Best Mortgage Lenders 2019 | Editors' Choice

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Our team of analysts and editors did an in-depth investigation into the nation's leading mortgage companies. After digging into each lender's selection of products, record for customer satisfaction, and overall reputation, we selected the top lenders in six reader-nominated categories. Click on one of our picks below to find out more about our best lenders of 2019.

Best bank for mortgage loans: Regions Bank

Regions Bank
Regions Bank

Regions saw its origination volume increase by over 23% over the past five years and has one of the lowest rates of complaints we've seen at any major bank.

Regions is a relative underdog in the national mortgage scene, ranking 20th overall in terms of overall loan volume. We think it's a sleeper pick, as Regions was the only major bank in the nation that saw its net loan volume increase over the past five years. A deeper dive showed that Regions had one of the lowest rates of complaints logged by any major bank over the past five years, according to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Only 0.35% of all 119,000 Regions home loans received complaints over that period.

Runner-up comparison

Regions BankPNC
Availability15 States (South and Midwest)19 States (Northeast and Midwest)
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreVisit Regions Bank for more infoRead our PNC Mortgage Review

Highlights Regions provides a wide array of mortgage loans that appeal to first-time homebuyers and new home builders alike. Particularly noteworthy are its Construction-to-Permanent and Renovation & Repair construction loans, which automatically convert into conventional mortgage loans once construction is complete.

  • Construction-to-Permanent and Renovation & Repair Mortgage Loans feature one closing and base the allowed loan amount on the finished home value.
  • Offers low down payment mortgage loans as little as 3% for new professionals with no or reduced PMI for certain industries.
  • Regions Home Bonus offers up to $6,500 in cash rewards if you buy or sell your home with an in-network real estate agent.

Drawbacks Regions offers almost everything borrowers need, at competitive rates. However, we wish the lender provided more information through its website rather than rely entirely on its loan officers, as it was difficult to find detailed information on its specialty loan programs without speaking directly to the lender.

More: Compare Mortgage Lenders in Your State

Best online mortgage lender: Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans
Quicken Loans

Quicken received J.D. Power's Highest Customer Satisfaction Award for 9 Years in a row and lends in every state in the United States.

Quicken was the second most active mortgage lender in country over the past five years and topped the list for both VA and FHA loans originated, for a combined total of $356 billion in dollars loaned across 1,680,000 mortgages. Over that same period, data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed just 0.08% of those loans having received a complaint.

Quicken LoansGuaranteed Rate
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
Learn moreRead our Quicken Loans Mortgage ReviewRead Our Guaranteed Rate Review

Highlights Quicken offers special government programs sponsored by the VA and FHA as well as the less common USDA mortgage for rural homebuyers, which wasn't offered by its online competitors Guaranteed Rate or LoanDepot. Not only can you pick from a wide selection of loans, but Quicken even lets you pick a custom loan term that works for you under their unique YOURgage program. Borrowers have the choice of any term they want from eight to 29 years instead of bundling you into a 30- or 15-year mortgage, as is typically required by most banks.

  • Quicken's YOURGage allows you to pick any term you want, between 8 and 29 years, with as little as 3% down.
  • Quicken allows you to refinance second homes/investment properties and also offers Streamline Refinancing for eligible FHA loan holders.
  • Offers USDA-backed mortgage loans unavailable at most other online lenders.

Drawbacks Despite Quicken's excellent customer satisfaction record, feedback we received from consumer surveys indicated that Quicken's rates and closing costs aren't always the cheapest around. We also wish that the lender offered more options for current homeowners, like home equity loans and HELOCs. If you want to cash out on your equity, your only options at Quicken Loans are cash-out refinances and reverse mortgages.

More: Compare Online Mortgage Rates

Best mortgage refinance company: PNC

PNC Bank
PNC Bank

PNC is one of the top 10 mortgage lenders in the U.S. mortgage market by volume and completed over 460,000 closings over the past five years.

PNC ranked as one of the top ten mortgage lenders in the United States over the past 5 years, according to data from S&P. During that time, they issued over 460,000 mortgage loans for more than $74 billion in financing, making them one of the most experienced lenders on the market.

