The Best Mortgage Lenders in 2017
Are you in the market to buy a home in 2017 or 2018? Or are you looking to refinance an existing mortgage loan?
When it comes to buying a new home or refinancing an existing one, there are at least three factors you need to consider:
Award Emblem: Best Mortgage Lenders and Companies
Refinancing or buying a home will be one of the most important purchases you will ever make.
Not surprisingly, it also tends to be one of the most expensive, and you could be paying off the loan for the next 15 or 30 years, which is why it’s important to shop around for the best product and the best mortgage companies from which to get a mortgage loan from, just like you would with any other purchase.
AdvisoryHQ's List of the 6 Best Mortgage Companies
This list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the above names to go directly to the detailed review that mortgage lender)
Best Mortgage Lenders in the U.S.
Bank of America
Wells Fargo Mortgage
Table: The Best Mortgage Companies | List is sorted alphabetically
You’re ready to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. What’s the first step? In most instances, it’s finding the best place to get a home loan, because without first finding a lender, you won’t know how much you have to spend. You may realize that your goal should be finding the best mortgage lenders and the best mortgage companies, but how do you do that?
To find the best home loan lenders, you first need to have an understanding of what it is the best home loan companies do and what they’re looking for in a borrower.
Before you start your search for the best mortgage lenders and the best mortgage companies, it’s essential to first understand the role they play in the overall home-buying process
A mortgage lender is the organization that provides the funding to the consumer at the time of closing. You may wonder about the differences between a lender and a broker, and the primary distinction is that a broker is an independent contractor who offers wholesale loans.
On the other hand, a lender operates on the retail side, performing all aspects of the loan origination process.
A retail mortgage lender is going to do everything from taking the application and helping the consumer through the process to underwriting it, closing it, and finally funding it.
A mortgage company may refer to a wholesale broker set-up as well. As you might imagine, not only are the technicalities incredibly important here, but the best-rated mortgage companies also tend to have outstanding customer service and well-trained, attentive staff members.
This comprehensive approach undertaken by the best mortgage lenders and companies is why it’s so important to work only with the best home loan lenders. The following review and ranking covers the best home mortgage lenders and the best mortgage loan companies, all from the perspective of what’s most relevant to the majority of real buyers.
Signs of a Predatory Lender
One of the primary things to look out for in your search for the best mortgage lenders are predatory companies—companies that try to oversell borrowers on a mortgage they can’t afford or that use unethical or maybe even illegal lending practices. If you go with one of the best mortgage companies on this list, you’re already protecting yourself, but in case you don’t, or if you’re unsure, watch out for these red flags:
- Look for the best mortgage lenders’ reviews. Is it easy to find references, information and customer reviews for a company? You should be able to go online and find a wealth of information about the best home loan companies, and if you can’t, that could represent a problem. This isn’t to say that even the best mortgage companies won’t have some negative reviews, but they should still have plenty of good reviews available that are easy to find.
- Is your loan officer pushing you to say things that aren’t true? If you’re working with a lender who seems to want you to say exaggerate or outright say things that aren’t true, that can be very risky and even illegal. This is certainly not something the best home loan lenders will do to borrowers.
- Do you feel like you’re being pushed to borrow more than you can afford? A good loan officer working for one of the best mortgage loan companies is someone who’s going to work with you to find a mortgage that’s the right fit for your needs and your budget. They’re not someone who’s going to try and influence you to take on a mortgage that’s larger than what you can reasonably afford.
Methodology for Selecting the Best Home Mortgage Companies
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the companies, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?
Please click here to see “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies,” a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated companies, products, and services.
Detailed Review—The Best Mortgage Lenders
After carefully considering the best mortgage lenders, we compiled the following list of the six best mortgage companies. As you continue reading, you’ll find detailed reviews of each of our picks, as well as an outline of the factors used in the decision-making process.
Bank of America Review
A multinational financial institution headquartered in Charlotte, NC, and led by Brian T. Moynihan, Bank of America offers a range of mortgage-lending products and solutions for consumers. Bank of America strives to help their customers not just obtain financing and access to financial products, but also to build better financial habits while serving as one of the country’s best home loan companies.
