One way to save money when buying a home is by getting a mortgage online. You can compare the best rates from online mortgage companies.
Then you can begin the pre-approval process and make a serious offer on your dream house.
Getting a mortgage online can be quicker and cheaper than visiting your local traditional bank. You can save time because the application process is digital.
Instead of driving across town to deliver loan documents, you upload them from home. The time savings means you can close a few days sooner.
Table of Contents
- Best Online Mortgage Lenders
- Online Mortgage Company Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Online Mortgage Lenders
There are plenty of places willing to lend you money. But you might give these online mortgage companies a look first.
With any loan, it’s important to make sure you compare rates from several lenders.
On a $200,000 starting balance, a rate that’s 0.25% lower can save you $10,800 on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage term.
You can apply for both new home loans and mortgage refinancing online.
LendingTree is a mortgage broker that allows you to compare rates from multiple lenders for free.
The company states by asking you a few questions to help determine what your personal credit history is and where you are in the house-hunting process.
For each quote you receive, you can see a breakdown of your loan program estimated fees and monthly mortgage payments. What I like is that lenders show you different loan terms, like a 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate term.
- Fast response from multiple lenders
- Good reputation
- Simple and free service
- Alerts on better deals
- Information and marketing overload
- Personal information collected and sold
- No specialty
If you’re looking to refinance your home, consider LoanDepot. After you refinance with them once, they will waive lender fees and reimburse you for the appraisal fee on any future refinances through them.
When we refinanced our mortgage a few years ago, the refinancing fees erased some of our interest savings.
Still, as with all loans, you should compare interest rates and lender fees with other providers.
LoanDepot isn’t just for refinance loans, though. It offers purchase mortgages, too.
Like several other online mortgage companies, loanDepot agents don’t work on commission.
Their duty is to choose the mortgage that’s the best option for your purchase.
Local branches across the United States offer in-person support as well.
- One stop shop
- Offer a lifetime guarantee
- Customer service
- Branches available
- No USDA loans
- Tricky to use for complex mortgages
- No HELOC loans
3. Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans
Rocket Mortgage is one of the largest online mortgage companies. J.D. Power rates Quicken Loans as best overall in their 2018 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey.
With Rocket Mortgage, you can also secure your rate for up to 90 days, even if you’re still house hunting.
Most online mortgage companies secure your rate for 45 days after you submit an official mortgage application.
That’s enough time to complete the closing process after the buyer accepts your offer.
When you live in a hot real estate market, you might need more than 45 days to find a home and complete the closing process.
Mortgage rates are gradually rising, so securing a rate before you find a house provides peace of mind.
The 90-day RateShield Approval gives you more time to shop for homes. When you want to make an offer, Quicken sends the buyer a verified approval letter.
If rates drop during the 90-day period, you pay the lower rate when your mortgage closes.
Also, Rocket Mortgage services 99% of their loans. Instead of ditching you after your mortgage loan closes to make a quick buck, they’ll take care of you for up to 30 years.
That’s unusual for any mortgage lender, whether online or brick-and-mortar.
- Lending in 50 states
- Backed by one of the biggest lenders
- Fast turn around
- Offer mortgage and refinancing options
- No construction loans
- No physical locations
- Higher closing costs
4. Reali Loans
When you compare mortgage lenders, you need to look at estimated one-time fees as well as interest rates.
These fees are how many banks earn their loan income before transferring your loan to a servicing company.
Reali (previously Lenda) offers competitive rates and tries to keep their loan fees to a minimum.
In addition, Reali uses Notarize to offer digital notary services. That can make the application process simpler by allowing you to use your webcam and microphone to sign documents.
We had to go into our bank to sign notarized documents in front of our loan officer.
At this time, Reali only offers conventional home mortgages for your primary dwelling and investment properties. You’ll need to use another lender if you need an FHA loan.
Another downside is that Reali only serves a handful of U.S. states.
