If you’re in the market to buy a home, you have a lot of decisions to make. You’ve likely been planning for years, saving your money for what is likely the biggest purchase you’ve ever made. One important decision to make is choosing the right mortgage lender. This may seem like a simple decision, but it’s not one to be taken lightly. Your lender will become an important partner, so it’s worth doing your homework so you can get the right kind of loan from a lender you can trust.

 9 Best Mortgage Lenders

  1. Freedom Mortgage
  2. Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
  3. Rocket Mortgage
  4. Better Mortgage
  5. Veterans United Home Loans
  6. Navy Federal Credit Union
  7. Quicken Loans
  8. New American Funding
  9. Bank of America

There are many factors to consider when choosing a mortgage. Each lender offers different rates and services. You must consider details like fees, closing costs, monthly payments, and whether you qualify for a government-backed home loan program. With the growing number of online financial institutions, you can also decide whether you prefer to conduct your business largely online or if you’d rather work with someone face to face. 

1. Freedom Mortgage

Freedom Mortgage has been a family-operated business since 1990 and offers a range of home loan services. Although it’s based out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Freedom Mortgage is licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company has over 100 physical locations across the country, though there are fewer on the west coast. 

Since Freedom Mortgage offers several types of loans, the requirements for each are slightly different. Typically, you need a credit score of 620 to qualify for most programs. The company is currently one of the top lenders in the country if you’re looking for a Department of Veterans Affairs loan (VA loan) or a Federal Housing Administration loan (FHA loan). These two government-backed loans prioritize the needs of veterans and first-time homebuyers by accepting lower down payments and approving credit scores below 620. 

Freedom Mortgage does not list its rates online, so you will have to have a credit check and speak with a loan officer to get a rate quote. The company has several incentive programs such as paying customers $1,000 if their loan doesn’t close on time and matching their competitors' mortgage rates. Their website offers users many tools that can help with the home buying process such as a home affordability calculator or a cash-out refinance calculator. Since Freedom Mortgage offers VA, FHA, and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loans, it’s a good option for borrowers who know they’ll qualify for one of these government-backed loans. 

2. Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

The Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation has specialized in providing home loans to low to moderate income borrowers for over 25 years. The mortgage company has headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, and Carrollton, Texas. It has borrowers in all 50 states and boasts nearly 700 branch locations across the country (with the only two exceptions being Alaska and West Virginia). 

Fairway offers conventional loans, construction and renovation, physician, FHA, VA, and USDA loans. The company currently does not provide home equity loans. It also does not post rates online nor does it list the lender fees. You can expect to pay standard fees like origination, rate-lock, and other closing costs. Fairway does offer borrowers who are 62 and older the option of a reverse mortgage, which allows those who’ve built up considerable equity in their homes to take cash loans without having to make an additional monthly payment. 

The company frequently rates high in terms of customer service and support, and those interested in obtaining a loan from Fairway can complete the entire process online or through its highly rated app, Fairway Now. Borrowers are also able to use alternative forms of credit when qualifying if their credit score doesn’t meet the minimum requirements (typically 620 for a conventional loan) or if they have a sparse credit history. This could include providing proof of regular payments through your rental history, medical bills, utilities, or insurance.

3. Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Until 2021 it was known as Quicken Loans. The company is currently the largest home loan provider in the country by loan volume, offering conventional, FHA, VA, jumbo, and adjustable-rate loans, but does not offer home equity loans, USDA loans, or home equity lines of credits (HELOCs). Rocket Mortgage almost always receives high ratings for their customer service and customer satisfaction, making this a great choice for someone who values forming a personal relationship with their lender. For each loan, the borrower requirements will vary, but most loans will require a 620 credit score while other borrowers may be able to qualify with a score as low as a 580.

One way Rocket stands out from the competition is that it keeps 99% of its loans in-house as opposed to selling them to another servicer, a common practice among mortgage lenders. This allows for a more streamlined experience for the borrower since customers know what to expect throughout the entire process. 

Rocket Mortgage is an exclusively online lender with over 3,000 mortgage bankers available to help over the phone seven days a week. There are currently no physical locations. This company is best for borrowers who are comfortable conducting business online while those who would prefer to speak with someone face to face might prefer a different mortgage lender.

4. Better Mortgage

Better Mortgage is an online-only lender. Established in 2016, the company quickly became one of the top mortgage companies in the country. Better Mortgage is known for its fast closing time, averaging 32 days to close compared with the national average of 49 days. The company stands out from its competitors because it doesn’t charge commission or typical lender fees like origination, underwriting, or application. Better Mortgage is able to pass these savings along to customers in large part because it has no overhead operating brick-and-mortar locations. 

Better Mortgage offers conventional loans as well as jumbo loans, adjustable-rate, FHA, and bridge loans. At this time, the company does not offer USDA loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), or VA loans. A live customer support team is available 24/7, with phone representatives available every day until 9 p.m. This business model is ideal for someone comfortable conducting their business and banking entirely online and over the phone. Customers can get preapproved for a loan in as little as three minutes after applying online, and most borrowers will be able to sign the majority of their closing documents online.

For most loans, Better Mortgage requires a minimum credit score of 620 and a 3% down payment. With anything less than 20% down, borrowers must purchase mortgage insurance. The company serves all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

5. Veterans United Home Loans

Headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, Veterans United has been helping veterans obtain home loans for 20 years. Although it specializes in VA loans, Veterans United is also able to provide FHA, USDA, and conventional loans, though they do not offer HELOC or home equity loans. Most veterans can qualify for a loan with a minimum credit score of 620, with some exceptions. The company is also able to get many veterans into homes with a 0% down payment and no mortgage insurance. Loans can typically close within 30 to 45 days. 

