Top 10 Mortgage Lenders
- Brant Phillips, Nathan Long
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How We Chose the Best Mortgage Lenders
We looked for outstanding companies that we could recommend to anyone, meaning they had to be widely available. We only considered lenders that operate in 40 states or more. This cut a lot of lenders from the running (135 to be exact) including some popular names, like Bank of America. There are certain cases where one of these regional or smaller lenders will be better suited to your needs: for instance, if you have a difficult credit history or need extra help navigating the mortgage process. If that sounds like it applies to you, you can select a great local option by following our guide. For most, any of our nationwide top picks will be a great choice — readily available and overflowing with services.
Only direct lenders — mortgage companies that underwrite and finance their own loans — can offer a full suite of services. Choosing a direct lender also keeps all your mortgage activity under one roof: The institution paying for your home is also the one that creates your contract and helps you along the way. Using a direct lender often expedites the mortgage process, because everything is taken care of in-house.
While plenty of people choose to work with a broker rather than a lender and take advantage of the broker’s ability to comparison shop for you, mortgage shopping can be done without one. We spent two weeks getting pre-approved with our top contenders so we can guarantee that our top picks keep it hassle-free.
Trustworthy track record
Mortgage lenders are regulated by both state and federal agencies. When a company missteps, those agencies can file a regulatory action against it. Information about mortgage lenders’ infractions is then gathered and reported by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System. While many regulatory infractions turn out to be simple administrative errors, a pattern of infractions can indicate unlawful activity — like unlicensed loan agents who might sign you up for the wrong policy, or companies paying loan officers illegal quota incentives to sign up as many mortgages as possible. These types of lenders have their bottom line in mind, not your best interests.
Helpful shopping tools
Great lenders keep the mortgage process simple. Three ways lenders can simplify the process:
- Streamlined website: An informative and simple-to-navigate site answers all of your questions clearly and without much digging. A poor online experience can muddy the whole mortgage process by making it hard to find those important initial stats: interest rates and APRs.
- Helpful learning tools: Home-buying and refinancing guides walk you through the ins-and-outs of mortgages in language that you’ll actually understand, while mortgage calculators give you an idea of what you could be paying before you even get pre-approved. Tools like these help you build a solid foundation of mortgage knowledge and make informed decisions when comparing lenders and prices.
- Excellent customer support: Online tools are an awesome place to start, but it’s likely you’ll have questions down the road that need a little more personalized attention than an FAQ or buying guide. We had questions along the way, too, and kept track of the companies that were most responsive and helpful in answering them. Your loan officer will help you through the mortgage process, of course, but with such a huge purchase it’s important to be personally informed about your options. The best lenders make it easy to get the information you need with prompt, polite, and helpful phone reps.
Why we chose it
Our top pick, Quicken Loans, has everything we looked for in mortgage lending: low-interest rates, great customer support, and rapid approval. Plus, it boasts mortgage options to fit anyone’s needs. When it comes time to pull the trigger on a loan, Quicken gets you pre-approved and on the housing market fast. End-to-end, we were pre-approved in under 30 minutes. And after applying, we weren’t inundated with emails and phone calls. This company knows to give you a little space during the shopping-around phase.
Quicken has some of the best learning resources in the industry. The website walks you through the intricacies of mortgage lending in simple language and offers everything you need to manage your mortgage from beginning to end, even without the help of a broker. Educate yourself on complicated concepts like underwriting and refinancing, and use the mortgage options chart to compare adjustable rate, fixed rate, and other loan types side-by-side. Quicken is a stand-out for empowering consumers and helping them understand all the details before signing on the dotted line.
If you run into any questions that Quicken’s online resources can’t answer, its customer support is readily available to lend a hand. The online chat feature offers immediate live support, and when we wanted a more in-depth conversation, we reached a rep over the phone in under five minutes. The quality of help they gave was top-tier, second only to Alliant Credit Union’s exceptionally helpful phone service.