Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers

Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
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NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help you understand your options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info 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. We’ve picked at least two lenders for five 'best of' categories to help you find the lender that best meets your needs.

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.

» MORE: Save faster and confidently for a down payment

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.

Quicken Loans 4.5-stars
  • 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
citimortgage 4.0-stars
  • 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 an alternative credit history

First-time home buyers, no matter what their income, may not have had time to build an extensive, traditional credit history. These lenders can help.

sofi_270x55 4.0-stars
  • 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 4.0-stars
  • 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 lenders 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 (1) 4.5-stars
  • 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; minimum score 580.
  • Offers multiple down payment assistance and grant programs.
  • New American Funding review
carrington 4.0-stars
  • Specializes in loans to borrowers with lower credit scores, minimum score 550 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 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 mortgage 4.0-stars
  • 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
flagstar_logo-55x270 4.5-stars
  • Offers a full menu of fixed and adjustable rate home loans and refinancing
  • Finds state bond programs for first-time home buyers and limited-income households
  • Embraces FHA-backed home loans
  • Flagstar Bank 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 4.0-stars
  • 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
Chase-logo 3.5-stars
  • Offers customers a multitude of refinance options
  • Provides fixed, adjustable, jumbo, FHA, VA and Home Affordable Refinance Program loans
  • You can apply to refinance online, in a branch or by phone
  • Chase Mortgage review

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers: summary

More from NerdWallet
Mortgage calculator
First-time homebuyer tips
Tips for finding the best mortgage lender

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers: review

Lender
Best
for
Highlights
Key loan types
Minimum credit score*
Get started
CitiMortgage
citimortgage
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; many loan types
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
Varies by loan type
Quicken Loans
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; top FHA lender
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
620
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
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
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

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.