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 at the best possible interest rate is not always simple.
The variety of online-only and traditional-bank options you have for funding can expand your search to online and nationwide lenders. Each of the following 10 lenders excels in certain aspects of mortgage lending.
The 10 Best Mortgage Lenders of 2021
|Lender||Why We Picked It|
|Quicken Loans||Best Overall|
|loanDepot||Best for Refinancing|
|New American Funding||Best for Poor Credit|
|Reali||Best for Convenience|
|Citi Mortgage||Best for Low Income|
|Guaranteed Rate||Best Interest-Only Mortgages|
|Chase||Best Traditional Bank|
|Busey Bank||Best Midwest Lender|
|PennyMac||Best Lender for a Low Down Payment|
We partnered with the following mortgage lenders to bring you the offers in the table below. Under that, you'll find additional details on our editors' picks for the best mortgage lenders of 2021.
Quicken Loans: Best Overall
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 2019 data, Quicken Loans is the largest loan originator by volume with 541,000 loans originated.
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.
SoFi: Best Online
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.
SoFi offers 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. SoFi does not lend for most investment properties and focuses on owner-occupied primary and second homes.
SoFi's origination fee is $1,495 for non-members, and $500 for members who have SoFi personal or student loans, or at least $50,000 in a SoFi Invest account.
loanDepot: Best for Refinancing
LoanDepot makes the refinance process smooth and simple. The company is so popular for refinancing that it has funded more than $100 billion for mortgage loans and refinancing. LoanDepot offers the distinct advantage of waiving refinance fees and reimbursing appraisal fees for all future refinances after your first refinance with loanDepot.
LoanDepot's lending officers abide by an in-house "no steering" policy, which means they don't have any incentive to push you toward one loan over another. So, when you refinance a loan, you're likely to have refinance options that work in your favor.
Whichever options you receive, be sure to look over the terms of the loan. Know what the fees are and what you'll be paying per month. Make sure the lower monthly payments you'll get (in theory) are worth extending your mortgage.
New American Funding: Best for Poor Credit
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.
Reali: Best for Convenience
Unlike the other lenders on this list, Reali offers buying, selling, and lending service. So, you can do your home search from your couch using Reali's app. The company connects you with local real estate agents in the area you want to buy.
You can visit the home in-person or do a virtual tour; you could buy a home without ever meeting your agent or seeing the house. And because Reali offers mortgages in addition to home listings, you could get your mortgage and buy your home all with one company.
Reali's agents don't take a commission for helping you buy your even though the seller may set aside a commission for the buying agent. Rather, Reali sends the commission to your bank account in the form of a non-taxable rebate. The average rebate is $12,000.
To be eligible for the rebate, the seller must set aside of enough of a buyer-agent commission to be at least 1.5% of the purchase price or $5,000, whichever is greater.
Citi Mortgage: Best for Low Income
Citi's HomeRun mortgage is focused on families that may not have the traditional 20% saved for a down payment, and who are looking for a reasonable mortgage payment to fit into limited income.
There are a couple of features the HomeRun offers that make it a great fit:
- No mortgage insurance
- Down payments can be as low as 3%
- You can include outside money and/or gifts in your down payment
Typically, lenders may be skeptical if, say, a family member helps pay for your down payment. But, in Citi's case, they've created lending guidelines that make it possible for you to contribute just a third of the down payment.
In some cases, forgiving programs like this may charge higher interest rates. However, Citi claims that their HomeRun Mortgage has interest rates that compare to conventional mortgage rates.
Guaranteed Rate: Best Interest-Only Mortgages
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. And, when the interest-only period ends, your mortgage payment balloons to a much higher amount. Therefore, interest-only loans are wise only in a specific set of circumstances:
- You plan to sell the home before the interest-only period ends
- You will experience a significant pay increase before your mortgage payment increases
- You're a real estate investor
But if you do want to go down the interest-only mortgage path, Guaranteed Rate could be a good option. They typically offer mortgages with five to 10 years of interest-only payments. Not only do they offer interest-only mortgages, but they're also a top-15 lender in the mortgage 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.
Chase: Best Traditional Bank
If you want a traditional bank experience where you get your loan through a face-to-face interaction with a human mortgage banker, Chase has you covered.
The bank has more than 4,900 branches and nearly half of all American households as customers in some form (including banking, credit cards, and other businesses, too).
Just as important as their nationwide reach is the fact that the customer service you get from those branches will likely be excellent. Of the 11 regions J.D. Power ranked in its 2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Chase finished first in California and Florida and scored above average in every other region.
Busey Bank: Best Midwest Lender
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. Of 21 banks rated in J.D. Power's 2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Busey finished sixth out of 21 banks, beating out big names like Chase, Citibank, and U.S. Bank.
Though Busey isn't the biggest lender on the block, it does offer a range of fixed and adjustable loans and loans through the FHA and VA mortgage loan programs. This bank started in 1868, making it 150 years old and one of the oldest lenders on this list.
PennyMac: Best Lender for a Low Down Payment
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. For members of the military, PennyMac's VA loans offer the chance at a zero-down-payment mortgage.
CFPB. "2019 Mortgage Market Activity and Trends." Page 61. Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
SoFi. "Home Mortgage Loan Financing Options." Sept. 10, 2020.
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loanDepot. "Home Mortgage, Refinance, and Equity Loans." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
Reali. "Houses for Sale Near Me." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
Citi. "HomeRun Mortgage." Sept. 10, 2020.
Guranteed Rate. "The Interest-Only Mortgage." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
Guaranteed Rate. "Interest Only Mortgages." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
Chase. "About Chase Bank." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
J.D. Power. "2020 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
Busey Bank. "Heritage." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.
PennyMac. "Compare Loan Options." Accessed Sept. 10, 2020.