WaterMark Home Loans Review 2020

Good for: borrowers looking for a decent selection of loan types — with some not-so-standard options, such as reverse mortgages for seniors.

Hal M. Bundrick, CFPOctober 12, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

2.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: A typical selection of loan products, plus reverse mortgages but minus home equity loans and renovation mortgages. And you won't get much done online — WaterMark’s website doesn’t display mortgage rates and you have to contact the lender to start a mortgage application.

WaterMark Home Loans

at WaterMark Home Loans

Min. Credit Score

580

Conventional:

620

FHA:

580

VA:

580

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

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

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers reverse mortgages and interest-only loans for certain borrowers.

Cons

  • You won't find any mortgage rates online; you'll have to contact a loan officer.

Compare to Other Lenders

Min. Credit Score

580

Conventional:

620

FHA:

580

VA:

580

Min. Credit Score

620

Conventional:

620

Min. Down Payment

3%

Min. Down Payment

3%

Loan Types and Products

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

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.

WaterMark Home Loans at a glance

WaterMark Home Loans, based in Irvine, California, serves 39 states and Washington, D.C., with an ample selection of loan options but lacks some of the online conveniences that other lenders offer.

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

  • Variety of loan types: 4 of 5 stars

  • Variety of loan products: 4 of 5 stars

  • Online convenience: 1 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3.5 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 1 of 5 stars

WaterMark loan types and products

At WaterMark, you'll find the usual purchase, refinance, conventional and jumbo loans, in fixed- and adjustable-rate versions — plus, mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans).

But as with most nonbank lenders, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, are not an option.

For buyers in high-value property areas, WaterMark says it offers a 5% down option for loans up to $1.5 million and a 10% down mortgage for loans up to $3 million.

Many traditional lenders don't dabble in reverse mortgages, but WaterMark believes they're a good fit for some of its customers.

A way to withdraw substantial property equity for homeowners age 62 and older, reverse mortgages have been reengineered after years of gaining a reputation for high fees and hard-to-understand risks.

WaterMark Home Loans online convenience

In most cases, a WaterMark loan inquiry begins with a phone call. That call can be initiated by filling out a "Contact Us" form or by calling a toll-free number.

The "Apply Now" buttons on the WaterMark website are a little misleading: The "application" is merely a request form for a callback or email. However, the lender says you can receive a link to a complete online mortgage application after contact has been made. A loan officer will provide that link.

WaterMark Home Loans 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. WaterMark Home Loans earns 3 of 5 stars on this factor.

  • A lender's offered mortgage rates compared with the best available on comparable loans. WaterMark Home Loans earns 4 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.

WaterMark Home Loans mortgage rate transparency

Some lenders show "national rates" online for mortgage shoppers; WaterMark doesn't. You'll need to provide some basic information and have a conversation with a loan officer to get an idea of the mortgage rate you might earn on a new WaterMark mortgage.

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.