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If you are looking to buy a home and you are wondering what are the best mortgage lenders to turn to, the first thing you need to realize is that this is a complex question and that there is a lot of research involved. There are numerous factors to consider, such as affordability of the loan, availability and customer experience, and many more. Once you come up with the list of factors to consider, you then have to compare dozens upon dozens of lenders and see which ones are the best fit.
Obviously, this is a very complex matter, and there is no single answer that fits everyone. Your situation is unique to you. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot receive a bit of outside help, which is why we compared over 80 different online mortgage lenders in order to spare you from having to do it all on your own. We chose online mortgage lenders for this list in order to ensure that they will be available throughout the US so that our list could be useful to as many people as possible. We narrowed it down to the list of the top 7 mortgage lenders for you to consider, so we recommend checking out our suggestions and taking it from there.
What is an online mortgage?
Before we get to the actual list, let’s answer some commonly asked question first, with the leading one, of course, being what is an online mortgage in the first place?
Simply put, this is a home loan that you can get from a lender that is either entirely online, or a physical, brick-and-mortar company that offers online service as an alternative to coming into their building and discussing the terms on the spot.
As the internet evolved and these services started gaining more popularity and attracting greater interest, a lot of banks launched their own digital mortgage platforms. However, despite this, a large majority of mortgages are still offered by non-banking institutions. That includes major financial companies that are not technically banks, but simply lenders.
Not only that, but there are even digital mortgage brokers that are helping borrowers go through the lending process by finding good loan products and competitive rates. Since borrowers are rarely well informed when it comes to processes such as purchasing or refinancing, brokers have found a lot of customers in this sector.
How does it work?
As for how online mortgages work — it is actually fairly simple. Most, if not all of the lending/borrowing processes can be completed electronically, either via an app or a platform that the lender has created. While this makes matters a bit simpler, make no mistake — this is still every bit as serious and strict as it has been so far in brick-and-mortar lenders and banks.
You sill need to complete steps such as:
- Applying for the mortgage and uploading your documentation
- Going through the loan processing and underwriting procedure
- Closing (or e-closing, as it is sometimes called)
The biggest difference between online and traditional way of offering loans is that digital versions tend to have significantly lower rates and other costs, as the business doesn’t have to earn money in order to cover the expenses such as rent for the offices, equipment, and alike. This is not something that you should underestimate, as it can help you save thousands by the end of it.
How to choose a mortgage lender?
As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, choosing the right mortgage lender for you and your specific situation is the key. Your goal is to buy a home that you want while making your debt as small as possible. However, low rates and fees are not the only reason why people tend to choose online mortgage lenders. For many borrowers, digital lenders offer convenience, efficiency, and speed. There is no standing in lines and running all over the town for different reports and other documents — everything can be obtained and submitted digitally.
So, that brings us back to the question — what to look in online mortgage lenders? We recommend paying close attention to five simple things:
- What kinds of loans are on offer?
- What are the credit and down payment requirements?
- Rate-lock and other perks
- Application and origination fees
- What support options are there?
What are the best mortgage lenders?
With that in mind, here are our top 7 suggestions for the best online mortgages that US users can turn to right now.
The first on the list is Wyndham Capital Mortgage, which is a lender that is licensed to operate in 47 states and Washington D.C. itself. It offers the purchase and refinance loans, conventional, jumbo, VA, FHA, and USDA loans. This service’s e-closing experience is a standout, where borrowers can close from any place. It also works 15% faster than the standard speed of traditional lenders.
The lender also features the Priority Purchase Program, which allows you to quickly spin up a preapproval letter that is fully customized to fit the property, all from your mobile device. Lastly, this company has been offering digital mortgage for 20 years, so you can be sure that it knows what it is doing.
Next up, we have Sofi, which is also available in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. It offers jumbo, conventional, purchase, and finance loans, and the most important thing to note here is that it offers a lot more than just home loans. You can also get financing for numerous other uses, such as weddings, buying a car, and alike. You also get access to investing and banking servies. Essentially, Sofi aims to be the last app that you will ever have to use as you delve deeper into the financial industry. However, the downside of choosing this lender is that it doesn’t have USDA, VA, or FHA loans.
Moving on, we have LowRates.com, which is an online lender that operates in 48 states, plus Washington, D.C., and plus Puerto Rico on top of that. This lender does have FHA, USDA, and VA, as well as conventional, jumbo, refinance, and purchase loans. As the name suggests, the company offers rather competitive rates, as well as a TRU Approval platform where you can get full underwriting in less than 24 hours. You can’t use its platform to get preapproved or prequalified, however, so that’s the downside here.
Halfway down the list, we have Lower, which is an online mortgage lender that is licensed to operate in Washington, D.C., as well as 42 states. It offers USDA, VA, and FHA, as well as conventional, jumbo, purchase, and refinance loans. It is a completely digital platform that offers all necessary processes for obtaining preapprovals or prequalifications, assuming you are eligible to receive them. After that, you can also apply for a loan, all on the same platform.
One thing to note is that borrowers that are building down payment savings will be excited to learn that the app offers a dollar-for-dollar matching program using an interest-bearing savings account, up to $500. Plus, its app also has credit and interest rate trackers, so you can always keep an eye on the current score and mortgage rates.
Then, we have AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation, which operates in 49 different states and Washington, D.C. This one also includes VA, FHA, and USDA, as well as purchase, refinance, Jumbo, and conventional loans. It also features online prequalification in only three minutes, as well as many convenient services like chat support, loan status tracking, e-signatures, file upload, and more. You can use its website to calculate whether you should buy or rent, what the mortgage payment would be, and more.
6. Ally Bank
Nearing the end of the list, we have Ally Bank — a bank and lender that is licensed in 43 states and, of course, Washington D.C. This one offers purchase and refinance, jumbo, and conventional loans. Obviously, that means no USDA, VA, or FHA. Its service advertises daily mortgage rates right on the website, so you can compare different options, and there are other helpful features that come as part of its app. You can also use the app to manage the mortgage from your phone.
Lastly, we have Better.com, which is an online mortgage lender that operates in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Apart from purchase and refinance, conventional, and jumbo loans, it also offers FHA. However, VA and USDA are not supported. Better.com also has an online preapproval process that can be completed in only three minutes. In addition to that, it features chat support, the ability to add documents, check your loan status, and e-sign paperwork.
Its online tool offers affordability, refinance calculator, amortization calculator, a very comprehensive glossary of mortgage and homeownership terms, and more.
Online mortgage pros and cons: Are they worth it?
Online mortgages definitely have their positives and negatives, and they are different enough from traditional services of this kind for it to matter quite a lot. With that said, the positives of taking this route to get a home loan include:
- Low mortgage fees and rates
- Status updates in real-time
- Most processes last a lot shorter
However, there are also a few negatives that we feel obligated to point out, so that you would have a more complete understanding of the situation. Those include:
- You can’t always reach a human support agent if you have questions
- There is a chance of suffering a security breach or fraud
- Preapprovals may be required and you can’t always get rates upfront
Ali is a freelance writer covering the cryptocurrency markets and the blockchain industry. He has 8 years of experience writing about cryptocurrencies, technology, and trading. His work can be found in various high-profile investment sites including CCN, Capital.com, Bitcoinist, and NewsBTC.