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Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2024

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

Kate Wood
By
Last updated on February 5, 2024

Some or all of the mortgage lenders featured on our site are advertising partners of NerdWallet, but this does not influence our evaluations, lender star ratings or the order in which lenders are listed on the page. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners.

  • 50+ mortgage lenders reviewed and rated by our team of experts.
  • 40+ years of combined experience covering mortgages and financial topics.
  • Objective, comprehensive star rating system assessing 120+ categories and 5,000+ data points.
  • Governed by NerdWallet's strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
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 Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2024

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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 customer satisfaction

620

3%

New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for borrowers with nontraditional credit

580

3%

4.5
/5
Home loans overall
Best for rate transparency

620

3%

PNC

PNC: NMLS#446303

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

620

3%

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on NerdWallet
Andrews Federal Credit Union

Andrews Federal Credit Union: NMLS#410421

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on NerdWallet
5.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for military borrowers

620

3%

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on NerdWallet
Flagstar

Flagstar: NMLS#417490

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on NerdWallet
5.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for overall mortgage lending

620

3%

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on NerdWallet
Network Capital

Network Capital: NMLS#11712

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on NerdWallet
4.0
/5
Home loans overall
Best for self-employed borrowers

540

3%

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on NerdWallet

Explore all of our lender picks by category

Guaranteed Rate
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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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New American Funding
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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.
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.
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.
Andrews Federal Credit Union
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Andrews Federal Credit Union

Andrews Federal Credit Union: NMLS#410421

5.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItFirst-time home buyers and military borrowers in the Mid-Atlantic looking for a lender with deep roots in their local communities.
Pros
  • Caters to first-time home buyers with incentives and education.
  • Provides extra support for military borrowers, including branches near bases in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • Offers HELOCs and home equity loans at competitive interest rates.
Cons
  • Physical branches in the U.S. are limited to Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
  • Does not offer renovation or construction home loans.
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.
Network Capital
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Network Capital

Network Capital: NMLS#11712

4.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

540

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers looking to compete with all-cash offers or hoping to close quickly, as well as self-employed home buyers.
Pros
  • A good selection of loan products, including government-backed FHA and VA mortgages.
  • Provides a “same-as-cash” loan that allows borrowers to compete with cash offers.
  • Closing possible in as few as 15 days, the lender says.
Cons
  • Doesn't lend in all states.
  • Website doesn’t provide customized mortgage rates.
  • Lender fees are on the high side, according to the latest federal data.
Truist
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Truist

Truist: NMLS#399803

4.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: first-time and low-income home buyers, early career doctors and other borrowers interested in low-down-payment mortgages, especially those in South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Pros
  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including construction loans, programs for early career doctors, a wide variety of jumbo loans and home equity lines of credit.
  • Proprietary grant program can help borrowers afford down payment and closing costs.
  • Mortgage rates are lower than industry average, according to the latest federal data.
Cons
  • Customized rates aren't available online without contacting the lender.
  • For borrowers who prefer to apply in person, branches are limited mostly to the South and East.
  • Mortgages aren’t available in all 50 states.
Guild Mortgage
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Guild Mortgage

Guild Mortgage: NMLS#3274

3.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers who value customer service, and first-time home buyers and others who may need the flexibility of a low-down-payment loan program.
Pros
  • Offers a wide variety of loan options, including home improvement loans and mortgages for manufactured homes.
  • Has branches in most states.
  • Receives high marks for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Zillow.
Cons
  • Origination fees and mortgage rates tend to be on the high side, according to the latest federal data.
  • Mortgage rates are not published online.
  • Mobile app receives mostly negative reviews from users.
Churchill
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on NerdWallet
Churchill

Churchill: NMLS#1591

3.5
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers with nontraditional credit who value a debt-free lifestyle. Churchill advocates debt-free homeownership and helps customers try to achieve that goal.
Pros
  • Experienced at underwriting loans for borrowers without credit scores.
  • Offers conventional mortgages for manufactured homes.
  • Has conveniences such as online chat and a mobile app.
Cons
  • Doesn't provide sample or customized mortgage rates on its website.
  • Mortgage rates and fees are on the high side, according to the latest federal data.
CrossCountry Mortgage
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CrossCountry Mortgage

CrossCountry Mortgage: NMLS#3029

3.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why We Like ItGood for: non-traditional borrowers, first-time home buyers and borrowers who need to be approved fast.
Pros
  • Offers a wide range of loan types, including loans for manufactured homes, jumbo loans, government loans (FHA, VA and USDA), home equity loans and HELOCs.
  • Offers programs that make borrowing more accessible, including down payment grants.
  • Offers a FastTrack Credit Approval program, which allows borrowers who have undergone the full preapproval process to close on a loan in as little as seven days once they’ve made an offer.
Cons
  • Does not post rates online.
  • Both mortgage rates and fees are higher than average.
  • Doesn’t offer customer service via live chat.
Movement Mortgage
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Movement Mortgage

