Best mortgage lenders in July 2021

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There are many mortgage lenders out there, from banks and non-banks to credit unions and more. Some are based completely online, with the application process digitally managed, while many have an online and physical presence, where you can consult with a loan officer in person or handle some parts of the process through your smartphone.


Methodology

To determine the best mortgage lenders, Bankrate evaluated lenders based on several criteria, including affordability (APR and fees); expediency (approval and closing times); and experience (including customer service support). In general, the best mortgage lenders have a Bankrate Score of 4.5 stars or higher out of five stars. Based on those scores, here are the best mortgage lenders in July 2021.


Best mortgage lenders

1. Better.com

Better.com is an online mortgage lender available in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Its loan products include:

  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • Refinancing (rate-and-term and cash-out)
  • Bridge loans
  • Investment property loans

Better.com boasted some of the lowest mortgage rates among the lenders who make rates public and were scored by Bankrate. Through a 100-percent online process, Better can issue preapprovals in three minutes and complete closings within 21 days, and doesn’t charge commissions or fees, which amounts to an average $3,500 in savings, according to lender. By comparison, as of April 2021, the average closing took 51 days, ICE Mortgage Technology reports.

Along with no fees and a quick process, Better.com also offers the Better Price Guarantee. If you find a lower rate, the lender will match it and give you $100 (and if it can’t match the rate, you keep the money). The guarantee is available only to borrowers who apply directly through the lender, however.

If you’re looking to refinance to a lower rate, Better also ranked highly on Bankrate’s lists of best refinance lenders and best cash-out refinance lenders. The lender also makes an appearance on Bankrate’s best jumbo lenders and best online mortgage lenders lists.

On the downside, Better.com doesn’t offer FHA loans, VA loans, USDA loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans, so if you’re in the market for one of those, you’ll have to go elsewhere. Likewise, if you value an in-person experience, an entirely-online process might not be for you — although the lender does offer robust support, seven days a week online and by phone, for those who need it.

2. LowRates.com

LowRates.com, also known as LowRates, is a brick-and-mortar and online mortgage lender operated by Sun West Mortgage Company, available to borrowers in 48 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

LowRates has a litany of mortgage products for all kinds of needs, including:

  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Conventional loans
  • FHA loans, VA loans and USDA loans
  • Jumbo loans (one of Bankrate’s best jumbo lenders)
  • Refinancing (rate-and-term, cash-out, FHA, VA and USDA)
  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and home equity loans
  • Construction loans
  • Investment property loans
  • Renovation loans
  • Reverse mortgages

In addition to its depth of offerings, LowRates had, assuredly, some of the lowest rates among the lenders Bankrate scored. For first-time homebuyers, LowRates also offers down payment assistance programs to help cover costs. (The lender even earned a spot as one of Bankrate’s best lenders for first-time homebuyers.)

Plus, to expedite loans, the lender offers the “TRU Approval” process, which completes underwriting in 48 hours or less, and accelerates closings to as little as 20 days.

Sun West Mortgage Company’s branches cover just 22 states, however, so if you’re looking for in-person support, it might not be available in your area.

3. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union is a credit union for armed forces members and their families, with more than 10.5 million members worldwide. It has 345 branches globally and throughout the U.S., and its offerings range widely, from banking and credit cards to loans. Its mortgage products include:

  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Conventional loans
  • VA loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • HomeBuyers Choice loans and Military Choice loans (100-percent financing)
  • Refinancing (rate-and-term, cash-out and VA)
  • Investment property loans

Navy Federal ranked highly on Bankrate’s list of best VA lenders, and also as a best jumbo lender. Notably, the credit union had the lowest rate of all the lenders scored.

Like the other lenders on this list, Navy Federal offers preapprovals in record time, and doesn’t charge an application fee. It can charge a funding fee depending on the loan product.

If you’re a member of Navy Federal and looking for a loan, your benefits include:

  • 24/7 support
  • Freedom Lock, which allows you two free rate relocks
  • Mortgage Rate Match, in which the credit union either matches a competitor’s rate or you’re paid $1,000
  • RealtyPlus, a cash-back incentive for working with an affiliate real estate agent

Some drawbacks, however: The credit union is limited to members, and it doesn’t offer FHA loans or USDA loans. Due to the pandemic, it has also suspended home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and home equity loans, so you’ll have to search for these options with another lender at this time.

How to compare mortgage lenders

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.

As you compare loan estimates, look at the APR (annual percentage rate) and interest rate quoted by each lender you’re interested in.

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.

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Written by
Suzanne De Vita
Mortgage editor
Suzanne De Vita is the mortgage editor for Bankrate, focusing on mortgage and real estate topics for homebuyers, homeowners, investors and renters.
Edited by
Mortgage editor