Editorial Review

Guild Mortgage Review 2019

Ideal for first-time home buyers 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 has a generous selection of loan programs, but its lender fees are no bargain.

Guild Mortgage

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.

  • Typical lender fees can exceed $1,400.

Full Review

San Diego-based Guild Mortgage grew its business one neighborhood at a time, initially 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 with a growing number of home loan programs.

Guild is growing from its Western roots

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 operating officer. Schmidt also says the lender is active in the South, particularly in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

All told, Guild Mortgage is licensed in 48 states (New York and New Jersey are the exceptions) and the District of Columbia. The lender also has more than 200 retail branches in 33 states.

Guild Mortgage loans

Guild Mortgage has a broad selection of mortgages, including purchase, refinance, fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and government-backed loans.

But Schmidt is frank about the lender's lack of competitiveness regarding one product: jumbo mortgages, or home loans generally over about $500,000. "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.

That’s because the clientele of wealth management companies can sometimes get special financing and pricing for mortgage loans, Schmidt says. However, Guild does offer bank statement financing, allowing self-employed borrowers and small-business owners to apply without having to provide tax returns to verify income. Guild will also consider loans based on restricted stock unit income and has a loan program for physicians.

A new loan offering even allows Airbnb hosts who rent out a portion of their primary residence to include that rental income when refinancing the property.

And Guild Mortgage helps first-time home buyers navigate state housing agency programs, “which a lot of mortgage companies don't do," she says.

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.

"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."

Guild Mortgage also offers a program for first-time home buyers that involves some hefty perks.

"If you're a first-time home buyer, you can purchase a home with 3% down. We'll also give you a $1,500 gift at closing, which you can use as an additional down payment, or if you want to cover some of your closing costs," says Erin Watts, vice president of product strategy. “We'll also send you a gift card for $2,000 to The Home Depot."

To qualify, you must buy in a low-income area or fall within income limits.

The Guild Mortgage loan process

If you’re looking to jump straight into a loan preapproval, you’ll need to click on the “Find a Loan Officer” bar on the homepage at GuildMortgage.com. Once that connection is made, your loan officer will provide a link to a digital application, or you can visit a branch office and provide the information in person.

Guild’s MyMortgage platform offers a paperless loan application, along with document upload and the retrieval of income and asset information from many employers and financial institutions. Consumers can also use the portal to keep track of their loan’s status.

The aim is to offer a digital mortgage process combined with personal service, Guild 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.

While Guild Mortgage says average closing times are 30 days, it offers a 17-day closing guarantee to qualifying borrowers, promising to pay $500 toward closing costs if delays are caused solely by the lender. You must be preapproved and provide any requested documentation in a timely manner to be eligible.

Guild Mortgage services, or collects payments for, all of the loans it originates, which Guild believes helps to maintain long-term relationships with borrowers.

Guild Mortgage mortgage rates and fees

You won’t find mortgage rates on the Guild Mortgage website; you’ll need to speak with a loan officer for that. Once you do, you can “lock and shop” with your rate guaranteed for up to 90 days.

If rates go down, a one-time adjustment — called a float down — is available without charge.

As for fees, the company says average origination charges include $350 for underwriting, $295 for administration, $275 for document preparation and a $500 processing fee. All told, that’s $1,420 in total lender fees.

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.