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SunTrust Mortgage Review 2018

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by Nina Semczuk Updated
SunTrust
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Our Rating: 3.2/5
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SunTrust Overview

SunTrust Mortgage is a division of SunTrust Bank, the 13th-largest bank in the United States with $205 billion in total assets as of December 2016. The company has three main business segments: consumer banking, wholesale banking and mortgage banking. According to Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) data, in 2015 SunTrust Bank had a total loan volume of $12,673,335,000. 

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, SunTrust Bank has almost 1,500 branches spread over the southeastern United States, and as far north as Washington D.C. SunTrust is a publicly held bank with the majority of its shares held by BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors and T. Rowe Price Group. 

SunTrust Bank traces its roots to 1891 when the Georgia General Assembly granted a charter for the Commercial Travelers’ Savings Bank in Atlanta. In 1893 the company changed its name to Trust Company in Georgia. The company became SunTrust Banks in 1985 after merging with Florida-based SunBanks, Inc.

SunTrust Bank prides itself on helping customers achieve financial confidence. In support of that goal, the company launched a site called the onUp Movement, which has budgeting tools, stories and other financial literacy information.

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Source: Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, SmartAsset Research

Regions Served by SunTrust

Does SunTrust Mortgage Operate in My Area?

SunTrust originates mortgage loans in all states except Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and Arizona. The company services loans from correspondents in all 50 states.

SunTrust has physical locations in Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

What Kind of Mortgage Can I Get With SunTrust?

SunTrust offers a standard variety of home loan options:

Fixed-rate mortgage: You don’t have to worry about rising interest rates with this loan as the rate remains the same for the life of the loan. This is a popular mortgage choice especially for buyers who plan to stay in their homes long term. There is no penalty for paying off the loan early.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): If you’re planning to move in a few years or flip the home you are buying, this mortgage may be a good choice for you. In the introductory period of five, seven or 10 years, your interest rate is typically lower than it would be with a fixed-rate loan. After that period expires, your interest rate fluctuates, meaning that your monthly payments could go up or down. To reduce future monthly costs, you can make additional payments to your principal before your rate adjusts.

Doctor loan programs: These are loans specially designed for dentists, physicians, licensed residents and fellows in MD and DO programs. They are available in fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, and offer up to 100% financing with no monthly mortgage insurance payments. SunTrust only offers these loans in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and parts of Pennsylvania.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan: This mortgage is designed to help those with tight finances or first-time homebuyers purchase a home. Your down payment may be as low as 3.5% with this loan and you can use 100% of gifted funds to pay the down payment (which is not the case with all loans).  It’s available as fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages.

USDA loan: This government-backed loan is for borrowers buying homes in rural or underdeveloped areas who don’t qualify for a conventional loan. Down payments can be as low as 0%. You can check to see if the home you’re interested is in an eligible area by plugging in the address on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

VA loans: These loans are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are offered to military affiliated individuals. This includes active duty, National Guard, Reserve, veterans and certain eligible spouses or surviving spouses. VA loans can be fixed-rate or ARM and offer the borrower 0% down terns.

Agency Affordable Financing HomeReady® loan: This is a Fannie Mae program for buyers with limited incomes. Down payments can be as low as 3% and can be paid by gift funds or your employer, if that’s an option for you. Even properties in high-cost areas may qualify for this type of loan.

Agency Affordable Financing Home Possible® loan: This Freddie Mac program helps borrowers with credit scores as low as 620 obtain a mortgage. Down payments can be as little as 3%, and homebuyer education is mandatory for first-time buyers.

Agency Plus Financing - high cost mortgage loans: You can be approved up to $636,150 for one-unit properties in certain high-cost areas (defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD). This type of loan is available as fixed or adjustable interest rates.

Jumbo loans: These are non-conforming loans. In most of the United States the conforming loan limit is $424,100, meaning that buyers can take out a mortgage up to that amount before it is considered a jumbo loan. SunTrust offers 80% maximum financing of jumbo loan amounts up to $1.5 million. There is no penalty for prepaying jumbo loans. 

Refinance loans: SunTrust offers a variety of refinance options including cash out refinances, VA IRRRL and more. Contact the company to find out all your refinance options.  

What Can You Do Online With SunTrust Mortgage?

