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Best California Mortgage Lenders of 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.

If you’re looking for the best mortgage lenders in California, we’ve done the homework. NerdWallet has vetted the state’s leading lenders, then identified the best ones for particular loan needs.

Whether you’re shopping for a condo on the coast, a classic suburban ranch or a low-rate refinance, these lenders can get you there.

Best California mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers

Navigating California real estate markets can be a challenge. These lenders know how to help first-time home buyers.

  • Does nearly two-thirds of its business with first-time home buyers
  • Doesn’t charge application, origination or other lender fees
  • Considers more than credit scores, including monthly cash flow
  • SoFi mortgage review
  • Caters to millennial first-time home buyers
  • Offers a fully online application process
  • Makes non-commission loan consultants available for as-needed assistance
  • Better Mortgage review

Best California mortgage lenders for refinancing

This won’t be your first time at the closing table? These California lenders are refinance-savvy.

  • Offers a variety of refinance loans and home equity loans
  • Is rolling out an $80 million technology upgrade
  • Gives discounts and reimbursements for certain closing costs to repeat refinance customers
  • LoanDepot mortgage review
  • Offers online document submission and loan application tracking
  • Provides plenty of refinance loan options
  • Has potential fee discounts for existing Chase customers
  • Chase mortgage review

Best California online mortgage lenders

Short on time and working a crazy schedule? These lenders let you skip the meetings and take care of the loan details online. 

Rocket Mortgage
  • The first national lender to launch mobile mortgage lending
  • Online employment and asset verification
  • Loan decisions are often made in minutes
  • Rocket Mortgage review
  • Offers an online application process with secure document uploads and electronic signing
  • Claims a 95% customer satisfaction rating
  • Has more than 150 branches across the country for local service
  • Guaranteed Rate review

Best California mortgage lenders for borrowers with bad credit

Everybody faces a financial challenge. These lenders can help you get back on the road to homeownership.

  • Will use manual underwriting to evaluate borrowers, allowing flexibility for those with low credit scores.
  • Offers loans for manufactured housing
  • Helps borrowers find state-sponsored down payment assistance and grant programs
  • New American Funding review
  • With Department of Veterans Affairs loans, credit score standards are less stringent
  • Considers “after the bills are paid” income, rather than just a debt-to-income ratio
  • You’ll need military service to qualify
  • Veterans United review

Best California mortgage lenders for face-to-face service

If you prefer a personal touch, these national lenders have branches throughout California.

  • Offers full line of purchase mortgages, including FHA and VA loans.
  • Has low down payment options that don’t require private mortgage insurance.
  • Locations throughout California
  • CitiMortgage review
  • Offers a down payment of just 3%, with no mortgage insurance, through the Affordable Loan Solution program
  • Has a physician loan program to assist docs who are a bit short on a down payment but have strong earning potential
  • Reduces fees for some existing bank customers
  • Bank of America mortgage review

Best California mortgage lenders: summary

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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.