Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review: Great Option for Highly Qualified Borrowers

Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review: Great Option for Highly Qualified Borrowers

Guaranteed Rate is a good starting point for highly qualified borrowers, with competitive mortgage rates and a strong online platform.

Good for

  • Strong mortgage offers for applicants that meet credit/income standards
  • Multiple lender credits to reduce closing costs and no prepayment penalties
  • Very low rate of customer service complaints

Bad for

  • High credit score and income requirements on best loan offers

Editor's Rating

4.0/5.0

Guaranteed Rate is a nationwide mortgage lender that specializes in financing purchase loans for more highly qualified borrowers. If you have a strong credit score and income level, Guaranteed Rate's low interest rate offers and upfront fee discounts make it a competitive choice for funding your home purchase. The company's detailed website also makes for a more informative user experience than you'll get at most other direct lenders.

Guaranteed Rate Review: Good Deals —If You Qualify

While it's somewhat more difficult to get approved for a mortgage with Guaranteed Rate, people who make the cut enjoy the benefits of the lender's lower rates and closing costs. The credit score minimum on Guaranteed Rate's conventional loans is 620, but the lender claims to be a bit more selective when it comes to its requirements for income and available funds. However, borrowers can apply to the lender's FHA and VA loans with a minimum credit score of 580. For those who qualify, Guaranteed Rate carries extremely advantageous rate offers for purchase mortgages in a range of terms and loan types.

In addition, Guaranteed Rate offers an array of smaller discounts that can help you cut back on your closing costs. In our phone call with the company's loan officers, we found that you can obtain significant credits towards your loan fees if you work with one of Guaranteed Rate's affiliated real estate agents. This makes the lender a good place to start if you're still in the early stages of finding a home to buy. And none of Guaranteed Rate's mortgage products come with prepayment penalties, which means you won't have to worry about extra fees if you refinance to a new mortgage early on. This is a rare feature compared to other home lenders.

How Do Guaranteed Rate Mortgages Compare?

When we looked over Guaranteed Rate's mortgage offers through its online tool, we found that both the user experience and the numbers were much better than what we've found with the average direct lender. We made a comparison of the company's 30-year mortgage with those at major banks, based on a purchase price of $198,000 and down payment of 10%.

30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Estimates at Major Banks

Guaranteed RateChaseBank of AmericaWells Fargo
Interest Rate3.88%3.88%3.75%3.88%
APR4.32%4.16%4.11%4.15%
Cost of Points-$300$223$1,000$0
Monthly P+I$838$838$825$838
Mortgage Insurance$45$65$66$61

While mortgage rates are constantly changing, obtaining these estimates at the same time allowed us to get an idea of Guaranteed Rate's competitive advantage. While the rate on offer isn't significantly better than those at national brands like Chase, Guaranteed Rate will actually give you lender credit in situations where others would charge you for discount points. These points and credits count towards your closing costs, making Guaranteed Rate the more cost-efficient option if you're determined to reduce your upfront mortgage fees.

If you're going into a purchase mortgage with less than 20% in down payment, you should note that Guaranteed Rate also provided the cheapest estimate on the cost of mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance actually protects the lender from the risk of default, but it's mandatory for borrowers themselves to cover this cost in most cases. Although borrower-paid mortgage insurance can be canceled eventually, having lower premiums from the beginning of your home loan can save you hundreds in the long run.

Customer Service and Mortgage Servicing

We found that while Guaranteed Rate publishes a good deal of helpful information on its website, the company's loan officers are willing and able to provide much more detail about the company's distinguishing features. They were knowledgeable and helpful compared to other mortgage lenders' customer service representatives. In terms of the raw numbers, Guaranteed Rate's business draws far fewer complaints than any of the major banks that provide mortgage loans.

Mortgage-Related Complaints at Major Banks, 2013-2017

CompanyMortgage OriginationsCFPB ComplaintsRatio2016 JD Power Rating
Guaranteed Rate222,228980.04%843
Chase948,00014,7781.56%835
Wells Fargo2,155,22225,1821.17%832
Bank of America1,172,11328,1872.40%832

Guaranteed Rate does about one-fifth of the business seen by Chase, but the CFPB has recorded fewer than a hundred formal complaints about the company's origination practices and loan servicing. While this may indicate that the company has outsourced its loan servicing to third parties, the low rate of complaints about mortgage originations and Guaranteed Rate's lead in the most recent JD Power satisfaction survey suggest that the lender does have notably higher standards of customer satisfaction.

Mortgage Loan Products at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate provides a standard mix of home loan products that should cover the needs of most borrowers looking for a mortgage. It offers the typical 30-year and 15-year fixed rate terms on conventional mortgages as well as government-backed agency loans and non-conforming jumbo loans. Guaranteed Rate also provides interest-only mortgages for people seeking to minimize their monthly payments.

Mortgage ProductInterest RateAPRLender Credits
30-year fixed rate3.88%4.32%$300
20-year fixed rate3.75%4.17%$600
15-year fixed rate3.25%3.66%$300
5-year ARM3.38%4.37%-
7-year ARM3.50%4.32%$200
10-year ARM3.75%4.38%$500

Overall, Guaranteed Rate's products come with highly competitive rate estimates: not only are its rates lower than average for each loan type, they are actually packaged with lender credits that can reduce your closing costs. Lender credits are generally included in your Loan Estimate when you accept a higher interest rate than you'd otherwise qualify for. Although the results from Guaranteed Rate's online tool aren't the same as a formal Loan Estimate, the fact that the lender's rates are lower than average even with lender credits is an indicator that Guaranteed Rate may deliver some of the lowest mortgage rates.

Where Can You Get a Mortgage With Guaranteed Rate?

Guaranteed Rate is a licensed mortgagee in all fifty states and Washington, DC, which makes it a viable option for pretty much anybody looking for a purchase or refinance mortgage in the US. The company's primary method of reaching customers is through its website, where you can input your loan details to get a more in-depth picture of your mortgage options.

How Does Guaranteed Rate Compare to Today's Mortgage Rates?

If you want to compare Guaranteed Rate to different lenders, see the table below to discover today's best mortgage estimates.

LenderAPRMonthly PaymentLoan Fees
Homestead Funding Corp4.625%$822.62$0.00Inquire Now
Flagstar Bank4.924%$846.73$894.00Inquire Now
Ally Bank5.031%$858.91$567.00Inquire Now
First Internet Bank of Indiana5.037%$858.91$665.00Inquire Now
Citibank, N. A.5.052%$846.73$3,190.00Inquire Now

Rates assume a home purchase of $200,000 in New York with a 20% down payment and credit score of 740. Estimates include origination fees and points but don't include other closing costs.

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