Buying a home is a massive decision. It’s by far the biggest financial commitment you will have in your life and the confusing process can happen quickly.

In my case, very quickly.

I saw my home at lunch with a realtor, got pre-qualified in the afternoon, and made an offer by 5 pm. And then a counter-offer that was accepted at 7 pm.

I was so excited I finally found a home I loved. Later that night I realized I just made the biggest decision of my life all on the same day. 

Are you ready for this type of investment and commitment? Earlier in 2018 Well Kept Wallet conducted a survey of 1,000 people and found that 13% say that rising mortgage rates will never allow them to buy a home. Another 59% aren’t sure how rising rates will impact!

But, if you’re in the 28% who are ready to buy a home you need preparation to ensure you find a great house and an even better interest rate.

Tip: Current homeowners can get a lower interest rate by refinancing with Credible! When you use their tool, you can compare rates from multiple lenders in 3 minutes! Plus, checking your rate won’t affect your credit score.

Buying a home and the paperwork that comes with it can be overwhelming. It’s best to compare rates and fees to help make the experience as effortless as possible.

11 Best Mortgage Lenders

I hope this list of the best mortgage lenders will help you secure a mortgage that works great for you and your family.

1. LoanDepot

LoanDepot is one of the best mortgage lenders with over $100 billion in new home loans and refinances combined. A great perk is that their agents aren’t paid on which type of loan you choose. This is like a financial advisor who is actually looking out for your own best interest, not his or her own!  

Loan types offered by LoanDepot: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loan
  • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
  • Jumbo-Mortgage
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loan

Details

Loan Depot has an origination fee of 1-5%. With a lower credit score, you might have to pay closer to 4-5% which is relatively high compared to other lenders on the list.

There are several options to begin the application process Loan Depot. The first to actually speak with someone in person as they have outstanding customer service and over 1,700 licensed loan offers in the United States. You will work with this loan officer for the rest of the loan.

They will help show you the different options based on their different loans types and review your budget as well. Once you find your home, you will schedule the closing date with your lender and they will make sure all paperwork is completed.

Plus, Loan Depot specializes in refinancing as well if it makes sense for you to do in the future as well.

Should You Use Loan Depot?

Loan Depot has a ton of great benefits including different types of loans, personalized service, and refinancing in the future. I think Loan Depot is a great choice as long as you have a high enough credit score. A 5% origination fee is very high! 

2. Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate is another great mortgage lender with whom I have personal experience with as I used them for refinancing in 2016. They began processing loans in 2000 as the first digital mortgage service. When I did my refinancing I did everything online which made it simple and easy.

Loan types offered by Guaranteed Rate: 

  • 15 or 30 Year Fixed-Rate Loans
  • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
  • Jumbo-Mortgage
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loan
  • Interest Only Mortgages

Details

While Guaranteed Rate is primarily online only they also have 170 branches in the United States. Guaranteed Rate recommended you have a credit score of at least 620 before submitting an application. They run a credit check relatively early in the process, so make sure your score is high enough before applying.  

Guaranteed Rate has very competitive rates and will give you a variety of different options to offset any lender fees like applying them toward closing costs. I personally loved this as I ended up having to only spend $300 out of pocket to actually refinance my loan from a 30 to 20 year loan.

Their online platform also leads to very fast closing times! Using their tool you can also sort mortgage by preferred loan term, interest rate, and lowest monthly payment. This is super convenient and makes you feel assured you’re getting the best loan possible.

Once you select a loan you can upload all documents digitally, sign, and even schedule your appraisal without picking up the phone. Plus, if you do need help they have glowing reviews of 95% or above on any review site out there.

Should You Use Guaranteed Rate?

Based on my own experience and reading the reviews online, I highly recommend this as a top lender for your loan. If you’re someone who enjoys the convenience and conducting everything online this is one of the best options out there.

Plus, they have very competitive rates, flexible loans, and great customer service. They are one of the few lenders who offer “interest only” loans. These loans minimize your payments at the beginning of the loan in anticipation of increased income in future months.

3. Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage is a newer mortgage lender who has gained a ton of popularity since beginning in 2016. Their commercials seem to be everywhere and they tout how easy it is to use the platform through their mobile app.

Loan types offered by Rocket Mortgage: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loan
  • Refinance

Details

Rocket Mortgage makes the home buying process simple with their online app where you can learn tons about the process without needing to speak to anyone. You can qualify for a loan with as low as 3% down payment. No need to get to 20% like your parents told you!

Origination fees are incredibly low as well at .5%. If you choose something like a VA or FHA loans the fee is slightly higher but still below 1% most of the time. For a $400,000 loan, you would only pay between $2,000 to $4,000 which is nearly stealing. 

