LenderFi Mortgage Review 2020

Good for: borrowers who want a completely online experience when buying or refinancing.

Holden LewisOctober 19, 2020

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: LenderFi makes it easy for shoppers to compare rates and loan options, and the application process is online.

Best Mortgage Lender for Refinancing

LenderFi

LenderFi: NMLS#133056

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

FHA:

500

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Has a full suite of online capabilities, including application, document uploading and process updates.

  • Site displays many combinations of loans and interest rates.

  • Rates and fees are lower than many lenders.

Cons

  • Home equity loans and lines of credit, and purchase-renovation loans, aren't available.

  • Jumbo and VA loans may be temporarily unavailable.

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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.

LenderFi at a glance:

LenderFi is an online-only mortgage lender that offers purchase and refinance loans in 45 states and Washington, D.C. The nonbank lender, headquartered in Calabasas, California, was founded in 2006. It markets itself to customers seeking competitive rates, quick loan decisions, minimal paperwork and a fast closing. LenderFi offers common loan types and products, but not niche loans or home equity loans.

Here's a breakdown of LenderFi's overall score:

  • Variety of loan types: 3 of 5 stars

  • Variety of loan products: 3 of 5 stars

  • Online convenience: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 5 of 5 stars

LenderFi loan types and products

Borrowers may choose from fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages of various terms, for both purchase and refinance. LenderFi offers conventional loans and mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. It doesn't offer jumbo loans or mortgages guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs or U.S. Department of Agriculture at this time.

LenderFi has suspended jumbo and VA loans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It plans to reintroduce those types of mortgages when feasible, said LenderFi President Ryan Scholer.

Besides FHA loans, LenderFi’s main low-down-payment option is the Fannie Mae HomeReady conventional mortgage, which allows down payments as low as 3% with discounted private mortgage insurance.

Borrowers may get LenderFi loans on primary residences, vacation and second homes, nonwarrantable condominiums and manufactured homes. It doesn't lend for co-ops, and doesn't offer construction loans or renovation mortgages.

LenderFi mortgages are available in most states but not in Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, New York and Utah.

LenderFi online convenience

Scholer says his goal is for customers to be able to search rates, fill out a full mortgage application 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 make a phone call at some point to ask questions.

"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 a loan application within minutes and the borrower can lock a rate and close quickly, Scholer says.

When a home 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 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, adding that LenderFi strives to close all loans within 30 days of a completed application. Borrowers may review their loan status via an online dashboard, he says.

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 Time, Monday through Friday.

Loan officers will communicate by office phone, mobile phone call, text or email, whichever the borrower prefers, he says.

LenderFi mortgage rates and fees

One of the most important considerations when choosing a mortgage lender is understanding what the loan will cost. In order 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 all lenders reporting under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. LenderFi earns 5 of 5 stars on this factor.

  • A lender's offered mortgage rates compared with the best available on comparable loans. LenderFi earns 5 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 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.

LenderFi rate transparency

Mortgage shoppers may view customized rates for various loan types after inputting their ZIP code, price, down payment and credit score range. It isn't necessary to provide your name or contact information.

The resulting page frequently shows dozens of combinations of loan types, interest rates and points. By clicking "Show details," rate-shoppers may see an itemized list of closing costs, including discount points and third-party fees.

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.