Editorial Review

Guild Mortgage Review 2019

Ideal for borrowers with a relatively high credit score who may need down payment assistance or help from a state housing agency.

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Guild Mortgage focuses on first-time buyers who need a government loan or help from a state agency.

Guild Mortgage

at Guild Mortgage

Min. credit score 
620
Min. down payment 
3%
Loan types and products
Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Reverse, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Works with loan programs offered by state and local housing agencies.
  • Specializes in mortgages for first-time home buyers.
  • Almost half of its loans are low-down-payment government mortgages.
  • Considers alternative credit, such as history of payments on rent and utilities.
Cons
  • With a concentration of offices in the West and South, Guild has little penetration in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Jumbo borrowers might find that banks are more competitive when it comes to large-amount loans.

Full Review

San Diego-based Guild Mortgage grew its business one neighborhood at a time, originally offering loans for homes built by the American Housing Guild. Founded in 1960, through its earliest years Guild decided to become especially proficient in government-backed loans for first-time home buyers.

That competency has served it well. With years of expansion beyond the West Coast, the company now serves much of the nation, and it funded over $16 billion in mortgages in 2016.

Guild is growing from its Western roots

Guild Mortgage is licensed in 47 states, with 250 local offices in about 25 of those states.

With roots in California, Guild Mortgage has a higher profile in the Western states, including Colorado and Idaho, and has a "growing presence" in Utah, says Terry Schmidt, chief financial officer. Schmidt also says the lender is active in the South, particularly in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama, and has plans for further expansion in the central U.S., as well as on the East Coast.

Guild Mortgage loans

Guild Mortgage has a broad selection of mortgage loans, including purchase, refinance and home equity products.

But Schmidt is frank about the lender's lack of competitiveness regarding one product: jumbo mortgages, or home loans generally over $484,350. "Typically, on the jumbo side, it's a little bit harder for us to compete with the banks that have wealth management [divisions]," she says.

"We specialize in first-time home buyer and state housing agencies, which a lot of mortgage companies don't do," she says.

According to the National Council of State Housing Agencies, every state in the U.S. has chartered housing finance agencies and organizations to help prospective home buyers find down payment assistance, tax credits, bond programs and other initiatives that support affordable housing.

"The bond programs are all a little unique to each state housing agency, and they can also be unique in a local municipality. They're a lot more of a hand-holding, manual process with the consumer, and we feel like that's kind of our specialty — to have a personal touch with consumers," Schmidt says.

These loan programs don't offer as much profit for a lender as conventional loans, especially considering the time and effort needed to navigate the process, "so a lot of mortgage companies just don't do them," she says.

Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans are another focus for Guild Mortgage. "We've done government loans for 50-plus years," Schmidt says. "About 40% of our business is FHA [and] VA, and probably about 5% is USDA."

The Guild Mortgage loan process

Guild Mortgage services, or collects, all of the loans it originates. That helps to maintain long-term relationships with borrowers. Refinances often are generated from relationships with existing customers, while most purchase loans are through referrals from real estate agents, Schmidt says.

Minimum credit scores vary by product, but Guild does consider alternative credit data such as utility bills and rental payment histories, "especially with FHA, VA and state bond programs," Schmidt says.

The company charges an average lender fee of $1,200, closes loans in about 30 days and will lend up to $2.5 million.

Guild’s MyMortgage platform offers a paperless loan application, along with document upload and retrieval of income and asset information. Loan application tracking is “interactively shared” with the consumer. The aim is to offer a digital mortgage process combined with personal service, Guild says.

"Everybody, they're going to go online, they're going to look, but when it comes down to really making a decision, they want a live person that they trust and feel comfortable with," Schmidt says.

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.