Getting started with Rocket Mortgage is easy. Start by downloading the app or applying online. If you have questions during the process they also have helpful videos that will guide you through the process. No need to speak with someone if you don’t’ want to deal with lenders. 

Should You Use Rocket Mortgage?

If you want minimal human interaction and fast closing times, Rocket Mortgage is a phenomenal option! They make it so simple to get your qualifying loan amount in just a few minutes and it can all be done from your phone.

The entire platform and process are very user-friendly and educational to make it as easy as possible. While the service won’t be for everyone, it’s a great option for millennials or someone who wants to get the process going fast!

4. First Internet Bank

First Internet Bank is another top lender with outstanding customer service!  They offer service in all 50 states and can help you secure a loan even if you don’t have the highest credit score. They do require additional paperwork for your downpayment source and even allow you to secure a loan against a 401K or other retirement account like an IRA.

Loan yypes offered by First Internet Bank: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans  
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loan
  • Home equity loans

Details

To get started with First Internet Bank simply apply online. They also have loan experts (not salespeople) who can help with any questions. This means no pressure on which type of loan and you can use them as a resource for any questions you might have.

Plus, they are very clear on their website with informational guides, videos, and different calculators to find the best loan for your situation. My favorite part is the informational glossary so you can check on any terms you might not understand. The home buying process isn’t simple but these resources make it very easy to understand.  

Should You Use First Internet Bank?

First Internet Bank has a lot of perks such as convenience and ability to find answers quickly. Whether you use their online resources or contact a loan official it’s never been easier to find help to any questions on your loan.

Plus, if your credit score isn’t as good you can also secure an FHA loan with additional paperwork and minimal down payment as well.

5. SunTrust

SunTrust is another great lender with a ton of options to help you get started buying your home.

Loan types offered by Sun Trust: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans (10, 15, 20, 25 or 30-year terms)
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • Agency Affordable Financing (AAF): These are loans to help borrowers with lower income as well as areas affected by natural disasters.
  • Agency Plus Financing: These are loans for high-cost home and finance up to $679,650 if you meet the other requirements.
  • Doctor Loan Program: If you are a licensed physician or dentist or enrolled in a program you might qualify for 100% financing.
  • USDA Rural Development Loans – No down payment is required!

Details

As you can see from above, SunTrust offers a variety of different loan types that other lenders don’t have available. They offer other programs like APF’s and Doctor Loans that can help all different kinds of borrowers. Whether you’re in the lower income or higher income brackets SunTrust has an option for you.

To get started with SunTrust you can go online and complete all necessary paperwork. They are a very large lender and have made the application process as easy as possible.

Should You Use SunTrust?

I think SunTrust is one of the best mortgage lenders available as they have so many different options for almost any type of borrower. Plus, they offer exceptional customer service and a very simple application process to secure your loan. 

6. Carrington Mortgage Services

Carrington Mortgage Services will help you secure a mortgage even with a less than stellar credit score. They help people secure loans with government-backed mortgages. Plus, you can start online and go into a branch if you have any questions.

Unfortunately, you might not be located in a state where they have local branches so make sure to double check before enrolling. And if you live in Vermont, Alaska, Massachusetts, or North Dakota you are not eligible.

Loan types offered by Carrington: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans 
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loans (including an FHA 203K Streamline and FHA 203K Full)

Details

The minimum credit score to get started with Carrington is 550 which is significantly less than most lenders on this list as most require a 650 score or above. They use more than just credit score to determine your trustworthiness to repay the loan.

This process is great if you don’t have a high credit score but also increases the amount of time as they manually underwrite each loan. They also review your income, employment history, and any previous mortgage payments if eligible.

Maybe the best benefit of working with Carrington is their partnership with 13 down payment assistance programs. If you live in one of these 13 cities they will pair you up with organizations who can help contribute free money towards your down payment.

Should You Use Carrington Mortgage Services?

Carrington Mortgage Services s a great option if you have a lower credit score and might be strapped for cash. While other lenders won’t give borrowers a chance without a 650+ credit score they use other methods to help. Plus, they have tons of educational information online and will help you walk through the entire home buying process.

7. Citi Mortgage

Citi Mortgage is a branch of CitiBank and has a ton of different options for your home buying needs. They operate in all 50 states and have a variety of options available to all types of borrowers.

Loan types offered by Citi Mortgage: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loans  

Details

Citi Mortgage offers a standard set of loans and doesn’t have specific eligibility requirements online like other lenders. One benefit they do have is that more than just credit score is used to determine your trustworthiness.

Another huge perk is that if you are self-employed they will work with you to secure a loan. A lot of banks and credit unions have very strict requirements for self-employed individuals which makes it difficult to secure a loan if you don’t have two years of past returns.

