BEST OF

8 Best USDA Mortgage Lenders in 2021

If you live in an eligible area and are interested in a USDA loan, we'll help you choose an approved lender for USDA financing.

NerdWalletMar 15, 2021
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If you’re planning to buy a home in a rural area or even a suburb, a USDA loan may be an option for you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers these zero-down-payment loans to home buyers who qualify. The property must be in an eligible area of the country, and borrowers must meet certain income requirements.

The USDA issues some loans itself and guarantees USDA loans offered through approved lenders, such as those listed below. NerdWallet has reviewed some of the best USDA mortgage lenders to help you decide which is the right lender for you.

Summary of Best USDA Mortgage Lenders in 2021

New American Funding
Learn more

at New American Funding

New American Funding: NMLS#6606

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding

Min. Credit Score

640

National / Regional

National
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.

  • 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.

Read Full Review
Guaranteed Rate
Learn more

at Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

5.0

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
Fairway Independent Mortgage
Learn more

at Fairway Independent Mortgage

Fairway Independent Mortgage: NMLS#2289

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Fairway Independent Mortgage

Min. Credit Score

620

National / Regional

National
Learn more

at Fairway Independent Mortgage


Why we like it

Good for: borrowers who want access to a wide variety of mortgages and the convenience of a comprehensive mobile application process.

Pros

  • Offers a robust suite of loan products, including a variety of renovation loans.

  • Has a digital application that can be completed in 10 minutes.

  • Works with some state housing finance agencies to offer mortgages with down payment and closing cost assistance.

Cons

  • Mortgage rates aren't posted online.

Read Full Review

Carrington: NMLS#2600

3.0

NerdWallet rating 
Carrington

Min. Credit Score

550

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers or credit-challenged borrowers interested in government loan products.

Pros

  • Offers multiple low-down-payment loan programs.

  • May consider alternative credit data, like bank statements and rent payments.

Cons

  • To get sample rates, you'll have to speak with a loan officer.

  • Doesn't offer home equity loans or HELOC.

Read Full Review

SunTrust (Truist): NMLS#2915

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SunTrust (Truist)

Min. Credit Score

640

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, entrepreneurs and other professionals.

  • 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

Alterra: NMLS#133739

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Alterra

Min. Credit Score

N/A

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Good for: first-time home buyers and those with nontraditional incomes.

Pros

  • Offers an ITIN qualification path for undocumented borrowers.

  • Has a digital application process.

  • Offers several mortgage options for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

  • Borrowers can qualify with income from self-employment and other nontraditional sources.

Cons

  • No mortgage rates published online.

  • No home equity loans or lines of credit.

  • Generally has higher rates and fees than other lenders.

  • Branch offices not available in all states.

Read Full Review

Wells Fargo: NMLS#399801

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Wells Fargo

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Why we like it

Wells Fargo has a world-class selection of mortgage products and offers competitive, easy-to-shop rates.

Pros

  • Provides numerous online conveniences, including loan application and process updates.

  • Current rates clearly posted for various loan products.

  • Offers a wide variety of loan types and products.

Cons

  • New applications for home equity lines of credit suspended during COVID-19 crisis.

  • Government actions and scandals have damaged consumer trust in recent years.

Read Full Review

PNC: NMLS#446303

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
PNC

Min. Credit Score

640

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

  • Can't complete a full mortgage application online.

  • Doesn't offer renovation mortgages.

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

Read Full Review

What's the difference between a USDA guaranteed loan and a USDA direct loan?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers two main types of USDA mortgages — guaranteed loans and direct loans.

USDA guaranteed loans are mortgages that are insured by the USDA, meaning if you were to default on the loan, the agency would repay your lender. This helps lenders make low- or no-down-payment loans to borrowers who may have lower credit scores or limited income.

You'll work with a USDA-approved lender to get a USDA guaranteed loan. In addition to the lenders listed here, you can also find a list of all approved lenders organized by state on the USDA website.

USDA direct loans come straight from the USDA rather than a mortgage lender. These home loans are for borrowers who are unable to qualify for a USDA guaranteed loan and whose income is below 80% of the median household income in their area.

To find out if you are eligible for a USDA direct loan, contact your state's USDA Rural Development Office.

Basic requirements for USDA guaranteed loans

There are several qualifications both you and the property you're hoping to buy will need to meet in order to be eligible for a USDA guaranteed home loan.

USDA mortgages are meant for lower-income borrowers, so your household income must be below 115% of the area's median household income. The income threshold is adjusted depending on how many people are in your household. The USDA lets you look up whether your income qualifies on its website.

Since the USDA's home loan programs are focused on revitalizing rural America, the property you're buying must be in a designated area. You can use the address lookup tool on the USDA's website to see whether the home you're interested in will qualify.

» MORE: Learn more about USDA loan requirements

More from NerdWallet

Last updated on March 15, 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 USDA Mortgage Lenders in 2021

Frequently asked questions