FAQ How Long Should a VA Refinance Take?

Samantha Gustafson Samantha Gustafson / Published Jan 1, 2016, 12:00 PM / Modified Aug 16, 2021, 11:58 AM

This is one of those frequently-asked questions the applicant has more control over the answer than anyone else. How, you may ask? Because the single biggest variable that determines how long a loan takes to process is how quickly the borrower supplies the documents and information that the loan officer and underwriter need to move the loan forward. That being said, the “base time” that it is going to take is still very important and helpful for planning. Just know that your own responsiveness and cooperation will have the greatest effect in determining how long your loan takes to process. You can make it go much faster, or you can make it take longer. Quick tip: if you want to annoy your loan officer, take a long time getting documents and information to them, then complain about how long the loan is taking. the “base time” is going to be different depending on the refinance you are doing and what you are trying to accomplish.

How long will it take?

An uncomplicated IRRRL can be completed extremely quickly - in as little as 10 days in some cases. IRRRLs are meant to be very fast, however - that’s why they are called a streamline refinance option. Even an IRRRL can take a long time if the borrower does not provide the necessary information in a timely manner, however. On the lender’s side, the process is very quick and easy. IRRRLs can commonly take around 20 days, and a more complicated IRRRL that waits on information from the borrower can take up to 30 days. It is extremely odd for an IRRRL to take longer than 30 days. You can check with your lender about whether the loan will need to be sent to the VA for prior approval. Most IRRRLs do not (even if the lender you’re working with doesn’t have automatic authority), but some will, and having to send the loan application to the VA for prior approval can add a week to the time it takes to close.

A cash-out refinance has a lot of variation as to how long it might take. The general rule of thumb for a new purchase loan is 45 days. Refinances generally go somewhat faster, and 30 days is usually a safe bet. However, while a cash-out refinance won’t often be much quicker than 30 days, it can be a good deal longer - sometimes taking as long as 90 days. One major variable in how long a cash-out refinance can take is whether the lender you’re working with has automatic authority. Lenders can apply for automatic authority from the VA to approve most loans without first submitting them to the VA. Most lenders (especially those who specialize in VA loans) will have this authority, but some reputable VA-approved lenders may not. If a lender does not have automatic authority, they will have to send the refinance application to the VA for prior approval before they can close on the loan. As mentioned above, if a loan must be sent to the VA for prior approval, it can add a week to the loan processing time.

Loans with special circumstances may have to be sent to the VA for approval regardless of whether the lender has automatic authority. Your lender should advise you on whether your loan is one of those cases, but if you have a unique circumstance or situation, you may want to bring it up with your lender directly to find out if it will need to be sent to the VA. It’s not a big deal if it does, it simply adds some time to how long the loan will take to process. Chances are your situation will not be dramatically affected if the loan takes a week longer than you expected. If you are worried about it, simply start the loan process a few weeks earlier than you necessarily need to.

In summary, if you’re using an IRRRL, don’t expect it to be faster than 10 days, but it should most definitely be faster than 30 days. If you’re using a cash-out refinance, expect around 30 days, but remember it might be as long as 45 days even if you are prompt in providing your paperwork. The biggest variable you can control is how quickly you respond to your loan officer’s requests for documentation and information.