Best Mortgage Lender for First-Time Home Buyers

Methodology:

All reviewed mortgage lenders are evaluated against the criteria below. The lender with the highest raw score is our Best Mortgage Lender for First-Time Home Buyers.

  • 1. Must offer FHA and VA loans.
  • 2. Must offer 3%-down conventional loans.
  • 3. Charges low origination fees. (Definition is anything “$1,835” or below.)
  • 4. Targets first-time home buyers through proprietary loans or assistance (e.g., grants or loans to cover their down payment and closing costs).
  • 5. Demonstrates rate transparency for consumers.
  • 6. Demonstrates an ease of online application for consumers.

Tiebreaker:

  • 1. Lender with the lowest origination fee.

How we picked the lenders to evaluate:

NerdWallet reviewed nearly 60 mortgage lenders, including the majority of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders by annual loan volume (lenders had to have at least a 1% market share), lenders with significant online search volume and those that specialize in serving various audiences across the country. We rated them on criteria including rate transparency, loan types offered, ease of application and more.

Some of the providers are NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.

How we chose the winner:

The winner is the mortgage lender that had the highest raw score when evaluated against the following portions of NerdWallet's first-time home buyer mortgage lender star-rating rubric: offers FHA and VA loans (16.6%), offers 3%-down conventional mortgages (16.6%), charges low origination fees (16.6%), targets first-time home buyers through proprietary loans or assistance (16.6%), demonstrates rate transparency for consumers (16.6%), and demonstrates an ease of online application for consumers. In the event of a tie, the winner(s) must charge the lowest fees.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet solicits information from reviewed lenders on a recurring basis throughout the year. All information is verified through lender websites and interviews. We also utilize 2020 HMDA data for origination volume, origination fee, rate spread and share-of-product data.