Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research determine where and how companies may appear. Learn more about how we make money.

By Gabriella Cruz-MartínezHeidi Rivera and Norma Rodríguez
Updated: July 22, 2021 8:06 AM ET | Originally published: July 8, 2021
Most Customizable Plan
Quicken Loans Mortgage

Our Partner

Check Price
MBA Ranking

#1

JD Power Ranking

Best in Mortgage Origination Satisfaction

Minimum Credit Score

620

Considers Alternative Credit Data

No

Best for First-Time Homebuyers
Guild Mortgage

Check Price
MBA Ranking

#13

JD Power Ranking

Better Than Most

Minimum Credit Score

620 (with some exceptions)

Considers Alternative Credit Data

Yes

Best Marketplace
LendingTree Mortgage

Our Partner

Check Price
MBA Ranking

N/A

JD Power Ranking

N/A

Minimum Credit Score

585

Considers Alternative Credit Data

N/A

Best for the Self-Employed
Caliber Home Loans Mortgage Rates

Check Price
MBA Ranking

#7

JD Power Ranking

Along Industry Average

Minimum Credit Score

580

Considers Alternative Credit Data

Yes

Best National Lender
Bank of America Mortgage

Check Price
MBA Ranking

#4

JD Power Ranking

Among the Best

Minimum Credit Score

620

Considers Alternative Credit Data

Yes

MBA Ranking

#1

#13

N/A

#7

#4

JD Power Ranking

Best in Mortgage Origination Satisfaction

Better Than Most

N/A

Along Industry Average

Among the Best

Minimum Credit Score

620

620 (with some exceptions)

585

580

620

Considers Alternative Credit Data

No

Yes

N/A

Yes

Yes

A mortgage is 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 steps that every homebuying customer should take before settling on a lender.

The best mortgage lenders tend to offer different loan programs for consumers of different credit levels. They should also have a streamlined mortgage pre-qualification 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.

Our Top Picks for Best Mortgage Lenders

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
The first step to a new home is putting in the work and finding out how much you can afford.
Mortgage Experts are available to get you started on your home-buying journey with solid advice and priceless information. To find out more, click on your state today.
HawaiiAlaskaFloridaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaNorth CarolinaTennesseeRIRhode IslandCTConnecticutMAMassachusettsMaineNHNew HampshireVTVermontNew YorkNJNew JerseyDEDelawareMDMarylandWest VirginiaOhioMichiganArizonaNevadaUtahColoradoNew MexicoSouth DakotaIowaIndianaIllinoisMinnesotaWisconsinMissouriLouisianaVirginiaDCWashington DCIdahoCaliforniaNorth DakotaWashingtonOregonMontanaWyomingNebraskaKansasOklahomaPennsylvaniaKentuckyMississippiArkansasTexas
Get Started

Best Mortgage Lender Reviews

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • No home equity loans or home equity lines available
  • No brick and mortar locations

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 loan and borrow up to $548,250. First-time homebuyers can pay as little as 3% down, which is especially helpful if you haven’t saved the 20% benchmark for a down payment.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

Quicken is our Best Overall Mortgage Lender for two reasons:

  • High reach nationwide
  • Excellent customer service

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 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 on their credit as a result of the forbearance.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • Compare lenders in minutes
  • Various home loan learning sources available
Cons
  • 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

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.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA (specifics vary by lender)
  • Minimum Down Payment – Vary by 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 JULY 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.

 

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
ADVERTISEMENT
Pros
  • Competitive rates
  • Online credit counseling program available
  • Program for borrowers with poor credit history
  • Available in all 50 states and Washington DC
  • No down payment or PMI required
Cons
  • 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

Veterans United 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.

VU 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.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 0%

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 JULY 2021

VETERANS UNITED COVID-19 RESPONSE

Veterans United offers 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.

 

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Unavailable in NY and NJ
  • No home equity products available
  • No current mortgage rates on its website

Guild offers government-backed FHA, VA, and USDA loans and 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 an excellent option for qualifying borrowers with credit scores as low as 540 (provided they put at least 10% down).

Guild also offers an FHA Zero Down program for low to moderate-income homebuyers with imperfect credit and not enough saved up for down payment. Most FHA loans require at least 3.5% down, but Guild’s Zero Down program allows applicants with credit scores as low as 640 to get an FHA home loan without the need for a down payment.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 0%

Guild Mortgage is our Best Lender for First-Time Homebuyers for two reasons:

  • One of the nation’s top 5 lenders for FHA loans
  • Offers programs for people with low credit scores and low or no down payments

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 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. However, this relief isn’t automatic, so remember to ask about these options if COVID-19 has impacted you financially.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • No private mortgage insurance
  • Doesn't offer customized rates unless you apply

With its 324 branches, Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) ranks as our best lender for in-person assistance. NFCU services all of its types of 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.

