Shopping for a new mortgage, mortgage refinance, home equity line of credit, or home equity loan can be tough — especially with so many mortgage companies and lenders to choose from. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to get a loan to fund the purchase of your dream home, or maybe you’re hoping to refinance your current mortgage into something more affordable.
Whatever your homeownership goals, it’s good to have a list of a few great lenders to help you find the right loan product for your situation. That’s why we researched and created this list and included all the details on how they can help you reach your financial goals.
Here are the best mortgage lenders on the market:
- Best for first-time homebuyers: Rocket Mortgage
- Best for military members: Navy Federal Credit Union
- Best for HELOC or mortgage refinance: Figure
- Best for fast, easy service: Better Mortgage
- Best customer service: New American Funding
- Best for VA Loans: Veterans United
- Best for jumbo loans: PNC Bank
Keep reading to learn more about these top-rated mortgage lenders and the types of home loans they offer.
The best mortgage lenders of January 2021
Best for first-time homebuyers: Rocket Mortgage
Rocket Mortgage is an online mortgage tool from Quicken Loans, America’s largest mortgage lender. The company’s streamlined online service allows anyone to easily apply for a mortgage loan, get competitive loan estimates, and manage their account online — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With a highly rated customer service team and more than 10 years of experience connecting homebuyers with mortgages, this company is a great one to work with for tech-savvy first-time homebuyers.
Rocket Mortgage offers a variety of loan products, including conventional loans, Federal Housing Administration loans, Veterans Affairs loans, and even jumbo loans. It recommends borrowers have at least 3% of the home’s purchase price ready for a down payment and have a minimum credit score of 580.
In addition to traditional mortgage products, the company also offers various refinancing packages. Because Rocket Mortgage is managed by Quicken Loans, an online lender, this lending experience is best for tech-savvy borrowers who are comfortable completing transactions remotely.
Best for military members : Navy Federal Credit Union
The Navy Federal Credit Union was founded in 1933 by seven Navy servicepeople who wanted to help themselves and their colleagues reach their financial goals. Today the focus of the Navy Federal Credit Union is much the same: to provide a secure banking and lending service exclusively for military members, veterans, Department of Defense employees, and their families.
The company offers a wide range of lending options including both adjustable-rate mortgages, fixed-rate mortgages, VA loans, and a Military Choice loan for active-duty military personnel who have exhausted their VA loan benefit.
Navy Federal is a credit union vs. a bank, which means the company is member-owned and not-for-profit. That also means you get to keep even more of your money as all surplus funds are returned to credit union members in the form of dividends.
Best for HELOC or mortgage refinance: Figure
If you’re looking to get a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or you want to refinance your mortgage, then you might want to consider this lender. Figure, a San-Francisco finance company run by blockchain technology, is one of the newest and fastest solutions for borrowers looking to access cash or renegotiate the terms of their existing mortgages. The company has already served more than 20,000 people and unlocked over $1 billion in equity for its members.
Rather than taking out a pricey personal loan or struggling under the pressure of a high interest rate on your current mortgage, Figure has a simple online application process to help prospective borrowers shopping or HELOCs, mortgage refinances, and cash-out refinances. If approved, borrowers can receive their funds or new loan terms in less than a week.
Read our Figure review.
Best for fast, easy service: Better Mortgage
Better Mortgage is another startup-like lending company offering fast and efficient online lending services to the tech-savvy masses. Better Mortgage is at the forefront of providing easy online mortgage applications, radical transparency, and efficient service. Whether you’re looking to apply for a mortgage or refinance an existing one, the company can help qualifying applicants secure rate quotes in as little as three seconds and pre-approval in just three minutes.
Because its loan officers don’t work off commission, the company is more focused on getting customers the right loan package, not on making a sale. Because the company is also a direct lender, it won’t just help you find a loan, it’ll also work with you throughout the entire process, from that original online quote to closing on your new home or refinance package.
