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Best Mortgage Lenders

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    Author picture
    Written by Kathryn Parkman
    Edited by Jon Bortin
    Reviewed by Michele Lerner
    66
    Companies considered
    10
    Companies selected
    5,478
    Reviews analyzed
    5
    Features compared

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team vetted 66 mortgage companies reviewed by more than 5,478 people in the last year. To find the best lender for you, read our guide to compare loan types, eligibility requirements, rates and terms.

    Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
    • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
    • 3,699,411 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
    • We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
    • We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
    • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

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      Current mortgage rates

      Rates are effective 04/16/2022 and are subject to change without notice. APR shown is provided by a partner of ConsumerAffairs.

      ProductAPR
      5.451%0.0%Get Rates

      The APR shown of 5.451% is available for a 30-year fixed rate loan in the amount of $200,000 for consumers with loan-to-value of at least 80%.

      5.134%0.0%Get Rates

      The APR shown of 5.134% is available for a 20-year fixed rate loan in the amount of $200,000 for consumers with loan-to-value of at least 80%.

      4.698%0.0%Get Rates

      The APR shown of 4.698% is available for a 30-year VA fixed rate loan in the amount of $200,000 for consumers with loan-to-value of at least 80%.

      4.292%0.0%Get Rates

      The APR shown of 4.292% is available for a 10-year fixed rate loan in the amount of $200,000 for consumers with loan-to-value of at least 80%.

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      Help me Decide

      Our picks for top mortgage companies

      Your mortgage lender should be your partner during every step in the home financing (or refinancing) process, offering advice and answering questions to help you feel confident in your decision.

      Our recommendations are primarily based on the most recently available review data. In addition to great reviews, we also think the best mortgage lenders should have a straightforward process and wide availability. Read our full methodology to learn more about how we compared different lenders and chose our top picks.

      Flexible requirementsNew American FundingAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: FHA, USDA, conventional, refinance, HELOC and reverse
      • Minimum FICO Score: 580 to 640
      • Minimum down payment: 0% to 5%
      • NMLS ID: 6606

      New American Funding is a tech-driven mortgage company that works with borrowers from different backgrounds. You can complete the entire application online, and preapproval typically takes a day or two.

      A team of loan officers helps find the best mortgage option for you. Closing times vary, but there is a close-on-time guarantee. We also like that New American Funding services loans after closing, which lets you maintain your lender relationship.

      Lender highlights: The I CAN mortgage program is suitable for people with nontraditional credit histories. It lets you build up home equity faster than you would with a traditional home loan and get a lower rate.

      What to consider before you apply: Select fees will apply. One reviewer said that they had to pay points in order to keep their interest rate. Also, the company is available online in 49 states (not Hawaii) but only has physical brand locations in 32 states.

      What reviewers like: Happy reviewers say they had a great experience overall. Many noted the company’s loan officers are helpful throughout the homebuying process, which is especially beneficial for first-time buyers.

      “They made us feel like we really mattered and weren’t just a number like most loan companies make you feel. That says a lot in today’s mortgage arena,” Brenda in New Mexico said after refinancing with New American Funding.

      Don in Texas found New American Funding after getting dropped by a couple of other refinance lenders: “These are honest, sincere people who are really interested in you, how to educate you, honestly tell you what they can do and then do it. They listen to you; discuss your options and keep you focused and on target.”

      Eboni in Indiana, a first-time homebuyer, said working with the company was “literally such a pleasant experience” and that their loan officer “made me feel like family with the amount of care she took with my situation.”

      Easy refinancingRocket MortgageAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 580 to 620
      • Minimum down payment 3% to 5%
      • NMLS ID: 3030

      Rocket Mortgage is an online mortgage company developed by one of the largest national lenders (Quicken Loans). The platform is made for people with decent credit who want to buy a house (or refinance an existing loan) within the next few months. It can take up to three days to get preapproved, and the time to close averages between 30 and 45 days.

