Best Online Mortgage Lenders of November 2023 – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Best Online Mortgage Lenders of November 2023

Our experts answer readers’ home-buying questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess mortgages). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own.

As more lenders have moved online, getting a mortgage is now easier than ever. But with so many online mortgage lenders to choose from, it can be hard to know which lender is right for you.

Online lenders offer all kinds of features that make the process of applying for and closing on your mortgage super convenient; often, you can apply with these lenders on your mobile device in just minutes.

The Best Online Mortgage Lenders

Guild Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best overallBank of America Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best for low-income borrowersBetter Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best for first-time homebuyersCarrington Mortgage Services – Product Name Only: Best for low credit scoresFairway Independent Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best for remote closingsGuaranteed Rate Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best for exploring ratesNew American Funding – Product Name Only: Best for government-backed loansRocket Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best for refinancingChase Mortgage – Product Name Only: Best big bankCitizens Bank Mortgages – Product Name Only: Best for live online chat

*Minimum credit scores are for conforming loans. If you qualify for another type of loan, you might be able to secure a loan with a lower score.

To choose the best online mortgage lenders, Personal Finance Insider looked for lenders with user-friendly applications that offer things like automated document retrieval, digital closings, live online chat, and other tools that make getting a mortgage simple and convenient. 

Compare the Best Online Mortgage Lenders

Best Online Mortgage Lenders Frequently Asked Questions

Is an online mortgage lender better than a bank?

An online mortgage lender is one that lets you do most (or all) of the mortgage application process online. There are online-only lenders, like Better.com and Guaranteed Rate, but many large brick-and-mortar lenders have also started adding robust online features. So there are pros and cons to both, and many standard bank lenders also have a lot of the same features you’d get with an online-only lender.

Are online mortgage companies legit?

There are many legitimate online mortgage lenders, and as long as the business is reputable, it’s safe to get a mortgage with them. Online mortgage lenders have the same offerings and protections to borrowers as traditional, brick-and-mortar lenders. Just be sure to research any company you work with to ensure you don’t get scammed.

Are online mortgage lenders cheaper?

Not necessarily. Each lender charges different fees and interest rates, but those numbers aren’t directly related to whether it’s an online or physical business. Applying for preapproval with multiple lenders before shopping for homes can give you an idea of which will give you the best deal.

Online Mortgage Lender Reviews

Best Overall

Guild Mortgage

Guild Mortgage is one of our favorite mortgage lenders for a lot of different situations, because it has multiple home loans for borrowers in different situations. It also accepts non-traditional credit, such as rent or utility payment history, from borrowers with no score.

Guild Mortgage can help connect you with down payment assistance programs in your county, making it a particularly good choice for first-time homebuyers and others having trouble coming up with a down payment. It also offers a hybrid digital closing option and has an A+ rating from the BBB.

Guild ranked above the industry average on J.D. Power’s 2022 Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study.

What to look out for: This lender doesn’t display sample rates online, making it difficult to gauge what you might pay.

Best for Low-Income Borrowers

Bank of America

Bank of America is a good mortgage lender overall, and its Community Affordable Loan Solution is an extremely affordable mortgage option for low-income borrowers in eligible areas.

When you get a mortgage with this lender, you may be able to get up to $7,500 in closing cost assistance and up to $10,000 in down payment assistance. If you already have an account with Bank of America, you may be able to get a discount on your origination fee.

With its Community Affordable Loan Solution, you could get a zero-down mortgage with no closing costs and no minimum credit score required. But this mortgage option is currently only available in a handful of cities.

Bank of America ranked above average in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction study.

What to look out for: To qualify for Bank of America’s Community Affordable Loan Solution, you’ll need to live in a “designated market,” which includes some historically Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Miami. You’ll also need to meet income limits. 

Best for First-Time Homebuyers

Better Mortgage

Better is a great option for those who are new to the homebuying process, with live online chat and a fast, simple application process.

What to look out for: Better has a B rating from the BBB due to complaints filed against the business. It also ranked below average in J.D. Power’s 2022 customer satisfaction study.

