Lenda has a single goal in mind: to simplify mortgage lending. The online lender is replacing the burdensome loan-document stack with code and technology that delivers a loan approval in less than an hour instead of three days.
Lenda operates in five states with plans to expand into more this year and is focused on improving the mortgage customer experience by making transparency its cornerstone.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect if you work with Lenda.
AT A GLANCE
- Offers 30-, 20-, 15- and 10-year fixed loans.
- No origination fees or broker commissions.
- Minimum 620 credit score.
A new take on the mortgage process
Lenda offers a digital experience that aims to be transparent and save customers money. When you apply for a mortgage or a refinance with Lenda, you can see how your loan is progressing at each stage in the process. Lenda doesn’t charge a loan origination fee and you won’t pay a broker commission, which takes some of the financial weight off your shoulders at closing, says Jason van den Brand, Lenda’s CEO and co-founder.
To make money, Lenda adds its costs into the interest rate, van den Brand says. Even so, its model, which keeps costs low by limiting staff and cutting paperwork compared with a traditional refinance or purchase transaction, allows Lenda to compete with bigger lenders on interest rates, he says.
Lenda hopes to appeal to millennials, who, as digital natives, are accustomed to doing business online. The traditional lending model may strike these borrowers as too paper-heavy, lengthy and cumbersome, van den Brand says, adding that it’s also unnecessarily expensive.
“There’s a huge opportunity in this market. Our demographic doesn’t want to do things the way they’ve always been done in the mortgage industry. They want it all online,” he says.
How it works
The San Francisco-based lender’s digital platform boils down mortgage borrowing to four factors: credit history, documentation, underwriting and regulatory compliance.
Lenda’s automated platform allows you to complete your loan application, get a free credit check, upload and sign your documents electronically, and track the progress of your loan through the user dashboard. Lenda’s process eliminates the need to pay someone a commission to perform an analysis manually, van den Brand says.
A step-by-step guide to using Lenda
- Home page — On Lenda.com, click on “See My Rates.” You’ll answer some basic information about the home you want to purchase, or your current loan if you’re refinancing, and your mortgage goals.
- Rate quote page — You’ll fill out a short form that differs depending on whether you’re purchasing or refinancing. Information you’ll need for the refinance form includes: your reason for refinancing, how much you owe on your current mortgage, your home’s estimated value, your ZIP code and a credit score range. For purchase borrowers, the form asks for an estimated purchase price and down payment, your zip code and credit score range. You’ll be prompted to provide your email address and a password to create a free account before you can see your rates.
- Rate comparison page — On this page, you’ll see rate comparisons based on the information you provided (without having to supply a Social Security number or personal details such as your name or employment information). Lenda provides upfront information about any fees you might incur for the loans quoted. You can also adjust (in real time) your rate and term, whether you want to finance closing costs, or if you want to use an escrow/impound account.
- Lenda suggestion engine — The suggestion engine will look at your inputs and determine if there are things you can do to lower your rate. This feature is unique to Lenda among mortgage lenders, says Chris Hiestand, the company’s director of marketing and growth.
- Additional details — The more information you provide about your current financial situation, the more accurate your loan estimate becomes, Lenda says.
- Loan application — You’ll fill out this streamlined application by answering questions that are relevant only to the approval process. For example, Lenda won’t ask questions about race, religion or ethnicity that could be used to discriminate against potential borrowers.
- Credit check — You’ll get a free credit check to see where you stand.
- Disclosure documents — The loan estimate and disclosure documents are generated online and can be reviewed and signed electronically.
- Upload documents — You’ll see a checklist of documents you need to gather to complete your loan application. Once you find those documents — for example, tax forms, bank statements and pay stubs — you’ll securely upload them to Lenda in one spot. (There’s also a drag-and-drop feature, which makes it easier if you already have them online.) Once your documents are uploaded, the application is complete; Lenda’s team reviews it for accuracy and will contact you if further information is needed.
Borrowers have round-the-clock access to their loan application and status updates via Lenda’s Client Dashboard, and the company provides a loan advisor you can contact with questions or for help.
Who is it for?
Lenda is ideal for tech-savvy homeowners who have higher incomes and good-to-excellent credit. The average age of a Lenda customer in 2015 was 41, and it’s trending downward.
Where Lenda shines
- Speed: Lenda closes loans in an average of 36 days.
- No upfront origination or broker fees.
- 24/7 access to your loan and its progress.
- Transparent platform that automates (and shortens) the refinance process.
Where Lenda falls short
- Currently operates in just five states (California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington).
- Doesn’t offer government products (FHA, VA or USDA).
NerdWallet’s star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded 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.