      Lender highlights: We like that Rocket services almost all its loans. Plus, it has a highly rated mobile app for submitting your application, making payments and tracking equity after you close.

      What to consider before you apply: If you think you might need a co-signer, it’s best to contact a customer service representative before you submit an online application.

      What reviewers like: Happy homeowners appreciate Rocket’s simple process. “All I needed to do was sign permission and they obtained all necessary information. There was no need to look for pay stubs [or W-2] forms and fax or email them,” Teresa in Georgia said.

      Everything is online except for home inspection and final closing, according to Liviu in New Jersey, who refinanced with Rocket Mortgage last year. “As someone who doesn't want to endlessly talk on the phone with salespeople — I completely appreciate this process,” Liviu said, “and the rates were among the best I got.”

      Wyatt in Utah likes the app: “It made uploading documents and getting paperwork done super easy.” Others agree that signing documents and checking for updates is very convenient.

      Some rave about quick closings. Camille in Tennessee, who also refinanced with Rocket, said the loan only took eight days from start to finish, plus they got to close at home.

      Other reviewers say representatives are efficient and polite. John in California pointed out that loan agents were helpful without applying high-pressure tactics — something they have regrettably encountered before.

      Fast online quotesAmeriSave MortgageAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Adjustable or fixed-rate, FHA, VA, USDA and cash-out refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 600 to 620
      • Minimum down payment: 0% to 3.5%
      • NMLS ID: 1168

      AmeriSave is a direct lender in 49 states (not New York) and Washington, D.C. It has a relatively easy-to-navigate online application, helpful loan officers and competitive interest rates.

      If you’re buying a house, you can get pre-qualified and close on the loan in as little as 25 days. Refinancing can be completed in less than a month.

      Lender highlights: With AmeriSave, you can get accurate quotes — not estimates — in just a few minutes online. AmeriSave also provides free online calculator tools.

      What to consider before you apply: Some nonrefundable fees may apply, including charges for the application and locking in your rate.

      What reviewers like: Many satisfied reviewers mention AmeriSave’s straightforward process.

      It’s “streamlined and easy enough,” according to Clayton in Ohio, who said the whole thing took less than a week once they collected all the correct paperwork.

      “Everything was perfect and just what they promised is what I got,” Evvy in Illinois said.

      Maria in Pennsylvania went with AmeriSave because the rep could give a ballpark loan estimate without running a full credit report: “Everybody else wants to run your credit, so that's a big difference for me. I also had questions throughout the process, and the guy I worked with was knowledgeable and helpful. Above all, he listened to what I needed and gave me very fair options for me to choose from.”

      Reps are easy to talk to and can help some nontraditional borrowers. Sadia in Virginia, who has “difficult taxes, investment properties and my own W-2s,” said that AmeriSave was “the only one that was able to come through” on a mortgage loan.

      Amos in North Carolina liked that their rep “stayed on the case from the very beginning and that she was very attentive and explained everything to me.”

      Great customer servicenbkc bankAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, FHA, VA, new construction, home equity and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: Varies
      • Minimum down payment: Varies
      • NMLS ID: 409631

      Nbkc bank offers mortgages, car loans, personal loans and bridge loans. The bank is based in Kansas City but offers online lending services in all 50 states. Preapproval time and days to close can vary.

      Lender highlights: Nbkc bank has special mortgage programs for pilots and veterans. You can use the free calculator to estimate your rate based on the home’s value, your down payment, location, credit score and other factors.

      What to consider before you apply: Nbkc is primarily an online lender, so it’s not the best pick if you want an in-person loan officer to help guide you through a purchase or refinance. Additionally, it does not offer jumbo loans.

      What reviewers like: Five-star reviews frequently mention helpful loan officers. According to recent reviewers, they will promptly answer all your questions and are always available every step of the way. 

      Siham in Texas first contacted nbkc two years ago, before the “the Covid context” halted their efforts to buy a first home. Siham called back last year, and the rep “has been thorough, available, educational and flexible … He was able to break down numbers whenever I needed and provided guidance on rates; we managed to lock ours just before the inflation!”

