Editorial Review

PrimeLending Review 2019

Ideal for borrowers with past credit issues and those looking for down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFPSeptember 4, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Has a high customer satisfaction rating, but you can't shop its mortgage rates online.

PrimeLending

PrimeLending

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

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

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Low rate of consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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

  • Offers a proprietary closing-cost assistance program.

Cons
  • No online mortgage rates.

  • Charges an origination fee.

  • Doesn't offer home equity products.

Full Review

Texas-based PrimeLending might not get a lot of national press, but it has built a solid lending business by utilizing 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."

Here’s what to expect if you shop for a home loan with PrimeLending.

PrimeLending mortgage products

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 does not offer home equity loans or home equity lines of credit, also called HELOCs.

The company also has loans for second homes and investment properties and assists in coordinating down payment assistance programs backed by state housing authorities.

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

Perhaps PrimeLending's most innovative product 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 uses an “alternative doc” program, analyzing bank statements, rather than tax returns, to validate the ability of a borrower to repay.

As far as alternative credit — considering such factors as rent payment history and utility bills, rather than merely traditional credit scores — Harris says that’s more of a supplemental guideline.

"We do allow ... some alternative credit sources to try to augment [a customer’s] credit," particularly for FHA and VA loans, Harris says. "I've often said I would rather do a loan for somebody with no credit — and having to build their credit history — than somebody that's consistently had trouble."

But PrimeLending says there is help for those who have had checkered credit histories, including a Homeowner’s Access “Just Missed” loan.

"It is for somebody that's just recently out of a bankruptcy or foreclosure," Harris says. The program offers relaxed credit standards for borrowers who have been through a bankruptcy, short sale or other mortgage payment difficulties.

PrimeLending mortgage process

PrimeLending gains most of its customers through referrals, says Harris, who credits those recommendations to real estate agents, builders and former customers. After you’re assigned a loan officer, the loan process often begins with an online application that’s launched from the “Get Prequalified” button on the lender’s homepage.

You can complete the application on your phone, tablet or computer. A loan officer works with you, offering options and recommendations.

The online integration with the mortgage process allows you to upload documents directly into a secure system, use e-signature and receive reminders and updates along the way.

PrimeLending says its typical closing time for mortgages is less than 30 days.

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.

Fees and mortgage rates

PrimeLending says its typical lender fee is one-quarter of a percentage point, but there may be additional origination fees depending on location. Origination fees, also referred to as application fees, underwriting fees or processing fees, are charged by many lenders as a way to increase their profit. Comparing lenders based on the size of their origination fees is one way to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

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.

Still, comparing general or national rates helps borrowers decide which mortgage lenders they’d like to contact. Without any rates on its website, PrimeLending makes comparing lenders harder. And many lenders offer a short online questionnaire that users can fill out in order to obtain a customized quote based on location, estimated credit score, and other criteria. PrimeLending doesn’t offer that either.

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.

A “Lock & Shop” option of the float down even lets you lock your rate for 45 days while you’re still house hunting. Your rate is also set for an additional 30 days until your loan closes.

“In today’s highly competitive real estate market, giving our borrowers more negotiating strength, faster response capabilities and greater confidence in the rate they’ve locked is critical,” Harris says. “By combining our Lock & Shop and preapproved buyer programs, our borrowers are empowered to act quickly and submit more attractive offers that compete favorably with cash.”

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 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.