- Self-employed borrower home loan options
- Custom online quotes
- Limited states available
- No home equity or government loans
5. Guaranteed Rate
Some online mortgage companies are online-only. If you still want to enjoy local access during the approval process, you can try Guaranteed Rate.
It has more than 200 physical branches across the United States.
With their Digital Mortgage option, you don’t have to visit a local office to start the loan process.
It’s possible to get 15-year and 30-year fixed rate terms for conventional, FHA and VA loans.
Adjustable rate terms are available if you can pay off your loan in seven years or less.
- Loan and refinancing options available
- Provides sample rates for products
- Government loan options
- No HELOC options
- Lender fees
- Interest rate transparency
6. Ally Bank
We already like Ally Bank for its industry-leading money market rates. You might also like its home mortgage rates. Those rates can be lower than other online lenders.
As always, get quotes from at least two lenders to see which one is better for you.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, Ally also offers Fannie Mae’s HomeReady program.
This program helps low and middle-income households reach the dream of owning a home.
You only need a 3% down payment (vs. 3.5% with an FHA loan). These loans can also be easier to qualify for than FHA loans because there aren’t any geographic restrictions.
- Great secure online process
- Rate transparency
- Price match guarantee
- No government loans
- Clerical functions outsourced
- Loans not offered if you have bad credit
Want to buy investment properties? PennyMac offers origination fee discounts on investment property loans. You can get quotes for your new primary residence, too.
In all, PennyMac offers these loans:
- Investment property
- Jumbo loans
After submitting an online application, you will talk to a team member on the phone to continue the application process.
But, you can submit your documents online for a fast underwriting process.
- Competitive rates
- Easy to use online
- Offer custom rates
- No physical locations
- Turn around time
- No jumbo or lines of credit
Tip: Consider buying single family rental homes from Roofstock.
Better offers many different purchase and refinance mortgage loan types. One nifty perk is its $1,000 price match. If other lenders offer a lower price in three days, it’ll pay you $1,000.
Prequalification is simple and you can lock in your rate within three minutes. After this first step, Better assigns you a loan officer to guide you through the process.
Also, Better tries to keep its fees to a minimum. Its agents don’t work on commissions, which means the lender fees should be lower than commission-based lenders.
After pre-qualifying, you receive a three-page report listing the different loan fees. Other online mortgage companies also offer this document.
Go ahead and compare Better’s rates to other lenders to see which one has lower fees.
- Fast online approval
- Customized rates
- Fast underwriting process offered
- Limited states
- No government loans
You might know Sofi as a company for refinancing student loans. They also offer new mortgages and refinance mortgages.
It’s possible to get a loan with a 10% down payment. And, unlike with other lenders, you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you choose this option.
Another reason to consider Sofi is that you get a 0.125% discount if you already have a Sofi loan. This is another way you can save on the total cost of your loan.
As a Sofi member, you can also enjoy free career coaching and unemployment protection.
If you lose your job, Sofi pauses your loan payments for up to 12 months. Your mortgage goes into forbearance status.
However, interest on your mortgage still accrues during this time. You can either continue paying the interest or roll it into the loan principal when payments resume.
Sofi is a good option if you have a thin credit record. It looks at your work history and future career prospects, as well as your financial history to determine your interest rate.
Other mortgage companies might focus almost exclusively on your credit score (debt-to-income ratio).
Sofi also considers your credit report score, but it’s only one part of the big picture.
- Member discounts
- Non traditional incomes welcome
- Quick pre-qualifying tool
- No government loans
- No physical locations
10. First Internet Bank
First Internet Bank has the best quote process I’ve seen. By entering your home purchase details into the rate checker, you can get a quote in about one minute.
At least, that’s how long it took me.
The quote is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen without submitting an actual application.
I see a detailed list of lender fees and third-party fees that all fall into the closing costs category.
It’s important to note these are all estimated charges and you won’t get an accurate list of fees until the underwriting process begins.
This uncertainty is standard with every mortgage lender. But, it’s nice to see an entire estimate without having to provide your contact information.
