The Bottom Line: One of the few lenders that don’t charge fees, but if you live outside the 12 states Reali serves, you’re out of luck.
Pros & Cons
No origination charge or junk fees.
A completely online application process.
Looks for a FICO score of at least 500 on FHA loans.
Available only in a dozen states.
No home equity loan products.
If you’re looking for Lenda, you’ve found it. The lender has merged and rebranded with the flat-fee real estate brokerage service Reali.
Reali has "the same corporate ethos" as Lenda, says Jason van den Brand, CEO of Lenda — now Reali Loans. While Lenda was working to drive cost efficiencies through technology and bring fee transparency to the opaque mortgage lending industry, Reali was striving to do the same on the real estate brokerage side, according to van den Brand.
He says the morphing of Lenda into Reali Loans involved subtle differences, but with significant long-term possibilities.
"We're just changing our colors and our names, essentially," van den Brand says. "We're getting the benefit of a much larger company, a much deeper balance sheet and additional innovative services that we're going to start working together on."
Charging fees ‘just wasn’t necessary anymore’
Van den Brand despises fees. Of any kind.
“I don't like when I go to the ATM machine and I have to pay even two or three bucks because, in reality, I'm like, ‘Well that's 2 to 3% if I'm taking out a hundred bucks,'” van den Brand tells NerdWallet.
That loathing of what he calls "junk fees" drives his strategy for Reali Loans as well.
In an industry that practically promotes fee confusion, Reali is one of the few mortgage companies that has eliminated lender fees.
“We kind of just felt like it just wasn't necessary anymore,” van den Brand says. “Those fees that are getting charged are nothing but junk. They are ways just to pad the profit-and-loss,” he adds. Charges are “disguised to the borrower as a processing fee, or an underwriting fee — and you're already paying an interest rate to borrow this money.”
The “dirty little secret,” he says, is that often half of the fees are going to commissions. So, Reali’s profit is built into the interest rate it offers borrowers, and there are no commissions paid to loan officers.
When you shop interest rates, always compare the annual percentage rate offered by a lender.
The APR includes the loan’s payment rate, plus fees.
Reali loan products
Reali Loans offers purchase and refinance loans with fixed or variable rates and jumbo loans up to $3 million, and it underwrites FHA- and VA-backed mortgages, too.
Their average borrower has a 760 FICO score and takes out a $335,000 loan, van den Brand says.
» MORE: Get your credit score for free
Reali loan process
Reali’s online platform allows you to complete your loan application, upload and sign your documents electronically and track the progress of your loan through the user dashboard.
Here’s how the process works:
Get started: On the website, click on “Get a home loan” or “See your rates.” You’ll answer some basic information about the home you want to purchase — or your current loan if you’re refinancing — and your mortgage goals.
Rate quote page: You’ll fill out a short form that differs depending on whether you’re purchasing or refinancing. For purchase borrowers, the form asks for an estimated purchase price and down payment, your ZIP code and credit score range. You’ll be prompted to provide your email address and a password to create a free account before you can see your rates. Information you’ll need for the refinance form includes: your reason for refinancing, how much you owe on your current mortgage, your home’s estimated value, your ZIP code and a credit score range.
Rate comparison page: On this page, you’ll see rate comparisons based on the information you provided (without having to supply a Social Security number or employment information). Reali Loans provides upfront information about all third-party, required fees you might incur for the loans quoted. You can also adjust your rate and term, and indicate whether you want to lower your rate with discount points or finance closing costs, and whether you want to use an escrow account.
Additional details: The more information you provide about your current financial situation, the more accurate your loan estimate becomes, Reali Loans says.
Loan application: You’ll fill out this streamlined application by answering questions that are relevant only to the approval process. For example, Reali Loans won’t ask questions that pertain only to investment properties if you’re applying for your primary residence.
Credit check: You’ll get a free credit check to see where you stand.
Disclosure documents: The Loan Estimate and disclosure documents are generated online and can be reviewed and signed electronically.
Upload documents: You’ll see a checklist of documents you need to gather to complete your loan application. Once you find those documents — for example, tax forms, bank statements and pay stubs — you’ll securely upload them to Reali in one spot. (There’s also a drag-and-drop feature, which makes it easier if you already have them online.) Once your documents are uploaded, the application is complete; Reali’s team reviews it for accuracy and will contact you if further information is needed.
» MORE: Compare the best online lenders
Borrowers can check on the progress of their loan application with Reali’s Client Dashboard, and a loan advisor is available for any questions or assistance.
Closing times on conventional conforming loans average 27 days, Reali Loans says.
Other services include:
Free rate locks.
At-home e-closings via webcam available in certain states.
Electronic employment verification.
Single point-of-contact throughout the loan application process.
While Reali, the real estate brokerage, is currently available only in California, Reali Loans operates in 12 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington).
More from NerdWallet:
at Reali Loans
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.