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11 Best Conventional Mortgage Lenders of 2023

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

NerdWallet
By
Last updated on February 3, 2023
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Mary Makarushka
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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NerdWallet's mortgage content, including articles, reviews and recommendations, is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in home lending. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, USA Today, The Washington Post, MarketWatch, Newsweek and many other national, regional and local publications. They have been cited in publications including The Wall Street Journal, and appeared on NerdWallet's "Smart Money" podcast as well as local TV and radio.

Best Conventional Mortgage Lenders

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Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Min. down payment
Learn more
Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

Top 3 most visited 🏆
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at Guaranteed Rate
at Guaranteed Rate
Home loans overall
Best for FHA lending

620

3%

4.5
/5
Home loans overall
Best for overall lending experience

620

3%

Better

Better: NMLS#330511

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on NerdWallet
4.5
/5
Home loans overall
Best for refinancing

620

3%

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on NerdWallet
PNC

PNC: NMLS#446303

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on NerdWallet
5.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for first-time home buyers

620

3%

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on NerdWallet
San Diego County Credit Union

San Diego County Credit Union: NMLS#580585

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on NerdWallet
4.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for rate transparency

620

N/A

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on NerdWallet
New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for nontraditional credit histories

580

3%

Guaranteed Rate
Learn more
at Guaranteed Rate
at Guaranteed Rate
Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

5.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers seeking a broad menu of loans, including jumbo and interest-only options, renovation loans and government-backed mortgages, as well as home equity lines of credit.
Pros
  • Offers a one-day mortgage approval process.
  • Offers a generous selection of loans, including government-backed, interest-only, ITIN, jumbo and renovation loans.
  • Advertises a HELOC that can be funded in as few as five business days.
Cons
  • Origination fees are higher than average, according to the latest federal data.
  • HELOC has a relatively short draw period, which may not provide flexibility for someone who wants the option of accessing home equity over a longer period.
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NBKC

NBKC: NMLS#409631

4.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers who want low rates and fees and an online experience with phone support. VA loans are an emphasis.
Pros
  • Offers government-backed loans and some harder-to-find products, such as construction loans and specialty mortgages for pilots.
  • Offers low rates and fees compared with other lenders, according to the latest federal data.
  • Displays customized rates, with fee estimates, without requiring contact information.
Cons
  • HELOCs and construction-to-permanent loans are available only in the Kansas City metro area.
Better
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Better

Better: NMLS#330511

4.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers who prefer an online experience, prize low rates and are primarily interested in conventional loans.
Pros
  • Offers a one-day mortgage that lets eligible borrowers apply, lock in a rate and get a loan commitment within 24 hours.
  • Average interest rates are on the low end compared to other lenders, according to the latest federal data.
  • Offers a HELOC that can be used for a primary, second or investment home.
Cons
  • Doesn't offer harder-to-find loans, such as construction loans, renovation loans, or USDA mortgages.
  • Finding descriptions of all of the loan offerings on the website requires some digging, and the lender does not have a mobile app.
  • Average lender fees are on the high end compared with other lenders, according to the latest federal data.
PNC
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PNC

PNC: NMLS#446303

5.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers with low to moderate incomes or limited down payments, as well as home buyers seeking mortgages in higher-priced regions of the nation.
Pros
  • Offers several low-down-payment loan options, including FHA, VA, USDA and the PNC Community Loan.
  • Receives high marks for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Zillow.
  • Mortgage rates are lower than the industry average, according to the latest federal data.
  • Jumbo loans available with 5% down payment.
Cons
  • Doesn't offer renovation mortgages or home equity loans.
  • In-person service is not available in every state.
  • You’ll have to create an account or supply personal data to get answers by phone.
San Diego County Credit Union
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San Diego County Credit Union

San Diego County Credit Union: NMLS#580585

4.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. down payment

N/A

National / regional

Regional

Why We Like ItGood for: Californians who are looking for a conventional or jumbo mortgage and want to shop rates online.
Pros
  • Offers purchase, refinance and jumbo mortgages, plus loans for second homes and home equity products.
  • Provides customized rate and fee quotes without requiring contact information.
  • Interest rates are notably low, according to the latest federal data.
Cons
  • No FHA, VA or USDA mortgages.
  • Loans are available in California only.
  • Mobile app has low ratings.
New American Funding
Learn more
at New American Funding
at New American Funding
New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

580

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: first-time home buyers, military members and self-employed or underrepresented borrowers.
Pros
  • Offers a wide variety of purchase and refinance mortgages with an emphasis on helping underserved communities.
  • Its home equity line of credit can be used for an owner-occupied or second home.
  • Has a program to enable buyers to make cash offers.
  • Receives high marks for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Zillow.
Cons
  • Mortgage origination fees tend to be on the high end.
  • Personalized mortgage rates are not available on the website without providing contact information.
Carrington
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Carrington