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

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 0%

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 JULY 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.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • Some loan programs have low credit score options
  • Program available for self-employed customers
  • Online application
  • One of the largest selections of mortgage loans on our list
Cons
  • No equity home loans available

Caliber’s low entry barrier and a program tailored explicitly 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.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

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 JULY 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.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
Pros
  • Full online application
  • 4,300 retail financial centers, and 2,900 lending centers available nationwide
  • Down payment and closing costs assistance program
Cons
  • No renovation loans available
  • Fee information isn't available online
  • Rates shown are for a credit score of 740 or higher

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 more significant discounts on origination fees.

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

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

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

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

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 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 its guidelines.

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. However, they might excel in other areas.

Better

Pros
  • No lender fees — that includes loan officer commission, origination, underwriting, or application fees
  • Fully online application
  • Assistance programs for a 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 9 pm ET
Cons
  • No VA, USDA, FHA, home equity, or home improvement loans
  • Doesn't offer customizable terms
  • Not available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, or New Hampshire

Better.com aims to make homeownership accessible through a transparent process. Since the company is entirely 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.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 2021

BETTER.COM COVID-19 RESPONSE

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

Guaranteed Rate

Pros
  • Digital processes online and mobile allow borrowers 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
Cons
  • No home equity products
  • Not available in Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont, or West Virginia

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 consider that the borrower has bought mortgage points.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 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.

PrimeLending

Pros
  • Proprietary Loanplicity® app guides borrowers through the entire process, from application to closing
  • Ample selection of mortgage products
  • Participates in over eight 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
Cons
  • No home equity products
  • Must speak with a loan officer before an online application
  • Qualifying requirements not published

PrimeLending has one of the broadest 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 homebuyers must first speak with a loan officer before completing an application.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA, Home Renovation, Manufactured Home
  • Minimum Down Payment – Not disclosed

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 2021

PRIMELENDING COVID-19 RESPONSE

PrimeLending had a mortgage forbearance program 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.

Flagstar Bank

Pros
  • Over 2,000 brokers in the U.S. and service loans in every state
  • Offers some options that don't require down payments
  • Has several specialized products, such as multiple properties or high balance loans
  • Borrowers are assigned a single loan advisor and loan processor
  • Rates easily accessible
Cons
  • Home equity products not available nationwide but primarily concentrated in Michigan
  • Home equity products have an annual $7 fee and must be taken out in person
  • A high number of complaints in the CFPB database related to trouble during the payment process

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.

  • Loan Types – Purchase, Jumbo, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA, Home Renovation, Manufactured Homes
  • Minimum Down Payment – 3%

LATEST NEWS AS OF JULY 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 per investor/insurer guidelines or longer if authorized by state or federal law.

How Much Will I Pay for My Mortgage

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
1Add Your Info
i

Gross income is the amount you receive before taxes and other deductions.

i

In order to get the most accurate estimate, select the credit score that best represents your credit history.

i

Not sure which loan type to choose? Go with a 30 Year Fixed Rate Loan, 90%+ of Americans do.

i

If your cash down payment is less than 20% of your loan amount, we will automatically apply PMI to your results.

i

In order to get the most accurate estimate, select the credit score that best represents your credit history.

i

Not sure which loan type to choose? Go with a 30 Year Fixed Rate Loan, 90%+ of Americans do.

Money’s calculator results are for illustrative purposes only and not guaranteed. Money uses regional averages, so your mortgage payment may vary.

2See Your Results
i

We try to keep our information current and accurate. However, interest rates are subject to market fluctuations and vary based on your qualifications. Calculator results assume a good credit score and factor-in regional averages; your actual interest rate may differ. Calculator results are for educational and informational purposes only and are not guaranteed. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any personal financial decisions.

You can afford a house worth:

$---,---

with monthly payment of

$---,---

Monthly Breakdown

Mortgage Payment
Private Mortgage Insurance
Property Tax
Home Insurance
HOA / Condo Fees

Thank you for your service! 0% downpayment and $0 PMI applied.

3What is Today's Rate?

Rate for yesterday Jul 26 was

3.234%

Find your actual rate at Quicken Loans today!

View Your Rate For July 27, 2021

Powered by  

Mortgage Loans Guide

How Do Mortgages Work?

If you consider buying a home but don’t have all the money upfront, a mortgage loan could be the solution. A mortgage is a loan given by a financial institution to purchase or refinance a property. The home you’re buying with a mortgage loan serves as your collateral. If you’re unable to make your mortgage payments, the bank will seize your property.

If you’re thinking about refinancing your home, check our mortgage refinance calculator.

