Best of

Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2019

NerdWalletJuly 2, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

CalHFA loan programs help you purchase a home in California with down payment and closing cost assistance. See our picks for CalHFA participating lenders.

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Works with most borrowers as long as they have good credit scores and incomes.
  • Provides a user-friendly digital platform that’s thorough in covering all types of borrowing scenarios.
  • Has a 95% customer satisfaction rate, according to company data.

Cons

  • Charges some fees, such as a $1,290 lender fee that includes a $150 application fee.
  • Offers many products, which might confuse or overwhelm borrowers.
  • Several click-throughs required for personalized rates.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Works with loan programs offered by state and local housing agencies.
  • Specializes in mortgages for first-time home buyers.
  • Almost half of its loans are low-down-payment government mortgages.
  • Considers alternative credit, such as history of payments on rent and utilities.

Cons

  • With a concentration of offices in the West and South, Guild has little presence in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Jumbo borrowers may find that banks are more competitive when it comes to large loan amounts.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • A wide variety of loan types.
  • Low credit score requirements for government-backed loans.
  • A wealth of educational material on its website.
  • Licensed in all 50 states.

Cons

  • Mortgage application can't be tracked online.
  • Charges origination fees on some loans.
  • Limited branch locations.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Has low credit score options and will consider alternative credit data for FHA borrowers.
  • Offers a real-time loan application tracker.
  • Has a mobile app that tracks property details after closing.
  • Lends in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer an online application.
  • Requires a call or email for personalized rates.
Read full review
New American Funding

at New American

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Uses manual underwriting to evaluate creditworthiness.
  • Offers full online mortgage application, rate quotes, document upload and loan tracking.

Cons

  • Services not available in all 50 states.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Participates in some down payment assistance programs.
  • Offers educational resources for military borrowers.
  • Provides digital tools for a streamlined application process.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates displayed online.
  • Must work with a loan officer for pre-qualification and preapproval.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Low rate of consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Request a pre-qualification through PrimeLending’s secure system from a phone, tablet or computer.
  • Niche mortgage products include energy-efficient mortgages, FHA 203(k) renovation and remodeling loans, manufactured home mortgages and home construction loans.
  • Free “float down” interest rate option lets borrowers choose the lower rate if interest rates fall, even with a rate lock.
  • NeighborhoodEdge closing cost assistance program for low- to moderate-income borrowers allows qualified borrowers $2,000 in closing cost credits (restrictions on income and location).
  • “Alternative doc” program lets borrowers qualify for mortgage based on bank statements rather than tax returns.

Cons

  • No live chat online.
  • No online mortgage rate quotes.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Offers specialty loans, such as construction, renovation and reverse mortgages.
  • Online application and progress tracking available.
  • Condo lending specialists on staff.
  • Participates in five first-time home buyer assistance programs.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates are available only by contacting a loan officer.
  • Physical locations not available in all states.
Read full review
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • Offers an ITIN qualification path for undocumented immigrant borrowers.
  • Has a digital application process.
  • Offers several mortgage options for low- to moderate-income borrowers.
  • Has a full Spanish-language version of its website and bilingual loan officers.
  • Borrowers can qualify with income from self-employment and other nontraditional sources.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates published online.
  • Doesn't lend in all states.
  • No home equity loans or lines of credit.
Read full review
National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

3%

Pros

  • A robust suite of loan products.
  • Licensed in all 50 states.
  • Close in as little as 10 days using the Fairway app.

Cons

  • Limited branch locations.
  • Mortgage rates not posted on website.
Read full review

Summary of Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2019

LenderBest For

Minimum Credit Score

Minimum Down PaymentLearn More
Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate

online experience

620

3%

Read review
Guild Mortgage

Guild Mortgage

online experience

620

3%

Read review
HomeBridge

HomeBridge

low credit

620

3%

Read review
Mr. Cooper

Mr. Cooper

low credit

620

3%

Read review
New American Funding

New American Funding

at New American

veterans

620

3%

at New American

Caliber

Caliber

veterans

620

3%

Read review
PrimeLending

PrimeLending

fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review
Wintrust Mortgage

Wintrust Mortgage

fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review
Alterra

Alterra

nonbank

620

3%

Read review
Fairway

Fairway

nonbank

N/A

3%

Read review
LenderBest For

Minimum Credit Score

Minimum Down PaymentLearn More
Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate

online experience

620

3%

Read review
Guild Mortgage

Guild Mortgage

online experience

620

3%

Read review
HomeBridge

HomeBridge

low credit

620

3%

Read review
Mr. Cooper

Mr. Cooper

low credit

620

3%

Read review
New American Funding

New American Funding

at New American

veterans

620

3%

at New American

Caliber

Caliber

veterans

620

3%

Read review
PrimeLending

PrimeLending

fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review
Wintrust Mortgage

Wintrust Mortgage

fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review
Alterra

Alterra

nonbank

620

3%

Read review
Fairway

Fairway

nonbank

N/A

3%

Read review

Last updated on July 2, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet's selection of mortgage lenders for inclusion here was made based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The six key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, online capabilities, online mortgage rate information, customer service and the number of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a percentage of loans issued. We also awarded lenders up to one bonus star for a unique program or borrower focus that set them apart from other lenders. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2019