Best customer service: New American Funding
New American Funding is a great company to work with if you want more support to help you with choosing the right loan or refinance package. With an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and more than 127,000 happy customer reviews, you can be sure you’ll be in good hands when working with this company.
Whether you’re trying to figure out how much of a home you can afford or you want to just learn more about getting a mortgage, this company will provide the answers to your questions and walk you through every step of the process.
This California-based company offers a wide variety of loan products, including conventional loans, VA loans, FHA loans, ARM loans, and even reverse mortgages.
Best for VA loans: Veterans United
If you’re on the market for a VA loan, then you might want to check out Veterans United, a top-ranked nationwide lender in VA loans. With nearly 20 years of experience serving veterans, service members, and their families with an average 4.8-star rating, this company knows how to provide competitive rates and customer satisfaction.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer looking for a VA loan or a long-time borrower hoping to refinance your existing VA loan, this company can help you get the competitive loan package you need. By partnering with high-ranking military personnel, Veterans United is constantly trying to improve its customer experience and advocate for military personnel and veterans to ensure they get the financial support needed to meet their goals.
Best for jumbo loans: PNC Bank
Jumbo loans are defined as loans that exceed the conforming loan limits, as determined by the Home Buying Institute. Although these amounts will vary based on where you live, a jumbo loan is generally $500,000 or more. Because these loans are seen as higher risk, you’ll need a significant down payment and excellent credit in order to qualify.
As you can imagine, getting approved for a jumbo loan can be a challenge, but PNC Bank is making it easier. Offering loans between $514,000 and $5 million, this lender is a great one to work with if you have an extra-large mortgage to finance. Because they offer both fixed 15- and 30-year loan plans as well as adjustable-rate loans, you’ll have a lot of repayment flexibility when financing your mortgage with PNC Bank.
In addition to new loans, the company also offers jumbo loan refinance packages. From pre-approval services all the way to closing, this company can help you with the financing you need, with competitive rates and streamlined online services to make the mortgage process as easy as possible. Because the company services most of its customer loans themselves, you’ll have the support you need even after closing on your loan.
How to improve your chances of mortgage approval
Finding a lender that offers the product and services you’re seeking is just the first step. After you shop around and find a few interesting lenders, you’ll want to start considering the rates they can offer. And although some of this will vary from lender to lender, a big part of getting the best loan terms and rates has to do with you and your finances. If you have an excellent credit report, then you might qualify for a lower interest rate or a larger loan amount.
Getting the best home loan might mean working to improve your credit score or even lowering your debt-to-income ratio. It might also mean saving for a house for longer so you can make a bigger down payment. The less money you have to borrow and the better your credit history and financial situation, the better rates you’ll qualify for.
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid spending large amounts of money while your loan is going through the approval process. Although it might be tempting to start shopping for furniture for your new home or to make some big home improvement purchases once you get your pre-approval letter for your HELOC, you should hold off until the loan is finalized and the money disbursed. Spending too early might lower your repayment power in the eyes of the lender, and ultimately prevent you from getting your loan.
Because lenders are ultimately analyzing your ability to repay your new loan, anything you can do to present a better picture of yourself as a borrower means the more likely you’ll be to get the best mortgage rates offered to you.
How to pick the right mortgage lender for you
It’s worth taking your time to make sure you pick the right lender. And although it’s great to start by learning more about the mortgage lender and their various policies and offerings, ultimately you’ll want to cross-compare the offers you get and make sure the one you land on is something you’re comfortable paying.
Among other things, here’s an overview of some factors to consider when comparing loan packages from various mortgage lenders:
- Down payment: Your loan offerings will vary based on the down payment you’re able to make. The more you put down, the less you’ll owe and the less you’ll pay in interest over the long haul. Aim to put at least 20% down to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.
- Monthly payment: If you’re taking out a new mortgage or refinancing an existing one, one of the biggest factors of your loan will be your monthly mortgage payments. Be sure these payments are affordable for your family and won’t put any unnecessary financial stress on your budget.
