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Best CalHFA Mortgage Lenders of 2018

Aug. 8, 2018
Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help you understand your options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and information we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent. We spent over 400 hours reviewing the top mortgage lenders before selecting the best for our readers.

The California Housing Finance Agency, or CalHFA, provides mortgage and assistance programs to help Californians buy their first home.

To take advantage of these loan programs, you’ll have to work with a participating loan officer. But how do you know which lender is right for you?

NerdWallet compared many of CalHFA’s participating lenders, identifying the best ones for a variety of borrower needs so you can start your mortgage search with confidence.

» MORE: Explore CalHFA loan programs, lenders, rates and income limits

Best CalHFA mortgage lenders for an online experience

If you’d rather apply for a mortgage from your phone or laptop, these lenders have the digital tools to make it happen.

4.5 NerdWallet rating
  • Full online application and mobile app.
  • Customized rates available without entering personal information.
  • Offers FHA and VA loans.
  • Has a history of strong customer service.
  • Guaranteed Rate review
Guild Mortgage
3.5 NerdWallet rating
  • Full online application and mobile app.
  • Offers FHA, VA and USDA loans.
  • Uses alternative credit data, such as utility bills and rental payment histories, to help you get approved.
  • Guild Mortgage review

Best CalHFA mortgage lenders for a low credit score

These lenders are willing to work with borrowers who need to overcome credit challenges.

3.5 NerdWallet rating
  • Minimum credit score is 550 for government-backed loans.
  • Offers FHA, VA and USDA mortgages, along with several renovation loans.
  • Website provides lots of educational info, including credit basics and a mortgage glossary.
  • Homebridge Financial Services review
3.0 NerdWallet rating
  • Minimum FICO score is generally 560, but can go lower.
  • Offers FHA, VA, and USDA loans.
  • Loan options for borrowers with past foreclosure or bankruptcy.
  • Pacific Union Financial review

Best CalHFA mortgage lenders for veterans

Pairing CalHFA programs with a VA loan takes special expertise. These lenders have it.

4.5 NerdWallet rating
  • Fifth-largest VA loan lender in the nation.
  • VA loan specialists on staff.
  • Offers VA cash-out refinancing and IRRRLs — interest rate reduction refinance loans.
  • LoanDepot review
4.5 NerdWallet rating
  • Minimum credit score usually 620.
  • Manual underwriting incorporates nontraditional credit data.
  • English/Spanish bilingual agents are available.
  • New American Funding review

Best CalHFA mortgage lenders for fixer-uppers

Interested in a home that needs a little TLC? A mortgage from one of these lenders can help you pay for repairs and improvements.

4.0 NerdWallet rating
  • Minimum credit score is 600 on FHA loans.
  • Offers a variety of home improvement and renovation loans, including FHA 203(k) and USDA Repair Escrow.
  • Considers some alternative credit data.
  • Offers a “float down” interest rate lock.
  • PrimeLending review
4.0 NerdWallet rating
  • Provides up to $2,000 in down payment help through an in-house Homebuyer Grant Program.
  • PreFlight program helps you prepare to apply.
  • Offers construction-to-permanent loans and FHA 203(k) home repair loans.
  • Wintrust Mortgage review

Best nonbank CalHFA mortgage lenders

Unlike traditional banks, nonbank lenders can be a great option for credit-challenged borrowers or those looking for a streamlined mortgage experience.

4.0 NerdWallet rating
  • Minimum credit score is 580 for FHA loans, 620 for conventional.
  • Offers FHA, VA and USDA loans.
  • Has experience lending to borrowers with seasonal or part-time jobs, as well as multigenerational households.
  • Live chat option on website.
  • Alterra Home Loans review
4.0 NerdWallet rating
  • Full online application and mobile app.
  • Offers FHA, USDA, VA and renovation loans.
  • In-depth FAQs and a mortgage glossary on website for first-time buyers.
  • Fairway Independent Mortgage review

Best CalHFA mortgage lenders: summary

Guaranteed Rate: Online experience

Guild Mortgage: Online experience

Homebridge Financial Services: Low credit score

Pacific Union Financial: Low credit score

LoanDepot: Veterans

New American Funding: Veterans

PrimeLending: Renovations

Wintrust Mortgage: Renovations

Alterra Home Loans: Nonbank

Fairway Independent Mortgage: Nonbank

More from NerdWallet

NerdWallet’s selection of mortgage lenders for inclusion here was made based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The six key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, online capabilities, online mortgage rate information, customer service and the number of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a percentage of loans issued. We also awarded lenders up to one bonus star for a unique program or borrower focus that set them apart from other lenders. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.