      “The entire transaction was seamless,” according to Laurie in Minnesota, who also mentioned that the final fees were very close to the initial quote (“no surprises!”).

      Maria in Georgia said they closed in less than 30 days — the “process was super easy” and the “online application was simple.”

      Tom in Washington has completed refinance and purchase transactions through nbkc, and both were positive experiences. “A minimum of paperwork setting things up was required from me, the process was always on time as promised, and Matt stayed on top of things at all times and was always available to answer questions,” the reviewer said.

      Great online featuresBetter MortgageAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, jumbo, FHA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 620
      • Minimum down payment: 3% to 20%
      • NMLS ID: 330511

      Better, a relatively new mortgage company, is a direct lender available in most states (not Hawaii, Nevada or New Hampshire). The application process is streamlined — typically, it takes about three minutes to get preapproved; you can expect to close within six weeks after that.

      Lender highlights: The platform is very user-friendly for those who have some experience with technology. In addition to lots of digital features, it stands out because it doesn’t charge lender fees or commissions.

      What to consider before you apply: The application process can feel a little time-consuming, and it might be more difficult for self-employed borrowers to get approved, according to some recent reviews. Since mostly everything is done online, Better doesn’t provide the same level of face-to-face service that you might find at a local bank or credit union.

      What reviewers like: Positive reviews often mention the easy online application, quick underwriting process and reasonable rates.

      “Better Mortgage had the lowest rate and the process was very efficient,” according to Christian in Michigan. Elizabeth in Oregon pointed out that it’s easy to track progress online.

      Others chose Better because of specific benefits or features. For example, Chase in Idaho said that “what stood out about Better Mortgage was they didn't have an origination fee.” Mike in Maryland went with Better “because of their ability to pay down points.”

      “I really love that they gave me an option to not put stuff in escrow,” David in Washington, D.C., said. Kristine in Texas liked how Better Mortgage waived the appraisal.

      Kumar in Virginia said some features of the process — getting all your options upfront without all the back-and-forth with a loan officer — are “game changers.”

      Happy reviewers also mention transparent rates and effective communication. Jordan in Indiana said, “Everything was online and very simple. The rate was excellent. The only thing that I didn't care for was at the very end when they sold the mortgage to one company.”

      Helpful loan officersZillow Home Loans, LLCAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, VA, FHA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 580 to 680
      • Minimum down payment: 0% to 3.5%
      • NMLS ID: 10287

      Did you know you could get a home loan through Zillow now? It’s a direct lender that offers terms between 15 and 30 years.

      It only takes a few minutes to get preapproved online. The time it takes to close ranges from one week to about two months.

      Lender highlights: Zillow offers home loan options with low down payments and competitive interest rates. It’s a good pick for first-time buyers.

      What to consider before you apply: Mortgages are currently available in most states (not available in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii and West Virginia), though the availability of programs can vary by location. Be aware that Zillow may not service all the loans it originates.

      What reviewers like: Zillow Home Loans reviewers consistently tell us that reps are clear, concise and knowledgeable.

      “The refi process was painless, from appraisal to the cash back at the close of the refi. I felt like I was not bothered by the agent handling it and that they did most of the work, not me,” Paul in California said.

      Other reviewers say that loan officers have a great sense of urgency and are always available to answer questions.

      Ashley in North Carolina said that during the "entire process, from application to final approval, closing, funding, the Zillow loan team made sure my best interests and financial scenarios were pursued and achieved, efficiently and painlessly.”

      Good service and good ratesHomefinityAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, FHA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: Varies
      • Minimum down payment: 3% to 3.5%
      • NMLS ID: 2289

      Homefinity is a direct mortgage lender with multiple home purchase and refinancing options. The company is part of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation.

      You can get started by filling out the online application or scheduling a phone call with a loan rep. Take advantage of free calculator tools to estimate your mortgage payments, amortization and more.