The company has a history that spans more than 200 years, starting as the Bank of Nantucket. Bank of America has led the way in financial innovations, with achievements such as the introduction of the first licensed credit card program. It is now known as a top full-service financial services provider, and it’s frequently named as a best place to get a home loan.
Key Factors That Enabled This to Rank as One of the Best Home Loan Companies
Some of the critical reasons Bank of America is one of the country’s best-rated mortgage companies are listed below.
Home Loan Checklist
The best home loan lenders are often those companies that focus not just on providing a loan, but really on delivering a full-service experience to customers. What that means is that consumers have the opportunity to learn and educate themselves on home buying through exclusive resources put together by the bank, and there are other unique and helpful tools offered to make the experience seamless and satisfying.
Among even the best mortgage lenders, Bank of America is excellent because of the many exclusive resources they offer, one of which is the Home Loan Checklist.
The Home Loan Checklist is a straightforward guide put together by this best place to get a home loan. It includes areas to fill in your home loan team and their contact information, and then it walks the borrower through a step-by-step process of what they’ll need and what will happen throughout the lending experience so that they can be prepared and also record their progress.
When considering whether a bank should be ranked as one of the best home loan lenders, something that’s important in the decision is convenience. Bank of America is one of the best mortgage lenders for many reasons, including their many online tools and technology-based conveniences that make it simple and easy for anyone to start the process of applying for a loan.
One of the primary things you can start online is a prequalification request, which takes less than five minutes to complete. All you need is your contact information for yourself and any co-applicants, the general loan details, and your social security number. If you’re a Bank of America Online Banking customer, you can even have the prequalification form automatically filled in, saving even more time.
When you complete a prequalification request with Bank of America, you’ll receive customized rates and payments, advice from a loan officer, and in some instances, a prequalification letter.
Home Loan Navigator
As mentioned, when selecting the best place to get a home loan and the overall best home loan companies, technology and convenience are top priorities. Along with starting your prequalification online, this selection for one of the best home mortgage companies also offers the signature Home Loan Navigator.
This online tool is designed to help borrowers know where they are throughout each step of the borrowing process. They can sign online easily and track what’s happening with their loan, and customers can even see an automated to-do list, letting them know what’s required of them.
Through the Home Loan Navigator, borrowers can also sign and submit documents quickly and securely, and messages can be shared between the borrower and their home loan team.
Affordable Loan Solution Mortgage
Each of the best mortgage companies and the best mortgage lenders on this list have distinctive loan product offerings that make them unique. At Bank of America, one of their exclusive loan products is called the Affordable Loan Solution Mortgage.
The Affordable Loan Solution Mortgage is designed to help would-be home buyers reduce the amount of down payment required for purchase. It’s specifically for low- and moderate-income consumers. As well as the possibility of a down payment as low as 3%, this mortgage also includes a competitive interest rate.
Mortgage insurance isn’t required, and there are maximum income and loan amount limits. As part of the Affordable Loan Solution Mortgage, there may be homebuyer education required, either by an HUD-approved counselor or through Connect to Own, which is Bank of America’s own network of counselors available throughout the country.
Chase Mortgage Review
The Chase name is one that’s highly recognizable around the world in terms of banking and finance, because in addition to being one of the best home mortgage companies, it’s also one of the top full-service financial services providers globally. Chase serves almost half of the households in America at 5,200 branches, 16,000 ATMs, and through the Chase Mobile app.
Additionally, as one of the best home mortgage lenders, Chase also offers a wide and diverse portfolio of loan products, whether you want to purchase your first home, refinance, or utilize your home’s equity. In addition to maintaining their status as one of the best home loan lenders, Chase also offers everything from deposit accounts and personal credit cards to small business loans and merchant services.
Key Factors That Led Us to Rank This as One of the Best Mortgage Lenders
When comparing the best-rated mortgage lenders, below are some of the specific factors that led to the inclusion of Chase on this ranking.
