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4 Tips for Finding the Best Online Mortgage Lenders

Online mortgage lenders make borrowing simpler and faster. These four tips will help you get what you need when borrowing a home loan online.

Jul 2, 2019

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Technology is making it faster and simpler to get a mortgage. You still may have to dig up some physical documents, but you can’t beat the convenience of applying for a home loan, say, on your phone during a lunch break.

How to look for an online mortgage lender Since not every lender offers a fully digital mortgage and your experience can differ from one lender to the next, it’s a good idea to find a company that offers an online experience that meets your expectations.

These four tips will guide you to the right fit. Read more about each tip below the list of lenders.

  1. Know the mortgage you need. The loan type that’s right for you will depend on your credit score and other financial qualifications.

  2. Evaluate customer service options. Make sure you can get the help you need, even after the loan closes.

  3. Decide if an online application is right for you. Complex financial situations might not be suited to a hands-off loan process.

  4. Apply for preapproval to test digital tools. Getting preapproved lets you peek behind the curtain of a lender’s online lending process.

NerdWallet has researched some of the top online mortgage lenders to help you quickly find the right one for your needs.

4 Tips for Finding the Best Online Mortgage Lenders

Quicken Loans
Learn more

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
Guaranteed Rate
Learn more

at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Guaranteed Rate

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
Learn more

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
Rocket Mortgage, LLC
Learn more

at Rocket Mortgage, LLC

Rocket Mortgage, LLC: NMLS#3030

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Rocket Mortgage, LLC

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%
Learn more

at Rocket Mortgage, LLC


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
Bank of America
Learn more

at Bank of America

Bank of America: NMLS#399802

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Bank of America

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

5%

National / Regional

National
Learn more

at Bank of America


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

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

PNC: NMLS#446303

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
PNC

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: borrowers with low-to-moderate incomes or limited down payments. PNC offers several low-down-payment loans, including one with no mortgage insurance.

Pros

  • Posts current mortgage rates on its website.

  • Has an online application for mortgage preapproval and a digital tool to track application progress.

  • Offers several affordable loan options, including FHA, VA, USDA and the PNC Community Loan.

Cons

  • Doesn't offer renovation mortgages.

  • In-person service is not available in every state.

Read Full Review

4 tips for finding the best online mortgage lenders

1. Look for a lender with loans to match your qualifications

Finding the best mortgages and online lender experience for you depends on understanding your financial situation. It’s easy to find generic mortgage rates online. But to learn the rates you may qualify for, you’ll need to know your credit score. Knowing what you can afford to spend on a home and how much you can borrow round out the financial picture.

With these details in hand, you’ll be able to see if you meet the qualifications for different mortgage products and determine which lenders offer the loans you need.

Options offered by online lenders can vary greatly. For instance, that company with the cool app may not offer the 30-year fixed-rate Federal Housing Administration mortgage with a low down payment that you need. Lenders also may not offer jumbo loans, which, in most parts of the country, are mortgages over $647,200.

As you shop, verify online or ask each lender right away if it has the types of mortgages that might work best for you.

2. Evaluate the lender's customer service options

Even if they work and bank online, many customers still like being able to phone a lender or go into a branch office with their mortgage questions. See if you’ll have these options:

  • Web chat. Chat support is handy while completing an online application. Check for it on a lender’s site and test it out.

  • Customer service. Is a customer support number readily available? Call it to see if you can easily locate someone who’s knowledgeable about mortgages. Verify customer service hours on weekends and evenings if you anticipate you may need help at these times.

  • Face-to-face support. Might you want in-person help? Check whether there are branches near you and whether they have in-house mortgage experts.

3. Decide if an online application is right for your situation

Some of the platforms that process online applications are made to handle standard, uncomplicated loan requests — perfect for borrowers who, for example, want a conventional mortgage, have good credit and whose income is reported on W-2 forms.

Not everyone fits that mold. That means, for instance, if you are self-employed, are buying a home that’s unique and hard to appraise, or have a history of credit problems or a low credit score, your application could stand the best chance with a lender that supports borrowers with more complicated situations. Online lenders you are considering should have loan officers who can help you decide if their loan products and online application process are a good fit.

4. Test-drive online lender platforms by getting preapproved

When you’ve found two or three online lenders you like, try out their online systems by applying online for a mortgage preapproval with each. It involves giving a lender permission to view your credit report and financial history so you can receive written offers of loan amounts and interest rates.

Getting preapproved requires producing much of the same information you’ll need when applying for a mortgage:

  • Borrowers’ Social Security numbers

  • Income and tax records

  • Down payment amount and sources

  • Salary and employer information

  • Bank and investment account information

  • A list of outstanding debts

Getting and comparing several preapproval offers saves money by giving you a chance to compare annual percentage rates and other loan terms. It’s best to complete all of your applications within 14 days so that they show up on your credit report as a single inquiry.

Making these applications also gives you a chance to size up a lender’s digital platform. The right digital platform and mobile app let you manage the whole process online, from the beginning (pre-qualification, preapproval or mortgage application) to the end (managing your brand-new mortgage).

Depending on a lender’s technological prowess, features to look for include the ability to order an appraisal, upload and download documents, sign paperwork electronically, schedule the loan closing and sign the closing papers — all online. Explore and compare lender websites to see which tools and approaches you prefer. Also, find the lender mobile apps that are compatible with your device and read user reviews.

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on July 2, 2019

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 4 Tips for Finding the Best Online Mortgage Lenders

  • Quicken Loans: Best for online mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers
  • Guaranteed Rate: Best for online mortgage lenders overall
  • Rocket Mortgage, LLC: Best for online mortgage lenders overall
  • Bank of America: Best for online lenders with a traditional mortgage background
  • SunTrust (Truist): Best for online mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers
  • PNC: Best for online lenders with a traditional mortgage background