Editorial Review

Ally Mortgage Review 2019

Ideal for home buyers and mortgage refinancers who want a digital experience combined with attentive customer service.

Holden LewisOctober 18, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Ally Home offers online mortgage applications, with an emphasis on expanded options for jumbo loans.

Ally Mortgage

Ally Mortgage: NMLS#181005

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Clear listings of interest rates and discount points.

  • Fee discount for existing Ally customers.

  • Online application, with help available from a dedicated contact person.

  • Jumbo loans with as little as 10% down, with no mortgage insurance.

Cons
  • FHA, VA and USDA loans are unavailable.

  • Does not offer home equity loans or lines of credit.

Compare to Other Lenders

Better.com
Chase
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Full Review

Ally Home is the mortgage-lending operation of Ally Financial. Ally began more than a century ago as GMAC, a division of General Motors that financed car dealers. It has shifted gears many times over the years, and is now an online-only bank.

Ally's mortgage lending is digital-first, with human help available when desired. Here's how Ally Home compares with other online mortgage lenders.

Ally mortgage products

Ally offers loans to buy homes and refinance mortgages. It offers jumbo loans (mortgages for large amounts) with down payments as low as 10%, without private mortgage insurance. It doesn't offer home loans insured or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Agriculture.

Borrowers may choose mortgages with 30-, 20- and 15-year fixed-rate terms, as well as 10/1, 7/1 and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

Ally allows down payments as low as 3% under the Fannie Mae HomeReady program for low- to moderate-income borrowers.

Jumbo loans without mortgage insurance are available for qualified borrowers who make down payments as low as 10% for loans up to $1.5 million, the company says. Ally allows down payments as low as 15% for jumbo loans up to $2 million. Ally Home may lend up to $4 million and considers exceptions "on an individual basis and reviewed with Ally's relationship expert," says mortgage executive Glenn Brunker.

He adds that about half of Ally's loans are jumbos and that the bank is experienced at "delivering against the unique needs of more affluent borrowers," who may have complex finances and nontraditional assets.

The minimum credit score for a conventional loan is 620 and the minimum credit score for a jumbo loan is 700.

Ally mortgage process

For most customers, Ally Home offers what it calls a "fully guided digital experience." There's quite a bit of meaning packed into that phrase. Let's unpack it, starting with the end of the phrase and moving backward.

The digital experience refers to the ability to apply for a mortgage on Ally Home's website using a computer or mobile device. Customers may fill out the entire application online, securely upload documents, and electronically sign disclosures. Borrowers may opt for online verification of income and assets.

By "fully guided," Ally means two things. First, the online application is in question-and-answer format. "It doesn't feel like an application," Brunker says. "It's more intuitive. It asks questions in commonly used language." Second, loan consultants are available to answer questions at any point in the process, according to Ally.

Customers start by clicking a "Get Started" button and indicating whether they want to buy a home or refinance an existing loan, and in which state. Then the Q&A format begins and the customer provides information about the property, income and assets. After that, the borrower is presented with mortgage options.

As for the meaning of "most customers," Ally expanded its all-digital applications to 38 states in October 2019, with plans to offer the digital experience in all 50 states by the end of 2019. In the meantime, applications in the non-digital states involve talking with a loan officer on the phone, along with secure online uploading of documents.

Ally Home's mortgage application is run by Better.com, a competing mortgage lender as well as Ally's technological partner. Ally finds customers, while Better.com does Ally's loan processing, underwriting and closing under the Ally brand.

Ally mortgage rates and fees

Ally has a flat fee of $995 on conforming conventional loans, Brunker says. The bank offers a $500 discount on closing costs for customers who have had an Ally account for more than 30 days. The offer is available to customers of Ally Bank or Ally Invest, and customers with Ally mortgages or auto loans or Ally Vehicle Protection.

Free rate locks are available for up to 60 days, and extended rate locks may be available. If mortgage rates fall after the customer has locked, Ally offers one free "float down." This allows the borrower to call and request a lower rate. The reduction may be up to half of the rate change: For example, if the customer locks and then the rate drops half a percentage point, the borrower can get a rate reduction of one-quarter of a percentage point, free.

Ally's website lists combinations of interest rates and discount points, which are fees you may choose to pay to reduce your mortgage rate.

Ally customer service

Ally doesn't have branches, so customers don't meet in person with loan officers. But callers aren't randomly connected to the next available agent. Ally says it "pairs borrowers with a trusted mortgage expert" to answer questions and offer guidance.

Brunker says Ally informs borrowers whenever key milestones are reached, including when the loan is initially approved, when the bank receives the appraisal report, and when the final loan decision is made.

Ally says its partnership with Better.com results in fast closings. In late summer 2019, loans underwritten through the partnership with Better.com closed in an average of 27 days, the company says. In the previous six months, the average closing time had been 39 days.

The customer service phone lines are open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

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.