To get started with Citi Mortgage you can go online or pick up the phone if you prefer to speak to someone in person. Unfortunately, there is a $100 application fee to get started. Once you submit all your paperwork they will show you each type of loan applicable interest rate.

If you already use Citibank for other services you can also benefit from their “relationship pricing” which can help you lower your interest rate even more.

Should Your Use Citi Mortgage?

Citi Mortgage is a great option as they have are part of a well-established brand like CitiBank and have great reviews online. Plus, if you are self-employed they will work with you and help you secure a loan with additional paperwork.

8. US Bank

US Bank is another huge home mortgage lender that offers lending services in all 50 states. Plus, they have local branches in 25 if you prefer more in-person assistance with your home loan.

Loan types offered by US Bank:

  • Fixed-Rate Loans (Down payments for as low as 5% of the home’s value)
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loans  
  • Construction and Lot Loans (only available in states with physical branch locations)
  • Equity-Based products (this includes HELOC’s, home equity loans, and refinancing options)

Details

To get started with U.S. Bank apply online or in person at a local branch office. There are no application fees and standard closing costs do apply for any loan with US Bank.

One of the biggest perks of working with US Bank is how you choose to communicate with your lender. You can work entirely online, call them directly or work in-person in 25 states. This is great for first-time homebuyers who might have additional questions about the entire process.

They don’t have quite the plethora of online resources that other online lenders do on this list but they make up for it with all the communication.

Should You Use US Bank?

US Bank is a mix of old school and new school lending. If you prefer to go in person you can do that or you can do everything online. Plus, they offer a different type of loans that other lenders don’t such as Construction and Lot Loans.

Plus, if you are already a homeowner you can work with US Bank to refinance, get a HELOC, or a home equity loan to use your equity.

9. PennyMac

PennyMac is an online lender who can help navigate you through the home buying process online or on the phone. They do not have physical locations but this also helps keep costs as low as possible for you.

Loan types offered byPennyMac:

  • Fixed-Rate Loans
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan (they require zero down payment at all)
  • FHA Loans  (they usually start at 3.5% down payment)
  • Refinancing options

Details

PennyMac does not have income requirements and generally look for a credit score of 620 or above to get started. FHA loans are a slightly lower requirement at 580. Plus, they are one of the few lenders who will consider your rental payment history as part of your loan application. Most lenders aren’t this generous!

To get started you can call or go online to begin the lending process. One downside to working with PennyMac is that they do require a $100 application fee but can be applied toward your closing costs in the future.

As they are online only they have a very easy to use platform which makes it simple for you to upload all necessary paperwork to get approved. If you have any questions they have thousands of loan officers at call centers around the country as well.

The last major perk of PennyMac is there “rate lock” guarantee. At a certain stage of the application process, you are guaranteed the lowest quoted interest rate even if it increases during the application.

Should You Use PennyMac?

PennyMac is a very standard online lender that can help you secure a low-cost loan for your home. One of the downsides is the $100 application fee and $440 appraisal fee but both can be used as part of closing costs.

10. Caliber Home Loans

Caliber Home Loans is another fantastic option for your home loan mortgage needs. They are one of the largest loan providers in the country and offer products for all types of borrowers. Even if you have below-average credit score Caliber Home Loans have options for you.

Loan types offered by Caliber Home Loans: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans  
    • Home Possible Loans (a program from Freddie Mac that allows for lower credit scores and down payments)
    • Home Renovation: Financing for renovations and repairs
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  (you can receive up to $2.5 million with down payments as low as 5%)
  • VA Loan
  • FHA Loans  
    • FHA 203K Fixed Rate Rehab: This loan is if you are buying a fixer upper to help repair or renovate before you decide to move in.
  • USDA Loans

Details

To get started with Caliber you can apply online or speak with a loan consultant or find a branch near you. Their online platform is simple and easy to follow plus you can request a loan officer to call you if you have any questions.

You can upload everything electronically which is convenient, safe, and secure. Plus, if you choose to go with Caliber Home Loans there is a 94% chance they will continue to be your lender.

Often times when you get a loan other companies will buy your loan and you will switch mortgage companies. In my three years of homeowning, I’ve had five different lenders which can make it a pain to keep everything in order, especially during tax season.

Should You Use Caliber Home Loans?

Caliber Home Loans is a very established lender with billions in loans already secured. They offer an easy to use platform, great customer service, and a large number of loan types.

Whether you need a small loan and have bad credit or have excellent credit and need a jumbo loan Caliber has a ton of different options available. Plus, you’ll probably continue to work with them for as long as you have the loan.

11. Lending Tree

The last option on this list isn’t’ actually a mortgage lender but an online marketplace to help you find the lowest rate possible. Lending Tree gives you all the information to help you decide on a potential lender before submitting any paperwork.