      Lender highlights: Homefinity has experienced loan offers who offer education and guidance to help you find the best mortgage option. Depending on your preferences, ongoing support is available online or over the phone.

      What to consider before you apply: It can be challenging to get an accurate online quote, and the company delivers less personalized support. Consider working with a local bank if you value in-person assistance.

      What reviewers like: Positive reviews say that Homefinity loan officers are very attentive and helpful throughout the entire process.

      “The overall process was relatively easy,” according to Kathleen in New Mexico. “I had delayed refinancing as I was dreading retrieving the needed documents, however Homefinity linked my employer, tax records and back statements so very little fell on me,” the reviewer said.

      Late last year, Jay in Pennsylvania said, “Homefinity did an amazing job of not only matching an existing offer, they also managed to beat an already low rate, bringing me under 2% APR.”

      “From sales to support, the service was excellent,” Vickie in New Jersey said. “Even the automated application process was convenient and allowed you to upload information with a system generated checklist.”

      New construction optionsCardinal FinancialAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, jumbo, FHA, USDA, VA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 550
      • Minimum down payment: Varies
      • NMLS ID: 66247

      Cardinal Financial is a national lender that combines personal support and digital processes. It provides guidance online, over the phone and in person. In addition to traditional home loans, the lender offers disaster relief loans, new construction loans and down payment assistance programs.

      The lender partners with Dovenmuehle Mortgage to provide some loan services, including billing, payment processing, escrow and payoff services.

      Lender highlights: Cardinal engineered a proprietary online web platform, Octane, to streamline the loan process and make it easier to buy a house or refinance.

      What to consider before you apply: Cardinal Financial is a little less transparent about rates and fees than some of our other picks for top lenders. According to recent reviews, there may be some closing delays.

      What reviewers like: Positive reviews commonly say that reps are helpful throughout the process. Many people said the loan officers are straightforward, honest and kind, answering all questions promptly and delivering excellent borrower support.

      Michael in Nebraska described the experience as “delightful… From the start to the completion of the refinancing of the home it just seemed to be such an easy process.”

      The reps at Cardinal Financial “made a tough process so much easier!” according to Laura in North Carolina. “They helped me to understand everything that was needed and kept me informed on changes every step of the way.”

      “Everything was done online except at the end when they sent a notary to my home so I could sign all the loan documents,” according to Dawn in Iowa.

      Taylor in Texas said communication was so great that they “felt catered to,” and their rep “explained all the fees, process and walked me through my closing documents. It was like eating cake, the good kind, not the greasy over buttered kind!”

      $0 lender fee programsNetwork Capital Funding CorporationAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional, FHA, VA and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 580 to 620
      • Minimum down payment: Varies
      • NMLS ID: 11712

      Network Capital has competitive rates and a straightforward process. You can close on a home loan in as few as 15 business days (from “intent to proceed” to signing the closing documents).

      Lender highlights: Network Capital offers to refinance home loans with locked-in rates and no lender fees — this includes origination, administration, funding, processing and underwriting charges.

      What to consider before you apply: Network Capital has relatively limited loan programs and availability compared with some of our other top picks. The lender does not serve Nevada, Utah, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire or Maine residents.

      What reviewers like: Positive Network Capital reviews consistently mention helpful loan offers and a simple overall process.

      “I work in finance myself and wish our process was as smooth as how Network Capital made it seem,” William in Florida said. They said the process was “a lot easier than anticipated” and “I liked the clear communication and transparency with them.”

      Winthrop in Washington, D.C., has worked with Network Capital twice: “I like the speed that they offer.” Others are impressed with great rates and low fees, like James in New Jersey.

      Eduardo in Florida also liked the rates and said, "When I spoke to them, they were super helpful, and they did everything they could to get me what I needed.”

      “I liked their professionalism and willingness to meet my requirements,” said Eton in Maryland, who refinanced last year.

