Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers

Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
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For first-time home buyers, finding the right mortgage is crucial. It can also be a big challenge.

You want to work with a lender who can give you the best rate, the right term and the lowest closing costs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Finding that lender — the one who will help you close your loan as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can move into your new home — is essential.

NerdWallet has picked some of the best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in a variety of categories so you can quickly decide which one is right for you.

Best overall mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers

Lenders who specialize in first-time homebuying offer FHA loans or other programs with low down payment requirements, as well as loans to borrowers with lower credit scores.

WF-Logo-270-55
  • Is one of the largest FHA lenders in the nation.
  • The bank also offers its yourFirst Mortgage program, with as little as 3% down.
  • It provides down payment assistance, such as LIFT grants, in selected neighborhoods.
  • Wells Fargo Mortgage review
Quicken Loans
  • Is the largest FHA lender in the nation.
  • Has a 1% down payment program for qualified buyers.
  • Rocket Mortgage, Quicken’s new offering, allows you to complete the mortgage process entirely online if you want.
  • Quicken Loans review

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers with a low down payment

The down payment is often the biggest roadblock for borrowers looking to buy their first home. These lenders offer low down payment mortgages and assistance programs.

suntrust_270x55
  • Offers full line of mortgage loan products, including FHA, VA, USDA loans.
  • Has efficient website that offers educational materials and streamlined loan process.
  • Supports low down payment programs for Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans.
  • SunTrust Mortgage review
citimortgage
  • Offers full line of purchase mortgages, including FHA and VA loans.
  • Has low down payment options that don’t require private mortgage insurance.
  • Available in all 50 states.
  • CitiMortgage review

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers with no credit history

First-time home buyers, no matter what their income, may not have had time to build a solid credit history. These lenders can help borrowers without extensive, traditional credit histories.

sofi_270x55
  • Offers a wide range of mortgage products, including jumbo loans.
  • No application, origination or other lender fees.
  • Online application and loan tracking service.
  • SoFi Mortgage review
navy_federal_credit_union_logo-55x270
  • Provides full array of mortgage loans and services.
  • Uses underwriting model that allows greater loan flexibility.
  • Requires some affiliation with armed forces or DoD, or membership of a relative.
  • Navy Federal Mortgage review

Best mortgage lender for first-time home buyers with low credit scores

A low credit score can sink a borrower’s chance to buy a home. These lenders have programs that can help.

naf-logo-270x55
  • Uses manual underwriting to evaluate borrowers, which allows more flexibility to approve loans.
  • Offers a broad range of loans, including FHA, fixed-rate and adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Offers multiple down payment assistance and grant programs.
  • New American Funding review
carrington
  • Specializes in loans to borrowers with lower credit scores, minimum score 500 in some cases.
  • Offers down payment assistance programs through housing authorities in some states.
  • Requires online education course for borrowers.
  • Carrington Mortgage review

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers who prefer face-to-face service

If you want to talk to a mortgage loan officer in person, you’ll find these lenders have offices across the nation and likely in your neighborhood.

BOA-logo
  • Provides an online tool that keeps you up to date on the status of your mortgage application.
  • Mortgage specialists to assist in the loan process.
  • Offers an online home value estimator.
  • Bank of America Mortgage review
WF-Logo-270-55
  • Perennially one of the highest-volume mortgage lenders in the country.
  • You can upload loan documents securely online and track your loan’s process.
  • Offers jumbo purchase loans for higher-value homes.
  • Wells Fargo Mortgage review

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers: summary

Lender
Best
for
Highlights
Key loan types
Minimum credit score*
Get started
Wells Fargo
wf-app
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; many loan types
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA, USDA
620
Quicken Loans
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; top FHA lender
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
620
SunTrust
SunTrust Private Student Loan Review
Low down payments for first-time homebuyers
Low down payment programs; efficient website
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA, USDA
620
CitiMortgage
citimortgage
Low down payments for first-time homebuyers
Low down payment options that don’t require private mortgage insurance
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
Varies by loan type
SoFi
sofi-logo
No credit history as first-time homebuyer
Flexible underwriting model; no lender-imposed fees
Fixed and ARM
No minimum
Navy Federal
navy_federal_credit_union_logo-55x270
No credit history as first-time homebuyer
Flexible underwriting model, for armed forces or DoD
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
No minimum
New American Funding
naf-logo-270x55
Low credit score as first-time homebuyer
Multiple down payment assistance and grant programs
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA, USDA
620 (conventional) / 580 (VA/FHA)
Carrington Mortgage
carrington
Low credit score as first-time homebuyer
Low credit score minimums; down payment assistance programs
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA, USDA
550, with 500 in some cases
Bank of America
Bank-Of-America-Logo
Face-to-face service for first-time homebuyers
Many ways to apply, with specialists to assist in process
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
620 or 600 for FHA

* Minimum credit score on top loans; other loan types or factors may selectively influence  minimum credit score standards

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