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12 Best Mortgage Lenders of 2021 – Home Purchase and Refinance Loans


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For most homeowners, the place they call home is the single most valuable asset they own. That means the decision to buy a house is among the most consequential financial decisions they’ll ever make.

The relatively high cost of real estate raises the stakes around this decision. Seemingly insignificant adjustments to a mortgage rate, a few hundredths of a point up or down, can add or subtract thousands in lifetime borrowing costs. Using a free mortgage amortization calculator, we see a total interest payment of $155,332.36 over the life of a 30-year, $300,000 mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 3%. Raise the annual interest rate to 3.10%, and total interest paid jumps to $161,177.71 — an increase of nearly $6,000.

The same logic applies to existing homeowners looking to lower their interest rates or total borrowing costs by refinancing their mortgages. It pays to shop around for the best mortgage rates, most favorable loan terms, and lowest overall monthly payments. Start your search with the best mortgage lenders around.

Best Mortgage Lenders

These are among the best mortgage lenders for U.S. homebuyers and homeowners this year. For existing homeowners looking to tap the equity they’ve built in their properties with home equity loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), some of these mortgage companies count among the best home equity lenders too.

Loan rates and terms are subject to change without warning.

1. loanDepot

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, VA loans, FHA loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.75%
  • Verdict: Wide variety of mortgage loan types at very competitive rates

Mortgage lender loanDepot specializes in home loans, including purchase loans, refinance loans, and construction loans. The company operates more than 200 offices nationwide, so it’s quite likely you live within easy reach of a loanDepot shop.

As a direct lender that exclusively deals with real estate financing, loanDepot offers superior pricing power (lower interest rates) and favorable terms on its products. Over more than a decade in business, loanDepot has originated some $175 billion in refinance loans and nearly $100 billion in purchase loans, according to its website. Its offerings include specialty loan programs like VA loans backed by the United States Department for Veterans Affairs for military service members and FHA loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration for first-time homebuyers with impaired credit (minimum credit score of 580 or even lower).


2. Rocket Mortgage (Quicken Loans)

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans, VA loans (including interest rate reduction refinance loans, FHA loans (including FHA streamline refinance loans)
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.88%
  • Verdict: Rapid mortgage origination and technology-assisted process

Formerly known as Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage is an online lender known for rapid loan origination and underwriting. Beginning with fast prequalification and preapproval, its streamlined process owes a lot to cutting-edge technology that takes a lot of the legwork out of applying for a mortgage loan.

Rocket Mortgage securely connects to your financial accounts to give a clear, comprehensive picture of your income and assets, reducing the amount of paper you have to push to get to closing.

Rocket Mortgage offers a diverse mix of mortgages for people buying and refinancing homes, including VA and FHA products and conventional loans with low down payment requirements (as low as 3%). It does exclude certain specialty loan types, such as construction loans, and doesn’t offer home equity products like HELOCs.


3. Better

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans, FHA loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.63%
  • Verdict: Very low fees; rapid preapproval and faster closing

Better is a digital mortgage lender that’s stripping the mortgage application process down to its essence and getting rid of lots of fees (and thus closing costs) once assumed to be nonnegotiable in the process. Its differentiators include:

  • No origination fees (a common type of loan fee charged by many mortgage lenders)
  • No mortgage broker commissions
  • An all-online workflow that helps applicants see exactly where they are in the application and underwriting processes
  • Instant loan estimates with transparent pricing

Better has a solid range of mortgage options for buyers and refinancing applicants, including conventional loans and FHA loans.


4. USAA

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: VA loans, VA jumbo loans, VA interest rate reduction refinance loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed VA Purchase Loan): 2.875%
  • Verdict: Excellent rates and terms on mortgage products for military service members and their families

USAA is a full-service financial institution for members of the U.S. military and their immediate families. Its laser-focus on a service member audience is a double-edged sword. Most Americans don’t qualify for USAA membership, and USAA’s mortgage loan lineup is limited to VA loan products that cater to military members and veterans.