SunTrust offers a comprehensive online experience. You can prequalify for a loan online as well as start the application process. Unlike other lenders, you won’t need a loan number to get an online account; you can sign up for one immediately. Your account will allow you to track your information online and make mortgage payments, as well as request statement or loan documents.

Along with the mortgage pages, the company does offer a full range of financial services so there’s plenty of information available on the site. Unlike many mortgage only websites, there’s actually a search bar so you can find specific information quickly.

New homebuyers can self-educate through the numerous pages of information on the site’s resource center. SunTrust has a 20-page new buyer guide that potential borrowers can read before making any home decisions. Other features include mortgage interest rates that are readily available and updated daily. You can try out a number of other financial educational tools as well. If you want to speak with a representative, there’s a pop-up contact form as well as the option to find the closest loan officer by entering your zip code. 

Would You Qualify for a Mortgage From SunTrust Mortgage?

It’s always a tricky question to answer, whether you’d qualify for a mortgage. It depends on your situation and current finances. One thing that’s certain is your credit score. SunTrust will analyze your credit history to look for red flags and overall creditworthiness. If you have a “good” credit score (one close to 700), that’ll increase your eligibility for a conventional loan, which carry the best interest rates. If your credit isn’t quite that good, you still have other options for loans, usually government-backed.  SunTrust doesn’t specify what scores are required for its loan offerings such as the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs. You’ll have to initiate a pre-qualification, loan application or speak to a representative to find out. 

Another important factor is your debt-to-income ratio. This measures how much money you have incoming versus outgoing. Debts such as credit cards, student or car loans, and even child support all count toward total monthly liabilities. Rent, groceries and other expenses do not. To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, total all your monthly debt payments and then divide by your monthly income and multiple by 100. An example to illustrate the calculation could be an individual who makes $35,000 a year. Monthly, he makes $2,916 pre-tax ($35,000 divided by 12). Let’s say he has a $400 car payment and pays $200 toward credit card debt. His total monthly liability is $600, which you then divide by his income, $2,916. After multiplying by 100, we get 20.5%. That percentage is his debt-to-income ratio.

SunTrust doesn’t explicitly divulge the maximum debt-to-income ratio for loan qualification, but general guidelines have 43% as the maximum. Many lenders do prefer DTI under 36%.

Down payment savings is another element lenders take under consideration. Most of the time, 20% of the price of the home in liquid assets is needed for a conventional mortgage. If you don’t have the money, you generally have to have private mortgage insurance. This adds to the price of your monthly payments. 

What’s the Process for Getting a Mortgage With SunTrust Mortgage?

To start the mortgage process with SunTrust, you can apply online (or prequalify), email, call or go to a local branch to meet with a loan officer. If you want to meet with a loan officer, use the representative locator on the website to find your local representative. If there isn’t a loan officer in your area, you can call the main mortgage application number or apply online.

Three days after you submit a mortgage application, SunTrust should send a loan estimate to you. This estimate shows a consolidated snapshot of your loan terms and estimated fees. After you review this, you’ll let your lender know if you’d like proceed with this loan.

You can find a list and explanation of necessary documents in SunTrust’s 20-page home buying guide. Some of the documents you may need to provide to apply for a mortgage include recent pay stubs, bank and retirement account statements, tax returns, W-2s, homeowners insurance information and any current mortgage information. You may be asked to disclose any car, student or home loans not listed on your credit report, plus all credit cards.

As you move forward with your application, you may need to provide additional documents at the mortgage closing. Your loan originator and real estate agent will let you know what they need from you.

If at any point you’re confused about the process from initiation to closing, you can find more information on SunTrust’s website. Or, you can call the main number to find out more.

How SunTrust Mortgage Stacks Up

While SunTrust Bank is a large financial institution, it doesn’t offer loans in all 50 states. If you’re looking to buy in Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon or Arizona, you won’t be able to use SunTrust Mortgage. However, if you’re within the served areas, SunTrust offers a wide range of loans along with a full range of financial services, such as personal banking. If you prefer all your financial needs bundled at one institution, this company is a good option.

With its size come benefits such as better online resources and capabilities. You can prequalify online as well as apply. The educational resources are also some of the most comprehensive. Not only can you check current interest rates, you can read in-depth guides to each step of the loan process. And for those who like less information, SunTrust has shorter pages still stuffed with comprehensive information.

SunTrust does offer a wide range of mortgages, but not as many as other mortgage lenders such as Caliber, which offers its own portfolio of options.

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