For the last several years, Veterans United has serviced more VA loans than other types of mortgage lenders in the country. Most business is completed online. The company has phone representatives available 24/7, though there are only 25 physical branch locations across 18 states. This makes it harder for borrowers to speak with someone face-to-face. However, it has been found that going through the home loan process online and over the phone is often preferable among veterans. Veterans United updates its rates for each of its programs daily and you can enter financial information online to obtain a personalized quote. 

Veterans United also offers free credit counseling through their Lighthouse Program for all service members, allowing potential borrowers to correct and improve their finances, and learn how to get a mortgage loan before actually applying. Additionally, you may be able to bypass the credit minimum by qualifying with alternative forms of credit such as your rental history or regular payment of utility bills. 

6. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) is another large mortgage lender that specializes in providing loans to current service members, reservists, veterans, and their families. NFCU started in Vienna, Virginia in 1933 so they have a long track record of providing exceptional customer service with 350 branches across the country as well as 10 overseas branches. 

NFCU is a full-service financial institution, providing checking and savings accounts, lines of credit, auto loans, student loans, and personal loans. It also provides title and real estate services, HELOC, and home equity loans, so borrowers can accomplish the entire home-buying process through one servicer. NFCU allows borrowers to qualify with alternative forms of credit if they have little to no traditional credit history.

The company posts interest rates for both VA loans and conventional loans on their website daily and offers up to two rate locks (called their Freedom Lock program), assuring customers that they are getting the best rate possible. NFCU also offers options to reduce closing costs and lender fees such as waiving the origination fee in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate. The company doesn’t charge any processing or underwriting fees, but most borrowers pay the federally mandated VA funding fee.

7. Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans was founded in 1985 in Detroit, Michigan. It has since grown to become the largest mortgage lender in the country. It was one of the first in the nation to bring residential mortgages online with the launching of RockLoans.com in 1999, making it easier for consumers everywhere to purchase a home. In 2021, the company changed its name from Quicken Loans to Rocket Mortgage. 

8. New American Funding

Based in Tustin, California, New American Funding offers FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo, reverse, and conventional loans. The company has 165 branches in 32 states. It serves as an online mortgage lender to all U.S. states except Hawaii and New York. 

Most conventional loans serviced by the company require a credit score of 640 and a minimum down payment of 3%. The company offers unique loan programs that other lenders do not. Their I CAN loan allows borrowers to choose their own terms, from 8-30 years. The Buydown Loan Program allows people to lower their interest rate for one to three years by paying an extra fee at closing. New American Funding also allows borrowers without a high credit score to offer other proofs of creditworthiness to get pre-approved. New American is ideal for non-traditional borrowers who may want different terms or have different goals with their mortgage. 

9. Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the biggest financial institutions in the world with over 4,000 branches in the U.S. including 2,900 specific lending centers. Headquarters are located in Charlotte, North Carolina. BofA offers VA, FHA, conventional, jumbo, and HELOC loans. Typically a 640 credit score is required for a conventional loan and 680 for jumbo with a down payment of 3% to 5%. The company also offers a comprehensive online presence so you view rates, apply, sign documents, and become pre-approved without visiting a branch. 

If you already have a banking relationship with Bank of America, you may be eligible for certain discounts, such as $300 to $600 off your origination fee. Unlike multiple lenders on this list, Bank of America does not allow alternative forms of credit data, so it’s likely better for a traditional borrower who has good to excellent credit. This company is also good for borrowers who prefer to do their business in person as there are multiple branches. Closing costs and down payment assistance programs are available to qualified borrowers. 

How To Choose the Best Mortgage Lender

Searching for the best mortgage lender can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. Whether you are in the market for a conventional loan, government-backed loan, or a refinance loan for an existing mortgage, there are several types of home loans available. 

The first step toward obtaining a home loan is to ensure your finances are in order. Most lenders require a credit score of 620 to obtain a loan, but you won’t be able to secure the lowest mortgage rate without a score of over 700. Consumers can check their credit score for free through the AnnualCreditReport.com website administered by the federal government. Lenders will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), though this will vary widely depending on the type of loan you’re getting and how much your down payment will be. Typically lenders want a DTI or 35% to 50%, which means that your monthly payment obligations make up no more than 35% to 50% of your gross monthly income. 

The best way to understand your loan options is to reach out to different lenders and compare their services or talk to a mortgage broker about which loan option is best for you. Some first-time homebuyers may be eligible for an FHA loan which allows for lower down payments and closing costs, and some borrowers may even qualify with a 580 credit score. Or, current and former service members can take advantage of a VA loan that offers 0% down payments, no mortgage insurance, and lower minimums for credit score. 

After you’ve researched your choices, you should apply and get pre-approved for loans with two or three lenders. You can obtain a loan estimate from each company and you’ll be able to compare mortgage rates, servicing fees, closing costs, terms, and estimated monthly payments. The difference of even half a percentage point on your interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. The only caveat is that you don’t want to apply for too many loans or it can negatively affect your credit score.  

Choose a lender that you feel comfortable working with and one who is responsive to your needs and questions. Some people may feel more comfortable with an online lender, while others prefer sitting down with an actual person to discuss personal goals and options. Once you choose the best mortgage lender, you’ll be one big step closer to achieving your dream of homeownership.