But for those who qualify, USAA offers legendary customer service and competitive rates. If you’re eligible for a VA home loan, USAA should automatically make it onto your lender shortlist.


5. Veterans United

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: VA loans, VA jumbo loans, VA interest rate reduction refinance loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed VA Purchase Loan): 2.50%
  • Verdict: Extremely competitive rates on VA loan products

Veterans United is a military-focused mortgage lender that specializes in VA home loan products. It’s different from USAA in that it’s not a full-service financial institution. It doesn’t have checking accounts, auto and property insurance, or wealth management services.

But it does have a full lineup of VA home loans (including streamline refinance loans) with extremely competitive rates. Although Veterans United does have a couple dozen physical branches scattered around the U.S., it’s able to keep overhead costs down and pass those savings on to borrowers via very low rates.


6. New American Funding

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans, FHA loans, VA loans, reverse mortgages
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.50%
  • Verdict: Category-leading mortgage rates for most borrowers

New American Funding is a full-service mortgage lender that uses a network of local agents to deliver personalized loan solutions with category-leading low rates. Although you must work through a dedicated loan officer to apply and complete underwriting, New American Funding’s primarily digital process keeps its costs low and fees manageable.

New American Funding has a full lineup of mortgage options for buyers, including conventional, jumbo, FHA, and VA loans. It also offers reverse mortgages, a popular specialty product for older homeowners who’ve built substantial equity in their properties.


7. Ally Bank

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.75%
  • Verdict: Low-friction, mostly digital underwriting process with great mortgage rates

Ally Bank is a full-service online bank that offers auto and home loans on top of its core package of low-fee deposit accounts and online brokerage services.

It’s worth noting that Ally’s home loan lineup isn’t as comprehensive as some specialized mortgage lenders. It’s a great place to find conventional and jumbo mortgage loans, but FHA and VA solutions are absent, as are other types of specialty mortgage loans. And Ally doesn’t offer home loans in all states, including some higher-population jurisdictions like New York and North Carolina.

But Ally does offer a low-friction, mostly digital underwriting process and very competitive rates. It’s worth checking out, even if you don’t have an existing relationship with the bank.


8. Guaranteed Rate

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans, FHA loans, VA loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 2.99%
  • Verdict: Rapid preapproval and closing with a personalized touch

Guaranteed Rate blends the speed and convenience of a digital application process with the human touch of a branch-based lender network. It’s a two-track system: one for applicants who’d prefer to do most of the work online on their own time and another for those who enjoy working directly with a human agent. You can choose whichever you prefer.

Guaranteed Rate has some other notable benefits, including fast preapproval and an expedited closing process that it claims gets the job done faster than other lenders. Its rates aren’t the absolute best in the business, but it has a wide lineup of mortgage loan types, including FHA and VA products.


9. PrimeLending

PrimeLending offers a hybrid application and underwriting process led by human agents but assisted by a sleek digital platform (Loanplicity) that keeps paperwork manageable and back-and-forth to a minimum. You can begin your application online and speak with a loan officer only as needed or start the process with an officer and do the online things you’re comfortable doing.

PrimeLending has one of the most comprehensive mortgage loan lineups — more than 400 variations, according to the company. In addition to more familiar options, PrimeLending offers specialty products like USDA loans (for buyers in rural areas) and construction loans (for people building or substantially renovating homes).

Its biggest drawback is a lack of upfront transparency around rates. You must begin the application process to see rates applicable to your credit situation, income, home type, and geography.


10. Connexus Credit Union

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans
  • Loan Rates Start At (30-Year Fixed Conventional Purchase): 3.00%
  • Verdict: Competitive rates for conventional borrowers

Connexus Credit Union offers competitive rates on a solid lineup of conventional purchase and refinance loans. If you’re not contemplating nonconventional products like VA loans or FHA loans, Connexus is definitely worth checking out.