When searching for the best mortgage loan companies, one of the most important factors for the average consumer is that the company has competitive interest rates. Chase offers highly competitive mortgage rates on all of their products, including conventional mortgages, refinancing loans, and home equity loans.
When considering the best mortgage lenders’ reviews, this is something customers tend to mention about Chase.
As well as competitive rates, Chase is often considered one of the best home mortgage lenders because of their transparency in their rates. Customers can visit their websites to see current mortgage rates, as well as estimated payments for a loan amount of $215,000, divided into categories based on the length of the loan.
Online Account Management
Chase isn’t only one of the best mortgage lenders. The company is also known for their innovation and technology, making banking and financial management simple and streamlined for customers. This extends to their mortgage customers, which is one of many reasons they’re included on this list of the best mortgage lenders.
Chase offers the Chase Mobile Banking app, which is secure and user-friendly, and it includes mortgage-related tools that let customers manage their mortgage from anywhere at any time. The Chase Mobile Banking app is available for smartphones and tablets.
Also available is online banking, and through this platform, mortgage-holders can log on to see their monthly statements, set up customized account alerts, and review their escrow account.
As part of maintaining a reputation as being one of the best mortgage loan companies, Chase offers options if a borrower is having difficulties making their payments.
A few of the options available from this selection for one of the best-rated mortgage companies include:
- Mortgage modification can allow the opportunity for loan terms to be changed, which could lower monthly payments or interest rates. This is a permanent change to a borrower’s loan.
- Releasing the property is an option available to Chase borrowers in which the ownership of the property is transferred to Chase, but no foreclosure is required, and, for some borrowers, relocation assistance might be offered.
- Repayment plans from Chase are designed to help borrowers pay back a portion of their past-due amount, including with their monthly payments throughout an extended period.
Diverse Mortgage Products
A mortgage is not a “one-size-fits-all” product. Instead, many loan applicants are searching for the best-rated mortgage lenders that offer not only quality products but also diversity in products, so they can find what ideally suits their needs.
Chase is ranked as one of the best home mortgage companies on this list because they do offer a wide variety of loan products.
Some of these include:
- Fixed-Rate Mortgage
- Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
- Jumbo Mortgage
- DreaMaker Mortgage (low down payment option)
- FHA Mortgage
- Home Affordable Refinance Program
- VA Mortgages
Popular Article: Best Mortgage Companies (Overview of the Top Mortgage Lenders)
CitiMortgage is part of CitiGroup, which is not just one of the best home mortgage companies, but is also a leading full-service bank and financial institution on a global scale. Citi has about 200 million customer accounts and is one of the top banks for not only individual consumers, but also institutions.
Citi operates in more than 160 countries, and along with being one of the best mortgage companies, they also offer services and products including banking, credit, investment banking, and wealth management.
Image source: Big Stock
Key Factors That Enabled This to Rank as a Best Place to Get a Home Loan
When comparing the best-rated mortgage companies, below are key reasons Citi was included on this top-ranked list of the best home loan lenders.
As mentioned at the start of this review of the best mortgage lenders and the best mortgage companies, a big red flag of a bad company is one that strives to push consumers into a loan product they can’t afford or that isn’t right for their needs.
This is the complete opposite of how Citi approaches homeownership, which is a big reason they are part of this ranking of the best home mortgage lenders.
As one of the best mortgage lenders, Citi instead strives to give consumers all the tools and resources they need to understand how much homeownership will cost them—including fees—and to give them a look at the impact their monthly mortgage payments would have on them.
One way they do this is through the provision of mortgage and home equity calculators, showing applicants how much home they can afford, and how much they’d be able to borrow based on monthly payments.
Many of the best-rated mortgage companies will offer not just conventional home loan products, but will also be able to provide government-backed loans. This is true of Citi, and one government-sponsored program they specialize in is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).
HARP is designed for those homeowners who are making their existing payments on time but aren’t otherwise able to refinance their home. The benefit of refinancing is a lower interest rate, particularly since current rates are so low.