Carrington: NMLS#2600

3.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

5%

Why We Like ItGood for: credit-challenged borrowers interested in government loan products or borrowers with nontraditional credit histories.
Pros
  • Offers multiple low-down-payment loans.
  • Accepts history of bankruptcy, foreclosure and late payments with flexible loan program.
  • Considers borrowers with low credit scores and high debt-to-income ratios.
Cons
  • Fined $5.25 million for misleading customers about pandemic-era payment relief.
  • Doesn't offer home equity lines of credit.
  • Lender fees are on the high side, according to the latest federal data.
Flagstar
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Flagstar

Flagstar: NMLS#417490

5.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: Borrowers who may benefit from Flagstar’s unique loan options, such as ITIN loans, loans for manufactured homes or physician loans.
Pros
  • Multiple loans for those who are renovating or building a home, including loans with interest-only payments during construction.
  • Offers home equity loans and lines of credit.
  • Offers down payment assistance and loans for underserved borrowers, including ITIN loans and loans with flexible qualifications in certain communities.
  • Interest rates are on the low side relative to other lenders, according to the latest federal data.
  • Borrowers can enter their information (including their desired loan amount, down payment and zip code) into the lender’s Mortgage Quote Comparison tool and receive a customized rate quote.
Cons
  • Home equity loans are not available in all locations served by Flagstar.
  • In 2022, the lender was fined for violating laws regarding properties in flood zones.
Alliant
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Alliant

Alliant: NMLS#197185

4.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

N/A

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: eligible borrowers who are open to joining a credit union and want a mortgage from an online lender.
Pros
  • Borrowers can apply entirely online. The lender is also very transparent about what borrowers can expect from the process, including nontraditional customers.
  • Borrowers do not need to become members of the credit union until they’ve reached the closing process, meaning that interested home buyers can apply and get rate offers without committing to membership.
  • Offers customized rate quotes, including a detailed breakdown of estimated closing costs.
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer renovation loans.
  • Joining the credit union adds a step to the application process.
Golden 1 Credit Union
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Golden 1 Credit Union

Golden 1 Credit Union: NMLS#669333

4.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

N/A

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: California residents who want to work with a credit union that offers a variety of fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, including jumbo loans and home equity lines of credit.
Pros
  • Has a preferred real estate agent program that can save a borrower money on closing costs.
  • Offers some flexibility on guidelines for loan qualification.
  • Customized sample rates are available online without contacting the lender.
Cons
  • Does not offer VA or USDA loans.
  • Products mostly available only to California residents.
  • Doesn’t offer home equity loans, only HELOCs.
Navy Federal
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Navy Federal

Navy Federal: NMLS#399807

4.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
National / regional

National

Min. down payment

0%

Why We Like ItGood for: Military borrowers who’ve exhausted their VA loan benefits and qualified government employees who want to compare mortgage options without down payments.
Pros
  • Offers unique loan options aimed at military borrowers, such as a proprietary loan called Military Choice that works as an alternative to VA loans.
  • 24/7 customer service supports borrowers stationed overseas.
  • Offers home equity loans and lines of credit.
Cons
  • Borrowers must join the credit union before applying for a mortgage.
  • The lender does not offer renovation or construction loans.
  • When we tried their customer service line, we sometimes waited longer than 10 minutes before being connected with a representative who could answer our questions.

Qualifying for 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.

Qualifying for a conventional loan is generally harder than qualifying for FHA and other government home loans. In addition to a solid income and money for a down payment, you'll likely need a strong credit history.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on February 3, 2023

Methodology

The star ratings on this page reflect each lender's overall star ratings. Read more about how we determine those ratings.

The lenders on this page are chosen using this methodology:

NerdWallet reviewed more than 50 mortgage lenders, including the majority of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders by annual loan volume (measured among lenders with at least 1% market share), lenders with significant online search volume and those that specialize in serving various audiences across the country.

For inclusion on this roundup, lenders must offer conventional mortgage and refinance loans. The highest scoring lenders according to our overall methodology are featured here.

NerdWallet solicits information from reviewed lenders on a recurring basis throughout the year. All lender-provided information is verified through lender websites and interviews. We also utilized 2021 HMDA data for origination volume, origination fee, average interest rate and share-of-product data.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Conventional Mortgage Lenders of 2023

  • Guaranteed Rate: Best for FHA lending
  • NBKC: Best for overall lending experience
  • Better: Best for refinancing
  • PNC: Best for first-time home buyers
  • San Diego County Credit Union: Best for rate transparency
  • New American Funding: Best for nontraditional credit histories
  • Carrington: Best for borrowers with weaker credit histories
  • Flagstar: Best for first-time home buyers
  • Alliant: Best for variety of loan types
  • Golden 1 Credit Union: Best for rate transparency
  • Navy Federal: Best for credit union lending

Frequently asked questions

  • 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.

  • The credit score needed to buy a house with a conventional loan varies by lender, but 620 is typically the minimum. You’ll need a score of around 740 to get the best rates.

  • 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. Compare FHA vs. conventional home loans to see which one fits your needs.

  • 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.

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