PrimeLending Mortgage Review 2020

Good for: borrowers looking for closing cost assistance, as well as those seeking to renovate or to build a new home.

Kate WoodJune 26, 2020

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: PrimeLending offers an extensive range of purchase and refinance loans, including an array of renovation loan options, but you can't shop its mortgage rates online.

PrimeLending

PrimeLending: NMLS#13649

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

FHA:

580

VA:

580

USDA:

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Full online application includes document uploads and automated loan updates.

  • Offers a "float-down" interest rate lock.

  • Offers a proprietary closing-cost assistance program.

Cons

  • No online mortgage rates — you have to contact the lender for info.

  • Doesn't offer home equity products.

Compare to Other Lenders

Min. Credit Score

640

Conventional:

640

FHA:

640

VA:

640

USDA:

640

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan Types and Products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable

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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.

PrimeLending at a glance

PrimeLending boasts robust online capabilities and an extensive menu of loan options, especially for home renovations. But home equity loans aren't available, and you can't shop rates on your own.

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

  • Variety of loan types: 4 of 5 stars

  • Variety of loan products: 5 of 5 stars

  • Online convenience: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 1 of 5 stars

PrimeLending loan types and products

Texas-based PrimeLending might not get a lot of national press, but it has built a solid lending business by using technology, offering a wide array of loan products — and perhaps by leveraging a little Southern hospitality.

"This company was built on referrals," says Kristi Harris, executive vice president of national operations at PrimeLending. "It's not that we just would want to do your loan. ... We want to do everybody's loan in your family and everybody that you know."

PrimeLending has a full slate of loan products, including fixed-rate and adjustable-rate loans, conventional and jumbo home loans, as well as loans from the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The lender does refinancing, but it doesn't offer home equity loans or home equity lines of credit, also called HELOCs.

There are a number of niche loan products on PrimeLending’s menu, including energy-efficient mortgages, FHA 203(k) renovation loans and pool escrow loans. PrimeLending provides mortgages on manufactured homes, too, as well as home construction loans.

One of PrimeLending's most unique products is its NeighborhoodEdge program. Qualified low- to moderate-income customers may receive up to $2,000 in closing cost credits, with certain restrictions based on income and location.

In some cases, PrimeLending says it uses an "alternative doc" program, analyzing bank statements, rather than tax returns, to validate the ability of a borrower to repay.

PrimeLending online convenience

PrimeLending gains most of its customers through referrals, says Harris, who credits those recommendations to real estate agents, builders and former customers. But if you're loan shopping on your own, you'll begin by clicking "Get Started" or "Connect with a loan expert" on the website.

You can complete the application on your phone, tablet or computer. You can consult your loan officer, but PrimeLending's online process allows you to upload documents directly into a secure system, use e-signature and receive reminders and updates along the way.

Customer service hours aren’t listed on the PrimeLending website, but Harris says: "With our smartphones, are we ever unplugged? No! We're having conversations at 8 o'clock at night or 6 o'clock in the morning." PrimeLending’s systems and tools are mobile-friendly, so loan officers can work with customers in the evenings and weekends, she says.

PrimeLending 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. PrimeLending earns 3 out of 5 stars on this factor.

  • A lender's offered mortgage rates compared with the best available on comparable loans. PrimeLending earns 3 out 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 you want 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.

PrimeLending rate transparency

When starting the loan shopping process, it’s natural to look for mortgage rates on a lender’s website. But you won’t find any at PrimeLending.com. Harris says the lender prefers to provide personalized rate quotes to applicants rather than post generic interest rates on its site.

Notably, PrimeLending offers a "float down" interest rate option. If you’ve already locked in a loan rate, but interest rates fall before closing, you have the option to snag the lower rate. The float down option may require an additional fee.

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.