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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

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at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Guaranteed Rate


Why we like it

Good for borrowers seeking conventional or government-backed loans, and a totally online experience.

Pros

  • Offers the ability to securely upload and digitally sign loan documents.

  • Displays detailed sample rates for many of its loan products.

Cons

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

Read Full Review

Guild Mortgage: NMLS#3274

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers and others who may need the flexibility of a low-down-payment loan program.

Pros

  • Offers multiple online conveniences, including a full mortgage application, e-signatures and digital loan process tracking.

  • Offers a wide variety of loan products, including home improvement and manufactured home loans.

Cons

  • Does not offer home equity loan products.

  • Average interest rates and fees are higher than other lenders.

Read Full Review

HomeBridge: NMLS#6521

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for borrowers who want a loan officer's help, in person or on the phone, when deciding among the wide range of available mortgage options — including loans to buy and renovate.

Pros

  • Offers a full array of mortgage products, including government and renovation loans.

  • Has loans for most purposes, including purchase, refinance and jumbo mortgages.

  • Online portal keeps borrowers up-to-date on the loan application's progress.

Cons

  • Doesn't post interest rates on its site.

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

Read Full Review
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at loanDepot

loanDepot: NMLS#174457

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

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.

  • Offers multiple renovation loan options.

  • Has over 200 affiliated loan stores nationwide for customers who prefer face-to-face service.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates aren't available online; you'll need to contact a loan officer.

  • 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

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers and those seeking specialty mortgages like construction loans.

Pros

  • Online application and progress tracking are available.

  • Offers specialty loans, such as construction, renovation and reverse mortgages.

  • Participates in some first-time home buyer assistance programs.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates are available only by contacting a loan officer.

  • Physical locations aren't 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

Good for: first-time home buyers and those with nontraditional incomes.

Pros

  • Offers an ITIN qualification path for undocumented borrowers.

  • Has a digital application process.

  • Offers several mortgage options for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

  • Borrowers can qualify with income from self-employment and other nontraditional sources.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates published online.

  • No home equity loans or lines of credit.

  • Generally has higher rates and fees than other lenders.

  • Branch offices not available in all states.

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

Good for borrowers who want access to a wide variety of mortgages and the convenience of a comprehensive mobile application process.

Pros

  • Offers a robust suite of loan products, including a variety of renovation loans.

  • Has a digital application that can be completed in 10 minutes.

  • Works with some state housing finance agencies to offer mortgages with down payment and closing cost assistance.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates aren't posted online.

Read Full Review

Last updated on January 2, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services each lender offers to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The five key areas we evaluated include the variety of loan types and products offered, online conveniences, online mortgage rate information, and the rate spread and origination fee lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. 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