Runner-up comparison

PNCTD Bank
Availability19 States (Northeast and Midwest)16 states (East Coast)
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreRead our PNC Mortgage ReviewRead our TD Mortgage Review

Highlights PNC carries a varied range of terms on its conventional refinance loans (between 10 and 30 years) and it also stocks an impressive array of government-backed refinance options from the FHA and VA in both fixed and adjustable rates. The bank also offers an impressive selection of home equity financing options, including its Choice Home Equity Line of Credit and home equity installment loan that can be obtained for as long as 30 years, double the 15-year home equity cap we've seen at other lenders.

  • Offers fixed- and adjustable-rate refinances for conventional, jumbo, VA and FHA mortgages.
  • Home equity rapid refinance is a unique PNC product that gives you the option to either refinance your existing mortgage or cash out home equity for renovations or other needs.
  • FHA and VA refinance mortgages allow you to refinance as much as 100% of your home's LTV.

Drawbacks PNC's customer satisfaction ratings were average when compared with its peers. The rate of complaints recorded by the CFPB was moderate for a bank of its size, and its J.D. Power ratings put it in the middle of the pack. We would have liked to see PNC offer rate discounts for existing clients and a more robust online application process; as it stands, customers will still need to apply for their mortgage at a branch or over the phone.

More: Compare Online Refinance Rates

Best lender for first-time buyers: LoanDepot

LoanDepot
LoanDepot

LoanDepot ranked second in the nation in terms of total number of FHA loan originations over the past five years.

LoanDepot completed more than 366,000 mortgage originations over the past five years, according to data from S&P. This puts them second among all online mortgage lenders, trailing Quicken Loans by a slight margin. However, LoanDepot also saw its loan volume increase by over 24% over the same period, making them one of America's fastest growing online mortgage lenders. As it rapidly expands, LoanDepot aims to challenge Quicken's dominance in the online lending space.

Runner-up comparison

LoanDepotCiti Mortgage
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620580
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Home Equity
Learn moreRead Our LoanDepot Mortgage ReviewRead our Citi Mortgage Review

Highlights LoanDepot's mortgage products run the gamut between conventional fixed-rate loans to government-backed FHA, VA and USDA home loans. Licensed to lend in all 50 states, they make an excellent choice for your first home purchase, whether you're a first-time homebuyer, veteran or rural homebuyer. LoanDepot also ranks among America's top FHA lenders by volume, which offers fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage loans for as little as 3.5% down.

  • FHA and VA mortgage loans through LoanDepot can have you qualified for a home with 0% or 3.5% down.
  • LoanDepot is one of the few online lenders that offers home equity loans.
  • Offers the FHA 203K loan, which allows borrowers to finance their home and cash out on home equity for home improvements.

Drawbacks LoanDepot's online application process requires you to speak with a loan officer directly. Its website also lacked useful information on its lineup of products. We would have liked to see more details covering the loans on its website, including what terms were available and what it takes to qualify for each.

More: Compare Lenders for First-Time Buyers

Best VA loan lender: Veterans United

Veterans United
Veterans United

Veterans United was the biggest lender of 2018 in the VA program and remains one of the fastest-growing lenders in this space.

Where industry leaders like Freedom Mortgage and USAA have seen their lending volume decrease in recent years, Veterans United saw its activity increase by over 15% in the past five years. It maintains a dedicated customer service hotline staffed by former service members and officers from every branch of the U.S. military. This means that you'll talk to a loan officer who understands your unique needs, whether you’re a veteran or active service member.

Runner-up comparison

Veterans UnitedUSAA
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
Learn moreRead Our Veterans United Mortgage ReviewRead our USAA Mortgage Review

Highlights While competitors like USAA and Freedom Mortgage provide a greater breadth of offerings, few lenders drill down as deep as Veterans United when it comes to the VA program. Veterans United offers VA loans, which require no money down and no PMI for the life of the loan at fixed and adjustable rates. Veterans United also features both of the major VA refinance programs, including the lucrative VA Streamline and VA Cash-out refinance, which allow borrowers to bypass many of the usual credit hurdles required for a conventional refinance, and take advantage of lower interest rates.

  • VA streamline refinance allow homeowners to avoid standard appraisal, credit and income checks.
  • VA cash-out refinances allow homeowners to borrow up to 100% of their current home equity.
  • Veteran United's Lighthouse program takes a vested interest in poor credit borrowers, guiding them through the process of rebuilding their credit so they become eligible for a mortgage.

