Best Mortgage Lenders and Refinancing Companies
A mortgage is a loan secured by real estate, typically a residential property. When looking to obtain a mortgage to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage, you’ll want to compare the different types of mortgage loans (like FHA, VA and USDA loans), application requirements, fixed vs. adjustable rates, interest rates and the reputation of the lender.
Compare mortgage lender reviews
A home mortgage is a long-term decision, so it’s important to choose a trusted company that offers a financially feasible option. When choosing our top picks for mortgage companies, we looked at online experience, types of loans offered, customer reviews, availability of service, minimum credit scores required, refinancing options, prompt and attentive customer service and maximum debt-to-income ratios accepted. We also took into account whether the companies offered VA loans, FHA loans and USDA loans. Our top pick for mortgage broker excels at matching consumers to mortgage lenders with the aforementioned qualities.
Best mortgage lender overall: Amerisave Mortgage
AmeriSave offers fixed, adjustable, FHA, HARP, VA, USDA and jumbo loans. They also offer cash-out refinances. For conventional loans, a minimum credit score of 620 is required. For government-backed loans, including FHA, VA and USDA, the minimum credit score required is 600. AmeriSaves serves customers in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The company conducts most of its business with consumers (80 percent) through its call center. The remaining 20 percent is conducted online. Mortgage refinancing is a specialty of AmeriSave’s—a full 80 percent of its business is refinancing mortgages.
Homeowners can apply online for pre-approval. AmeriSave will conduct a hard credit pull, and applicants will need to update the necessary documents and sign them electronically. Each applicant is paired with a loan officer who will communicate updates to the consumer.
You can find many mortgage calculators and other educational tools on AmeriSave’s website to help you with your home and mortgage search. AmeriSave also offers many financial bonuses to customers. Borrowers can receive bonuses ranging from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars if they purchase a home through AmeriSave’s network of affiliated real estate brokers. AmeriSave also offers a rate matching guarantee. If you find a better rate after securing a loan with AmeriSave, the company will either match the competitive rate or give you $1,000.
Best online mortgage lender: HomeDirect Mortgage
HomeDirect Mortgage is an online-only lender. They offer conventional, refinance and VA loans. These can be purchase, refinance, cashout refinance or HELOC loans. Consumers are able to pre-apply for a loan via HomeDirect Mortgage’s online application system. All that potential lenders have to do is upload the necessary documents and e-sign the applications. Once the application is reviewed, a loan officer reaches out to the applicant to discuss next steps and answer questions.
The company requires a credit score of 620 and 5 percent down for those applying for conventional loans. Customer service is good, and consumers report consistently receiving status updates during the application process. HomeDirect Mortgage’s website also offers comprehensive answers to questions consumers might have about their loans. This information is designed to help consumers, not just to sell a product or service. They even explain the pros of renting a house or apartment vs. buying a house.
Best online mortgage lender: Lending Tree
In the same way a real estate broker connects you with owners, a mortgage broker connects you with mortgage lenders. Lending Tree is our top pick for mortgage broker. Because they are brokers and not lenders, Lending Tree does not supply loans directly. Lending Tree’s vast affiliate network makes it easy to find the right home mortgage for you. And with such a vast network, homebuyers can find loans that vary greatly in interest rates and term length. Types include conventional, VA and FHA loans.
Lending Tree’s user-friendly interface, speedy loan approval process and privacy features stand out as top features. Reviewers also note that it is easy to receive several mortgage loan offers in a matter of minutes. Lending Tree has a long history of operation and a minimum amount of controversy. They are a solid choice if you are investigating your home mortgage options.
Compare Reviews for Top Mortgage Lenders
Read 1579 Reviews
This online only direct mortgage lender offers conventional, refinance and VA loans with applications submitted via a web application system. Conventional loans require minimum 620 credit score and at least 5.0% down payment.
|Mr. Cooper||Read 8780 Reviews|
This non-bank mortgage servicer offers conventional, HARP, FHA, VA and jumbo loans. It also provides access to an online app and no online transaction fees. Minimum down payment is 3.5%.
|toll freenumber(855) 601-3278 Visit Website|
Read 2824 Reviews
This lender offers fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA, jumbo, HARP, VA and USDA loans, along with cash-out refinances. A minimum credit score of 620 is required for conventional products; 580 for FHA, VA and USDA loans.
|toll freenumber(866) 815-0655|
Read 1821 Reviews
This national lender specializes in manufactured, modular and mobile home financing. It offers conventional, land-home, FHA and bi-weekly advantage mortgages. Minimum down payment ranges between 3.5-25% of total purchase price.
