The Bottom Line: LenderFi offers an online application and quick loan processing without origination fees, in most cases.
Pros & Cons
Online loan application with quick loan decision.
Does not charge origination fees for most loans.
Many combinations of interest rates and discount points to choose from.
Loan officers are available by phone and text.
Loans unavailable in Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, New York and Utah.
Home equity lines of credit and traditional home equity loans are unavailable.
LenderFi is an online-only mortgage lender that offers purchase and refinance loans in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The nonbank lender, headquartered in Calabasas, California, was founded in 2006. It markets itself to customers who want competitive rates, quick loan decisions, minimal paperwork and a fast closing.
LenderFi mortgage products
LenderFi's broad array of mortgage types will suit borrowers looking to buy or refinance, whether they care most about interest rates, loan limits or a low down payment.
Borrowers may choose fixed-rate loans with terms of 30, 25, 20, 15 and 10 years, or adjustable-rate mortgages with 10/1, 7/1, 5/1 and 3/1 terms. LenderFi offers conventional loans as well as mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It does not offer mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
LenderFi says it offers jumbo loans up to $10 million; the minimum mortgage amount is $75,000. The minimum credit score is 620 for conventional loans, 500 for FHA loans, 600 for VA loans and 580 for jumbo mortgages.
As for dwelling types, borrowers may get LenderFi loans on primary residences, vacation and second homes, non-warrantable condominiums and manufactured homes. The lender doesn't lend for co-ops and doesn't offer construction loans or renovation mortgages.
Mortgages are available in most states but not in Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, New York and Utah.
» MORE: How to refinance your mortgage
LenderFi mortgage process
Scholer says his goal is for customers to be able to search rates, apply online, get an instant rate decision and request a rate lock, all in one sitting. He says borrowers can conduct the entire application process online, but most call on the phone at some point to ask questions.
Customers begin by shopping rates on the site or by calling a toll-free phone number. When the site was evaluated, some links led to a page that allowed the user to view rates for various loan types after inputting ZIP code, price, down payment and credit rating. Other links led to a series of questions that required inputting name, email address and phone number to create an account and view rates. Scholer says the company plans to do away with the requirement to submit personal information and create an account before seeing rates.
The site's home page is rather spare. Clicking one of the "Apply Now" buttons brings up the online loan application form. While filling it out, customers are asked to allow electronic access to information about employment, income and bank accounts.
"My mantra is 'Paperwork is the enemy,' so I am always trying to utilize technology to remove paperwork from the equation," Scholer says. For many borrowers, LenderFi is able to collect pay stubs and information about assets electronically, he says.
If the borrower's employment status, assets and income can be verified electronically, and if the appraisal is waived, LenderFi can approve the loan application within minutes and the borrower can lock a rate and close quickly, Scholer says.
When an appraisal is necessary, LenderFi can issue a preapproval pending results of the appraisal, he says. He adds that the borrower may download a commitment letter that can be shown to the home seller or the seller's agent.
If the loan is preliminarily approved, the borrower may lock the rate. Typically, rate locks are for 30 days, and there is no charge, Scholer says.
LenderFi mortgage rates and fees
Scholer says LenderFi does not charge origination fees, and makes money when it sells the loans. Borrowers may pay discount points or elect to pay higher interest rates and get a credit toward third-party closing costs. Whichever option the borrower chooses, LenderFi makes about the same amount of money, so "we're agnostic whether you pick the most expensive one or the cheapest one," Scholer says.
There is an exception to the no-fee policy, he says: LenderFi charges a $995 origination fee for nonqualified mortgages, which are loans that don't follow regulators' rules to ensure that borrowers will have the ability to repay.
LenderFi first-time home buyer programs
LenderFi offers a number of loan options for first-time home buyers, who often have small down payments, lower credit scores or high debt-to-income ratios.
One option is VA loans, which allow qualified service members, veterans and family members to buy homes with zero down payment.
Other low-down-payment options are Fannie Mae HomeReady conventional mortgages, which allow down payments as low as 3% with discounted private mortgage insurance, and FHA loans, which allow down payments as low as 3.5% and are insured by the federal government.
LenderFi customer service
Borrowers are assigned a loan officer who is the designated point person throughout the process, Scholer says, adding that the loan officers are expected to share their cell phone numbers with borrowers so they can be reached beyond the company's regular phone hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific, Monday through Friday.
Loan officers will communicate by office phone, mobile phone call, text or email, whichever the borrower prefers, he says.
As an online lender, LenderFi has no branches, so loan officers aren't available for in-person visits.
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.