Movement Mortgage: NMLS#39179

3.0
Home loans overall
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

National / regional

National

Why We Like ItGood for: borrowers seeking government-backed mortgages or loans for condos, home renovation or construction, especially if speed is an important factor.
Pros
  • Loans can be processed in as little as seven days, the lender says.
  • Offers renovation loans and home equity lines of credit.
  • Movement Boost program can help FHA borrowers with down payment and closing costs.
Cons
  • Borrowers cannot browse sample mortgage rates online.
  • Mortgage rates and fees are on the high side, according to the latest federal data.
  • Recent government regulatory action could affect consumer confidence.

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: Tips for first-time home buyers

How do I compare mortgage lenders?

After determining what kind of loan you need, think about what type of service and lending experience is important to you. Maybe you'd prefer to talk to a banker in person at an actual brick-and-mortar bank. Or perhaps minimizing contact is more your style, and you'd like to be able to do almost the entire mortgage process on an app. Depending on what you prefer, you might focus on traditional banks, nonbank lenders, credit unions — or you might decide to have a mortgage broker do the research for you.

Apply for mortgage preapproval with multiple lenders to see how much you might qualify to borrow, what kind of rate you might be offered and also get a taste of what it would be like to work with each lender. In order to see actual interest rates and fees, you'll need to go through with applying for a mortgage with more than one lender. Since that'll cost you an application fee whether or not you go through with the loan, it'll help if you can narrow the field with your preapprovals. Once you've applied for a mortgage, you'll receive a Loan Estimate within three business days. This standard form allows you to compare lenders side by side to see who is offering you the best mix of rates and fees.

How much do I need to save for a down payment?

The amount you'll need for a down payment varies depending on the type of home loan you're using. Conventional loans can offer down payments as low as 3%, though some buyers will make down payments as high as 20% in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance. FHA loans can come with down payments as low as 3.5%, depending on your credit score. VA loans and USDA loans do not require down payments.

Can I get help making a down payment?

As a first-time home buyer, you may qualify for down payment assistance and other types of first-time home buyer benefits. These programs are generally run by state housing authorities, though depending on where you live, you may find options that are city- or county-specific. Income and residency restrictions may apply, and you'll often have to take a first-time home buyer class in order to qualify for assistance.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on February 5, 2024

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 a 1% market share), lenders with significant online search volume and those that specialize in serving various audiences across the country.

All reviewed mortgage lenders that offer programs for first-time home buyers were evaluated based on (1) the portion of their business dedicated to FHA and VA lending, (2) their ability to offer conventional loans with a down payment as low as 3%, (3) their origination fees, (4) their proprietary first-time home buyer loans or assistance (e.g. grants or loans to cover down payment and closing costs), (5) mortgage rate transparency, and (6) the ease of their online application. The highest scoring lenders appear on this page.

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 2022 HMDA data for origination volume, origination fee, average interest rate and share-of-product data.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers in 2024

  • Guaranteed Rate: Best for customer satisfaction
  • New American Funding: Best for borrowers with nontraditional credit
  • NBKC: Best for rate transparency
  • PNC: Best for first-time home buyers overall
  • Andrews Federal Credit Union: Best for military borrowers
  • Flagstar: Best for overall mortgage lending
  • Network Capital: Best for self-employed borrowers
  • Truist: Best for digital convenience
  • Guild Mortgage: Best for customer satisfaction
  • Churchill: Best for variety of loan types
  • CrossCountry Mortgage: Best for first-time home buyer programs
  • Movement Mortgage: Best for government-backed loans

Frequently asked questions

  • The best mortgage for you as a first-time home buyer is the loan for which you're most qualified. And that depends on a number of factors, including your credit score. With a credit score of at least 580, you may find that a loan backed by the FHA is your best option. With a credit score around 620 or higher, a conventional loan might be a better option, and could require an even lower down payment of 3%.

  • Many grants, special loans and down payment assistance programs are available to borrowers looking to buy their first home. These first-time home buyer programs are offered by agencies in the state where you live.

  • The loan program that's easiest to qualify for is an FHA-backed loan. That's because FHA loan requirements allow a lower credit score and less stringent debt-to-income guidelines than conventional loans. However, if you’re a first-time buyer with strong credit, conventional loans may allow even lower minimum down payments than an FHA loan.

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