When refinancing under the HARP program, customers can receive lower interest rates even if they don’t have a lot of equity in their home, saving on interest and reducing their monthly mortgage programs.
In some situations, HARP requires no mortgage insurance or property appraisal.
Citi is one of the best mortgage companies for many reasons, including their understanding that difficulties can strike at any time, making it difficult to maintain your home and make on-time monthly mortgage payments. For that reason, they established the Citi Office of Homeownership Preservation.
This office seeks to create relationships with third parties and housing counselors who can help Citi customers determine alternatives to foreclosure
Online Status Check
One of the most common complaints from consumers who aren’t working with one of the best home loan lenders is that they often feel “out of the loop” during the process. They can find that it’s difficult to determine their current status, that their lender is not very accessible, or that they’re not sure what’s needed next from them.
Citi strives to make sure applicants never experience any of these issues, setting them apart as one of the best mortgage lenders.
One tool available to applicants is the online Mortage Application Status portal. Here, applicants can log on using just their application number, social security number, and date of birth, and they are able to see what’s happening with their request.
An innovative non-bank best mortgage broker, loanDepot is different from many of the other names on this list of the best mortgage lenders because of their online, technology-driven model. LoanDepot, one of the best home mortgage lenders, was founded in 2010 with a focus on fair and ethical lending.
While loanDepot is one of our picks for a best place to get a home loan online, they do also have more than 5,200 employees which includes more than 1,700 licensed loan officers to help guide customers. LoanDepot, one of the country’s best home mortgage companies, is licensed in all 50 states and operates four online direct-lending business centers. Additionally, loanDepot has a brick-and-mortar presence with more than 150 loan stores throughout the United States.
Key Factors That Allowed This to Rank as One of the Best Mortgage Lenders
When creating this list of the best-rated mortgage lenders, below are some reasons loanDepot was selected as one of the best mortgage loan companies.
While loanDepot is certainly one of the newest names on this list of the best home loan companies, they have grown significantly during their short history. Since being established in 2010, this pick for one of the best home loan lenders has grown to become the second-largest, non-bank consumer lender in the country. LoanDepot is also the second-largest, non-bank retail mortgage lender.
The reason for this success is largely thought to be because they provide a more customer-centric option to the traditional bank.
LoanDepot is also one of the best mortgage brokers and the best home loan companies because they were founded on the concept of ethical, fair lending.
Mission and Values
After the 2008 recession, there are some consumers who simply don’t want to work with a bank to obtain a mortgage, even if they’re one of the best-rated mortgage lenders. The alternative offered by loanDepot is a valuable one, driven by strong values and a clearly defined mission. LoanDepot strives to be one of the best home loan lenders, operating on principles of values, ethics, and transparency.
The values of loanDepot, which are an essential component of their success as one of the best mortgage companies, include:
- This selection for one of the best home loan companies and a best mortgage broker strives to operate with uncompromising ethical standards, including honesty and fairness.
- LoanDepot sees employees as the company’s most valuable assets, so they strive to recognize achievement, and they encourage diverse perspectives.
- LoanDepot is committed to creating an experience based on excellence, which includes maintaining a sense of ownership and execution.
- Essential to being one of the best home mortgage companies is superior customer service, and at loanDepot, this includes responsiveness and attentiveness, as well as the provision of customer education.
- LoanDepot is a company based on entrepreneurship and driven forward by the embracing of change and innovation.
No Steering Policy
If a consumer were to be comparing the best home mortgage lenders and the best mortgage companies, objectivity would likely be a major consideration. The best mortgage lenders don’t try to move a consumer toward one product over another for their own financial gain.
This is so important at loanDepot that they’ve implemented something called a “No Steering Policy,” which is a primary reason they were included on this list of the best home loan lenders.
The No Steering Policy ensures that the team of mortgage specialists at loanDepot are only providing helpful service and are working to find the right loan for each individual customer. There are no incentives for them to try to move a customer toward any particular product.