|toll freenumber(866) 701-0467 Visit Website|
Read 767 Reviews
This nationwide mortgage lender offers VA, FHA, jumbo, HARP and conventional loans. No hidden fees. Most loans are funded within 30 days. Track loan progress via an online portal.
|toll freenumber(855) 866-5363 Visit Website|
Read 4704 Reviews
This lender offers conventional, FHA, VA and jumbo loans along with fixed or adjustable rates. 580 minimum credit score required for FHA; 620 for VA and conventional. Fast, online application process with no additional fees.
|21st Mortgage Corporation|
Read 1049 Reviews
This full-service lender specializes in manufactured home loans. A minimum 600 credit score is required with a 5-35% down payment. Loan programs include fixed rates and no pre-payment penalties.
|toll freenumber(800) 955-0021 Visit Website|
Read 536 Reviews
This privately held mortgage company delivers personalized service to all of their mortgage loan and mortgage refinance customers. Conventional loans starting at 3% down payment.
Read 1473 Reviews
This online marketplace connects consumers with lenders. Credit score of 640-750 required. FHA, VA, USDA and Community Homebuyer loans require a minimum down payment of 0-10%; conventional loans require a 5-20% down payment.
Read 3831 Reviews
Get preapproved for an FHA, VA, HARP or conventional loan, or see if you qualify for refinancing. Use their online mortgage calculator to determine what size mortgage payment you can reasonably make every month.
|Homebridge Financial Services|
Read 857 Reviews
This national, privately held, non-bank lender requires minimum down payments of 0-20%. A minimum 550 credit score is required for government-backed loans. Conventional, VA, FHA and home mortgage loans available.
|toll freenumber(855) 321-7366 Visit Website|
|First Internet Bank|
Read 296 Reviews
This nationwide housing lender offers fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA, VA, jumbo and home equity loans. Free personalized rate quotes delivered in under a minute. Fast online application process with easy loan portal.
|toll freenumber(855) 767-2424 Visit Website|
Read 3249 Reviews
This lender offers fixed and adjustable rates plus FHA, VA and manufactured home loans. Minimum down payment of 3.5% and a minimum credit score of 580 required.
|Network Capital Funding Corporation|
Read 348 Reviews
This full-service direct lender boasts $0 lender fees. Close in as few as 15 business days with VA, FHA and HARP loans. A minimum credit score of 600 is required. Down payment of 5% for conventional loans.
|J.G. Wentworth Home Lending||Read 299 Reviews|
This direct mortgage lender offers conventional, fixed rate, adjustable rate, FHA, VA, USDA and HARP loans. No points or hidden fees. Minimum credit score of 580.
How to apply for a mortgage
After you’ve checked your credit score, figured out how much house can you afford and researched the best mortgage lenders, it’s time to start the real paperwork. Your mortgage application process will vary depending on preapproval status and other factors, but more or less everyone who applies for a mortgage goes through these five steps:
1. Collect important documents
You’ll need W-2s or federal tax returns for the past two years, plus pay stubs for the past month and any details about long-term debts like a car note or student loan, recent bank statements, and a government-issued ID. Your lender will also need to verify information relating to your monthly income, credit report and cash savings.
2. Fill out the application
Residential loan applications are uniform across lenders, so if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. First, you’ll sign the top to acknowledge that you understand and agree to the terms of the application. There will be a box to check if you are including a spouse’s information to qualify, and another box to check that indicates the loan type and loan amount for your mortgage application. You’ll then fill out personal information, such as your name, date of birth, Social Security and phone numbers, marital status and number of dependents.
You’ll also have to provide information about your residence history and employment history for the last two years and fill in details about your gross income and regular monthly expenses, checking and savings account balances, as well as other assets or liabilities. Keep in mind that you also must disclose if you’ve filed for bankruptcy in the last seven years or if there are any outstanding judgments against you.
One of the last sections you have to fill out will include the address of the property that you want to finance. If at any point you’re confused about how to fill out a section your loan application, your loan officer should be able to explain or clarify what information you need to provide. Finally, you (and a co-borrower, if applicable) will be required to sign the application again at the bottom to acknowledge that all of the information you’ve provided is true.
3. Review Loan Estimates from several lenders
All lenders are required to use the same Loan Estimate form with three days of receiving your application, which makes it easy to compare loan amounts, interest rates, monthly projected payments and origination fees.
- Loan amount: This is the total amount of money you’ll borrow for your mortgage loan. This amount could go up if your lender rolls some of your closing costs into your loan.
- Interest rate: Make sure you’re getting the lowest interest rate possible, and hold on to your original Loan Estimate when it’s time to close to make sure you’re getting the same rate you were offered.