Best for Low Credit Scores

Carrington Mortgage Services

Carrington Mortgage Services is a strong option for borrowers with bad credit. It accepts credit scores as low as 500 and accepts borrowers who have recent negative events (such as bankruptcy) on their credit reports. 

Its Carrington Flexible Advantage mortgage is available to borrowers with scores as low as 550 or negative credit events like bankruptcy on their credit reports. Borrowers can get a government-backed loan from this lender with scores as low as 500.

What to look out for: Carrington doesn’t lend in Massachusetts or North Dakota. It also doesn’t show its rates online.

Carrington has an NR, or “no rating” from the BBB because the lender is in the process of responding to previously closed complaints. Additionally, in November 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered Carrington to pay $5.25 million in fines for supposedly violating borrowers’ CARES Act rights. The CFPB claims that the lender misled borrowers seeking CARES Act forbearance and denied them key protections provided by the pandemic-era law.

Best for Remote Closings

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation provides many types of home loans and has several term lengths to choose from. It also allows borrowers to have hybrid or fully remote closing experiences. 

If you’re looking for a faster, streamlined closing experience, you might find Fairway Independent’s digital closing option attractive. It’s also a solid option if you need a renovation loan.

This lender ranked No. 4 on J.D. Power’s 2022 study.

What to look out for: Fairway Independent doesn’t show any rates online, not even sample rates. To see what rate you might pay with this lender, you’ll need to talk to a loan officer or apply for preapproval.

Best for Exploring Rates

Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate is a good lender for several types of home loans, including interest-only mortgages that can be hard to find elsewhere. It also makes it easy to see customized rates and potential monthly mortgage payments across multiple loan options.

Guaranteed rate is an overall strong online lender, particularly for borrowers looking for a digital closing option. You may also be able to use non-traditional credit (such as rent or utility payment history) to qualify with this lender if you don’t have a credit score.

This lender ranked above average on J.D. Power’s annual study.

What to look out for: Digital closing option is not allowed in all states.

Best for Government-Backed Loans

New American Funding

New American Funding is a strong mortgage lender overall, particularly for FHA, VA, or USDA loan borrowers. Plus, its buydown loan and I CAN loan make it easy to customize a mortgage to your specific needs.

New American Funding offers all three of the most popular government-backed mortgages to borrowers with lower scores (you’ll need a 580 score to get an FHA or USDA loan, while VA borrowers can have “less than perfect” credit, the lender says). 

Its I CAN mortgage is also a good option for borrowers who want to tailor their term lengths to their exact needs. With this mortgage, you can pick any loan term from eight to 30 years.

What to look out for: It currently doesn’t originate mortgages in Hawaii or New York. You also won’t be able to see customized rates online.

Best for Refinancing

Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage is a good option for refinancing your mortgage thanks to its simple application process and great customer service.

Rocket Mortgage ranked as the top lender for customer satisfaction from J.D. Power in 2022. It provides a quick, easy online experience and offers mortgages with terms as short as eight years.

Rocket also recently started offering a few different affordable mortgage options, including its ONE+ mortgage, which combines a 1% down payment with a 2% grant from the lender.

What to look out for: Its loan options are relatively limited, and it doesn’t have any in-person branches. You’ll also need to earn 80% or less of the area median income to qualify for a ONE+ mortgage.

Best Big Bank

Chase

Chase is an overall affordable mortgage lender, and is a good option for borrowers who want both the convenience of a big bank and the ease of an online application process.

Chase offers robust rate customization tools that let you see personalized sample rates without having to provide contact information. It also offers multiple types of assistance that can help low-income or first-time homebuyers afford a home, including its affordable DreaMaker mortgage and down payment assistance up to $5,000. 

This lender ranked No. 2 in J.D. Power’s annual study.

What to look out for: To qualify for a DreaMaker mortgage, you’ll need to meet income limits. 