Type of mortgage loans

Mortgage companies offer various loan products varying in terms, interest rates, and property usage to fit the needs of homebuyers.

  • Conventional loans: Not part of any government program, conventional loans are the most common type of mortgage loan. They have a loan amount limit of $489,350 in most counties and $726,525 in more expensive areas. If the down payment is less than 20%, insurance is required
  • Jumbo loans: A type of conventional loan classified as conforming or non-conforming, they are designed for properties exceeding the limit of $489,350. Non-conforming are for properties between $1-2 million. Both require good credit and a sizeable down payment to qualify.
  • FHA loans: A Federal Home Administration loan protects the borrower against default. FHA pays the lender a claim for the unpaid balance on the mortgage.
  • VA loans: Available to service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses, this loan offers competitive interest rates and doesn’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance. However, it requires a VA funding fee. This loan provides options for refinancing, Native Americans, and remodeling a home for easier access for the disabled
  • USDA loans: This loan supports low-income borrowers in rural areas. No down payment is required, and it offers competitive interest rates, flexible credit score requirements, and low monthly mortgage insurance.
  • Reverse loans: For homeowners who are 62 years of age or older, a reverse mortgage allows them to convert part of the equity of your home into cash without having to sell your property. As long as you live in the house, you don’t have to pay back your loan.
  • Local loans: Provided by a local financial institution, these lenders have developed relationships with other local businesses, including real estate agents, local appraisers, and interior designers.

Here are our selections for the best VA loans and the best mortgage refinance.

Type of mortgage rates

There are a variety of costs associated with a mortgage loan. The annual percentage rate (APR) will reflect the interest rate, brokerage fees, and other charges established by the lender. When researching for a loan, always look for the most current mortgage rates.

Lenders typically divide their loans between fixed and adjustable-rate.

Fixed-Rates Adjustable-Rate (ARM)
Interest rate doesn’t change during the loan term Interest rates can change during the loan term. By law, ARMs have a lifetime cap, which limits the interest rate raise on the loan
Monthly payments stay the same during the loan term Monthly payments may vary depending on interest rate fluctuation.
A good option for homebuyers planning to stay for a long time in the house A better option for homebuyers who plan to live in the house for a shorter amount of time
Three terms for fixed-rate mortgages: 15- year, 20- year, and 30- year ARMs have an adjustment period where the initial payment and rate for the loan will stay the same for an established period. It can be between 1 month and 5 years. Afterward, rates can change every quarter, year, 3 years, or 5 years
APR will not always reflect the maximum interest rate for the loan

How to Get a Mortgage Loan

Getting a mortgage preapproval before deciding on a property can be crucial to avoid looking at homes you can’t afford. It will save you time and make the mortgage process more manageable. Check our home affordability calculator to see if you’ll be able to afford a monthly mortgage payment.

To apply for a mortgage, you need:

  1. Copies of your last two pay stubs
  2. A copy of your most recent tax return
  3. W-2 and/or 1099 (although some lenders may require up to two years’ worth of these, depending on your employment history)
  4. A state-issued photo ID, such as your passport or driver’s license
  5. Statements of all your assets (IRAs, investment accounts, checking and savings accounts, etc.)
  6. Bankruptcy discharge documents (if applicable)
  7. A recent credit report
  8. Statements of any outstanding debts—some lenders may require information about monthly credit card payments
  9. In some cases, lenders may require additional documentation, like a history of alimony payments and gift letters, so make sure to ask before applying.

Before applying for a mortgage, check your credit score. When shopping around for a mortgage, your score will not be affected by a hard credit inquiry if it’s done within 30 days. Credit reporting agencies recognize this as shopping around for the best rate.

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 September 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 FAQ
What does a demand feature mean in a mortgage loan?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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 state-licensed individuals or licensed company representatives.
Which is better: fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage?
chevron-down
chevron-up
A fixed-rate mortgage is a 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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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?
chevron-down
chevron-up
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. However, 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 answer some of the questions in this section, 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.

Ads by Money. We may be compensated if you click this ad.AdAds by Money disclaimer
There's never been a better time to buy a home.
Mortgage Experts can help you get there. Click below and request your free quote today.
Get Started

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 July 2021

COMPANY and SPECIALTY MINIMUM CREDIT SCORE MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT
Quicken Loans – Best Overall 620 3%
LendingTree – Best Marketplace ~585 (recommended) n/a
Veterans United – Best for Military Members (Online) 660 0%
Guild Mortgage – Best for First-Time Homebuyers 620 3%
Navy Federal – Best for Military Members (In-Person) 620 0%
Caliber Home Loans – Best for Self-employed Individuals 580 3%
Bank of America – Best National Bank 620 3%