loan, the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan or IRRRL is designed to help. Once the IRRRL is selected (as opposed to VA cash-out refinancing which has a different set of questions and answers) many borrowers want to know some or all of the following:

Are VA IRRRLs limited to fixed-rate refinance loans?

According to VA loan rules, these loans can be fixed-rate, adjustable rate, or hybrid adjustable rate mortgages.

I heard IRRRLs require the payment or interest to go down. Is this always true? Are there exceptions?

The general rule for VA IRRRLs is that the rates on the loan must go down. However, exceptions are made in the case of adjustable rate mortgages. VA Pamphlet 26-7, the VA loan rulebook for lenders, says, "An IRRRL (which can be a fixed rate, hybrid Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) or traditional ARM) must bear a lower interest rate than the loan it is refinancing unless the loan it is refinancing is an ARM."

Do my payments always have to go down as a result of an IRRRL?

VA loan rules say that, in most cases, the borrower's mortgage payments must go down as a result of the IRRRL. As with the interest rate reduction guidelines, exceptions do apply.What does VA Pamphlet 26-7 says about this? "The principal and interest payment on an IRRRL must be less than the principal and interest payment on the loan being refinanced unless one of the following exceptions applies:

 the IRRRL is refinancing an ARM,
 term of the IRRRL is shorter than the term of the loan being refinanced, or
 energy efficiency improvements are included in the IRRRL."

In some situations the VA refinancing loan could, depending on the specifics of the loan agreement, actually cause the monthly payments to increase--often a factor when energy efficient improvements are rolled into the loan amount. What does the VA say about such circumstances?

"A significant increase in the veteran's monthly payment may occur with any of these three exceptions, especially if combined with one or more of the following:

 financing of closing costs,
 financing of up to two discount points,
 financing of the funding fee, and/or
 higher interest rate when an ARM is being refinanced."

The lender may require new credit checks and other underwriting if the amount of the loan changes--a practice that is allowed and sometimes required depending on the loan. If you aren't sure what might cause your refinance loan to result in higher payments or interest rate, discuss your options with your loan officer.