Drawbacks Despite the lender's distinguished customer service record, consumer feedback indicated that Veterans United didn't always offer the cheapest mortgage loans around. While this may simply be a cost of doing business with a reliable and experienced lender, it's a good idea to obtain multiple quotes from different lenders to keep your options open.

More: Compare VA Lenders

Best mortgage lender for poor credit: Movement Mortgage

Movement Mortgage
Movement Mortgage

Movement Mortgage combines a seamless online and in-person broker experience and can close your loan in as little as 7 days.

Movement Mortgage ranks among the top 15 FHA lenders in the nation in terms of total loans issued. We continue to see Movement's loan volume increase every year as one of America's fastest-growing mortgage lenders. It has its hands in almost every mortgage program on the market and features one of the fastest loan closings we've seen from any lender to date.

Runner-up comparison

Movement MortgageFreedom Mortgage
Availability49 States (Except MT)All 50 states
Minimum credit score580580
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead Our Movement Mortgage ReviewRead our Freedom Mortgage Review

Highlights Movement Mortgage features a wide selection of low down payment government mortgage programs, making it an excellent option if you don't have a lot of cash saved for closing. In addition to the usual VA, FHA and USDA programs, Movement Mortgage also offers the Fannie Mae's HomeReady® mortgage, which permits down payments of as little as 3% with reduced PMI payments that can be removed once you hit 20% LTV. This is often a superior option to the standard FHA loan, which requires you to pay PMI for the life of the mortgage.

  • Expanded Access program may qualify you for a loan even if you've previously encountered a short sale or foreclosure (minimum 620 credit).
  • Fannie Mae HomeReady® accepts down payments of as low as 3%, without condemning the borrower to a lifetime of PMI payments.
  • Homeowners with current FHA or VA mortgages can avoid the usual credit checks with FHA 203b streamline and VA IRRRL refinances and pay no money out of pocket.

Drawbacks it's hard to get more than just basic information on its site without submitting a loan application. Movement's online process leads you down a funnel that requires you to speak with a loan officer if you want a preliminary rate quote or any additional information about its programs. While this is likely intentional, we would have liked to see more transparency earlier in the shopping process.

More: Compare Lenders for Bad Credit Scores

Our team of analysts and editors did an in-depth investigation into the nation's leading mortgage companies. After digging into each lender's selection of products, record for customer satisfaction, and overall reputation, we selected the top lenders in six reader-nominated categories. Click on one of our picks below to find out more about our best lenders of 2019.

Best bank for mortgage loans

Regions Bank
Regions Bank

Regions Bank doesn't lend across the entire country, but has performed admirably on customer satisfaction compared with other bank peers. It also offers new construction loans as well as low down payment home loans for newly minted young professionals.

Regions is a relative underdog in the national mortgage scene, ranking 20th overall in terms of overall loan volume. We think it's a sleeper pick, as Regions was the only major bank in the nation that saw its net loan volume increase over the past five years. A deeper dive showed that Regions had one of the lowest rates of complaints logged by any major bank over the past five years, according to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Only 0.35% of all 119,000 Regions home loans received complaints over that period.

  • Construction-to-Permanent and Renovation & Repair Mortgage Loans feature one closing and base the allowed loan amount on the finished home value.
  • Offers low down payment mortgage loans as little as 3% for new professionals with no or reduced PMI for certain industries.
  • Regions Home Bonus offers up to $6,500 in cash rewards if you buy or sell your home with an in-network real estate agent.

Runner-up comparison

Regions BankPNC
Availability15 States (South and Midwest)19 States (Northeast and Midwest)
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreVisit Regions Bank for more infoRead our PNC Mortgage Review

Highlights Regions provides a wide array of mortgage loans that appeal to a number of borrowers, including first-time homebuyers and new home builders. Particularly noteworthy are its Construction-to-Permanent and Renovation & Repair construction loans, which automatically convert into conventional mortgage loans once construction is complete.

Drawbacks Regions offers almost everything borrowers need, at competitive rates. However, we wish the lender provided more information through its website rather than rely entirely on its loan officers, as it was difficult to find detailed information on its specialty loan programs without speaking directly to the lender.

