Getting a home loan from AmeriSave Mortgage will most likely begin with a phone call. About 80% of AmeriSave’s business is conducted via a call center, according to Barbara Johnson, the company’s chief operating officer.
Based in Atlanta, AmeriSave was started with a “technology mindset” in 2002, Johnson says. How does that technology compare in the “Push button, get mortgage” world we now live in?
Here’s what we found.
AT A GLANCE
- Serves 49 states and D.C. (not available in New York).
- Minimum credit score of 600 for FHA loans, 620 for VA and conventional loans.
- Fees shown with mortgage rates on the home page are above the national average.
AmeriSave home loan products
AmeriSave offers purchase and refinance loans, as well as mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture. It does not offer any second mortgage products, such as home equity loans or home equity lines of credit. The lender also doesn’t make construction loans or offer mortgages for manufactured housing.
Average loan amounts run “slightly north of $250,000,” Johnson says. And most AmeriSave customers have done the home loan thing before — about 80% of its business is mortgage refinancing.
Clicking on “Today’s Customer Surveys” shows page after page of what look to be five-star reviews. Certainly, not every loan experience can be that positive.
“We post on our website the positive reviews,” Johnson says. So, it’s not every one of today’s customer reviews; still, the number of favorable daily reviews seems impressive.
AmeriSave fees and mortgage rates
“Our business model is to be very competitively priced. We are also very transparent [about pricing] on our website,” Johnson says. That’s true. On the day we checked AmeriSave’s rates, a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage was showing a competitive interest rate; however, the lender fee on the loan totaled more than 3.5 points. A point is 1% of the loan amount.
The more discount points you pay, the lower your interest rate. AmeriSave’s quoted 3+ points is a hefty fee. The typical points on a 30-year loan in 2016 have been 0.5-0.6%, according to Freddie Mac.
Of course, this is not to say that AmeriSave will charge 3 points on every loan, just that the sample rates on their home page are reflecting a generous “buy-down” of interest rates, based on the points charged.
But Johnson says AmeriSave is indeed competitive. “For direct-to-the-consumer [loans], we do not charge any fees like an origination fee or application fee or anything like that. What comes to us is really based upon rate and discount points or rate and credit [score],” she tells NerdWallet. If a customer locks in a rate with AmeriSave and then finds a better rate elsewhere, the company will either match that rate or give the customer $1,000, Johnson says.
The AmeriSave mortgage process
For a self-professed “technology company,” AmeriSave has a throwback website, complete with the timeworn stock photo of a customer service rep wearing a headset as the contact icon in the upper right corner. Under the hood, the website may have improved, but according to the Internet Archive, it looks pretty much like it did over 10 years ago.
Some information on the site is outdated, too, referencing a “Good Faith Estimate” on its “Mortgage Education” page. That form hasn’t been used as a part of the loan process since new regulations went into effect in 2015.
Only about 20% of AmeriSave customers start the loan process online, Johnson says.
AmeriSave Mortgage offers e-sign and an online portal for document upload — and like so many lenders today, AmeriSave is working to upgrade its technology to offer a better and more complete online process. The goal is to include online validation of assets and employment and whatever else can be done to minimize the manual process borrowers go through to gather and provide documentation. The improvements are an ongoing project, Johnson says.
What AmeriSave does best
- Offers rewards of $250-$4,500 on home purchases or sales completed through a network of affiliated real estate agents.
- Loan closings can be held in your home or at a local office of your choice.
Where AmeriSave falls short
- Doesn’t offer home equity loans or HELOCs.
- The website is functional but looks dated and contains some out-of-date information.
- AmeriSave was fined in 2014 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a bait-and-switch mortgage lending scheme.
On Aug. 12, 2014, the CFPB ordered AmeriSave to pay $14.8 million in consumer refunds and $6 million in fines for deceptive advertising practices and illegal fees.
“AmeriSave lured consumers in with deceptive advertising, trapped them with costly upfront fees, and then illegally overcharged them for services from an undisclosed affiliate,” Richard Cordray, CFPB director, said in a news release at the time. “By the time consumers could have discovered the advertised low rates were too good to be true, they had already committed to pay hundreds of dollars to AmeriSave.”
“We are following that consent order,” Johnson says. “We are actually audited on that, and those audits have gone well. We take compliance very seriously.”
A smallish nonbank mortgage lender, AmeriSave is looking for ways to distinguish itself in a competitive space. As a declared technology play going against a leader like Rocket Mortgage, it has quite a way to go.