- Monthly projected payments: This section of the Loan Estimate breaks down the amount you’ll pay each month for principal, interest, mortgage insurance and the estimated escrow along with how they’ll change over time.
- Origination fees: Mortgage lenders charge loan “origination fees” for things like mortgage application and underwriting fees. Origination fees are usually a small percentage (between 0.5 and 2 percent) of the total loan amount, but some mortgage lenders offer fixed fees of $1,000 or less.
4. Make a commitment
After you’ve compared rates and fees and found a lender you can trust, it’s time to make a decision. It’s alright to take your time on this step, so don’t let a pushy loan officer make you feel cornered into your final decision. When you’re comfortable, you can simply contact the mortgage lender that you like best and tell them you’re ready to buy a house.
5. Wait for approval
Remember that official mortgage application that you filled out and had to sign twice? Now that you’ve committed to a lender, all of that information will be scrutinized. A processor will pull all of your tax records to confirm your income. Then an underwriter will evaluate how risky it is to give you a loan. This process can take anywhere for from a few days to a few weeks.
Keep in mind that it’s more difficult to get a mortgage now than it was pre-Great Recession. Common reasons that mortgage applicants are unexpectedly denied a loan include leaving out crucial information on their application, inability to verify some portion of their income, a recent application for a personal loan or line of credit, job change or overdraft on a checking account.
If you are denied for a mortgage loan, you have the right to find out why. You can ask your loan officer what went wrong, and they might give you advice—you might be able to still get the loan if you make a bigger down payment, get a cosigner or put up extra collateral for the loan. If all else fails, you can still try to apply for the mortgage loan with another lender. If you’re approved, then closing will be the next step toward homeownership.
How does a mortgage loan work?
A mortgage is a loan from a bank, credit union or lender for the purchase of a home. In addition to paying back the mortgage over the course of several years, you also agree to provide the house as collateral in the event that you are unable to make your monthly payments toward the mortgage.
The amount you borrow initially is called the principal. Each month, your payment reduces the amount owed. Lending companies also charge interest in addition to the initial principal. On a fixed-term loan, the lower your mortgage balance, the less interest you will owe. Taxes and insurances also usually add additional costs.
What is a good mortgage interest rate?
In 2018, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.38 percent. A good mortgage rate will be one that you feel results in payments you can afford over the long term.
Historically, rates have hovered around 8 percent. Mortgage interest rates vary from year to year and tend to be higher when the economy is doing well. Interest rates have increased since the recession, with most homeowners paying at least 4.5 percent. You’ll get around the same interest rate with a conventional loan as you will with an FHA loan.
How do I get the best mortgage rate?
To get the best interest rate on your mortgage, you need to have excellent credit. 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.
You can also get a better mortgage rate by getting an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rather than a fixed-mortgage. Keep in mind, though, that your monthly payments will increase after the fixed-rate period ends if you opt for an ARM.
A higher down payment usually equates to a lower interest rate. Try to save up for a 20 percent down payment, so you can also avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you can’t put down 20 percent, shoot for at least 5 percent, since that is usually where you’ll start seeing a decrease in interest rates.
How do you get rid of PMI?
If you want to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), you have to place a down payment of 20 percent or more at closing.
If you put down less than 20 percent of your new home’s purchase price, you’ll have to pay PMI, which protects the lender in case you stop making payments on your loan. If you paid 20 percent initially, or once your conventional loan balance has dropped to 78 percent of the value of your home, you can submit a written request to your lender asking for your PMI to drop off.
If your home’s value has increased to the point that you owe less than 78 percent of the value, you might be able to request for your PMI to be removed. You’ll need to pay for an appraisal to validate that the value of your home has increased. Many lenders won’t consider removing PMI until you have made payments for at least two years, so check with your bank or mortgage lender before getting an appraisal.
If you have an FHA loan, you have to keep paying PMI unless you refinance your mortgage to a conventional loan.
How do you get pre-approved for a mortgage?
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you have to submit your W2, tax returns and pay stubs to your lender so they can verify your monthly income. Your lender will also want documentation of any other assets you have. They will use all this information to determine whether or not you can reasonably afford the loan you’re going to apply for. Keep in mind that the lender will do a hard pull on your credit, which means your credit score could take a small dip, so only get pre-approved when you’re serious about putting in an offer on a home.
Compare Reviews for Top Mortgage Lenders
|Jersey Mortgage Co.|
Read 465 Reviews
This direct lender offers FHA, USDA, VA and first-time homebuyer loans along with reverse mortgages and mortgage refinancing options. Serves New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Connecticut.
