Home interest rates are at historic lows and VA home loans offer lower rates than any other type of home loan. Navy Veteran John Bell, deputy director of VA’s Loan Guaranty Service, joins Borne the Battle to break down VA’s Interest Rate Reduction and Refinance Loan (IRRRL), mortgage refinancing, VA home loans and how these benefits help Veterans stay in their homes.

Bell, a Gulf War Veteran, began his career in the mortgage industry working in the private sector. Before starting with VA, Bell most recently served as Vice President of VA Real Estate Management at Bank of America. He held other senior leadership positions at large lending institutions where he designed a portfolio retention strategy that is now an industry-leading model.

Bell started with VA in 2010. Before taking his current position, he served as the assistant director for Loan Policy and Valuation in VA’s Loan Guaranty Service, where he helped reduce timelines for determining eligibility from 14 days to less than 48 hours.

Could a refinance to a lower rate reduce your monthly mortgage payment? Photo courtesy of Nick Youngson.

Bell builds on his appearance in Borne the Battle’s #150: Benefits Breakdown – 75th Anniversary of the VA Home Loan Program episode to answer key questions about VA home loans, refinancing, the current mortgage market and IRRRLs. He says VA Home Loan Guaranty services want to be the voice of the Veteran and aims to help Veterans buy and stay in the home of their dreams.

This episode answers these questions:

  • How quickly can a Veteran receive their certificate of eligibility for a VA Home Loan?
  • What are the pandemic and CARES Act doing to the mortgage market?
  • Why are Veterans receiving mailers about Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRLs) and what are IRRRLs?
  • How do IRRRLs work and where do you start when seeking refinancing?
  • Why use IRRRLs now? What might be delaying an IRRRL right now?
  • How often can you refinance your mortgage?
  • What are important questions to ask your lender?
  • What fees are negotiable when closing on refinancing? What third party fees are involved?
  • Does VA require you to escrow?
  • What is the best way to shop for an effective rate and how do you avoid predatory lending?

All these questions are answered in this episode. LISTEN HERE

Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

Mentioned in this episode:

Jana Jenkins is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. She is an undergraduate student at the College of Saint Benedict studying Communication.

Jabari Shakir is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He is a journalism undergraduate at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

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Published on May. 3, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.8 min.

Views to date: 453


  1. Doane York May 8, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Im a former Marine and live on Oahu and looking for a house using va to buy.
    Can you lead and direct first step. Aloha Sgt. York.

  2. Ev May 6, 2021 at 1:06 pm


    Do you have a transcript? It’s more accessible for me to read it then to try to listen. I would have to rewind it over and over again.


    • Tanner Iskra May 7, 2021 at 6:40 am

      Hi Elaine,

      The transcript for the full episode will be out soon. In the meantime there is closed captioning of the full interview on YouTube.


  3. Elaine Lee May 6, 2021 at 6:57 am

    I’m at 3.375, I want a lower rate , but some banks have higher closing cost and I do not want to increase my balance on this mortgage. What to do?

  4. Robert Jones May 3, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    We owe approximately $107,000. On our home that would probably sell in today’s market around $275,000. We currently have 3-1/2% interest rate. Would it be worthwhile to refinance?

    • Tanner Iskra May 5, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Hi Robert,

      I would say listen to the episode. There are many reasons to refinance and John did a great job laying it out for everyone. After that I would call a trusted lender and seeing if it’s the right decision for you.

      – Tanner

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