      Great online brokerMortyAUTHORIZED PARTNER
      • Loan types: Conventional and refinancing
      • Minimum FICO Score: 620
      • Minimum down payment: 3% to 20%
      • NMLS ID: 1429243

      Morty can help you find 15-year, 20-year and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 adjustable-rate mortgages. In addition to single-family homes, Morty can secure financing for duplexes and condos (as long as they are used as your primary residence).

      It takes about five to 10 minutes to determine if you’re preapproved. Depending on where you live, you might be eligible for personalized loan options. There’s no credit pull required to find out.

      Lender highlights: Morty’s “Closing Date Promise” states the company will waive the appraisal fee if you miss the closing date by more than a business day. If closing is delayed further, it waives the commission fee.

      What to consider before you apply: Morty has somewhat limited availability compared with some other top picks — it’s a licensed broker in 35 states and Washington, D.C. It also doesn’t currently offer government loans (FHA, VA, USDA), mortgages for second homes or financing for investment properties.

      What reviewers like: Happy borrowers are most likely to mention good rates, an easy-to-use online platform and helpful loan officers.

      “Morty was very responsive,” according to Annlyn in Tennessee. “I got to talk to a live person and I got the same person repeatedly. … The reps were far more than I expected and very pleasant to deal with from the beginning to the end. I got terrific terms.”

      Nathan in Arkansas, who got a “good interest rate” on a 30-year conventional loan, appreciated the ongoing communication through email and text: “My rep even responded a few times when he was on vacation.” According to Brandon in Ohio, Morty also “had the best rates available” on a 15-year fixed loan.

      Craig in Tennessee told us they were “skeptical of the value of a broker, but the Morty team located the most competitive loan for my needs, helped work through several obstacles, streamlined the communication to the lender and closing agent, and provided an awesome web interface to track progress and communicate with me most effectively.”

      What is a mortgage?

      A mortgage is a loan that's used to buy real estate — typically residential property. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it’s an “agreement between you and a lender that gives the lender the right to take your property if you fail to repay the money you've borrowed plus interest.” In other words, it’s the legal document you have to sign to finance a house.

      Of all the different types of mortgage loans, conventional and government-backed mortgages are most frequently used to finance a home.

      How does a mortgage work?

      A mortgage functions as a lien or legal claim against a property (a single-family house, condo, duplex, etc). In exchange for immediate funds, the borrower must repay the loan with interest and fees over time.

      Conventional mortgages require a minimum 620 credit score.

      The term refers to the life span of the loan, which is usually between 15 and 30 years. There are also 10-year term options. The mortgage rate refers to the amount of interest the lender charges in exchange for the loan.

      Mortgage rates can be fixed or adjustable. A fixed-rate mortgage has the same interest rate for the entire loan term, whereas an adjustable-rate mortgage increases or decreases based on a changing index.

      “Mortgage amortization” is the process of paying down home loan debt over time. Homeowners build equity by making payments on their mortgage principal. If you get a second mortgage, you borrow funds with your house as collateral for the loan but don’t have to use the funds to purchase a home. Home equity loans and lines of credit are types of second mortgages.

      Learn more: Read about what a mortgage is and how it works.

      How does refinancing work?

      Mortgage refinancing companies replace your existing mortgage with a new loan. The two most common types of home refinance loans are rate-and-term refinancing and cash-out refinancing.

      Many homeowners refinance their mortgage to lower their monthly payments, get a better rate, convert home equity into cash or pay off their loan faster. Some mortgage refinance lenders also specialize in debt consolidation strategies.

      For example, the home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) is a reverse mortgage backed by the federal government. This program lets you draw on your home’s equity to borrow money.

      Learn more: Read about how to refinance a mortgage or compare top refinancing lenders.

      Mortgage broker vs. lender

      Loan officers work for financial institutions and handle the lending process. On the other hand, brokers negotiate with lenders on your behalf to find a loan program with the best terms for you.