More: Compare Mortgage Lenders in Your State

Best online mortgage lender

Quicken Loans
Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans was one of the first lenders to develop an online platform for its home loans and remains the industry leader today. Quicken Loans operates in every state in the nation and stands out with its good record for customer satisfaction and flexibility.

Quicken was the second most active mortgage lender in country over the past five years and topped the list for both VA and FHA loans originated, for a combined total of $356 billion in dollars loaned across 1,680,000 mortgages. Over that same period, data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed just 0.08% of those loans having received a complaint.

  • Quicken's YOURGage allows you to pick any term you want, between 8 and 29 years, with as little as 3% down.
  • Quicken allows you to refinance second homes/investment properties and also offers Streamline Refinancing for eligible FHA loan holders.
  • Offers USDA-backed mortgage loans unavailable at most other online lenders.
Quicken LoansGuaranteed Rate
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
Learn moreRead our Quicken Loans Mortgage ReviewRead Our Guaranteed Rate Review

Highlights Quicken offers special government programs sponsored by the VA and FHA as well as the less common USDA mortgage for rural homebuyers, which wasn't offered by its online competitors Guaranteed Rate or LoanDepot. Not only can you pick from a wide selection of loans, but Quicken even lets you pick a custom loan term that works for you under their unique YOURgage program. Borrowers have the choice of any term they want from eight to 29 years instead of bundling you into a 30- or 15-year mortgage, as is typically required by most banks.

Drawbacks Despite Quicken's excellent customer satisfaction record, feedback we received from consumer surveys indicated that Quicken's rates and closing costs aren't always the cheapest around. We also wish that the lender offered more options for current homeowners, like home equity loans and HELOCs. If you want to cash out on your equity, your only options at Quicken Loans are cash-out refinances and reverse mortgages.

More: Compare Online Mortgage Rates

Best mortgage refinance company

PNC Bank
PNC Bank

PNC Bank stocks a diverse arsenal of mortgage loans for current homeowners looking to refinance. It featured one of the most detailed online experiences seen at any lender, allowing you to estimate closing costs and rate quotes based on your location at a variety of loan programs and terms.

PNC ranked as one of the top ten mortgage lenders in the United States over the past 5 years, according to data from S&P. During that time, they issued over 460,000 mortgage loans for more than $74 billion in financing, making them one of the most experienced lenders on the market.

  • Offers fixed- and adjustable-rate refinances for conventional, jumbo, VA and FHA mortgages.
  • Home equity rapid refinance is a unique PNC product that gives you the option to either refinance your existing mortgage or cash out home equity for renovations or other needs.
  • FHA and VA refinance mortgages allow you to refinance as much as 100% of your home's LTV.

Runner-up comparison

PNCTD Bank
Availability19 States (Northeast and Midwest)16 states (East Coast)
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • HELOC
Learn moreRead our PNC Mortgage ReviewRead our TD Mortgage Review

Highlights PNC carries a varied range of terms on its conventional refinance loans (between 10 and 30 years) and it also stocks an impressive array of government-backed refinance options from the FHA and VA in both fixed and adjustable rates. The bank also offers an impressive selection of home equity financing options, including its Choice Home Equity Line of Credit and home equity installment loan that can be obtained for as long as 30 years, double the 15-year home equity cap we've seen at other lenders.

Drawbacks PNC's customer satisfaction ratings were average when compared with its peers. The rate of complaints recorded by the CFPB was moderate for a bank of its size, and its J.D. Power ratings put it in the middle of the pack. We would have liked to see PNC offer rate discounts for existing clients and a more robust online application process; as it stands, customers will still need to apply for their mortgage at a branch or over the phone.

More: Compare Online Refinance Rates

Best lender for first-time buyers

LoanDepot
LoanDepot

LoanDepot is an excellent choice for young professionals looking to buy their first home. The online lender is directly involved in offering many state-sponsored, first-time homebuyer assistance programs. Depending on your state of residence, these can provide down payment grants and short-term loans for borrowers looking to purchase their first property.

LoanDepot completed more than 366,000 mortgage originations over the past five years, according to data from S&P. This puts them second among all online mortgage lenders, trailing Quicken Loans by a slight margin. However, LoanDepot also saw its loan volume increase by over 24% over the same period, making them one of America's fastest growing online mortgage lenders. As it rapidly expands, LoanDepot aims to challenge Quicken's dominance in the online lending space.