Read 1864 Reviews
This national lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate loans for purchase, and refinance, FHA, jumbo, HARP and VA loans. A minimum 620 credit score and 3% down payment are required.
|Wells Fargo Mortgage|
Read 1423 Reviews
This national lender requires a minimum down payment of 3% and a minimum credit score of 620. FHA, VA, jumbo, new construction, renovation and VA loans available along with adjustable and fixed rates.
|Caliber Home Loans|
Read 2670 Reviews
This full-service national mortgage lender requires a minimum 580 credit score and 3% down payment. It offers conventional, jumbo, FHA, USDA and VA loans.
|Bank of America Mortgages|
Read 2857 Reviews
This lender requires a minimum down payment of 3% with no reserve funds required in most situations. A minimum credit score of 660 is also required. FHA, VA, home equity and refinance loans are available.
|Guaranteed Rate Mortgage|
Read 125 Reviews
National lender offering ARM, fixed, FHA, rehab/203K, VA, jumbo, interest-only and HARP loans. Minimum credit score of 620 for conventional loans; 580 for FHA and VA loans. Double Match program requires 1% down payment.
|Guild Mortgage Company|
Read 117 Reviews
This lender offers fixed and adjustable rates plus conforming and non-conforming, jumbo, FHA, USDA and VA loans. Down-payment assistance programs are available. A minimum 680 credit score and 1% down payment required.
|BSI Financial Services||Read 209 Reviews|
This mortgage loan servicer specializes in quality control, due diligence, loss mitigation and asset management. It participates in the Making Home Affordable loan modification program, which assists struggling homeowners.
Read 383 Reviews
This lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages plus FHA, VA, USDA and jumbo loans. High-cost home financing, agency affordable financing and doctor loan programs also available. Requires a 620 minimum credit score.
|Citizens One||Read 113 Reviews|
This lender offers fixed-rate, adjustable-rate and jumbo mortgages in addition to FHA and VA loans. Doctor Loan program and Construction-to-Permanent financing program are also available.
Read 261 Reviews
This lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages in addition to jumbo, FHA and VA loans. A minimum down payment of 3% and a minimum 660 credit score are required.
|Provident Funding Associates|
Read 164 Reviews
This mortgage company offers home loans and refinancing options, including fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages, super conforming loans and jumbo loans. A minimum 3% down payment is required.
|Zillow Home Loans, LLC||Read 18 Reviews|
This lender offers VA, FHA, FHA 203(h), USDA and conventional loans. A 620 minimum credit score and 3% down payment required.
Read 1001 Reviews
This national lender offers fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, FHA, VA and jumbo loans. A HomeRun mortgage is also available, which requires a low down payment. A minimum 3.5% down payment is required.
|Arvest Central Mortgage Company|
Read 103 Reviews
Services residential mortgages in western Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and eastern Kansas. Assists homeowners experiencing financial hardship with repayment, forbearance, modification, pre-sale/short sale and deed-in-lieu.
Read 45 Reviews
This lenders offers FHA, VA, first-time homebuyers, HARP, construction-to-permanent and renovation loans at fixed and adjustable rates. A minimum 3% down payment is required.
Read 420 Reviews
This lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, plus VA, FHA and SONYMA loans, which are available to New York State first-time homebuyers. A 3% minimum down payment and 580 credit score are required.
Read 108 Reviews
This financing source for mortgage lenders offers a range of mortgage products including Home Ready, 97% LTV and Community Seconds. A minimum 620 credit score and 3% down payment required.
Read 39 Reviews
This lender offers purchase and refinance loans and FHA- and VA-backed mortgages. A 680 minimum credit score is required.
Read 13 Reviews
This lender offers conventional, FHA, jumbo, USDA and VA loans with a minimum 3% down payment. A minimum 620 credit score is required.
|Residential Credit Solutions|
Read 179 Reviews
Residential Credit Solutions no longer services loans.
Read 140 Reviews
Now part of the HSBC, this corporation provides a variety of home finance solutions, including real estate secured loans and home mortgages. It operates in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
|Capital One Mortgage|
Read 121 Reviews
This national lender continues to serve existing loans but does not write new loans. They have refinancing, reinstatement, repayment and modification plans for homeowners who need help keeping up with mortgage payments.
|Coldwell Banker Mortgage|
Read 21 Reviews
This national lender offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, and hybrid, FHA and VA loans. A minimum 580 credit score and minimum down payment of 3% are required.
|First Meridian Mortgage Corporation||Read Reviews|
This lender serves homebuyers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. with conventional, VA, FHA, government, non-conforming, home-equity and home-improvement loans. A minimum 3.5% down payment is required.
|Pacific Union Financial|
Read 153 Reviews
|Out of Business|
This full-service, national mortgage lender offers FHA, VA, jumbo, HARP, USDA and conventional loans. Minimum credit score required is 560.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.