The biggest catch is Connexus Credit Union’s geographic limitations. The institution only has branches in a handful of Midwestern states, including Ohio and Wisconsin. Membership isn’t necessarily limited to people who live in those jurisdictions. But you should still check with a loan officer to confirm that Connexus mortgage products are available in your area.


11. Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, jumbo loans, FHA loans, VA loans, renovation loans, USDA loans, reserve mortgages, physician loans
  • Loan Rates Start At: Not disclosed
  • Verdict: Rapid preapproval and high-touch support for low- to moderate-income borrowers

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is a branch-based lender network with more than 400 locations around the country. Unlike many of its technology-assisted peers, it’s built around person-to-person service, so you must be comfortable with regular human interaction to have a good experience with Fairway.

Like some other lenders, Fairway isn’t super-transparent about rates. You must begin the application process to get even a general sense of the rates and terms you qualify for.

On the bright side, Fairway offers a speedy preapproval process, which is fantastic news for buyers in competitive markets. It also prides itself on working with low- and moderate-income borrowers (including those with high debt-to-income ratios) to find fair lending solutions that keep its offers competitive.

Fairway has an impressive array of specialty loans too: FHA loans, VA loans, USDA loans, reverse mortgages, and even career-specific products like physician home loans.


12. NBKC Bank

  • Mortgage Loan Types Available: Fixed-rate conventional mortgage loans, adjustable-rate mortgage loans, VA loans, construction loans, pilot loans
  • Loan Rates Start At: Not disclosed
  • Verdict: Excellent lineup of specialty loans

NBKC Bank is an online bank with a nice lineup of low-fee deposit account options for consumers and entrepreneurs. It also offers a surprisingly wide array of mortgage loan options to people in the market to buy or refinance residential real estate.

It also has some notable specialty loan options, including construction loans and loans specifically tailored to commercial pilots.

NBKC doesn’t disclose current mortgage rates on its website, so it’s challenging to make an apples-to-apples comparison to other lenders on cost alone. But NBKC has a durable reputation for providing excellent customer service, and its specialty loan options could seal the deal for applicants struggling to find them elsewhere.


Best Places to Get a Mortgage Quote Online

With so many mortgage lenders serving U.S. homebuyers and homeowners right now, the prospect of seeking rate quotes from a representative sample of different lenders can be overwhelming.

That’s where mortgage quote aggregators like LendingTree come in. LendingTree and websites like it dramatically reduce the time and aggravation required to source loan rates and terms from multiple lenders. LendingTree offers:

  • Fast rate quotes for loans tied to all types of residential real estate: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, multifamily properties, and manufactured (mobile) housing
  • Loan quotes tailored to specific use cases (such as refinancing to lower your interest rate or reduce your payment)
  • Quotes for fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Rates specific to the city and state where you’re buying or refinancing
  • Rates that account for many factors, including your income, credit score, co-borrower status, and current homeownership status
  • Rates for primary homes, second homes, and investment properties
  • The option to get a free credit report with your rates

Even if you ultimately choose not to move forward with any of the lenders LendingTree sends your way, it’s nice to know where you stand as you begin the mortgage shopping process. LendingTree takes some of the guesswork out of this exercise, giving you much-needed confidence as you forge ahead.


Final Word

Sourcing multiple rate quotes is just one step in the homebuying or mortgage refinancing journey.

For example, if you’re buying, you must evaluate those quotes and get prequalified (and eventually preapproved) for a loan large enough to fund a purchase in your target price range. Then it’s time to apply with your top-choice lenders formally and carefully evaluate each offer’s terms. It could pay to negotiate by presenting your top-choice lenders with the best offer to see if they can match or beat it.

Eventually, the time will come to choose your loan and begin the underwriting process. That typically takes weeks and involves a lot of back and forth between you and your lender, but it’s a necessary part of the process. Without it, your dream of homeownership — or a lower rate on an existing mortgage loan — could remain out of reach.

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