  • FHA and VA mortgage loans through LoanDepot can have you qualified for a home with 0% or 3.5% down.
  • LoanDepot is one of the few online lenders that offers home equity loans.
  • Offers the FHA 203K loan, which allows borrowers to finance their home and cash out on home equity for home improvements.

Runner-up comparison

LoanDepotCiti Mortgage
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620580
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Construction
  • Home Equity
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • Home Equity
Learn moreRead Our LoanDepot Mortgage ReviewRead our Citi Mortgage Review

Highlights LoanDepot's mortgage products run the gamut between conventional fixed-rate loans to government-backed FHA, VA and USDA home loans. Licensed to lend in all 50 states, they make an excellent choice for your first home purchase, whether you're a first-time homebuyer, veteran or rural homebuyer. LoanDepot also ranks among America's top FHA lenders by volume, which offers fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage loans for as little as 3.5% down.

Drawbacks LoanDepot's online application process requires you to speak with a loan officer directly. Its website also lacked useful information on its lineup of products. We would have liked to see more details covering the loans on its website, including what terms were available and what it takes to qualify for each.

More: Compare Lenders for First-Time Buyers

Best VA loan lender

Veterans United
Veterans United

Veterans United was the largest VA loan provider in 2018, and remains one of the fastest-growing military-focused lenders in the industry. While it also offers conventional loans and FHA loans, over 95% of their business is derived from VA lending. There are few lenders out there who demonstrate a better grasp of the VA program.

Where industry leaders like Freedom Mortgage and USAA have seen their lending volume decrease in recent years, Veterans United saw its activity increase by over 15% in the past five years. It maintains a dedicated customer service hotline staffed by former service members and officers from every branch of the U.S. military. This means that you'll talk to a loan officer who understands your unique needs, whether you’re a veteran or active service member.

  • VA streamline refinance allow homeowners to avoid standard appraisal, credit and income checks.
  • VA cash-out refinances allow homeowners to borrow up to 100% of their current home equity.
  • Veteran United's Lighthouse program takes a vested interest in poor credit borrowers, guiding them through the process of rebuilding their credit so they become eligible for a mortgage.

Runner-up comparison

Veterans UnitedUSAA
AvailabilityAll 50 statesAll 50 states
Minimum credit score620620
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
Learn moreRead Our Veterans United Mortgage ReviewRead our USAA Mortgage Review

Highlights While competitors like USAA and Freedom Mortgage provide a greater breadth of offerings, few lenders drill down as deep as Veterans United when it comes to the VA program. Veterans United offers VA loans, which require no money down and no PMI for the life of the loan at fixed and adjustable rates. Veterans United also features both of the major VA refinance programs, including the lucrative VA Streamline and VA Cash-out refinance, which allow borrowers to bypass many of the usual credit hurdles required for a conventional refinance, and take advantage of lower interest rates.

Drawbacks Despite the lender's distinguished customer service record, consumer feedback indicated that Veterans United didn't always offer the cheapest mortgage loans around. While this may simply be a cost of doing business with a reliable and experienced lender, it's a good idea to obtain multiple quotes from different lenders to keep your options open.

More: Compare VA Lenders

Best mortgage lender for poor credit

Movement Mortgage
Movement Mortgage

Movement Mortgage's loan inventory runs the gamut from government-backed mortgage programs, which require little to no down payment, to construction and renovation loans for home builders. This is one of the most varied selections of home loans that cater to almost any niche, but particularly to those among us who are looking to minimize our down payment.

Movement Mortgage ranks among the top 15 FHA lenders in the nation in terms of total loans issued. We continue to see Movement's loan volume increase every year as one of America's fastest-growing mortgage lenders. It has its hands in almost every mortgage program on the market and features one of the fastest loan closings we've seen from any lender to date.

  • Expanded Access program may qualify you for a loan even if you've previously encountered a short sale or foreclosure (minimum 620 credit).
  • Fannie Mae HomeReady® accepts down payments of as low as 3%, without condemning the borrower to a lifetime of PMI payments.
  • Homeowners with current FHA or VA mortgages can avoid the usual credit checks with FHA 203b streamline and VA IRRRL refinances and pay no money out of pocket.

