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7 Best Mortgage Lenders of June 2021

A mortgage is most likely the largest loan you’ll ever take out in your life. You’ll be paying it for years, which makes getting a lower interest rate essential. Comparing loan terms such as mortgage rates, fees, and closing time are some steps that every consumer should take before settling on a servicer.

The best mortgage lenders tend to offer a wide variety of loan programs for consumers of different credit levels. They should also have a streamlined mortgage prequalification and application process and as clean a record as possible with regulating agencies. If you’re already on your way and would just like to calculate your mortgage, you can use our mortgage calculator.

Money.com Research Team: Gabriella Cruz-Martínez Heidi Rivera Joan Pabón Colin Grubb Last Updated: June 8th, 2021
A woman, her husband, and her daughter, stand outside their new home.
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Best Mortgage Lender Reviews

  • Company
    Specialty
  • Best Overall

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    #1 MBA Ranking

    JD Power Rating

    Best in Mortgage Origination Satisfaction

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    No. They consider credit scores and DTI Ratios.
    • High reach nationwide
    • First-time homebuyers can pay as little as 3% down
    • Excellent customer service
    • Borrowers can apply fully online, or contact representatives every day of the week during flexible hours

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Quicken offers Conventional, ARM FHA, VA, and Jumbo mortgages. Aside from the traditional 15- and 30-year mortgages, the lender also has some loans with flexible terms between 8 and 29 years,

    Quicken's YOURgage program sets it apart from other online lenders by allowing borrowers to choose the term of their fixed-rate mortgage and get a loan of up to $548,250. First-time homebuyers can pay as little as 3% down, which is especially helpful if you haven’t been able to save the 20% benchmark for a down payment.

    Quicken is our Best Overall Mortgage Lender for two reasons:

    • High reach nationwide
    • Excellent customer service

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Quicken Loans COVID-19 Response

    Quicken Loans clients impacted by COVID-19 can fill out an online application for assistance by visiting RocketMortgage.com. The company offers an initial 3-month forbearance, extendable up to 12 months, which temporarily stops mortgage payments.

    Once the crisis is over, Quicken Loans will work with clients to determine the best course of action when they’re ready to resume monthly payments. Clients won't experience an impact to their credit as a result of the forbearance.

  • Guild Mortgage

    Best for First-time Home Buyers

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    #13 MBA Ranking

    JD Power Rating

    Better Than Most

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620 is the standard, with minor exceptions going down to 600

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    Yes, ​such as utility bills and rental payment histories.
    • Top 5 lender for FHA loans nationwide
    • Specific programs for low-income borrowers available
    • Home improvement and manufactured home mortgage loans available
    • Guarantees closing within 17 days
    • Matches customers with down payment aid
    • Unavailable in NY and NJ
    • No home equity products available
    • No current mortgage rates on its website

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Reverse, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Guild offers government-backed FHA, VA, and USDA loans, as well as programs that specialize in down-payment assistance. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association Report (MBA), Guild is among the nation's top five lenders of FHA loans, making it a great option for qualifying borrowers with a minimum credit score of 600.

    For first-time homebuyers who believe their credit score or down payment amounts aren't enough to get a mortgage, the lender offers a program specifically designed for borrowers who meet low-income requirements or live in low-income areas. It features an incentive that accepts a minimum 3% down payment and awards borrowers a $2,000 Home Depot gift card, as well as a $1,500 grant that can be used for the loan's down payment or closing costs.

    Guild Mortgage is our Best for First-time Home Buyers mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • Top 5 lender for FHA loans nationwide
    • Specific programs for low-income borrowers available

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Guild Mortgage COVID-19 Response

    Guild Mortgage is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and won’t adversely report customer loans to credit bureaus. If you expect COVID-19 to continue impacting you, Guild Mortgage offers an initial forbearance option and hardship assistance in partnership with investors, as well assistance extensions depending on your case. This relief isn’t automatic, however, so remember to ask about these options if COVID-19 has impacted you financially.

