Choosing the right mortgage loan is important. Your mortgage not only helps you buy a home, it is likely the largest loan you will ever take out in your life. And because the loan is so big, getting approved and the best possible interest rate is not always simple. Mortgage loans used to be limited to banks and other lenders in your local area, but with the Internet and modern banking regulations, you can expand your search to online and nationwide lenders. Today we are going to look at the best mortgage lenders to fit your needs.
The 10 Best Mortgage Lenders of 2020
- Quicken Loans: Best Overall
- SoFi: Best Online
- loanDepot: Best for Refinancing
- New American Funding: Best for Poor Credit
- Lenda: Best for Customer Service
- Citi Mortgage: Best for Low Income
- Guaranteed Rate: Best Interest-Only
- Chase: Best Traditional Bank
- Busey Bank: Best Traditional Bank Mortgage for Customer Service
- PennyMac: Best Lender for a Low Down Payment
Best Overall: Quicken Loans
Quicken Loans is a well-known mortgage lender with large online and TV advertising campaigns touting the benefits of its premier Rocket Mortgage product. Based on 2016 data, Quicken Loans is the largest loan originators by volume with 436,000 loans originated and is the second largest based on dollar volume.
Quicken Loans is the biggest mortgage lender for a reason. It has a nationwide footprint and makes applying for a mortgage online very easy on the borrower. It offers competitive rates as well, which helps solidify its position as the best overall mortgage lender.
The online lending application is particularly attractive, as it does not involve the same hassles many traditional mortgage lenders require, like lots of physical paper and typing in a list of all of your accounts. With Quicken Loans, much of that happens automatically when you connect your bank accounts. The application process is quick and simple, which is why so many people use it every year.
Best Online: SoFi
SoFi, short for Social Finance, started as a student loan refinancing company and quickly grew into other areas of personal finance, including mortgage loans. SoFi also looks into more than just your credit score when lending. The company includes considerations like valuable college degrees and earning potential.
The borrowing process at SoFi starts with a pre-qualification that does not impact your credit score and takes about two minutes to complete. From there, you can pick your loan and complete all of your paperwork. Like traditional loans, it takes about 30 days to finish a mortgage application and get funded from SoFi.
SoFi offers 30-year and 15-year fixed loans as well as 7/1 ARM and 5/1 interest-only ARM loans. SoFi does not lend for most investment properties and focuses on owner-occupied primary and second homes.
SoFi's origination fee is $1,000 for non-members, and $500 for members.
Best for Refinancing: loanDepot
LoanDepot makes the refinance process smooth and simple. The company is so popular for refinancing that it has funded more than $70 billion for mortgage loan refinancing. LoanDepot also waives refinance fees and reimburses appraisal fees for all future refinances after your first refinance with loanDepot.
Loan offers at loanDepot are not incentivized to promote one product over another, unlike other scandal-ridden banks. This means you won’t be pressured into taking a loan that doesn’t make sense for your unique needs and borrowing situation.
Whether you have better credit, more income, a more valuable home or want to pull out cash for an upgrade, there are many reasons to consider a refinance. As long as it will save you money in the long-term, it usually is not a bad idea to refinance for a lower interest rate. With loanDepot, you will find a better refinancing experience than average.
Best for Poor Credit: New American Funding
New American Funding is a top lender for those with a low credit score or the self-employed. Why? New American Funding looks at every application manually before approving or denying a loan. Some online lenders approve or deny instantly based on computer algorithms, making it hard to get a loan with bad credit. This is not so at New American Funding.
Because each loan is manually reviewed, they may look at other factors such as good savings and a high income. Regardless of your finances, however, they do enforce a minimum 580 credit score for approval. Some lenders will offer a loan with a score down to 550 or 500 in some cases, but you probably won’t get the same quality experience as with New American Funding.
Once you're approved, paying your mortgage on-time every month should help improve your credit score. Over time, you may even build a credit score high enough to refinance at a lower interest rate. But for now, New American Funding is a great place for low credit applicants to get started.
Best for Customer Service: Lenda (now Reali)
Lenda is another member of the online-only mortgage lending industry. Lenda offers quick and easy pre-qualifications and refinancing estimates through its website, but it doesn’t offer customer service exclusively through the Web.
Lenda offers a concierge service to help you through the lending process from start to finish. The paperless process is transparent and will feel comfortable and familiar to digital natives or anyone with experience browsing the Web.
One of the biggest hassles in mortgage borrowing is all of the paperwork and getting any missing documents to the lender. Lenda’s digital system makes it clear what you need to send in and offers updates for what is missing, so you don’t have your approval or funding held up by one form or document.
As of April 17, 2019, Lenda is now part of Reali loans.
Best for Low Income: Citi Mortgage
If you have a low income, you also probably have a low down payment. This makes FHA loans and VA loans, two major government-backed lending programs, top choices for you. If you want either an FHA or VA loan, Citi Mortgage is a good choice.
Citi Mortgage is related to Citibank, one of the largest banks in the United States. Because Citi is so big, they offer mortgage options for nearly anyone who qualifies. That doesn’t mean everyone will qualify, but if you do qualify for the FHA or VA loan programs, you have a good chance of approval from Citi Mortgage.
Citi is not one of the biggest mortgage lenders in the United States compared to some others on this list, which was part of its recent motivation to invest in a new online mortgage origination system. When it is fully deployed, it is sure to make the borrowing experience better and more efficient.
Best Interest-Only: Guaranteed Rate
With an interest-only loan, you can often make lower payments every month than with a traditional, conventional loan. But for that lower payment, you don’t make any progress on paying down the principle and building equity in your home. Interest-only loans are generally not the best option.
But if you do want to go down the interest-only mortgage path, your best option is likely Guaranteed Rate. This mortgage company claims 95 percent customer satisfaction and a top 10 retail lending position in the industry.
Guaranteed Rate offers interest-only mortgages in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Most of these loans are five to ten years in duration and help you preserve cash flow while buying a home that may be otherwise beyond your means. Just beware the downsides of interest-only mortgages before you get started.
Best Traditional Bank: Chase
Chase Bank isn’t just one of the biggest banks in the country, it is one of the biggest banks in the world. And this behemoth bank is also a top mortgage lender. If you want a traditional bank experience where you get your loan through a face-to-face interaction with a human mortgage banker, any Chase branch has it covered.
Chase claims over 5,300 branches and nearly half of all American households as customers in some form (including banking, credit cards and other businesses, too). They offer industry-leading online and mobile apps to manage your mortgage and the rest of your Chase banking relationship.
Chase does not typically have the best rates around, but it is competitive in the mortgage space. It also has better customer service than many competing large, national banks. If your primary concern is an in-person borrowing experience with good customer service, Chase is a good choice.
Best Traditional Bank Mortgage for Customer Service: Busey Bank
A high scoring bank for customer service, Busey Bank is a large mortgage lender located in Saint Louis, Missouri. This bank delivers traditional Midwest business pride with award-winning customer service rankings. Busey runs additional offices in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.
They are not the biggest lender on the block, but they do offer a range of fixed and adjustable loans and loans through the FHA and VA mortgage loan programs. This bank has history back to 1868, making it 150 years old and one of the longest existing lenders on this list.
Best Lender for a Low Down Payment: PennyMac
While PennyMac is not related to massive lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it is a name you may want to know if you are in the market for an FHA loan with a low down payment. PennyMac is a direct lender with a primarily online focused lending business.
It offers a full range of loans including conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, and USDA loans. But for those with a low down payment, notably first-time buyers, you may find good rates and a better experience with this California based lender.