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9 Best Conventional Mortgage Lenders of 2020

NerdWalletOctober 21, 2020

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See NerdWallet's top picks for the best conventional mortgage lenders, many of which offer 97% mortgage financing.

For home buyers with strong credit, solid income and at least a 3% down payment, a conventional mortgage may be the perfect fit. But which lender should you choose? See FAQs on basic conventional loan requirements and learn how to find a good conventional mortgage lender.

NerdWallet has picked some of the best conventional mortgage lenders in a variety of categories so you can quickly decide which one is right for you.

Summary of Best Conventional Mortgage Lenders of 2020

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at Ally

Ally Bank: NMLS#181005

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Ally


Why we like it

Good for home buyers and mortgage refinancers, including jumbo borrowers, who want a digital experience with attentive customer service.

Pros

  • Excels in online convenience, with document upload, loan tracking and e-signatures.

  • Offers good rate transparency; rate shoppers can see customized interest rates.

Cons

  • Limited variety of loan products: FHA, VA and USDA loans are unavailable.

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

Read Full Review
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at Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Rocket Mortgage


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who appreciate smartphone and online convenience for a fully digital home loan experience powered by Quicken Loans.

Pros

  • Caters to self-service users who want to apply for a home loan online and talk to a human only as necessary.

  • Estimates the loan amount you’ll qualify for within minutes.

  • Offers document and asset retrieval capabilities.

Cons

  • If you’re a “look me in the eye” type of customer, you’re out of luck.

  • Getting a customized interest rate requires a credit check, which can lower your credit score by a few points.

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.

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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
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at Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at Quicken Loans


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers looking for just about all of the services your neighborhood lender does — with online convenience.

Pros

  • Quicken Loans couples a fully online application with available mortgage advisors for those who want a human touch.

  • Instantly verifies employment and income for many working Americans.

  • Offers custom fixed-rate loan terms that are between eight and 30 years.

  • Provides a wide variety of loan types, including renovation loans and all government-backed mortgage products.

Cons

  • Quicken Loans doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOCs.

  • Quicken's lender fees can be stout and they don't offset those fees with particularly low mortgage rates.

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at Reali Loans

Reali Loans: NMLS#991397

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Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

Regional

at Reali Loans


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers looking for an online mortgage application experience.

Pros

  • Offers a completely online application process.

  • Provides customized rate quotes online.

Cons

  • No FHA, VA or USDA refinance products.

  • Available only in a dozen states.

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at NBKC Bank

NBKC: NMLS#409631

Great for first-time home buyers | digital convenience | customer service

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

at NBKC Bank


Why we like it

Good for borrowers with solid credit who want to pay low fees and get an online experience with phone support. VA loans are an emphasis.

Pros

  • Offers low rates and fees when compared with other lenders.

  • Extends full online capabilities, from application to loan tracking.

  • Displays customized rates, with fee estimates, without requiring contact information.

Cons

  • Equity lines and construction loans are available only in the Kansas City metro area.

  • Doesn’t offer renovation loans.

Read Full Review

Citibank: NMLS#412915

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National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Good for: Borrowers wanting to compare mortgage rates online for a variety of loan options.

Pros

  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including low-down-payment mortgages and jumbo mortgages.

  • Provides customizable mortgage rates on its website.

  • Offers low rates and fees compared with other lenders.

Cons

  • Charges a mortgage application fee.

  • Requires help from a mortgage loan officer to complete the loan application online.

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Bank of America: NMLS#399802

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Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%


Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who prefer a traditional bank. Bank of America offers a wide array of mortgages and online account management tools. It also has first-time home buyer loans with low down payments and no mandatory mortgage insurance.

Pros

  • Allows borrowers to apply entirely online.

  • Offers down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

  • May give existing customers a discount on mortgage lender origination fees.

Cons

  • Does not offer renovation loans.

Read Full Review

Conventional mortgage FAQs

What is a conventional mortgage?

Conventional mortgages typically conform to loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and aren’t guaranteed or insured by the federal government.

How much down payment is needed for a conventional mortgage?

Some lenders offer conventional mortgages with a down payment of as little as 3%. You’ll typically need to put down at least 20% to avoid private mortgage insurance, however.

Am I eligible for a conventional mortgage?

Qualifying for a conventional loan is generally harder than qualifying for FHA and other government home loans. In addition to down payment funds, you’ll need a solid income and credit history. Credit score requirements for conventional mortgages vary by lender, but 620 is typically the minimum. You’ll need a score of around 740 to get the best rates.

What’s the difference between conventional and FHA mortgages?

Unlike conventional mortgages, FHA loans are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA mortgages have more relaxed income and credit score requirements than conventional mortgages, but they typically require a 3.5% down payment and mandatory mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.

What should I look for in a conventional mortgage lender?

The best conventional mortgage lenders offer the right combination of competitive rates, attractive loan terms and low closing costs. Finding a lender that excels at customer service and your preferred style of communication is also essential.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on October 21, 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 Conventional Mortgage Lenders of 2020