The bottom line: A good choice, though the $1,195 origination fee is no bargain. Online capabilities are also currently lacking.
Pros & Cons
A full slate of loan offerings.
Offers a no-down-payment loan with shorter repayment terms that helps accelerate home equity accumulation.
Serves all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
Typically charges a $1,195 origination fee.
Online capabilities lacking until a new mobile app gets wide distribution.
Compare to Other Lenders
You might think Northpointe Bank is a tiny fish swimming among the whales in a big mortgage pond. Maybe so, but don't underestimate them.
From a home base in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Northpointe’s home lending services have spread from the Upper Midwest to all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. And with branch locations in nearly two dozen states, Northpointe is certainly more than just a regional player.
Northpointe Bank mortgage loan products
You know those windshield sunshade-sized menus you sometimes see at fast-casual restaurants? Northpointe has that kind of loan selection. There is little that a typical borrower could be looking for that Northpointe doesn’t have. Not all products are available in all states, but the mortgage lineup includes:
Purchase and refinance loans with fixed and adjustable-rate terms.
Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
Jumbo loans of up to $3 million with a 10% down payment.
Mortgages for self-employed borrowers.
Loans for vacation and second homes.
Manufactured housing loans.
Government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA and USDA.
» MORE: What is an FHA loan?
Northpointe also offers a no-down-payment alternative to the traditional 30-year fixed mortgage, called EquityBuilder.
"It's 100% financing, no money down, and instead of having a 30-year fixed mortgage, you would choose a shorter term such as 15-year or 20-year, and you buy down the interest rate," perhaps with a half-point discount, says Michael Winks, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Northpointe. The shorter term may result in a higher monthly payment than a 30-year loan, but "it's really just about saving on the interest expense."
Northpointe has an online comparison that shows the difference in the interest you would pay over five to 10 years when compared with a 30-year fixed mortgage over the same period.
That can translate into more home equity — the free-and-clear value that builds wealth. The EquityBuilder loan has no income limits or first-time home buyer restrictions.
And one more item on the giant mortgage loan menu: Northpointe also offers physician and professional loans in select states with up to 100% financing and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
The Northpointe mortgage loan process
Northpointe’s website design is clean and adapts to fit the device you’re viewing it on, but you can’t get much done on it. There’s no online preapproval tool, but you can obtain an online loan application via email from a loan officer.
Northpointe has a mobile app in development that will fill a lot of these technology gaps, but it wasn’t in wide distribution at the time this review was published.
Until the app is deployed, you’re likely to do most of your business with Northpointe by phone or at a local branch. Office hours vary by location, but a sales team is available by phone Eastern time from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.
Considering Northpointe fees and mortgage rates
Mortgage rates are easy to find on the Northpointe Bank website. Click on “Low Rates” from the top menu bar in the Home Lending tab, and you’ll see interest rates and APRs for four common mortgages.
Rate assumptions — the all-important fine print that tells you how they’ve been computed — are on the same page. To its credit, on the day we checked, Northpointe was factoring only in about one-eighth to one-quarter discount point. That’s interest you pay upfront to lower your interest rate. Some lenders will sweeten their online interest rates with two or three points to seem more competitive. Not so for Northpointe.
The down payment required to earn these rates was a little stiff, though: 25%.
As to fees, a typical conventional conforming loan has an origination charge of $1,195. That’s not a bargain, but not out of the ordinary.
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.