As a selection for a best place to get a home loan, loanDepot strives to make the process as streamlined and straightforward as possible for the consumer. They walk the consumer through their step-by-step process and outline exactly what will be required of that consumer during each step.
The steps of the loanDepot lending process include:
- Determine how much a consumer can comfortably afford
- Determine the loan that will best suit the customer, ranging from first-time buyer options to jumbo and FHA loans
- Contact a real estate agent to shop for homes
- Review the loan application and update the file
- Lock in the mortgage rate
- Obtain a home inspection and appraisal
- The final steps include mortgage approval, signing, and closing
The next name on this list of the best home loan lenders, best mortgage brokers, and overall best home loan lenders—SoFi. SoFi likens itself to a new type of financial company, taking a different approach to lending. With a marketplace lending model, SoFi was chosen as a best place to get a home loan because they are a non-bank alternative, and their rates are often lower than what might be found with some of the other best mortgage loan companies.
SoFi was founded in 2011, initially as a way to provide more affordable education lending. Since that time, SoFi, one of the best mortgage lenders, has grown its portfolio to also include personal loans, parent loans, and wealth management products.
Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This as One of the Best Home Loan Companies
When reviewing the best mortgage companies, the following are critical reasons SoFi is considered a best mortgage broker and a best place to get a home loan.
Pre-qualification is an important part of buying a home for several reasons, and it’s important that the best home loan lenders offer quick and simple options to pre-qualify. With a pre-qualification from one of the best mortgage loan companies or a best mortgage broker, a buyer will have a much better idea of how much house he or she can afford before starting the shopping process.
Most of the best-rated mortgage lenders also offer pre-qualifications because they can give a buyer leverage when they want to make an offer on a home, since they’re looked upon favorably by real estate agents and sellers.
SoFi goes beyond even many of the best-rated mortgage lenders with their pre-qualification process.
According to the best mortgage lenders’ reviews, the SoFi pre-qualification process can be done online in two minutes, and it doesn’t impact the applicant’s credit score. Consumers can rapidly upload their documents and submit their application online.
Even when it’s considered one of the best home loan lenders, banks can be difficult to work with when it comes to obtaining a mortgage, particularly if you don’t meet certain standards or criteria. Much of the business model of SoFi that led to its ranking as one of the best mortgage loan companies is because of their flexible lending requirements, particularly when compared to traditional bank lenders.
Some of these flexible conditions include:
- With a standard lender, consumers will often have to pay mortgage insurance if they make less than a 20% down payment, but with this pick for a best mortgage broker and one of the best home loan companies, even with less than a 20% down payment, no mortgage insurance is required.
- When working with a traditional lender, there are reserve requirements that are typically anywhere from 12 to 36 months, and 50% must be liquid. At SoFi, the reserve requirements range from 2 to 6 months, based on the down payment. 100% of the reserve can come from retirement accounts, making this the best place to get a home loan if you’re seeking the utmost in flexibility.
- When you obtain a mortgage from this pick for one of the best home mortgage companies, debt-to-income ratios are flexible, which means borrowers could qualify for higher financing levels than they would elsewhere.
A mortgage is often the most expensive loan anyone will have, and anything people can do to reduce their payments frequently weighs heavily in their decision as to which of the best mortgage lenders and the best mortgage brokers to work with.
SoFi really excels in this area, which is a key reason it has some of the best mortgage lenders reviews when it comes to fees.
In fact, SoFi charges consumers no fees. That means no application fees, no origination fees, and no lender fees. This no-fee policy is a top reason SoFi is one of the best mortgage companies in the country.
As not only one of the best mortgage companies but also an innovative, digital platform dedicated to change the way lending is done, SoFi has a completely unique take on the approval process for its loans.
Unlike many of the other best mortgage loan companies on this list, SoFi doesn’t just look at the FICO score of applicants when making a decision. As one of the best-rated mortgage lenders, SoFi considers FICO scores but also looks at things including the applicant’s professional career, income, and responsible bill payment history.
