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Best Lenders for No- and Low-Down-Payment Mortgages in 2018

Nov. 16, 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.

If you’re like most home buyers, a down payment is the biggest obstacle between you and homeownership. Finding a lender with zero- or low-down-payment loans could be the difference between buying a home now or having to wait months or years.

National programs, such as those backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offer loans with no down payment to qualified buyers. Mortgages underwritten to Federal Housing Administration guidelines offer down payments as low as 3.5% — and even today’s conventional loans can go as low as 3% down.

As you can see, there are quite a few ways to get a mortgage with a low down payment or none at all, and there are obvious advantages to putting less money down. But there are disadvantages, too, such as a higher monthly payment, so it’s important to understand and compare your options before you buy a home.

» MORE: No- and low-down-payment mortgage FAQs

NerdWallet’s best lenders for zero- and low-down-payment loans

 

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at Rocket Mortgage

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for prospective first-time buyers aiming for app-level convenience. With Rocket Mortgage, you'll find out in minutes what your loan terms will be — and be able to adjust the fees and corresponding interest rate.

 

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at Quicken Loans

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for low down payment borrowers looking for an excellent online experience. Quicken Loans is known for being a leading technology company with a strong emphasis on first-time homebuyers.

 

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at Vylla

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for those with nontraditional credit histories. About 95% of the mortgages Vylla makes are FHA, VA or USDA.

 

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at Flagstar

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers who appreciate face-to-face service. With community-based loan officers in so many parts of the country, Flagstar reps are familiar with low-down-payment state bond programs for first-time home buyers and income-limited households.

 

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at Bank of America

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for first-time home buyers. Bank of America's Affordable Loan Solution mortgage requires only a 3% and no mortgage insurance premium.

 

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at NerdWallet

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for those seeking a traditional bank. PNC offers FHA mortgages with down payments as little as 3.5%. Sellers may kick in up to 6% of purchase price toward the closing costs.

 

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at SunTrust

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for home buyers who have little saved for a down payment, and thus prefer to get an FHA, VA or USDA mortgage.

 

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at NerdWallet

National / regional

National

Min. down payment

3%

Why we like it

Ideal for borrowers on a tight budget. CitiMortgage's HomeRun loan program allows for a down payment as low as 3% without private mortgage insurance.

 

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at Navy Federal

National / regional

National

Min. down payment

0%

Why we like it

Ideal for servicemembers, veterans, DoD civilians and military family members who want options. Navy Federal Credit Union offers not one but three different $0 down payment mortgage options for military and related personnel.

 

Read Review

at NerdWallet

National / regional

Regional

Min. down payment

10%

Why we like it

Ideal for jumbo-loan borrowers who want to put less money down; 10% down is a really low down payment requirement for a jumbo loan. Also, SoFi doesn't require you to pay mortgage insurance even if your down payment is less than 20%.

 

Best zero- or low-down-payment mortgage lenders: Summary

Best zero- or low-down-payment mortgage lenders: Details

Lender
Best
for
Highlights
Minimum credit score*
Learn more
Rocket Mortgage
Online experience
Simple and fast online application
620 (conventional) or 580 (FHA)
Quicken Loans
Overall for zero- and low-down-payment home buyers
Largest FHA lender; offers other low-down mortgages
620 (conventional) or 580 (FHA)
Vylla
Low credit score or nontraditional credit history
Down payment assistance programs through housing authorities in some states
550
Flagstar Mortgage

flagstar_logo-55x270
Overall for zero- and low-down-payment home buyers
Finds state bond programs for first-time buyers and limited-income households
620 (conventional) or 580 (FHA)
Bank of America
Bank-Of-America-Logo
Traditional bank
Mortgage specialists to assist in the loan process
620 (conventional) or 600 (FHA)
PNC Mortgage
pnc_black
Traditional bank
Comprehensive range of loans; easy-to-navigate website
620
SunTrust Mortgage
suntrust mortgage
First-time home buyers
Full line of mortgage loan products
620
CitiMortgage
citimortgage
First-time home buyers
Low-down options that don't require private mortgage insurance
Not disclosed
Navy Federal
navy_federal_credit_union_logo-55x270
Low credit score or nontraditional credit history
Underwriting model that allows greater loan flexibility
Not disclosed
SoFi

sofi_270x55
Online experience
Online application and loan tracking service
Not disclosed

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

More from NerdWallet

Low- and no-down-payment FAQs

It depends on the type of loan you apply for. With FHA loans there can be geographic loan limits that put a cap on the price of the home you can buy. On HomeReady and Home Possible conventional loans, there can be income limits or a requirement that you are a first-time home buyer.

Other loan programs are available to borrowers in some low-income regions. There are local and regional low-down-payment mortgage programs, with various criteria needed to qualify. Check out the first-time home buyer programs in your state.

Not always. For example, some low-down-payment loans are assisting buyers in economically disadvantaged areas, or catering to borrowers with military connections, such as with VA loans. USDA loans are looking to boost buyers in rural and suburban areas.

Some conventional loans, such as HomeReady and Home Possible, have income limits rather than first-time home buyer requirements — though the programs also have first-timer spinoffs.

To qualify for the lowest 3.5% down payment on an FHA loan, you’ll need at least a 580 credit score or better. With a score between 500 and 579, you’ll need a 10% down payment.

On conventional loans, a 620 or better is generally required.

For borrowers who have a military connection, VA loans don’t have credit score requirements — they’re based more on an applicant’s ability to repay the loan.

However, lenders often require a 620 FICO score even on VA loans and can add their own credit score and other qualifications, so it’s always a good idea to shop more than one lender.

Sometimes but not always. In today’s “3% down is the new normal,” there is often a workaround. Income over the threshold? First-time buyers are excluded from such limitations. Same goes if you’re buying in a particular targeted area, or if you’re a military veteran.

Yet, just because you can put just a little down doesn’t always mean you should. If you have a really good income, consider your down payment options along with everything else such as how long you plan to stay in the home and what’s a comfortable monthly payment.

Sure. Lenders are looking to make good loans. If you have the income and recent payment record that shows an ability and willingness to repay a loan, you can qualify — even with a checkered credit history.

But the setback that dinged your credit has to be in the past. If you’re still worrying about paying your bills paid on time, it’s best to wait on buying a house, no matter how tempting low down payments may be.

 

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.