Watermark Home Loans Review 2022

Good for: borrowers looking for a decent selection of loan types with some not-so-standard options, such as reverse mortgages for seniors.
Phil MetzgerJan 4, 2022

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

A solid selection of loan products, plus reverse mortgages but minus renovation mortgages.

Watermark Home Loans

at Watermark Home Loans

Min. Credit Score

620

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.
  • Online capabilities include a full application, as well as loan process updates.

Cons

  • Does not offer home improvement loans.
  • Fully customized mortgage rates not available without providing contact information.

Compare to Other Lenders

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. Credit Score

620

Min. down payment

3%

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, FHA

Loan types and products

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

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Full Review

The coronavirus pandemic introduced some new challenges to getting a mortgage. Many lenders facing high loan demand and staffing issues increased their fees, adjusted minimum required credit scores or temporarily suspended certain loan products. While some products and business practices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, you might still find delays and limited options. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For 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 36 states and Washington, D.C., with an ample selection of loan options and online conveniences to help smooth the process.

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

  • Variety of loan types: 5 of 5 stars

  • Ease of application: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 4 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 3 of 5 stars

Watermark Home Loans mortgage loan types

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

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 HELOC: The lender also offers a home equity line of credit, or HELOC. These second mortgages are one way for homeowners to access existing home equity without refinancing or selling their home. Funds obtained with a second mortgage can be used for expenses such as home improvements, education costs or debt consolidation. Watermark says it does not actively promote its HELOC option but says it is available to borrowers who seek it out.

Watermark Home Loans ease of application

Watermark allows borrowers to apply for loans online, as well as upload documents, track the loan process digitally and sign documents electronically. The Apply Now button on the Watermark website leads to a couple of questions about borrower intent, then offers a toll-free number for a loan officer for those who want to proceed by phone. Or you can hit Continue for the full online application.

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, according to the most recently available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data:

  • Watermark Home Loans earns 2 of 5 stars for average origination fee.

  • Watermark Home Loans earns 5 of 5 stars for offered mortgage rates compared with the best available rates on comparable loans.

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

Watermark on its website posts sample rates for various mortgage options, accessed most easily from the Calculator button on any page. By clicking on the "credit and LTV" tab, you can see rates for various credit score ranges, as well as for loan-to-value rates of over 80%, and 80% and less. However, you will need to provide contact information to get rates customized more precisely.

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