  • Best for Military Members (Online)

    3rd Party Ratings

    JD Power Rating

    Among the Best

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    640

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    Lenders can count VA disability income and certain military allowances such as flight and hazard pay, among others, as effective income.
    • Competitive rates
    • Online credit counseling program available
    • Offers program for borrowers with poor credit history
    • Available in all 50 states and Washington DC
    • Now down payment or PMI required
    • No home equity loans available
    • Only has physical branches in 18 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 0%

    VU specializes in loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, making it a great option for those looking into this type of mortgage. Although it doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOCs, it does offer competitive rates.

    Veterans United also offers a free online credit counseling program for veterans and service members with low credit scores called the Lighthouse Program. A credit specialist is assigned to each customer to help fix errors on credit reports, map out a score improvement plan, and keep advising the borrower until they reach their credit score goal.

    Veterans United is our Best for Military Members (Online) mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • Competitive rates
    • Online credit counseling program available

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Veterans United COVID-19 Response

    Veterans United is offering an initial forbearance period of up to 180 days, temporarily suspending monthly mortgage payments. If necessary, borrowers have the option to extend that period for an additional 180 days.

    While the loan is in a forbearance program, VU won’t assess any late payment fees or accrue any additional interest on the loan. Entering into a forbearance plan won’t affect a borrower’s credit score. When this period ends, Veterans United will work with individual borrowers to establish either a repayment plan or a loan modification.

  • Navy Federal

    Best for Military Members (In-person)

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    #1613 MBA Ranking

    JD Power Rating

    Among the Best

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620 is the standard, but they accept less than perfect credit scores for certain loan products

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    Yes, it considers utility bills and evaluates a member's tenure or loyalty to the company.
    • 324 branches nationwide, catering to military members, reservists, veterans, retirees, and annuitants
    • Rate loan match available
    • HomeBuyers Choice program for first-time homebuyers
    • Up to 100% financing and 0% down payment options available
    • No private mortgage insurance
    • Doesn’t offer customized rates unless you apply

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 0%

    With their 324 branches, Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) ranks as our best lender for in-person assistance. NFCU services all of its mortgages in-house for the life of the loans, which can be important for customers looking to do business solely with their chosen lender. Furthermore, the lender charges less in mortgage points to allow borrowers access to its lowest interest rate.

    VA loans are government-backed, so they don't feature the same interest rate across lenders. However, borrowers looking into mortgage products through NFCU can take advantage of its rate loan match. If you find a better rate elsewhere, NFCU will match it or give you a deduction of $1,000 off your closing costs.

    Aside from VA loans, Navy Federal also offers Conventional, FHA, Jumbo and Interest-only loans.

    Membership is open to active-duty military members as well as reservists, veterans, retirees, and annuitants.

    Navy Federal is our Best for Military Members (In-person) mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • 324 branches nationwide
    • Rate loan match available

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Navy Federal COVID-19 Response

    Navy Federal is offering eligible members a forbearance plan which temporarily suspends monthly mortgage payment requirements for a total of up to 18 months . Members will also be provided with options to make payments missed during forbearance, including a loan modification or a deferral. While closing a mortgage loan may take longer than usual, Navy Federal is honoring initial locked rates in light of COVID-19.

  • Caliber Home Loans

    Best for Self-Employed Individuals

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    #7 MBA Ranking

    JD Power Rating

    Along Industry Average

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620 is the standard, but they accept 580 for specific loan products

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    Yes, Caliber has special financing options that consider payment and rental history instead of just credit score and DTI.
    • Some loan programs have low credit score options
    • Program available for self-employed customers
    • Online application
    • One of the largest selection of mortgage loans on our list
    • No equity home loans available

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Caliber’s low entry barrier and a program specifically tailored towards self-employed individuals make it much easier for them to prove how much they earn even without a regular salary. The company considers alternative credit data during the mortgage application process, in some cases offering low down payments of 3%.

    This lender has one of the largest selections of mortgage products of all the companies on our list, including: Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, ARM, Refinance, Bond, Renovation, Freddie Mac HomeOne, Freddie Mac Home Possible, and Fannie Mae HomeReady.

    Caliber’s online application process is another standout feature. Customers can apply online by answering a few questions about themselves, their finances, and their budget. A representative will contact applicants shortly after, a process that may take as little as 15 minutes.

