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Our mortgage reporters and editors focus on the points consumers care about most — the latest rates, the best lenders, navigating the homebuying process, refinancing your mortgage and more — so you can feel confident when you make decisions as a homebuyer and a homeowner.
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When you set out to get a mortgage, you’ll find many options, from well-known banks to online lenders and more. Here are Bankrate’s picks for the best mortgage lenders, including borrower requirements and other information so you know which you might qualify for and where you might get the best deal.
Your first step to finding the best mortgage lender is to comparison shop. Borrowers who do more upfront research tend to save more money than those who go with the first lender they find. It’s best to get quotes from three lenders, at minimum, so you know your options based on your credit and financial situation. Because rates fluctuate frequently, it’s best to get these quotes on the same day so you have an accurate basis of comparison.
As you compare loan estimates, look at the APR (annual percentage rate) and interest rate quoted by each lender. Consider what’s important to you as far as experience, too. For some, how fast a lender can turn around a preapproval letter or close a loan is critical. If you have specific needs — for example, you want an FHA loan — you might also want to look for the best mortgage lenders who specialize in those products.
Once you determine what your needs and preferences are, get started by comparing mortgage rates and finding a lender in your area through Bankrate.
Current mortgage rates
For a purchase, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is currently based on Bankrate’s latest lender survey, while the average 15-year fixed rate is currently . The average 30-year fixed refinance rate is currently and the average 15-year fixed refinance rate is currently .
FAQ about mortgages
There are five main types of mortgage loans: conventional loans; jumbo loans; government-insured loans (FHA, VA and USDA loans); and fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. Conventional loans aren’t backed by the federal government and are ideal for borrowers with strong credit scores. Jumbo loans are for higher-priced homes that exceed Federal Housing Finance Agency borrowing limits. FHA, VA and USDA loans are backed by the government and designed for borrowers with lower credit scores and low or no down payment, or military members (VA loans) or those buying in a rural area (USDA loans). Fixed-rate mortgages have the same interest rate for the life of the loan, while the rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) can fluctuate.
Before applying for a mortgage, it’s important to bolster your credit score and savings and have a clear understanding of how much you can afford and what type of loan would best fit your needs. In addition, gather documentation about your finances so you’re prepared to complete a mortgage application when the time comes. Once you’ve taken these initial steps, begin comparing mortgage lenders based on factors such as annual percentage rate (APR), fees and your overall experience. It’s best to get rate quotes from at least three different lenders. When you know which lender you want to work with, get preapproved so you can start house-hunting with financing in hand.
The minimum down payment requirement varies based on loan type. If you qualify, you can obtain a 3 percent-down conventional loan, a 3.5 percent-down FHA loan or a no-down payment VA or USDA loan. If you want to avoid paying mortgage insurance, however, you’ll need to make a down payment of 20 percent.
To determine the best mortgage lenders, Bankrate evaluated more than 85 lenders for factors relating to affordability, availability and customer experience, assigning each a Bankrate Score out of five stars. Based on this methodology, the best mortgage lenders generally have a Bankrate Score of 4.9 stars or higher. Note: The Bankrate Score considers a mortgage lender’s products and services only; it is not a reflection of a lender’s internal operations or practices.