The Bottom Line: Alliant offers low- and zero-down loans for members who feel comfortable applying online or on the phone.
Pros & Cons
First-time home buyers may put zero down and pay no mortgage insurance.
Repeat homeowners may put down as little as 5% with no mortgage insurance.
Mortgages are available for non-warrantable condominiums.
Brick-and-mortar locations in five states, so most borrowers' applications must be handled online or by phone.
As it's a credit union, membership is limited.
If you like the personalized service that comes with a smaller mortgage lender, but want the high-tech tools to manage your loan on your terms, an Alliant Credit Union mortgage might fit the bill.
The not-for-profit financial cooperative, in which the members are also owners, is investing heavily in online and mobile technology to become the leading “digital-first credit union” in the country, says Alissa Green, digital marketing manager with Alliant.
Founded in 1935, Alliant now has more than 300,000 members nationwide, 10% of whom have an Alliant Credit Union mortgage, Green says. Alliant manages more than $8.9 billion in assets, making it the eighth largest credit union in the country.
A look at Alliant Credit Union mortgage products
In addition to offering a full array of fixed- and adjustable-rate loans, Alliant offers Freddie Mac's Home Possible program, and will offer Fannie Mae's HomeReady program by the end of November 2016, Green says. Both provide first-time home buyers with loan options that require as little as 3% down payment.
Alliant also offers refinance loans and home equity lines of credit in some states, as well as lender-paid mortgage insurance, which pays for premiums on loans with less than 20% down.
Loans are available for non-warrantable condos that would otherwise be ineligible for sale to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae and are considered risky by other lenders. These extra offerings help expand homeownership opportunities to more of its members.
"Today’s borrower doesn’t have a deep well of assets for a down payment,” says Jason Osterhage, senior vice president of lending at Alliant. “We are a portfolio lender [offering our own products], and that gives us some flexibility to update our guidelines, look at loan performance, and find ways to adjust.”
The credit union is exploring alternative credit scoring models that are responsive to fair lending considerations, Osterhage says. While the credit union isn’t planning to be on the leading edge of those efforts, it wants to do what's best for customers and get underwriting guidelines right through careful research, he adds.
Alliant has 12 brick-and-mortar locations in a handful of states where you can go in person to apply for a mortgage. But the bulk of that business is done online, which sets it apart from other credit unions, Osterhage says.
At Alliant, online doesn’t mean anonymous. If you take out a mortgage with the lender, you’ll work with a dedicated loan officer throughout the process.
One way Alliant differentiates itself among credit unions, which are not known for being tech-focused, is by investing in a comprehensive suite of online tools for its members.
Alliant’s mobile app will be operational by year-end, making it even easier for members who can already apply for a mortgage online, do so from a mobile device. In 2017, Alliant will be able to verify employment electronically and make online loan updates accessible to members 24/7, Osterhage says.
If you are eligible to join Alliant through a qualifying employer or organization, it offers the personalized service and competitive mortgage rates of a credit union, with the technology you’d expect from a major bank. An Alliant Credit Union mortgage is a solid, smart choice for your mortgage needs if you are comfortable with online banking and aren’t married to the idea of going into a local branch to talk to a loan officer.
More from NerdWallet
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.