About Smartfi Home Loans, LLC
Smartfi Home Loans, LLC (NMLS #1862952) offers a selection of home loan products focused on meeting the needs of American seniors. In Ohio, where it’s based, the lender is called Bankers Guarantee Mortgage Company, which reflects its original name from its founding in 1911. You can apply for its loans online or by phone.
Overall Satisfaction Rating
- 5 stars
- 4 stars
- 3 stars
- 2 stars
- 1 stars
- Multiple reverse mortgage products available
- Specializes in assisting seniors
- Few in-person branches
- Not available in every state
Smartfi Home Loans is a mortgage lender that’s available in 35 states. It offers conventional and government-backed home loans, as well as reverse mortgages. It might be best for experienced borrowers, especially seniors.
Smartfi Home Loans doesn’t publish its starting rates online. However, the company had a slightly higher average rate for home purchases in 2021 than the national average (about 0.021% higher).
Keep in mind that interest rates depend on many factors, including a borrower’s credit history and debt-to-income ratio. You're more likely to secure lower-than-average interest rates if you have an excellent credit score (800 or above) and a low debt-to-income ratio (below 36%).
Smartfi Home Loans offers fixed or adjustable rates on its FHA and VA loans. An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) has a fixed rate for a certain period of time. After that time, the rate can reset and change based on market indexes, which means your monthly payment will also fluctuate. Note that, if you’re interested in an ARM from Smartfi, the only option is a five-year ARM, and the company does not state the adjustment period.
Fixed-rate mortgages are generally best suited for individuals who plan to live in their homes for more than just a few years. It can also be a good option for someone who already has excellent credit and will qualify for the lowest rates available.
On the other hand, you may want to consider an ARM if your current living situation may be short-term and it’s possible that you may sell your home before the rate resets. You can always consult with a loan officer about your short-term and long-term financial plans before you decide on an ARM.
Smartfi Home Loans average home purchase rate vs. national average
|Year||Difference from national average|
You can start the application process by visiting the company’s website and clicking on “Apply Online.” You’ll first create an account with your name, a valid email address and password.
Once you log in, you’ll see the various aspects of the application. You can click between the different parts (e.g., borrower info, income and assets) to answer the questions, and you can save your progress and finish the application at a later time.
Be prepared to provide information about your income and assets; Smartfi Home Loans uses this data to determine your loan amount. You must also input your Social Security number so the company can conduct a hard credit check.
Smartfi Home Loans will request financial documentation, which applicants can upload within the application portal. You may need to submit documents like W-2s, bank account statements, retirement account statements and prior years’ tax returns.
Once you submit your completed application, you should receive a timeline for a preapproval decision.
Robert, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Willoughby, Ohio, had this to say about their experience with Smarfi Home Loans: “I refinanced with Smartfi Home Loans and everything went very quick and smooth. It’s not my forever home and I still took the 30-year loan ... I only have a couple more years, probably. It took my PMI insurance away and it was a lower interest rate also. So, I saved $100 a month.”
Smartfi Home Loans application features
|Mobile document upload|
|Physical branches||2 states|
|Publishes minimum rate on website||X|
|Rate lock||Not disclosed|
|Pre-qualification (no hard credit pull)||X|
|Certified approval letter||Not disclosed|
Smartfi Home Loans offers conventional loans (fixed-rate mortgages), five-year ARMs, FHA loans and VA loans. If you qualify for VA loans and need a loan beyond the conforming limits, Smartfi Home Loans offers a VA jumbo loan as well. The company does not currently offer USDA loans.
Conventional loans through Smartfi Home Loans are only available with fixed interest rates. The two most common loan terms for fixed-rate mortgages are 15-year and 30-year. Both FHA and VA loans are available with either fixed or adjustable rates. Fixed-rate loans come in 15-, 20-, 25- or 30-year terms; ARMs have five-year terms.
In addition, the company offers two different types of reverse mortgages: an FHA option and a brand-specific option called Smartfi Choice. The Smartfi Choice alternative has a lower age minimum than most reverse mortgage options (borrowers may qualify at age 60 as opposed to 62).
In 2021, Smartfi Home loans initiated 110 home purchase applications. Of those applications, 0 preapprovals were denied, about 76% (84) were closed and about 6% (6) were denied.
Loan applications for home purchases only by year
|Home purchase applications||110||157||162|
|Home purchase loans closed||84||132||135|
|Home purchase applications denied||6||3||1|
|Home purchase preapprovals denied||0||0||0|
In 2021, the majority of the loans Smartfi Home Loans originated were for home purchases (about 59%). Less than half of loans, about 41%, were for refinancing purposes. The company does not currently offer cash-out refinances.
Many lenders saw an increase in refinance applications over the past two years. In 2020 and 2021, mortgage rates fell to historic lows, which drove many borrowers to refinance.
Locking in a lower rate can save you money in interest over the loan term and equate to savings in your monthly payment. In fact, data from Freddie Mac reveals that borrowers who refinanced in the first six months of 2021 were able to save an average of $2,800 annually in their mortgage payments.
However, fewer borrowers are expected to refinance in 2022; rates have steadily climbed over the past year. Even with rising rates, you may still consider refinancing if you can save money in the long run. Rates today may still be lower than when you first started your mortgage. Before you refinance, consider the overall costs associated with a new loan (like closing costs) and compare with to your potential savings.
Home purchase vs. refinance loans by year
|Home purchase loans||58.74%||67.69%||83.33%|
Smartfi Home Loans does not disclose all of its borrower requirements online. However, you’ll typically need a 620 credit score to qualify for a conventional loan. Minimum credit score requirements are usually lower on government-backed mortgages, so you’ll likely need a 500 for an FHA loan and a 580 for a VA loan.