      • Mortgage broker: A mortgage broker is the middleman between a borrower and a mortgage lender.  Working with a broker can save time and money, especially if you want to compare multiple lenders.

        A broker can also help manage your paperwork and fees during the homebuying process. However, brokers typically aren’t able to guarantee cost estimates and may not have access to all the lenders in your area.
      • Mortgage lender: A mortgage lender is the banking institution that finances the home loan for a fee. Mortgage lender origination and closing fees vary by lender and from state to state. Mortgage banks and portfolio lenders are types of direct mortgage lenders.

        Direct lenders process applications and originate and underwrite loans. A lender is different from a mortgage servicer, which processes loan payments, responds to borrower inquiries and manages escrow accounts.

      How much is a mortgage?

      The average mortgage is $840 to $1,200 per month. Most financial experts suggest keeping your mortgage payment below 30% of your monthly gross income (and your total debt-to-income ratio lower than 36%). Use our mortgage calculator to determine how much house you can afford.

      Keep in mind that the total cost of a mortgage is more than just the price of your house. As you compare mortgage companies, consider closing costs, mortgage points and prepayment penalties.

      • Down payment: A down payment is the part of the total sale price that you put down upfront. The amount required depends on the loan type. FHA loans, for example, require at least 3.5%, while VA or USDA loans don’t require down payments. Some government agencies and nonprofits offer down payment assistance programs.
      • Closing costs: Closing costs amount to 2% to 5% of the home loan and include application fees, lender fees, attorney fees, earnest money, escrow fees, courier fees, homeowners association transfer fees, inspection fees and title insurance.
      • Origination fees: Lenders charge loan origination fees for services like mortgage application and underwriting. Origination fees are usually a small percentage (between 0.5% and 2%) of the total loan amount, though some mortgage lenders offer fixed fees of $1,000 or less.
      • Mortgage points: Sometimes called discount points, mortgage points are optional fees paid to your lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. Each point is equal to 1% of the mortgage loan amount.
      • Prepayment penalties: A prepayment penalty is a fee that some lenders charge when a borrower pays their mortgage loan off early, either through refinancing or overpaying each month. The average prepayment fee is 80% of six months of interest.

      What makes up a monthly mortgage payment?

      Once you’ve covered all the upfront costs of a home loan, your monthly mortgage payments include principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI). In some cases, other regular expenses include homeowners association or condo fees.

      • Principal: The principal is the balance of the loan amount you borrowed. Each month, your mortgage payment reduces the principal.
      • Interest: Interest is the amount you agree to pay your lender in exchange for a mortgage loan. Fixed interest rates stay the same throughout the term of the loan. Adjustable interest rates can vary over the life of the loan.
      • Property taxes: Property taxes are often included in mortgage bills. Lenders keep your property tax payments in an escrow account until they're due and then pay them on your behalf.
      • Mortgage insurance: Mortgage insurance protects the lender if you stop making payments on your loan. The two types of mortgage insurance are private mortgage insurance (PMI) and mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). For conventional mortgages, you can avoid the need to pay for PMI by making a down payment of 20% or more. For FHA and other government-backed loans, you can avoid MIP after 11 years by putting at least 10% down.
      • Homeowners insurance: Homeowners insurance covers damage from fire, storms, theft and other perils. Most lenders require homeowners insurance and charge premiums on your mortgage bills.

      How to apply for a mortgage

      These days, you can complete almost the whole mortgage process online. After you’ve checked your credit score, figured out how much house you can afford and researched the best mortgage lenders, it’s time for some paperwork.

      Keep in mind that the mortgage lender makes a hard inquiry on your credit when you apply. Hard inquiries cause your credit score to take a small dip, so only try to get preapproved when you’re serious about putting in an offer on a home.

      The application process varies depending on your preapproval status and other factors, but everyone who applies for a mortgage generally goes through these five steps:

      1. Collect important documents
      Lenders want to verify information relating to your monthly income, credit score and assets. You need W-2s or federal tax returns from the past two years and several months of pay stubs. Gather any statements about your assets or long-term debts, including car notes and student loans. Get your recent bank statements and a government-issued ID ready too.