    Caliber Home Loans is our Best for Self-Employed Individuals mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • Some loan programs have low credit score options
    • Program available for self-employed customers

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Caliber Home Loans COVID-19 Response

    Caliber offers both short- and long-term solutions for those struggling to pay their mortgage due to COVID-19. First is a forbearance plan which postpones monthly payments. Clients also have other options depending on the type of loan and their financial situation.

    A repayment plan is available to gradually catch up on paying the amounts postponed by their forbearance, and a deferral plan can keep the payments suspended until clients reach the end of their loan. Alternatively, and upon request, modifications can be made to a client’s loan to make it more manageable.

  • Best Marketplace

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    n/a

    JD Power Rating

    n/a

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    585 (recommended)

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    n/a
    • Compare lenders in minutes
    • Various home loan learning sources available
    • LendingTree gives your information to various loan originators when you apply. These companies compete for your business, and those lenders will contact you, probably during the same period, via phone and email

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Reverse, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA (specifics depend on the lender)

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: Depends on the lender

    LendingTree is the go-to solution for browsing and comparing mortgage products from over 1,500 different lenders. You can compare lender offers online through a 3-step process that consists of answering a series of questions, comparing offers side by side, and reaching an agreement with a loan officer.

    LendingTree also has a wealth of resources regarding mortgages and loans such as an expansive glossary of loan terminology, current rates for all types of home loans, several calculators, and a national loan officer directory. It also features numerous reviews so users can see the experiences others have had with each lender.

    Lending Tree is our Best Marketplace mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • Compare lenders in minutes
    • Various home loan learning sources available

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    LendingTree COVID-19 Response

    LendingTree’s wealth of mortgage resources includes a detailed explanation of various coronavirus pandemic mortgage relief programs. It also features information about federal mortgage relief programs, instructions on finding your current loan services, and summaries of several lender relief programs. It also has a section on mortgage relief scams.

  • Bank of America

    Best National Bank

    3rd Party Ratings

    MBA Ranking

    #4 MBA Ranking

    JD Power Rating

    Among the Best

    Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    Yes, they consider alternative credit data such as rent, utility, and cellphone payments for some of its loan products.
    • Greater discount option may be available for existing customers
    • Full online application
    • 4,300 retail financial centers, and 2,900 lending centers available nationwide
    • Has assistance programs for down payment and closing costs
    • Current customers may get a discount on origination fees
    • No renovation loans available
    • Fee information isn’t available online
    • Rates shown are for a credit score of 740 or higher

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Reverse, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Bank of America’s diverse selection of mortgage products, competitive closing costs, interest rate estimates, and broad reach makes it a solid lender choice overall. It’s an even better choice for existing members, as the bank may offer them greater discounts on origination fees.

    Accessibility is one of the bank’s strong points, with choices for both clients who prefer face-to-face interaction or an end-to-end digital experience. Bank of America features a staggering 4,300 retail financial centers and 2,900 lending centers. The bank also allows borrowers to apply and pre-qualify entirely online.

    Bank of America is our Best National Bank mortgage lender for two reasons:

    • Greater discount option may be available for existing customers
    • 4,300 retail financial centers, and 2,900 lending centers available nationwide

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Bank of America COVID-19 Response

    Bank of America is currently extending payment deferral and forbearance options to those experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In both cases, payment due dates will be delayed but not forgiven or erased. The company will work with its clients on repayment options, and there won't be any late charges.

    Eligibility for these programs varies depending on the owners or insurers of the loan product. If Bank of America owns the loan, both deferral and forbearance options will be available. Only those who have a single due payment on their loans can apply for a deferral. If a third-party owns or is insuring the loan, Bank of America will follow their guidelines.

Other Lenders We Considered

Other Lenders We Considered When we looked at the mortgage lending industry, we found that many of the biggest home loan lenders didn’t necessarily offer the best products, though they might excel in other areas.

  • Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    No. They consider credit scores and DTI Ratios. Self-employed individuals must present a two-year income history.
    • No lender fees — that includes loan officer commission, origination, underwriting, or application fees
    • Fully online application
    • Offers assistance programs for down payment and closing costs
    • “Better Price Guarantee” means that Better’s offer will be $100 less than their competitors’, or they’ll pay you the $100
    • Representatives available every day until 9pm ET
    • No VA, USDA, FHA, home equity, or home improvement loans
    • Doesn’t offer customizable terms
    • Not available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada or New Hampshire

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Better.com aims to make home ownership easy through a transparent process. Since the company is fully online, it can afford to forego some of the fees charged by traditional brick and mortar lenders. Despite this focus on the digital, borrowers gain access to a dedicated loan officer

    Aside from its quick application and pre-approval processes, on-demand rate lock, and instant loan estimate, Better affirms it can close mortgages in as little as 14 days.

    On the downside, the lender currently has a limited selection, as it doesn’t offer any government-backed loan products.

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    BETTER.COM COVID-19 RESPONSE

    Better is currently offering relief to its borrowers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19. This includes loan forbearance, waiting late and overdraft fees, suspending foreclosure for all borrowers whose loan it services, and suspending credit reporting in accordance with Fannie Mae guidelines.

    Further, Better has had to modify its mortgage offerings and eligibility requirements for some loan products.

    • They’ve increased their minimum FICO credit score requirement for cash-out refinance loans to 680. The minimum requirement for loans for purchase or rate-and-term refinance is still 620.
    • Their Jumbo loan offerings are restricted and they cannot currently complete a Jumbo loan with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio over 80%.
  • Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    No. They consider credit scores and DTI Ratios. Self-employed individuals must present a two-year income history.
    • Digital processes online and mobile allow borrowers to to upload and e-sign documents
    • 300 branches in 46 states
    • Provides sample rates for many of its loan products
    • Participates in down payment assistance programs: HomeReady, HomePossible®, Fannie Mae 97%, and Freddie Mac HomeOne
    • No home equity products
    • Not available in Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont, or West Virginia

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    Guaranteed Rate is another online mortgage lender that allows for a fully digital process that can be tracked via an interactive checklist. That said, borrowers who also want a physical branch can enjoy access to one of the lender’s 300 branches across 46 states.

    Guaranteed Rate has a full suite of comprehensive educational resources, including a Know Your Neighborhood feature (under Research), that gives borrowers the ability to view market and population trends by zip code, as well as school data and taxes.

    While this lender provides a mortgage affordability calculator, it doesn’t specify whether the low rates also take into account that the borrower has bought mortgage points.

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    GUARANTEED RATE COVID-19 RESPONSE

    Guaranteed Rate is currently extending payment deferral and forbearance options to those experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes loan modifications, forbearance plans, and suspension of credit reporting for borrowers in forbearance programs, repayments, or trial period programs.

    Further, Guaranteed Rate has modified its self-employed borrower requirements for Fannie, Freddie, FHA, and Jumbo loans.

  • Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    Not disclosed

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    While they consider credit scores and DTI Ratios, in some cases they will analyze bank statements, rather than tax returns.
    • Proprietary Loanplicity® app guides borrowers through the entire process, from application to closing
    • Ample selection of mortgage products
    • Participates in over 8 closing cost and down payment assistance programs
    • No lending fees on any VA loan, including renovation
    • Float-down rate lock option available within 20 days of closing, if rates drop
    • No home equity products
    • Must speak with a loan officer before an online application
    • Qualifying requirements not published

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA, Home Renovation, Manufactured Homes

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: Not disclosed

    PrimeLending has one of the widest range of loan products of all the companies on our list, including some unique options, such as pool escrow loans, energy-efficient mortgages, and FHA 203(k) renovation loans. What’s more, with its Neighborhood Edge program, low- to moderate-income borrowers can receive up to $2,000 in closing credits, based on income and area.

    While PrimeLending’s selection is certainly wide, the lender could be more transparent regarding its requirements for borrowers.

    Further, though the company touts its online availability, potential home buyers must first speak with a loan officer before completing an application.

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    PRIMELENDING COVID-19 RESPONSE

    PrimeLending had a mortgage forbearance program in place in 2020, but there is currently no information related to COVID-19 programs, other than some informative posts on the page’s blog. We recommend contacting your loan officer directly.

