BEST OF

11 Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2021

These mortgage lenders cater to first-time home buyers with low down payments, grant programs and educational materials.

NerdWalletNov 12, 2021

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For first-time home buyers, finding the right mortgage can be a big challenge. You want to work with a lender that can give you the best rate, the right term and the lowest closing costs, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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

The coronavirus pandemic introduced some new challenges to getting a mortgage. Many lenders facing high loan demand and staffing issues increased their fees, adjusted minimum required credit scores or temporarily suspended certain loan products. While some products and business practices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, you might still find delays and limited options. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

Summary of Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2021

Quicken Loans
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at Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans: NMLS#3030

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Quicken Loans

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
Learn more

at Quicken Loans


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who appreciate convenience online and on the go for a fully digital home loan experience with consistently acclaimed customer service.

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.

  • Streamlines the online process with document and asset retrieval capabilities, including the ability to edit your preapproval letter.

Cons

  • Getting a customized interest rate requires a credit check, which can affect your credit score.

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

  • Lender fees are on the high side and the fees aren't offset by particularly low mortgage rates, according to the latest data.

Read Full Review
NBKC
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at NBKC

NBKC: NMLS#409631

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
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at NBKC


Why we like it

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

Pros

  • Offers low rates compared with other lenders, according to the latest data.

  • 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.

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NASB
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at NASB

NASB: NMLS#400039

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
NASB

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
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at NASB


Why we like it

NASB couples competitive mortgage rates and reasonable fees with a good assortment of loan options.

Pros

  • Devotes much of its business to serving military families with VA loans.

  • Considers nontraditional income sources, in some cases.

  • Offers competitive rates and origination fees.

Cons

  • Does not offer home improvement mortgages.

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

Read Full Review
Ally Bank
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at Ally Bank

Ally Bank: NMLS#181005

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Ally Bank

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
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at Ally Bank


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
New American Funding
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at New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
Learn more

at New American Funding


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who need to be evaluated on the basis of nontraditional credit and those interested in various down payment assistance programs.

Pros

  • Uses manual underwriting to evaluate creditworthiness, in some cases.

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

Cons

  • Mortgage rates offered to borrowers are higher than the government-reported median of all lenders.

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Chase
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at Chase

Chase: NMLS#399798

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Chase

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
Learn more

at Chase


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who want a name-brand bank with offices in more than half the states that charges lower rates and fees than many other lenders.

Pros

  • Allows electronic submission and tracking of loan documents.

  • Carries a wide variety of mortgage types and products.

  • Generally offers competitive rates, according to the latest data.

Cons

  • Doesn't offer home improvement loans, such as FHA 203(k) and HomeStyle.

  • You have to speak with a home loan adviser to complete the application.

  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOC) are currently unavailable.

Read Full Review

Alliant: NMLS#197185

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Alliant

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers who want to avoid mortgage insurance and prefer a digital application process.

Pros

  • Low- or no-down-payment options with no mortgage insurance.

  • Mortgages are available for non-warrantable condominiums.

Cons

  • Does not offer government-backed mortgages, like FHA and VA loans.

  • Does not offer renovation mortgages.

Read Full Review

Bank of America: NMLS#399802

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Bank of America

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

5%

National / Regional

National

National / Regional

National

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers looking for low-down-payment options and existing customers who may get a discount on fees.

Pros

  • Offers down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

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

  • Offers home equity line of credit, or HELOC.

Cons

  • Doesn't offer renovation loans that roll costs into a mortgage.

Read Full Review

Navy Federal: NMLS#399807

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Navy Federal

National / Regional

National

Min. Down Payment

0%

Why we like it

Good for: military members and their families looking for low-down-payment mortgages.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of affordable mortgage products designed for military members.

  • Has an online application for preapproval.

  • Offers low rates compared with most lenders, according to the latest data.

Cons

  • Website does not provide customized mortgage rates based on credit score or other factors before you apply.

  • Credit union membership is limited to veterans and current military members, their families, and certain federal employees, retirees and contractors.

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SunTrust (Truist): NMLS#2915

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
SunTrust (Truist)

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers, doctors and other borrowers interested in low-down-payment mortgage options.

Pros

  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including special programs for doctors.

  • Offers a complete suite of online mortgage application tools and loan tracking.

  • Sample rates and fees are easy to find on the website.

Cons

  • Customized rates aren't available online without starting an application.

  • Branches are limited mostly to the Southeast.

Read Full Review

Flagstar: NMLS#417490

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Flagstar

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who want a wide range of choices — not only among mortgage products, but also in the channel they prefer, whether a branch, online or on the phone.

Pros

  • Offers a wide range of loan types and products, including FHA, VA and USDA.

  • Has a full suite of online conveniences.

  • Does well with rate transparency, and monthly payment estimates add mortgage insurance, when applicable.

Cons

  • Home equity lending is geographically limited.

Read Full Review

How do I choose a mortgage lender?

Once you have an idea of the type of mortgage you're looking for, finding the right lender may be easier than you think — especially when you compare at least three lenders and let them compete for your business. It's likely one lender's mortgage package will rise above the others’ — with a lower rate and lower fees.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on November 12, 2021

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 Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2021

Frequently asked questions