      The most common documents required to get preapproved for a home loan include:

      • W-2 wage statements
      • Recent tax returns
      • Pay stubs
      • Credit report
      • Investment account statements
      • Monthly debt statements
      • Copy of your driver’s license
      • Social Security card
      2. Fill out the application
      Conventional mortgage loan applications are uniform across lenders — if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

      First, there's a box to check if you're applying with a spouse or co-borrower (if applicable, you both must sign). Then, you fill in the type of mortgage, interest rates and loan terms (fixed, graduated, adjustable or other).

      The application asks for details about the property, including its original cost and present lot value. Lenders consider the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) — the loan amount divided by the appraised property value — to assess how risky your mortgage loan is in the current market.

      They also ask for personal and financial information to assess your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), such as residence and employment history.

      Applicants are also required to disclose if they’ve filed for bankruptcy in the last seven years or if there are any outstanding judgments against them.

      Finally, you (and a co-borrower, if applicable) sign the application again at the bottom to acknowledge that the information provided is true.

      3. Review Loan Estimates from several lenders
      After a lender receives your application, you should get a Loan Estimate within three days. All lenders are required to use the same template, which makes it easy to compare interest rates, fees and projected monthly payments.
      • Loan amount: This is the total amount of money you borrow for the mortgage loan. This amount could go up if your lender rolls some of your closing costs into your loan.
      • Interest rate: This section breaks down the amount you pay each month and the estimated escrow fees. The total interest percentage (TIP) tells you the total amount of interest the loan requires.
      • Monthly projected payments: This section breaks down the amount you pay each month and the estimated escrow fees.
      4. Make a commitment
      After you’ve compared rates and fees and found a trusted mortgage lender, it’s time to make a decision. It’s OK to take your time on this step, so don’t let a pushy loan officer make you feel cornered into a final decision. When you’re comfortable, contact the mortgage lender you like best and tell them you’re ready to buy a house.
      5. Wait for approval (or denial)
      Remember the official mortgage application you filled out and had to sign twice? Once you commit to a lender, all that information is scrutinized. A processor pulls your tax records and confirms your income, and then an underwriter evaluates how risky it is to give you a loan. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

      If you're denied a mortgage loan, you have the right to know why. You can ask your loan officer what went wrong — you might be able to get the loan if you make a bigger down payment or get a co-signer.

      Common reasons for being unexpectedly denied a loan include leaving out crucial information on the application, the inability to verify some portion of your income, a recent application for a personal loan or line of credit, a job change or an overdraft on a checking account.

      If all else fails, you can try to apply for a mortgage loan with another lender. If you’re approved, then closing is the next step toward homeownership.

      Mortgage questions

      The easiest way to get the best interest rate is to compare multiple mortgage lenders and refinancing companies. Some tips for getting a great mortgage deal include improving your credit score, making a larger down payment and paying mortgage points:
      • Compare all loan options: As you shop around, get quotes from at least three lenders and be sure to consider all your loan options — for example, a USDA loan is ideal for someone who lives outside of an urban community, and a jumbo loan is for when you want to borrow an especially high amount. Remember that you can also negotiate with lenders to get better deals.
      • Improve your credit score: To get the best interest rate on your mortgage, you need to have an excellent credit score. Take the time now to pay off your credit cards, and don’t take out any new loans while you’re getting ready to apply for a home loan. For more, learn about how to find the best credit repair companies.
      • Make a larger down payment: A larger down payment often gets you a lower interest rate. Try to save up for a 20% down payment to avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you can’t put down 20%, aim for at least 5% — that's where you start seeing a decrease in interest rates.
      • Consider mortgage points: Mortgage points are optional upfront payments that reduce your interest rate. One point typically equals 1% of the loan. When interest rates are high, paying mortgage points can save you money in the long term.
      • Go for the ARM: You can usually get a better upfront mortgage rate by getting an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rather than a fixed-rate mortgage. The most popular type of adjustable-rate mortgage is the 5/1 ARM, which has a fixed rate for the loan's first five years and then can adjust each year after that.
      How do you get preapproved for a mortgage?
      Lenders consider your credit history and current financial information to determine whether you can be preapproved for a mortgage.