  • Company Credit Check

    Minimum Credit Score

    620

    DO THEY CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE CREDIT DATA?

    While they consider credit scores and DTI Ratios, in some cases they will analyze bank statements, rather than tax returns.
    • Over 2,000 brokers in the U.S. service loans in every state
    • Offers some options that don’t require down payments
    • Has several specialized products, such as multiple property or high balance loans
    • Borrowers are assigned a single loan advisor and loan processor
    • Rates easily accessible
    • Home equity products not available nationwide, but mostly concentrated in Michigan
    • Home equity products have an annual $7 fee, and must be taken out in person
    • High number of complaints in the CFPB database related to trouble during the payment process

    LOAN TYPES: Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA, Renovation, Construction, Home Equity

    MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT: 3%

    More well known as a mortgage servicer than an originator, Flagstar nonetheless has a full suite of loans on offer, including home equity products and several specialty loans.

    Some examples of the latter include the Professional loan, made with recent graduates with high earning potential in mind. In some cases, Flagstar may even exclude some student loan debt from its DTI calculation.

    LATEST NEWS AS OF JUNE 2021

    Flagstar COVID-19 RESPONSE

    PrimeLending is currently offering a three-month forbearance plan, extendable in further three-month implements. The company has also suspended foreclosures, evictions and repossessions as per investor/insurer guidelines, or longer if authorized by state or federal law.

How Much Will I Pay for My Mortgage

What Do You Need to Apply For a Mortgage?

Getting preapproved before deciding on a property can be crucial to avoid looking at homes you can't afford. Most consumers will get motivated by the piece of real estate itself because that’s the fun part. But other things should come first. Getting prequalified will save you time and make the mortgage process more manageable.

To apply for a mortgage, you need:

  • Copies of your last two pay stubs
  • A copy of your most recent tax return
  • W-2 and/or 1099 (although some lenders may require up to two years’ worth of these, depending on your employment history)
  • A state-issued photo ID, such as your passport or driver's license
  • Statements of all your assets (IRAs, investment accounts, checking and savings accounts, etc.)
  • Bankruptcy discharge documents (if applicable)
  • A recent credit report
  • Statements of any outstanding debts—some lenders may require information about monthly credit card payments

In some cases, lenders may require additional documentation, like a history of alimony payments and gift letters, so make sure to ask before applying.

COVID-19 and the Housing Market

2020 started with mortgage rates plummeting to a 50-year historic low. Mortgage loan applications have increased due to the historic low rates. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an extension of the coronavirus-related protective measures until June 30, 2021.

These protections include:

  • A nationwide suspension of all foreclosure sales and evictions
  • Additional mortgage relief options
  • Expansion of forbearance programs to incorporate those affected directly and indirectly by this crisis, effective immediately
  • Loan modifications such as loss mitigation, usually offered for natural disasters, may be available as well — depending on the mortgage lender.

As per the Financial Services Forum, many lenders have also implemented supplemental relief efforts, like fee waivers, and are not reporting adverse credit to credit bureaus.

To help recover from the coronavirus, Freddie Mac is working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to:

  • Ease the buying, selling, or refinancing process
  • Freddie Mac is relaxing employment verification requirements and offering appraisal alternatives in light of the crisis
  • Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have announced a nationwide relief plan to help borrowers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19

Mortgage Lenders FAQs

To answer some of these questions, we contacted Tim Lucas, Managing Editor for The Mortgage Reports; Jason Sharon, mortgage broker, US Navy Veteran, and owner of Home Loans, Inc; and Andy Harris, owner of Vantage Mortgage Group, Inc.

What does a demand feature mean in a mortgage loan?

Having a demand feature in your mortgage loan — checked as “yes” in your loan’s closing disclosure — means that the lender can require you to pay the entirety of the loan at any time. The lender can make the request for any reason, so you should inquire about this feature before signing any contract.

What is a mortgage loan originator?

A mortgage loan originator, also known as MLO, is a trained professional that can guide applicants throughout the mortgage approval process. Their goal is to orient customers from the moment the loan application is prepared, up to its closing. Mortgage loan originators can be either a state-licensed individual or a licensed company representative.

