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10 Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2020

NerdWalletJanuary 2, 2020

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

The California Housing Finance Agency, or CalHFA, provides mortgage and assistance programs to help Californians buy their first home.

To take advantage of these loan programs, you’ll have to work with a participating loan officer. But how do you know which lender is right for you?

NerdWallet compared several of CalHFA’s participating lenders, identifying the best ones for a variety of borrower needs so you can start your mortgage search with confidence.

Summary of Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2020

LenderNerdWallet Rating Minimum Credit Score Minimum Down PaymentLearn More

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

Best for online experience

620

3%

Read review

Guild Mortgage: NMLS#3274

Best for online experience

620

3%

Read review

HomeBridge: NMLS#6521

Best for low credit

620

3%

Read review

loanDepot: NMLS#174457

at loanDepot

Best for low credit

620

3.5%

at loanDepot

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

at New American

Best for veterans

700

3%

at New American

Caliber: NMLS#15622

Best for veterans

620

3%

Read review

PrimeLending: NMLS#13649

Best for fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review

Wintrust Mortgage: NMLS#449042

Best for fixer-uppers

620

3%

Read review

Alterra: NMLS#133739

Best for nonbank

620

3%

Read review

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

at Fairway

Best for nonbank

620

3%

at Fairway

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

Logo

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who are looking to apply for a mortgage and manage the process through online tools, whether buying or refinancing. Guaranteed Rate offers FHA, VA and USDA loans for borrowers who are well-qualified.

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

Guild Mortgage: NMLS#3274

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers with a relatively high credit score who may need down payment assistance or help from a state housing agency.

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

HomeBridge: NMLS#6521

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who prefer an online experience. Homebridge offers a variety of home loan options and an online application.

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
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at loanDepot

loanDepot: NMLS#174457

Logo

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3.5%

at loanDepot


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers looking to get a mortgage with help from a loan officer. Digital back-office operations are said to add efficiency to the loan process.

Pros

  • Offers digital income, asset and employment verification.

  • Has over 150 affiliated loan stores nationwide for customers who prefer face-to-face service.

  • One of the nation’s most active lenders of FHA and VA loans.

Cons

  • Published mortgage rates include up to three points of prepaid interest and fees.

  • Does not offer home equity loans or lines of credit.

Read Full Review
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at New American

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

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Min. Credit Score

700

Min. Down Payment

3%

National / Regional

National

at New American


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who need to be evaluated on the basis of nontraditional credit. New American Funding offers FHA and VA loans, works with down payment assistance programs, and helps borrowers whose credit histories don't fit the mold of traditional banking.

Pros

  • Uses manual underwriting to evaluate creditworthiness.

  • Offers full online mortgage application, rate quotes, document upload and loan tracking.

  • Home equity lending sets it apart from most non-bank lenders.

Cons

  • Services not available in all 50 states.

Read Full Review

Caliber: NMLS#15622

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers, veterans and those who may have credit challenges to overcome.

Pros

  • Offers extensive educational resources for military borrowers.

  • Provides digital tools for a streamlined application process.

  • Participates in some state down payment assistance and first-time homebuyer programs.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates displayed online.

  • Doesn't offer home equity loans or lines of credit.

Read Full Review

PrimeLending: NMLS#13649

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers looking for closing cost assistance, as well as those seeking to renovate or to build a new home.

Pros

  • Full online application includes document uploads and automated loan updates.

  • Offers a "float-down" interest rate lock.

  • Offers a proprietary closing-cost assistance program.

Cons

  • No online mortgage rates — you have to contact the lender for info.

  • Doesn't offer home equity products.

Read Full Review

Wintrust Mortgage: NMLS#449042

Logo

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for first-time home buyers and those seeking specialty mortgages such as construction or condo loans.

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

Alterra: NMLS#133739

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for Latino and other minority borrowers, millennials, foreign nationals, as well as those seeking a full array of purchase and refinance loans, including jumbo mortgages.

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
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at Fairway

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Fairway


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who want lots of options and a quick turn time. Fairway Independent Mortgage offers a full selection of home loans along with a comprehensive mobile app for a fast and easy application process.

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

Last updated on January 2, 2020

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 2020