Best for Live Online Chat

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a solid lender for borrowers who like to have human assistance as they go through the mortgage process, as its live online chat feature makes it easy to connect with a loan officer who can answer your questions.

Citizens is another good lender for affordable mortgage features. It offers down payment assistance in certain areas and its Destination Home Mortgage allows 3% down payments with no monthly mortgage insurance.

What to look out for: Citizens Bank ranks slightly below the industry average in J.D. Power’s 2022 study.

How to Choose an Online Mortgage Lender

Online mortgage lenders often advertise a quick, convenient mortgage process and beneficial extra features like live online chat. But remember that once you’ve closed on your loan, even the most high-tech mortgage application won’t make up for a mortgage payment that costs more than it needs to.

When it comes to comparing lenders, the most important things to look at are the rate you’re offered and the fees you’ll pay. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Be sure to get preapproved with at least two or three lenders so you can compare offers and ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Other Online Mortgage Lenders We Considered

We evaluated over two dozen mortgage lenders before picking our favorites. Here are the other lenders we looked at and reasons they didn’t make the cut:

Navy Federal Credit Union: Navy Federal does have a good online application process, but membership is limited to certain people.Pentagon Federal Credit Union: If you have a 650 credit score, PenFed offers $500 to $2,500 in lender credit for all members, depending on how much you borrow. The credit union doesn’t have FHA or USDA mortgages, though.USAA: USAA only offers VA mortgages right now.LoanDepot: LoanDepot is a solid lender, but it doesn’t have any features that set it apart from the crowd.Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo has had multiple public controversies over the past few years regarding claims of racist lending practices, creating fake bank accounts, and charging customers for insurance products they didn’t sign up for. It has an F rating from the BBB.Caliber Home Loans: Caliber is a strong lender, but there are no standout features.Truist: Truist has a good low down payment option with no mortgage insurance, but it only ranks average in J.D. Power’s annual survey.Veterans United: Veterans United offers several types of mortgages, not just VA mortgages. It’s difficult to find information for non-VA mortgages on its website, though.CMG Financial: CMG has unique grant opportunities and mortgages. They could be good options, but these programs aren’t for everyone.Flagstar Bank: This lender offers several types of home loans, but its features don’t really stand out compared to the lenders we featured.Movement Mortgage: Movement Mortgage advertises a speedy application process, but it doesn’t have any homebuyer assistance programs.Ally: Ally has a fully online process, but the bank only offers conventional mortgages.NBKC Bank: NBKC is a solid mortgage lender, but it didn’t have as many standout features as the lenders we included.US Bank: This bank ranked low on J.D. Power’s annual study.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Lender

Here are some questions to think about as you search:

Which lenders offer the mortgage I’m looking for? Some online lenders have limited mortgage options. If you’re looking for a specific type of mortgage such as an FHA mortgage, be sure the lenders you’re considering offer them.What features and benefits are most important to me? Do you just want the lowest rates? Good customer service? Easy-to-use digital tools? Finding a lender that offers the amenities you want will help you have a better experience.What fees do they charge? Many lenders charge lender fees, such as application or underwriting fees, that you’ll pay as part of your closing costs. These fees can vary, so it’s important to compare both rates and fees from any lenders you’re considering.Do they offer mortgages in my state? Online lenders aren’t always licensed to originate mortgages in all 50 US states.What down payment do they require? Some lenders will allow you to put down as little as 3% on your mortgage, while others have higher minimum down payments.What has others’ experience been? Reading online customer reviews can help you get an idea of how satisfied borrowers are with a particular lender. You can also check out J.D. Power’s annual ranking of the top lenders in customer satisfaction.

Why You Should Trust Us: Experts’ Advice on Choosing the Best Online Mortgage Lender

Insider

To help you learn more about homebuying, mortgages, and lenders, four experts weighed in:

Anthony Park, author of “How to Buy Your Perfect First Home”Lauryn Williams, certified financial planner, founder of Worth Winning Financial PlanningJulie Aragon, mortgage broker, founder of Aragon Lending TeamMolly Grace, mortgage reporter at Personal Finance Insider

Here’s their advice about how to evaluate mortgage lenders, and how to decide which type of mortgage is best for you. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

What factors should someone take into consideration when choosing a mortgage lender?