Which is better: fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage is the way to go, for now. According to Tim Lucas, adjustable rates “don’t make any sense at all,” given how low current rates are. “The only way that I would suggest an adjustable rate is if you're expecting some big inheritance or if you're able to pay off your mortgage in two or three years.”

“It's a big risk having that adjustable rate because, at this point, it can only go up, so you might as well lock it in for 30 years and never worry about it again,” Lucas added.

I qualify for both conventional and government-backed loans. Which one should I choose?

Choosing a government-backed loan could save you hundreds of dollars on your mortgage in the long-run when compared to a conventional loan.

“If you qualify for both a VA loan and a conventional loan, usually the VA loan will be the better option based on the interest rate if you select the proper lender,” said Jason Sharon. Additionally, loans never have private mortgage insurance (PMI), while conventional loans will require PMI if you make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price.

What documents do I need to apply for a mortgage?

  • Copies of your last two pay stubs
  • A copy of your most recent tax return
  • W-2 and/or 1099 (although some lenders may require up to two years’ worth of these, depending on your employment history)
  • A state-issued photo ID, such as your passport or driver's license
  • Statements of all your assets (IRAs, investment accounts, checking and savings accounts, etc.)
  • Bankruptcy discharge documents (if applicable)
  • A recent credit report
  • Statements of any outstanding debts—some lenders may require information about monthly credit card payments

In some cases, lenders may require additional documentation, like a history of alimony payments and gift letters, so make sure to ask before applying.

Will I have a higher interest rate because I’m self-employed?

Your credit score and loan type will affect your interest rates, not your employment status. However, being self-employed will likely affect your qualifying status. Tim Lucas stated that “You'll have a greater chance of being denied because the underwriter for that loan is going to have a harder time proving that you make a certain amount of money.”

If I want to buy a house, where do I start?

Andy Harris suggested that getting pre-approval before deciding on a property can be crucial to avoid getting ahead of yourself and looking at homes you can't afford. “You must be pre-approved before you start looking at properties or talking to a real estate agent. Otherwise, you have no idea of what your target budget is,” he said.

Most consumers will get motivated by the piece of real estate itself because that’s the fun part. But other things should come first. “No one wants to go through the process of setting a budget and applying for a mortgage, underwriting a loan, and doing all these things, but you can't put the cart before the horse,” he added.

What are Jumbo Loans?

Jumbo loans are mortgages designed to finance luxury properties and homes in competitive real estate markets. They are different from conventional loans in that they exceed the limits set by the Federal Housing Financing Agency. It’s hard to qualify for a jumbo loan because they aren’t purchased or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Applicants generally need an excellent credit history, a lower debt-to-income ratio, and will have to provide a larger down payment. They may also need a greater number of tax returns and more liquid funds in their bank account for the closing process, which tends to be longer because of the stricter requirements for a jumbo loan. Wells Fargo and New American Funding are examples of banks that offer jumbo loans.

To learn more, read our article on the best jumbo mortgage lenders of 2020.

How We Found the Best Mortgage Lenders

Our rankings were derived from more than 60 data types in the following categories:

  • Types of loans offered: We favored companies that offered a variety of loan options, such as fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, term-lengths and loans backed by government agencies
  • Customer Experience: We favored companies that consider alternative credit data, provide a streamlined application process, at least two forms of customer service, and a variety of resources and educational tools
  • Reputation & Transparency: We evaluated consumer complaints with the CFPB and the number of regulatory actions filed with the NMLS

Our research into the best mortgage lenders led us to:

Summary of Money’s Best Mortgage Lenders of June 2021

Company and
Specialty
Minimum
Credit Score
Minimum
Down Payment
Quicken Loans
Best Overall
620 3%
Guild Mortgage
Best for First-Time Homebuyers
620 3%
Veterans United
Best for Military Members (Online)
660 0%
Navy Federal
Best for Military Members (In-Person)
620 0%
Caliber Home Loans
Best for Self-Employed Individuals
580 3%
Lending Tree
Best Marketplace
~585 (recommended) n/a
Bank of America
Best National Bank
620 3%