- Term length: Monthly payments will vary based on your loan length. The longer the term of the loan, the lower your monthly payment. Run the numbers with your lender to see what kind of term length works best for your needs. The term length may also impact the interest rate you get.
- Interest rates: In addition to term length, you’ll want to talk to your lender to figure out whether your interest rate is fixed or variable. Although an ultra-low variable interest rate might sound good right now, many borrowers end up choosing fixed rates that can’t increase, in order to have a more reliable payment schedule. Beyond adjustable vs. fixed, you’ll also want to look for a lower rate in general so you can save big on interest charges over the years.
- Fees: As with all things in life, loans come with fees. Your loan might have an origination fee, appraisal fee, underwriting fee, and more. Ask your lender what kind of fees it charges and to provide you with an estimate before you make your final decision.
- Closing costs: In addition to your down payment, you’ll also want to have enough available cash to cover closing costs. Plan on putting aside anywhere between 2% to 5% of the value of the loan to pay your closing costs.
- Customer reviews: If you’d like a little extra reassurance before working with a lender, you can always see what other people are saying about them by searching the Consumer Complaint Database of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
We created our list of the best mortgage lenders based on an evaluation of the products and services provided by popular lenders. We did not evaluate all companies in the market. We used editorial judgment to determine what use or user each lender would be best for.
FinanceBuzz evaluation criteria include:
- Fees: Including origination fees, application fees, doc prep fees, etc
- Interest rate range: The high and low end of what interest rates you can expect to pay
- Minimum down payment: The minimum downpayment required by a lender
- Minimum FICO/credit score: The minimum credit score required by a lender
- Online features and accessibility: How easy the lender’s website is to use and navigate, as well as whether an app is available
- Customer service ratings: What people are saying about this lender on CFPB, BBB, etc.
- Product availability: How many states the lender operates in and whom it serves
- Loan types: What type of loan products a lender offers, for example, FHA, USDA, VA, HELOC, or refinancing
- Typical approval time and if prequalification is available: How long it takes to get a loan or pre-qualification letter from a lender
- Ease of application: How easy it is to complete a loan application with a lender
FAQs about mortgage lenders
What is PMI and how is it calculated?
PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is a type of mortgage insurance required by some lenders when a borrower has less than a 20% down payment. PMI typically costs between .5% to 1% of the loan value, paid annually. If for example, you have a loan worth $300,000 and you only have a low down payment, you may end up paying as much as $3,000 annually for PMI, which could amount to monthly payments of $250.
What is the lowest mortgage rate ever?
Some banks are reporting fixed mortgage rates as low as 2.5% (as of Sept. 21, 2020), but generally speaking, anything below 3% is considered competitive in the current market.
What is the role of a mortgage broker?
A mortgage broker will help you find a loan and guide you through the process of obtaining it. Because mortgage brokers typically work with many different lenders, they’re often able to help you find competitive rates.
What do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do?
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were created by Congress and essentially guarantee the stability and prosperity of the mortgage market. By buying up mortgages from smaller banks and either holding them or repackaging them into mortgage-backed securities for other investors, they contribute to a thriving mortgage market that has more options for both homebuyers and investors.
There are an endless number of lenders out there that can help you with a home purchase or mortgage refinance. Be sure to take your time when shopping around for home loans and cross-compare rates before making any decisions.
If your work or finances have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic or another issue, and you’re concerned about taking out a loan, you might also consider getting mortgage protection insurance. Much like life insurance, these policies offer great peace of mind that your family will be taken care of even in the event you are unable to pay your mortgage.
There are a lot of ways to plan out your personal finances when it comes to borrowing money. Be sure to do your homework, and only take out loans you’re actually comfortable repaying. You can use this list of the best mortgage lenders to help you get started finding the perfect loan product and best lender for you.