Wells Fargo Review
Founded in 1852 and based in San Francisco, Wells Fargo is one of the best home loan lenders and is often selected as a best place to get a home loan. It’s also a reputable, full-service financial institution with a long history, $1.8 trillion in assets, and thousands of locations around the country.
Uniquely, along with being one of the best home loan companies, Wells Fargo is also viewed as one of the most admired brands in the world and has been recognized by the likes of media outlets like Forbes and Fortune.
Key Factors That Enabled Us to Rank This as One of the Best Mortgage Lenders
When considering what makes for the best home mortgage lenders, below are some reasons Wells Fargo is included on this ranking of the best home mortgage companies.
When considering the criteria that was used to determine the best mortgage companies and the best home loan lenders, offering options for a variety of buyers, including those consumers that might not have a significant amount of money saved up for a down payment, are necessary.
One of the signature loan products from this pick for one of the best home mortgage lenders is called yourFirst mortgage. This exclusive product is designed to help people who want to purchase a home but might not have a large down payment or may not be eligible for traditional credit and financing options.
This mortgage is a conventional, fixed-rate product, with down payments as low as 3%. The down payment can be sourced from gifts or assistance programs as well.
Among the names on this list of the best mortgage loan companies, Wells Fargo really excels in the diversity of their loan portfolio. Along with the yourFirst Mortgage, another exclusive option available through this selection for a best place to get a home loan is called the Purchase & Renovate Loan. This is a versatile, flexible lending product that lets consumers take out just one loan to both purchase a home and make necessary renovations or repairs.
The benefits of this loan include that it not only can be used to finance improvements, but since costs are spread throughout the loan term, monthly payments are often lower than what they might be with other options. It expands the properties a buyer can look at, and it speeds up timetables to make renovations, since they can begin right after closing.
After looking at the best mortgage lenders reviews, which provide real customer feedback on the best home mortgage lenders, one thing that customers really like about Wells Fargo is their digital “yourLoanTracker” tool.
This tool lets applicants check the progress of their loan from anywhere and at any time. It provides complete visibility to the applicant and gives them control over the process.
The yourLoanTracker dashboard shows milestones as they happen in the financing process, and there are to-do lists that show not just the applicant what they need to do, but also what Wells Fargo will be doing next.
Using eUpload, applicants at this best mortgage broker bank can submit documents electronically, and even take a picture of the document and upload that rather than a PDF version.
If applicants choose electronic delivery, their loan disclosures and documents can also be sent through yourLoanTracker.
Easy Payment Options
A convenient benefit of working with Wells Fargo, in addition to its reputation for being one of the best home mortgage lenders, is that they’re also a very large company, which tends to mean customers have more options and easier access to complete tasks—including making payments on a mortgage.
Wells Fargo offers multiple repayment options, including the ability to pay through Wells Fargo online. Loan holders can also set up recurring payments online, so they never accidentally miss a mortgage payment.
Other options include paying by phone, by mail, or paying in person.
Wells Fargo, a pick for one of the best home mortgage lenders, also offers the Preferred Payment Plan, which lets mortgage customers schedule automatic payments that match their pay cycle.
Conclusion— 6 Best Mortgage Lenders and Best Mortgage Companies
Many Americans are still reeling from the impact of the 2008 recession. While obtaining a mortgage and buying a home can be an intimidating prospect, one of the primary ways any consumer can safeguard themselves against potential problems is to work with only the best mortgage companies and best home loan lenders.
The names on this list of the 6 best mortgage lenders represent banks and non-bank institutions that have a reputation for excellence and have some of the best mortgage lenders’ reviews from real customers. The above best home mortgage lenders also tend to be great at innovation, so they’re constantly striving to stay ahead of the curve in the industry, and they have widely varied loan portfolios.
Some other criteria used to create this list of the best home loan companies and the best mortgage brokers included things like the fees charged on a mortgage, transparency, competitiveness of interest rates, options for lenders with a range of financial backgrounds, and also the objectivity used in determining which loan product is right for a customer.
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