      If you’re preapproved, you receive a mortgage letter with the loan amount for which you qualify. Each preapproval letter is valid for up to 90 days. A mortgage preapproval letter lets you start making offers on homes.

      Getting pre-qualified is different from getting preapproved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-qualification is a less formal process that gives you a general idea of how much of a loan you are eligible for.

      What is the easiest mortgage to qualify for?
      Government-backed loans are typically the easiest mortgage loans to qualify for since they are the least risky for lenders.

      Many first-time homebuyers opt for FHA loans, due to lower interest rates, down payment requirements and credit score requirements. To qualify for an FHA loan, you only need a credit score of 580 and a minimum down payment of 3.5%. With this type of loan, rates are fixed and you can pay it off over 15 or 30 years.

      If you are eligible for VA (for service members and veterans) or USDA (for rural properties) loans, you can qualify for additional interest breaks and no down payment requirements. Conventional loans are typically chosen by those with higher credit scores and more liquid savings to draw from. The right loan for you depends on your financial circumstances and personal details.

      What credit score do you need for a mortgage?
      Government-backed mortgage loans — FHA, VA and USDA programs — typically require credit scores higher than 580 and down payments from 0% to 3.5%. Since conventional loans are riskier for lenders, most require credit scores of 620 and 5% to 20% down payments.

      Those with credit scores below 580 can still qualify for an FHA loan if they can make a 10% down payment.

      Banks sometimes have stricter eligibility requirements, so riskier applicants typically get a better deal from a mortgage company. If you have bad credit, you may not be eligible for a conventional mortgage through a bank. Mortgage companies often work with a vast network of lenders, so they can provide more options that cater to homebuyers with low credit scores or higher debt-to-income ratios. You might also consider a local credit union.

      Can you get a mortgage to build a house?
      Yes, construction loans are a type of home loan available to finance building a brand-new home. A regular construction loan is different from a mortgage because there is no existing property to use as collateral for the loan. A construction-to-permanent loan is a type of construction loan that converts into a mortgage once the construction is complete. Also called “single-close” construction loans, these are the most streamlined ways to finance a build and get a mortgage on your new home.
      What do the worst mortgage lenders have in common?
      Some of the worst mortgage companies consistently get reports of hidden fees, bad customer service and aggressive marketing tactics. Additional red flags to watch out for include:
      • Pressure to rush through the process or borrow more than you need or can afford
      • Unusually high rates and fees compared with other lenders
      • Being asked to sign blank loan documents or lie on your application
      What is a blanket mortgage?
      A blanket mortgage is a home loan that covers multiple properties at once. This type of mortgage can be beneficial for investors by saving money, time and energy spent on keeping track of several different mortgages.
      What is an interest-only mortgage?
      An interest-only mortgage is a home loan that requires you only pay on interest over the first few years.

      Methodology: How we picked the best mortgage lenders

      To make our picks for top mortgage lenders, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team started with the full list of 66 mortgage companies on this guide. To narrow it down, we first eliminated those with an overall satisfaction rating below 3.5 stars, leaving 38.

      To dig a little deeper, we analyzed 5,478 recent verified reviews that have been published on our site over the last 12 months (Jan. 10, 2021, through Jan. 10, 2022). Companies had to have at least twice as many 5-star reviews as 1-star reviews during this time to stay in the running.

      With 21 lenders and brokers remaining, we then graded each company on loan product selection, rate and fee transparency, online reputation and availability. Our top 10 picks are ranked by a scoring system similar to a grade-point average. In descending order, they are:

      Not sure how to choose?

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