When you buy a home, you’re in it for the long haul. You’ll have a mortgage payment for years, so it makes sense to find the best mortgage lender you can. To do that, shop for offers from at least three lenders.
Compare mortgage rates and other loan terms such as fees, time to close, the availability of online application and loan tracking, and customer service offerings. Taking the time to make an informed decision can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
To help you choose a mortgage lender, NerdWallet has picked some of the best out there in a variety of categories to help you get the home loan with the best mortgage rate, term and fees.
Best online lenders
More borrowers like getting a mortgage electronically, yet talking with an experienced loan officer still matters. Look for online lenders offering both.
- Apply for a mortgage on a mobile app or online.
- Reduces waiting for answers with rapid decisions on applications.
- Easy import of financial data saves borrowers time.
- Rocket Mortgage review
- Refinances with zero origination fees or broker commissions.
- 620 minimum required credit score to qualify.
- An automated service may suggest ways to improve your mortgage rate.
- Reali Loans review
Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers
Lenders who work with first-time home buyers are experienced at helping borrowers qualify for FHA loans and other mortgages with low down payment requirements.
- Participates in first-time home buyer programs offered through some state housing agencies.
- Low minimum credit score for government loans.
- Down payments as low as 3% on conventional loans.
- BNC National Bank Mortgage review
- Lends to borrowers with credit scores as low as 500 in some cases.
- Considers alternative credit data, like bank statements and rent payments.
- Free rate locks.
- Vylla review
Best mortgage lenders for VA loans
When you are shopping for a VA mortgage, it is important to work with a lender that has deep knowledge of every aspect of the program.
- Serves veterans and active-duty military personnel with full range of government loans, including USDA, VA and FHA.
- Low complaint volume with CFPB.
- Largest lender of VA purchase mortgages.
- Veterans United Home Loans review
- Provides full array of mortgage loans and services.
- Uses underwriting model that allows greater loan flexibility.
- Requires some affiliation with armed forces or Defense Department, or membership of a relative.
- Navy Federal Mortgage review
Best mortgage lenders for purchase loans
These lenders offer a wide variety of home loans, the ability to serve customers from all walks of life, competitive loan terms and robust customer service for home buyers.
- Is the largest FHA lender in the nation.
- Offers conventional loans with down payments as low as 3% for qualified buyers.
- Rocket Mortgage, Quicken’s new offering, allows you to complete the application process online.
- Quicken Loans review
- Is a full-service lender that offers underwriting flexibility, low down payment programs and strong online tools.
- Charges a flat origination fee. Considers income from multiple jobs.
- Has multiple assistance and grant programs.
- New American Funding review
Best mortgage lenders for FHA loans
With so many lenders offering FHA financing, you need to shop around and compare the best options.
- Manual underwriting allows lender more flexibility in approving loans.
- Focus on minority and nontraditional mortgage borrowers.
- Minimum credit score: 620 for conventional loans and 580 for FHA and VA.
- New American Funding review
- Numerous purchase mortgage options, including VA and FHA.
- Offers low down payment products with no private mortgage insurance.
- Available in all U.S. states.
- CitiMortgage review
Best mortgage lenders for refinancing
Because this is not your first mortgage, you want a lender that processes a refinance efficiently and helps you easily find the best rates and loan options.
- Many loans require a 620 credit score; typical borrower has FICO score just over 720.
- Offers live chat and Saturday customer service hours.
- A dedicated loan officer assists you through the loan application process.
- Flagstar Bank review
- Fixed-rate, adjustable-rate and jumbo loans and access to FHA, VA and USDA products.
- Options for borrowers with low down payments and nontraditional credit histories.
- Customer assistance via chat, online, phone and in-person.
- SunTrust review
Best mortgage lenders of 2019: summary
- Best for online lending: Rocket Mortgage
- Best for online lending: Reali Loans
- Best for refinancing: Flagstar Bank
- Best for refinancing: SunTrust
- Best for first-time borrowers: BNC National Bank
- Best for first-time borrowers: Vylla
- Best for VA mortgages: Veterans United Home Loans
- Best for VA mortgages: Navy Federal
- Best for purchase loans: Quicken Loans
- Best for purchase loans: New American Funding
- Best for FHA loans: New American Funding
- Best for FHA loans: CitiMortgage
Best mortgage lenders of 2019: review
Minimum credit score*
Low down payments; largest FHA lender
|New American Funding|
Purchase loans, FHA loans
Low down payments; underwriting flexibility
620 (conventional); 580 (FHA)
Simple and fast online application
No origination fees or broker commissions
Full online application with loan-officer support
Low down payments; customer assistance
First-time home buyers
Caters to borrowers with lower credit scores
|BNC National Bank|
First-time home buyers
Low minimum credit score for government loans
520 (FHA); 580 (VA)
|Veterans United Home Loans|
Largest VA lender
620 (conventional and VA)
|Navy Federal Credit Union|
Lower minimum loan amounts than many other lenders
Low down payments without PMI
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* Minimum credit score on top loans; other loan types or factors may selectively influence minimum credit score standardsNerdWallet’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.