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Best Mortgage Lenders for First-Time Home Buyers of 2018

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 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. We’ve picked at least two lenders in several "best of" categories to help you find a lender that 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


Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time homebuyers with questions. Navigating the homebuying process can be a lot easier using Quicken's online application technology. And mortgage advisors are available with a tap.

 

National / regional

Regional

Min. down payment

10%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time buyers, especially those considering a jumbo mortgage. SoFi considers factors beyond FICO sctores to determine an applicant’s overall financial health, such as career prospects, cash flow (income) and history of responsible bill payments.

 

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Offers a number of low down payment options for qualifying borrowers. Ideal for first-time buyers whose credit history doesn't fit into the traditional mold, and who need to have their credit evaluated using nontraditional criteria.

 

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time buyers with lower credit scores. About 95% of the mortgages Carrington makes are FHA, VA or USDA, which each have a low down payment offering. Carrington focuses on helping borrowers with lower credit scores and down payments qualify for a mortgage.

 

National/ regional

National

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers looking for personal support. CitiMortgage can connect first-time home buyers with government bond and mortgage credit certificate (MCC) programs.

 

Learn more

at Bank of America

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Bank of America provides its own 3% down payment mortgage for first-time home buyers with no mandatory mortgage insurance. It’s a good choice for borrowers who prefer working with a traditional lender.

 

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time home buyers, especially those who want to talk to a loan officer face-to-face or over the phone. Chase has branch locations in 22 states.

 

National/regional

National

Min. down payment

0%

Why we like it

Ideal for servicemembers, veterans, DoD civilians and military family members. Navy Federal Credit Union offers several low down payment loans and will consider alternative credit scoring to help first-time home buyers obtain a mortgage.

 

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time home buyers who need any of a wide range of loan products, including low-down payment FHA, VA and USDA mortgages.

 

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-timers looking for some personal assistance. Flagstar embraces FHA loans, which can help first-time homebuyers with low down payments and relaxed lending standards.

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
Quicken Loans
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; top FHA lender
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA, USDA
620
SoFi
sofi-logo
No credit history as first-time homebuyer
Flexible underwriting model; no lender-imposed fees
Fixed and ARM
N/A
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
CitiMortgage
citimortgage
Overall for first-time homebuyers
Low down payments; many loan types
Fixed and ARM;
FHA, VA
Varies by loan type
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
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.