  • Lending Tree tends to evaluate your loan based on:
  • Credit score
  • Debt to income ratio
  • Available cash (for closing costs and down payment)
  • Employment history  

Loan types offered by Lending Tree: 

  • Fixed-Rate Loans (including non-conforming, sub-prime, and portfolio loans)
  • Adjustable-Rate Loans
  • Jumbo Loans  
  • VA Loan  
  • FHA Loans

Should You Use Lending Tree?

Lending Tree is a great option to help you compare lenders and find the lowest interest loan. They are constantly updating lenders rates and details to make it easy for you to decide. Plus, you can use them to search for auto, personal, and business loans as well.

4 Tips to Pick The Best Mortgage Lenders

There’s more to think about when choosing your mortgage lender than you initially realize. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a lender.

1. Understand The Home Buying Process

When you start searching for the best mortgage lender it’s so important to understand the process of buying a home. Your mortgage will range from 10-30 years, so don’t underestimate how big of a decision this is for your financial future. Here’s a simple overview: 

Before you start looking at homes out of your price range it’s best to get pre-qualified to find out your loan details.  Once pre-qualified you can start looking at houses. But, if you want to make an offer on a home will need to get pre-approved as well.

Once an offer is accepted you will enter the escrow period which can range from 30-90 days. During this process, you’ll need to secure home insurance, go through an inspection, and appraisal.  A few days before the end of escrow you will meet to sign all the paperwork, pay for closing costs, and get your keys to move in!

2. Try to Increase Your Credit Score

After the 2008 housing market collapse buying a home requires a lot more paperwork than it did in the past. Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in determining if you qualify to buy a home. If you do qualify, the lower your score the higher your interest rate.

Try to build your credit score beforehand by pulling your free credit reports and verifying any potential errors. Missed payments and negative credit marks can play a huge role in decreasing your credit score.

To increase your score, focus on paying off high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible. If you have credit card debt pay off what you can to minimize your debt to income ratio as well. Anything over 30% credit utilization ratio can have a negative mark on your credit score.

3. Pre-Approval 

When I went looking for my first home I hadn’t even gotten pre-qualified yet! I had to do pre-qual and pre-approval all at once which was a ton of work but luckily a quick process thanks to being very organized. A high credit score didn’t hurt either.

I recommend getting a pre-approval letter, especially if you are in a competitive market before you being house hunting. The home buying process can happen quickly and I’d hate to have you miss out on the home of your dreams by not being pre-approved in advance.

4. Compare Rates from Several Lenders

Once pre-approved you can begin to compare rates with all types of lenders. You can go to credit unions, big banks or search from the best mortgage lenders below.

Ask your friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations on which lender or broker to work with if you don’t have a specific one already.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mortgage Lenders

The process of buying a home and selecting a mortgage lender can be confusing. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions.

How do I get pre-qualified for a mortgage?

Pre-qualifying is the first step in securing your loan. Remember, once you get pre-qualified you will still need to get pre-approved and submit additional paperwork.  

To get pre-qualified you will need to fill out basic information with a lender to gauge how much you can loan based on your income and debts. The quotes will provide you with a general estimate to start looking at homes. 

But you might need more information to actually make an offer on the home by securing a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval will show sellers that you are committed and serious about purchasing the home.

To get pre-approved you will need to provide a ton of information including: 

  • Taxes for the past 2 years
  • Bank statements
  • Employment verification
  • Explanations of negative remarks on credit score

The lender will also do a hard pull on your credit score to figure out your interest rate. The process isn’t quick and recommend that you have all your statements prepared electronically to make it easy.

What should I look for in a mortgage lender?

This is a big decision and recommend doing plenty of research to find the best loan possible. Pick several lenders and compare the types of loans, interest rates, and what your estimated monthly payments would be.

Another thing to evaluate with each lender is the amount you will owe for closing costs. Closing costs are 3-5% of the loan amount that you will owe to close the deal. This can add up quickly depending on the purchase of your home.

Good lenders should check on this and help find things like paying extra points to reduce closing costs. Plus, check with your realtor to see if you can get the seller to pick up a percentage as well. Even a little bit counts!

Final Thoughts on Lending

Remember, buying a house is a huge deal and big financial commitment. If you are serious about wanting to become a first-time homeowner make sure to get prepared before starting to search for your home.

Find ways to improve your credit score, get all your income, debts, and other financials in order to make the process as easy as possible. Also, plan for some hiccups as there is a ton of information exchanged between the buyer and seller.

Once prepared, use this list of best mortgage lenders to find ones that will fit your credit score and type of loan needed. Good luck on owning your first home!

Have you used any of these lenders? What is your experience with buying a home? Let us know in the comments! 

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