Anthony Park, author:

“The canned answer is to just go with the lowest rate. However, you also want to take into account who’s going to serve your loan best. Are repayments going to be easy for you? Who is most likely to be able to help you if you need to take out a HELOC or refinance later, versus somebody who’s more of a one-off type?

“They may have the lowest rates to get you involved, but they might have very, very little hand holding after the fact. I wouldn’t recommend paying an exorbitant amount more for potential services in the future, but just don’t always necessarily go with the rock-bottom lowest rate. There’s sometimes a cost with that.”

Molly Grace, Personal Finance Insider:

“Remember that you’re not just choosing a mortgage lender — you’re also building a homebuying team. To snag the home you want in this competitive market, you need a lender that can move quickly and has good communication with you and your real estate agent.

When I was looking for a house, I was able to text my loan officer (whom my real estate agent recommended) and get quick replies when I had questions or needed an updated preapproval letter for an offer. As you compare lenders, pay attention to how responsive they are, and ask your agent if they have any experience with the lenders you’re considering.”

How can someone decide between a conventional mortgage vs. a government-backed mortgage?

Molly Grace, Personal Finance Insider

“An FHA mortgage is a really helpful option for borrowers with low scores or kind of rocky credit histories. But if you have great credit, you may get a better rate and pay less for mortgage insurance on a conventional mortgage. 

VA mortgages are really great deals. If you qualify for one, you should definitely go for it. You get zero down with no mortgage insurance — plus some of the best rates available.”

Julie Aragon, Aragon Lending Team:

“The most common government loan that’s widely available to almost everyone is the FHA loan. There’s a couple of reasons why somebody would go with FHA instead of conventional one. Their credit is a little on the crummy side, let’s say below 700. You can get conventional with down to a 620 score, but the mortgage insurance gets really expensive. FHA doesn’t discriminate — no matter how perfect or crappy your credit is, the mortgage insurance is the same.”

How can someone know whether they’re financially ready to buy a home?

Lauryn Williams, CFP:

“You should have funds left over after everything is said and done as it pertains to purchasing the home. So if you don’t have an emergency fund plus a down payment, you’re probably not ready to purchase a home. Another thing I think about is credit card debt. While you can be approved for a mortgage with credit card debt and student loans and very little cash on hand, you put yourself in a very risky situation.”

Molly Grace, Personal Finance Insider

“You have to be ready to dedicate a chunk of your budget to homeownership — and I don’t mean your mortgage payment. When you own your house, there’s always something that needs taking care of, especially in the first year. We got to our new house on moving day to find that the A/C was out. We paid $700 to have it fixed.”

Methodology: How Did We Choose the Best Online Mortgage Lenders?

We considered lenders that let you do most of your application process online, and many of them help you track your payments and balance online. To choose the best online mortgage lenders, we evaluated the following factors: 

Loan types. Did a lender offer several types of loans to suit customers’ needs, such as conventional loans, government-backed loans, and home equity loans?Customer satisfaction. If the lender appeared in the J.D. Power 2022 Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, we looked at its ranking. If it wasn’t in the study, then we read online customer reviews.Affordability. We looked at lenders’ minimum credit scores and down payment amounts. We also checked whether they offer government-backed loans, which can be more affordable for borrowers with less-than-perfect financial profiles. Finally, we looked at whether they have flexible credit requirements on any of their mortgages. This includes allowing borrowers to have recent negative events on their credit reports or accepting non-traditional credit from those with no credit score.Ethics. Each of our top picks received a B or higher from the Better Business Bureau, which measures companies’ trustworthiness. The only exception is Carrington, which currently has an NR (“no rating”). We also considered any public controversies in the last three years.

See our full ratings methodology for mortgage lenders »

Read the original article on Business Insider
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