First Internet Bank offers conventional and FHA loans with fixed or variable interest rates.
It also does a good job of adding transparency to the online mortgage process. You can see its loan expert team on the website and even chat live with them.
- Variety of products offered
- Quick response
- Available to all states
- No local branches
- Credit score limits to qualify
If you qualify for USAA membership, you can’t ignore its online mortgage options. With its real estate rewards network, you get cash back based on the purchase price.
For instance, buying a $250,000 house gives you a $1,250 cash back reward.
You can get a conventional or VA loan through USAA.
In lieu of an FHA loan, you can get a “Conventional 97” loan if you’re a first time home buyer.
You can qualify for this loan if you haven’t had one in the past three years. And, you only need to make a 3% down payment.
In addition to helping you find an agent, USAA also assigns you a real estate rewards advocate.
Your advocate can help guide you through the mortgage and rewards process.
- Experts in veteran and military loans
- Available in all states
- Experienced with first time home owners
- Rate information limited
- No FHA or USDA loans
- Limited to military and veterans
Online Mortgage Company Tips
There’s a lot to learn when getting a mortgage and picking the best lender.
A home is a large purchase and means potentially making payments for 30 years, so choosing the wrong lender can cost you thousands of dollars in fees and interest.
Paying 5% instead of 4.75% on a $200,000 starting balance for 30 years costs $10,000 more.
Even though it’s only $30 more each month, you might cringe when you see the total interest paid estimates when you compare rates.
Compare Interest Rates to APR
Each mortgage company will offer a loan product with specific rates and features. When you get a mortgage quote, you will see two different rates: Interest Rate and APR (annual percentage rate).
You probably need to pay more attention to the APR since that’s the more realistic rate. For example, one loan quote I have is a 4.875% interest rate and a 5.167% APR.
If I borrow $200,000, the annual interest rate is 4.875% for the life of the loan. The APR includes broker fees, closing costs and lender credits you don’t pay upfront.
These add-on fees might be flat-rate or proportional to the amount you borrow. If you don’t pay these fees upfront, then you pay for them over the life of the loan.
To lower your APR, you can pay more of these add-on fees upfront. You might also consider buying points to reduce your interest rate.
Each point costs 1% of your loan balance. Most experts recommend only buying points if you plan on having your mortgage for at least six years.
This six year mark is the breakeven point for most borrowers to start saving money from buying points.
As a side note, not every lender lumps the same expenses into the APR. Some lenders include more than others.
To the best of your ability, try to get an itemized list of your loan amount with each lender quote.
This gives you a more accurate projection of your APR, minimum down payment, and any additional fees.
Consider Getting a Shorter Loan Term
Besides comparing interest rates and APRs for 30-year mortgages, also look at short loan terms.
The most popular alternative is a 15-year mortgage. Some lenders also offer 10 and 20-year terms.
With shorter terms, you have a higher monthly payment and a lower interest rate.
When comparing 15-year and 30-year loans, you’ll see you also pay less total interest on a 15-year loan because you repay the loan in half the time.
Here’s a sample quote I have for a $250,000 mortgage:
- 15 years at 4.62% APR: $96,920 total interest paid
- 30 years at 5.15% APR: $235,948 total interest paid
Frequently Asked Questions
When deciding to choose the right lender, make sure you have all your questions answered. Here are a few we found helpful.
Online lenders are just that. Since they are not a typical brick and mortar site, you may be offered slightly better rates and other discounts.
The answer should be no. Typically this is a free offer from lenders to help you find the best rate.
This is very similar to traditional yet the paperwork is filled out online. And any documents you need to provide can simply be uploaded from your computer to their secure site.
With the new technology, things like a closing, or online closing called an e-closing, can take as little as 15 minutes.
As you can see there are multiple options to find an online mortgage company. Make sure to use this information to pick the best mortgage lender for your situation.
Homeownership is a big deal. Online mortgage companies today are competing with conventional loans to give you the best rates and high customer satisfaction.