California veteran applying for a VA streamline refinance

VA Streamline Refinance (IRRRL) For California Veterans

Key Topics In This Article: What Is A VA Streamline Refinance? | Benefits | Requirements | Pros And Cons | Rates | Compare

A VA Streamline refinance for California veterans is one of the best refinance programs available in California. It’s a program that helps active-duty members and veterans secure a low-rate mortgage with minimal documentation and fast processing.

The VA Streamline refinance for California veterans is a simplified approach to providing a low-rate mortgage to current VA home loan borrowers. The benefits and requirements for obtaining this loan are straightforward and clear. Below, I’ll provide all the information you need for a successful VA Streamline refinance.

What Does IRRRL Stand For?

While most California veterans refer to this special refinance program as the VA Streamline refinance, the more formal name is VA IRRRL. But what does IRRRL stand for? Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan.1 And when you verbalize the name, you can say VA “earl.”

What Is A VA Streamline Refinance In California?

A VA Streamline Refinance (aka VA IRRRL) in California is a mortgage loan specifically for active-duty members and veterans who are California homeowners and currently have a VA home loan. The program is designed to provide California veterans with lower rates and faster processing times.

The program’s benefits are significant and can help California veterans achieve their long-term financial goals.

It’s important to note that the VA does not administer the program directly to consumers. Mortgage companies that provide VA home loans to California veterans are responsible for administering the program and following the requirements set by Veteran Affairs. There is a guarantee the VA provides to mortgage companies to protect them in case the loan applicant defaults on the loan.2

This guarantee allows mortgage companies to provide low rates with no downpayment or, in the case of a refinance, no equity.

California VA Streamline Benefits

The California VA Streamline benefits include the following;

  • Lower interest rate
  • Lower VA funding fee
  • Lower monthly payment
  • No out-of-pocket costs for most applications
  • No appraisal requirement for most applications
  • No income verification is required (applies to W2, Self-Employed and Retired)
  • Most California veterans can close their VA Streamline refinance in less than three weeks

These benefits make the VA Streamline refinance a huge win for California veterans who currently have a VA home loan.

Example Of How Much A California Veteran Can Save

In the example below, you’ll see how much a California veteran can save if they choose to do a VA Streamline refinance.

VA Loan Amount & RateMonthly PaymentTotal Interest Paid
$350,000 with a 6.50% rate$2,212.24$446,405.71
$350,000 with a 6.00% rate$2,098.43$405,433.66
$350,000 with a 5.50% rate$1,987.26$365,414.14
$350,000 with a 5.00% rate$1,878.88$326,395.24

If a California veteran has a current VA home loan with a 6.50% rate and completes a VA Streamline refinance, they will save up to $40,972.05 in interest. Going to a 5.50% rate results in saving up to $80,991.57 in interest. That’s more money for homeowners and less money for the mortgage company.

VA Streamline Requirements For California Homeowners

Here are the main VA Streamline requirements for California homeowners seeking a VA IRRRL loan.

  • The current loan must be a VA loan
  • No cash-out allowed with a VA IRRRL
  • There’s a limit on the new term allowed
  • Loan-to-value ratio requirements go up to 110%
  • No late mortgage payments in the last twelve months
  • The new payment must be lower than the old payment
  • Impounds for property taxes and insurance are required
  • Two years of employment (does not apply to those that are retired)
  • Mortgage companies generally require a 600 or higher credit score

The start date of your new VA IRRRL loan must be 210 or more days after you made your first monthly mortgage payment on your original loan.3

All mortgage companies that provide VA IRRRL loans are required to adhere to the underwriting guidelines the VA has established for the program. The VA does allow mortgage companies to have overlays to their guidelines. An overlay is an addition to the baseline VA guideline.

An Overlay Example

One of the most common overlay examples is the credit score overlay. VA home loan programs do not have a minimum credit score; however, all mortgage companies that provide the program have a minimum credit score. The minimum credit score standard required of the mortgage company is the overlay.

California VA IRRRL Refinance Pros And Cons

All California veterans should consider the pros and cons of a VA IRRRL before applying for a VA Streamline refinance.


  • Discounted rate
  • Fast closing time
  • Skip the appraisal
  • Reduced funding fee


  • No cash-out option
  • No renovation option
  • Primary residences only*
  • A VA funding fee still needs to be included

*There is an exception to the primary residency requirement. If you previously lived in the home and now rent it, you may still be able to complete a VA IRL.

Before applying for the VA IRRRL program in California, you should carefully evaluate the pros and cons associated with the transaction and make sure the refinance meets your long-term financial goals.

Mortgage Rates For VA IRRRL

Mortgage rates for a VA IRRRL program are generally lower than conventional and FHA loan rates. Rates will vary from one mortgage lender to the next.

VA IRRRL rates are typically .125% to .50% lower than conventional and FHA loan rates. During times of market volatility, these differences may get distorted.

Economic cycles, market conditions, loan volume, and loan applicant details will impact the VA IRRL rates lenders will offer. The best strategy for locking in a low VA IRRRL rate is to work with a top-rated mortgage broker with access to multiple funding sources.

Banks and direct lenders typically have one funding source. A top-rated mortgage broker will usually have multiple sources. Having this flexibility is the key to getting a low VA IRRRL rate.

Compare VA Streamline Refinance In California

Here is a comparison between VA Streamline refinance and other refinance options available in California.

VA Streamline Refinance compared to a conventional refinance

Use this table to compare the differences between a VA Streamline refinance, and a Conventional refinance.

Underwriting GuidelineVA Streamline RefinanceConventional Refinance
Property TypePrimary ResidencePrimary, Secondary, and Rental
EquityNegative equity allowedAt least 3.00%
Mortgage InsuranceNoYes, if less than 20% equity
Credit Score*600 credit score (lender set) 620 credit score
Debt-To-Income RatioCan go above 50%Below 50%
*Some lenders will go down to a 580 score or lower with a VA Streamline refinance.

VA Streamline Refinance compared to an FHA Streamline refinance

Use this table to compare the differences between a VA Streamline refinance, and an FHA Streamline refinance.

Underwriting GuidelineVA Streamline RefinanceFHA Streamline Refinance
Property TypePrimary ResidencePrimary Residence
EquityYes, if less than 20% equityNegative equity allowed
Mortgage InsuranceNoYes
Credit Score*600 credit score (lender set) *600 credit score (lender set)
Debt-To-Income RatioCan go above 50%Can go above 50%
*Some lenders will go down to a 580 score or lower with a VA and FHA Streamline refinance.

Simple And Fast VA Streamline Refinance For California Veterans

If you are a California veteran looking to refinance your current VA home loan, then the VA Streamline refinance is designed just for you. Low rates, clear benefits, and fast processing make the VA IRRRL program the best option for California veterans.

To ensure you meet the basic VA IRRRL underwriting requirements, work with a top-rated mortgage broker and a loan officer with at least five years of experience. This will put you in the best position to have a successful transaction. You can contact me directly at 1-800-550-5538 with any questions about the VA IRRRL program or complete one of our Contact Us forms.

Citation Sources:

  1. Interest Rate Reduction Loans –
  2. VA Home Loans –
  3. Circular 26-20-16 Exhibit A –
Loan Officer Kevin O'Connor

About The Author

Loan Officer Kevin O'Connor has over 17 years of experience as a Mortgage Loan Originator and is a trusted resource for mortgage education and information. He's the content creator of K.O. Home Loan Solutions and is licensed by the state of California and the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. He has a top rating with the Better Business Bureau, Google, Yelp, and Zillow. You can contact him at 1-800-550-5538. CA DRE #01499872 / NMLS #247447