Down payment requirements can also vary depending on the loan type. Conventional loans usually require at least a 3% down payment, while FHA loans require 3.5% down if your credit score is at least a 580 (10% down if between a 500 and 579). VA loans do not have down payment requirements, so you can receive 100% financing.
If you’re considering a reverse mortgage, there is typically no credit score requirement for this type of funding. However, there are other limitations with a reverse mortgage, like the age of the borrower and homeownership status.
National mortgage requirements by type
Costs and fees
SmartFi Home Loans does not disclose the lender fees it charges on new loans. However, the company will provide you with a Loan Estimate after you’ve been preapproved. The Loan Estimate will outline all of the closing costs, including any lender fees Smartfi Home Loans may charge.
In general, closing costs total to 2% to 5% of the loan amount. So, if your loan amount is $200,000, you can plan to spend between $4,000 and $10,000 in closing costs. These expenses can include real estate attorney’s fees, title search charges, appraisal costs, property taxes, etc.
Keep in mind that reverse mortgages also come with additional fees, like closing costs. If you take out a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) through Smartfi Home Loans, you may have to pay a fee for the required reverse mortgage counseling services. Some lenders also charge a monthly servicing fee. You can request fee information directly from Smartfi Home Loans before you start a reverse mortgage.
- How does Smartfi Home Loans work?
You can apply for a loan from Smartfi Home Loans online, starting by creating an account. If you prefer, you can call the company to start the application process.
Smartfi Home Loans has mortgage specialists who can answer questions and help you complete the application. The company is available by phone Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
- Is Smartfi Home Loans legit?
Smartfi Home Loans promises transparency regarding its mortgage products. The company’s loan options, including reverse mortgages, are well suited for seniors. Unfortunately, Smartfi Home Loans isn't available in every state, but if you're purchasing a home, refinancing an existing mortgage or looking for a reverse mortgage, we recommend getting a quote from Smartfi Home Loans if it operates in your area.
- Where is Smartfi Home Loans available?
Smartfi Home Loans is available in 35 states and Washington, D.C. There are branches in two states: Arizona and Ohio. The company’s products are not currently available in the following states: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
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Mac ** guided me through this process with expertise and extreme patience. He certainly used his excellent knowledge in this field to make this a comfortable business situation. Mr. ** knew the answers even before I asked him - so proficient! It was a very comfortable experience working with him and his company. I highly recommend him and his company to anyone contemplating this procedure.
Hi Anne, thank you so much for leaving us a review! We are happy to hear how Mac was able to anticipate your needs and make your experience enjoyable.
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When Smartfi reached out to me, the agent seemed super knowledgeable and approachable. The whole process didn't go well for us, but it wasn't anything to do with Smartfi at all. During the process, we found out that there were liens on our house because of past refinancing. The title company didn't have the releases. It happened twice. It took a long time working with that finance to get it done. We hit some rocky spots that I had to do some calling and fixing, but Smartfi was there. They were on top of it from the very beginning. They stayed in touch with me. They helped me, processed the whole thing and made it very clear.
Hi Lynda, thank you so much for your 5-star review! We are happy to hear how our team was able to assist you and keep things moving, even when there were hurdles in the road.
It was a very personal connection with the broker I dealt with and the application process went pretty smoothly. Once I had filled out the application and it was in process, I got referred to his associate who took over it. That seemed to linger on and I don't know what happens in that arena. It was all frustrating, but I don't know if it was anybody's fault but the process.
Hi Timothy, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review and share your experience! We understand the process can feel tedious at times and we do apologize for that; your feedback helps us to continually improve. We are glad to hear your interactions were personal and thoughtful.
The gentleman that I spoke with was very nice and took his time explaining everything. He always returned calls. There were a couple of glitches when it came to the amount that we were supposed to get paid. At one point, we were told it would be 14,000, and they came back and said it would be 10,000. But they came back and said that they made a mistake in their calculations, and it was 8,400. Other than that, I enjoyed working with them Smartfi.
Hi Dora, thank you for the 5-star review; we appreciate you taking the time to share! We do apologize for the estimate adjustments and we're glad to hear you enjoyed your overall experience with us.
The particular guy I worked with seemed more interested than the others, and I was more than happy to go with somebody that was a more cognizant when I was talking about wanting to talk about not having somebody tell me what I needed to do. I know what I needed to do. I rehearsed the situation long before I went into it. But the application went fine.
Hi Joseph, thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review! We are glad to hear our representative listened and was able to assist you in the way you wanted.
Smartfi is a good company to work with. The application process was very smooth and they were willing to close within 30 days.
Hi Marshall, thank you for sharing your experience with us! We are grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you.
The online application process was fine. It's tedious, but no more so than any place. Also, their customer service was great.
Hi Denny, thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review! We are grateful to have assisted you and are glad our customer service stood out throughout the process.
I refinanced with Smartfi Home Loans and everything went very quick and smooth. It’s not my forever home and I still took the 30-year loan just because I want to pay a lot more. I only have a couple more years, probably. It took my PMI insurance away and it was a lower interest rate also. So, I saved $100 a month.
Hi Robert, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review and share your experience! We were pleased to help you through the loan process and are glad we could help you save some money.
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page. Specific sources for this article include:
- NMLS Consumer Access, “Smartfi Home Loans, LLC.” Accessed September 5, 2022.
- Freddie Mac, “Refinance Trends in the First Half of 2021.” Accessed September 5, 2022.
- Experian, “Is a Reverse Mortgage Right for You?” Accessed September 5, 2022.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “How much will a reverse mortgage loan cost?” Accessed September 5, 2022.
Smartfi Home Loans, LLC Company Information
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- Smartfi Home Loans, LLC