Runner-up comparison

Movement MortgageFreedom Mortgage
Availability49 States (Except MT)All 50 states
Minimum credit score580580
Programs
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
  • Construction
  • Conventional
  • Jumbo
  • VA
  • FHA
  • USDA
Learn moreRead Our Movement Mortgage ReviewRead our Freedom Mortgage Review

Highlights Movement Mortgage features a wide selection of low down payment government mortgage programs, making it an excellent option if you don't have a lot of cash saved for closing. In addition to the usual VA, FHA and USDA programs, Movement Mortgage also offers the Fannie Mae's HomeReady® mortgage, which permits down payments of as little as 3% with reduced PMI payments that can be removed once you hit 20% LTV. This is often a superior option to the standard FHA loan, which requires you to pay PMI for the life of the mortgage.

Drawbacks it's hard to get more than just basic information on its site without submitting a loan application. Movement's online process leads you down a funnel that requires you to speak with a loan officer if you want a preliminary rate quote or any additional information about its programs. While this is likely intentional, we would have liked to see more transparency earlier in the shopping process.

More: Compare Lenders for Bad Credit Scores

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How to Choose the Best Mortgage Lender

The "Best Mortgage Lender" will depend on a number of factors that matter specifically to you. There's a huge universe of mortgage providers out there, and the best lender in one state might not necessarily offer the best terms in another. Even after obtaining a competitive rate quote from one of our top mortgage lenders, it's a good idea to obtain multiple competing quotes from local mortgage lenders to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.

The types of lenders you'll deal with directly will generally take the form of one of the following:

  • Banks
  • Credit Unions
  • Wholesale and Portfolio Lenders
  • Online Mortgage Companies

Remember that checking your rate with multiple mortgage lenders will only count as a single credit pull if completed within a 45- day shopping period. In many cases, checking your estimated rate will show up as a "soft credit pull" and have negligible impact on your credit score. It's a good idea to get as many competitive rate quotes as you can handle before picking a lender.

While there will be some variation to the application and underwriting process for each lender type, the rates and cost estimates will vary widely depending on your local market. Additionally, you'll want to compare the following factors when choosing a lender:

Interest Rate

Current interest rates are certainly one of the biggest measures of cost, but shouldn't be the only criteria you review. While a few tenths of a percent might not seem like such a big deal, it can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in additional interest expense over the life of your mortgage, especially if you choose a high balance 30- year mortgage. It's worth shopping your preferred terms across multiple lenders to find the best terms.

Closing Costs

This will be one of the more difficult costs to evaluate as you'll need to distinguish between lender-dictated closing costs as well as fees charged by third-parties which aren't subject to the lender's discretion. Things like origination and application fees are set by the lender, while other costs like homeowner's fees and escrow costs are set in stone. It's worth inquiring with your lender to see if they have wiggle room when it comes to negotiating certain fees.

Customer Satisfaction

Try to gauge the lender's competency as well as its reputation for customer satisfaction. Even if they offer the lowest rate quote, it may not be worth the extra headache if the lender is unable to close your home purchase on time, or worse, if they have to back out of the financing at the last minute. You can check a lender's reputation by reading online customer feedback through publicly available domains like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau. We also investigate each lender's reputation for customer satisfaction in our lender reviews.

Loan Inventory

It goes without saying that if a lender doesn't offer the type of mortgage you're shopping for, you may want to shop elsewhere. While it's certainly true that there are a multitude of lenders out there, not all lenders offer the same selection, and certain lenders may be more competitive with some loans than others when it comes to certain specialty mortgages.

For example, while nearly all lenders offer conventional 30- year and 15- year mortgages, not every lender will offer FHA mortgages or VA streamline refinancing. You'll want to check each lender's website to see if they offer the type of mortgage you're looking for. Keep in mind that some lenders may offer their own unique loan products or feature lucrative discounts that you can't find elsewhere. It certainly pays to shop around.

Kenny Zhu

Kenny is a Banking and Mortgage Research Analyst for ValuePenguin and has worked in the financial industry since 2013. Previously, Kenny was a Senior Investment Analyst at PFM Asset Management LLC. He holds a Bachelors of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in International Relations & Politics. He is a CFA® charterholder.

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