Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review 2020

Good for borrowers seeking conventional or government-backed loans, and a totally online experience.

Kate WoodJuly 20, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: An early player in the online mortgage realm, Guaranteed Rate continues to offer a fully digital application experience. Detailed rates are easily viewed for many of the loan types it offers.

Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate: NMLS#2611

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

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

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers the ability to securely upload and digitally sign loan documents.

  • Displays detailed sample rates for many of its loan products.

Cons

  • Doesn't offer home equity loans or lines of credit.

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Full Review

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, getting a mortgage may be a bit of a challenge. Lenders are dealing with high loan demand and staffing issues that may slow down the process. Also, some lenders have increased their fees or temporarily suspended certain loan products. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For the latest information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

Guaranteed Rate at a glance

Headquartered in Chicago, Guaranteed Rate offers a completely online mortgage experience, with both conventional and government-backed options for purchase and refinance loans. Sample rates are readily accessible, and you don't need to give out your contact information to see personalized rates.

  • Variety of loan types: 4 of 5 stars

  • Variety of loan products: 5 of 5 stars

  • Online convenience: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3.5 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 5 of 5 stars

Guaranteed Rate loan types and products

Guaranteed Rate offers purchase and refinance loans, including FHA, VA, jumbo and interest-only mortgages. Keeping rates low while making the process more transparent and accessible helps customers be active participants in the lending process, says Kasey Marty, executive vice president of secondary marketing at Guaranteed Rate.

"Other firms have put their gloves up and said that potential compliance and regulation issues make it difficult for them to offer FHA or VA loans because of delinquencies and defaults," Marty says. "We feel the opposite. We’re very tight with our guidelines, and we want to enrich the [lending] experience and make lenders accountable."

Guaranteed Rate online convenience

Guaranteed Rate lets you take care of the loan application process entirely online. On its website, you begin by choosing whether you're looking to purchase or refinance, then go from there. You'll answer basic questions about where you are in the homebuying process (for a purchase) or what's most important to you (like a lower rate or getting cash out) for a refinance. After some additional questions, you'll be shown several loan options with personalized mortgage rates for each. If you choose one, you can begin filling out the full digital application. Document upload, e-signature and an interactive checklist help you keep track of your loan's progress.

Guaranteed Rate mortgage rates and fees

One of the most important considerations when choosing a mortgage lender is understanding what the loan will cost. To provide consumers with a general sense of what a lender might charge, NerdWallet scores lenders on two factors regarding fees and mortgage rates:

  • A lender's average origination fee compared with the median of lenders reporting under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Guaranteed Rate earns 3 out of 5 stars on this factor.

  • A lender's offered mortgage rates compared with the best available on comparable loans. Guaranteed Rate earns 4 out of 5 stars on this factor.

Borrowers should consider the balance between lender fees and mortgage rates. While it's not always the case, paying upfront fees can lower your mortgage interest rate. Some lenders will charge higher upfront fees to lower their advertised interest rate and make it more attractive. Some lenders just charge higher upfront fees.

You can decide to buy discount points — a fee paid with your closing costs — to reduce your mortgage rate.

Deciding whether you want to pay higher upfront fees is a matter of considering how long you plan to live in your home and how much cash you have to apply toward closing costs when you sign the loan paperwork.

Guaranteed Rate mortgage rate transparency

Guaranteed Rate lets you see detailed rate information for many of their products. These spell out all of the assumptions used to determine that rate (like the property location, the borrower's credit score, the amount of the down payment and even whether taxes and insurance will be escrowed).

In order to get personalized rates, you'll have to click through several screens and answer questions about your homeownership plans, credit score and the property you're hoping to purchase or refinance. It's not as simple as a calculator where you can enter your own details, but you don't have to provide your contact information.

More from NerdWallet

NerdWallet’s star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services each lender offers to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The five key areas we evaluated include the variety of loan types and products offered, online conveniences, online mortgage rate information, and the rate spread and origination fee lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.