Finding the Best Mortgage Lenders of 2021
Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you'll make in your life. Therefore, choosing the right mortgage lender for you is incredibly important. To help you get your search started, SmartAsset determined the best mortgage lenders of 2021.
|Best Overall Lender|| ||Compare Rates|
|Best Online Lender|| ||Compare Rates|
|Bank of America |
|Best Traditional Lender|| ||Compare Rates|
|Veterans United |
|Best Lender for Veterans|| ||Compare Rates|
|Best Lender for Borrowers With Low Credit|| ||Compare Rates|
How We Determine the Best Mortgage Lenders
SmartAsset reviewed the top mortgage lenders on the market to find the best of the best. The areas we focused on include loan availability, customer satisfaction, prequalification/preapproval, online offerings, origination fees, interest rates, customer service and more.
Best Overall Lender: Chase Bank
After considering each lender holistically, we found Chase Bank to be the top mortgage lender in the U.S. The bank originates loans in all 50 states remotely, but you can also find an in-person location if you wish. However, that doesn’t mean the Chase online experience suffers. In fact, Chase has an easy-to-use mortgage section and mobile app, and it offers full online prequalification for customers who don’t wish to speak to a loan representative from the start.
You’ll find a large variety of loan options at Chase, including conventional loans, government program loans, low down payment loans, jumbo loans and refinance options. Beyond this, the bank offers a full suite of financial products, such as credit cards, checkings and savings accounts, personal loans and retirement and investing services. So if you like to keep all your finances, including your mortgage, in one place, Chase could be a good fit for you.
Chase is transparent about their rates and mortgage terms, which is something that’s not as common with other lenders. This makes it easier for homebuyers to shop around without committing to a lender. Chase also offers online home buying education resources, such as short articles, videos and calculators. As a customer, if you’re an auditory or visual learner, you have the chance to listen to and watch videos, while those who prefer reading can peruse the in-depth content. Chase’s mortgage calculator helps homebuyers decide on price range, home value, loan type and more.
Runner-up: PenFed Credit Union
Best Online Lender: Rocket Mortgage
Rocket Mortgage is the best option for homebuyers seeking flexible mortgage terms and who want to choose from a wide variety of loan options. This fully web-based company offers all of the basics, including conventional fixed-rate loans, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), FHA and VA loans, refinance options, jumbo loans and YOURgage, which is a proprietary loan program that allows you to pick your own conventional loan terms. For an online lender, that’s one of the largest mortgage spreads that’s currently available.
Rocket Mortgage originates loans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And since it operates over the phone or online, borrowers don’t need to drive to a branch location to apply for a mortgage. It also means the online interface is user-friendly and it’s easy to get a hold of a customer service representative.
While Rocket Mortgage doesn’t have as smooth an online presence as some similar lenders, like Better Mortgage, it does have two things younger companies often lack: proven market experience and loan origination across the U.S. In fact, Rocket Mortgage has offered loans online much longer than recent startup lending companies, which means many of the kinks are worked out. The numbers also speak for themselves, as Rocket Mortgage has been in the top 10 for loan volume in the U.S. for the better part of the last decade.
Best Traditional Lender: Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest banks in the U.S., and it has a wide variety of mortgage options to match. The bank offers 15-, 20- and 30-year fixed-rate loans, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs, jumbo loans of up to $2 million, FHA loans and VA loans. The bank also supplies its own mortgage calculator, closing costs calculator and has online resources available for first-time homebuyers.
The bank also boasts geographically targeted loan programs that are designed to help those with moderate to low income with financing their home purchases. This program, called the Bank of America Community Homeownership Commitment, offers up to $10,000 in down payment assistance and up to $7,500 for non-recurring closing expenses, as well as loan options with as low as a 3% down payment.
Bank of America gives you the option to conduct a major part of your mortgage experience online. Through the bank’s website or mobile app, you can lock in an interest rate by getting pre-approved without ever talking to a representative. You can keep track of and submit important information through the Bank of America Home Loan Navigator portal.
When it comes to interest rates, Bank of America is transparent about what you can expect to get for your mortgage. For instance, you can see average interest rates based on your zip code without making a commitment to apply. Certain Bank of America customers may also be eligible for $200 to $600 off their lender origination fee. You can also get a slew of other banking products through BofA, such as credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
Runner-up: U.S. Bank
Best Lender for Veterans: Veterans United
We found Veterans United to be the top VA mortgage lender in the U.S. With this lender, you’ll be able to get pre-approved online, and although it has branches in just 18 states, you’ll have access to 24/7 over-the-phone customer service. This is an especially great benefit for members of the military who may be located overseas.
Veterans United provides customers with access to VA, FHA, USDA, conventional and jumbo loans. The company is heavily focused on its VA loans though, which offer the benefit of no mandatory minimum down payment. Veterans United also requires a minimum credit score of 660, so their products are designed for those with good credit or better.
Veterans United originates loans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. With around-the-clock access over the phone or online, you’ll always be able to speak with a representative who can answer your questions. Veterans United also has an online portal to help you review important information about your loan and update and submit relevant materials. VU does not have a mobile app for customers, though.
Generally speaking, Veterans United’s fees and interest rates are quite low. While these factors can vary based on your personal situation, VU usually compares well to other veteran-centric mortgage lenders. According to our study, the company also scored high in terms of customer satisfaction.
Runner-up: Navy Federal Credit Union
Best Lender for Borrowers With Low Credit: Carrington Mortgage Services
Carrington Mortgage Services has some of the lowest mortgage credit score requirements on the market. More specifically, certain mortgages are available to homebuyers with FICO credit scores as low as 500. This non-bank lender originates loans in all states except North Dakota. In addition to its California headquarters, you can also find branches in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana and Maryland.
Carrington offers conventional loans, ARMs, VA loans, FHA loans and USDA loans, along with down payment assistance programs and refinance options. While Carrington has a solid array of mortgage options, you won’t qualify for all of the loan types with a low credit score. In general, Carrington offers FHA, USDA, ARM and VA loans for those with at least a 500 FICO credit score.
While Carrington has some of the lowest credit score requirements, it’s not apparent what terms you’d qualify for. The company isn’t transparent regarding its mortgage rates, and their website doesn’t provide much in the way of other specific term information. That means you’d have to contact a company representative to see what you’d be offered, rather than input an online prequalification or preapproval.
You’ll also want to be careful about applying for a mortgage when your credit score is in the low 500s. You generally won’t qualify for decent mortgage rates with a score that low, which means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. That can really place a burden on the homebuyer. However, if you’re determined to buy a home and haven’t found a lender willing to accept your credit score, Carrington may be your best option.
Runner up: Caliber Home Loans