AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation claims to be one of the largest and fastest-growing direct-to-consumer mortgage lenders in the U.S. The digital lender has approximately 800 licensed mortgage originators, and growing, spread across the country, offering in-house underwriting, processing, funding and closing services.
- Strengths: Available in all U.S. states (except for New York) and Washington D.C.; offers prequalification and customized rate quote in less than three minutes and without a hard credit pull (in most cases; time to close averages 25 days
- Weaknesses: Doesn’t offer a first-time homebuyer program
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo, founded in 1952 with corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California. Although it’s one of the top mortgage lenders in the U.S., Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has a relatively basic online presence. However, with branch offices widely available, borrowers can meet in-person with a loan advisor to discuss their mortgage options.
- Strengths: More than 7,200 branch locations; participates in low- and moderate-income programs that assist borrowers with down payments and/or closing costs; flexible application process
- Weaknesses: Doesn’t operate in U.S. territories
LoanDepot is both an online and brick-and-mortar lender with more than 200 branches nationwide. For borrowers who want a completely online experience, loanDepot created “mello smartloan.” From application to closing, the lender says this end-to-end digital service helps expedite the loan process. Features like digital income and employment and asset verification technology eliminate the need to fax or mail in paperwork. According to the lender, mello smartloan can clear closings in as little as eight days, and closings in general are up to 50 percent faster than the industry average.
- Strengths: Online, phone and in-person service available; end-to-end mello smartloan gives borrowers option to get a loan completely online; loan modification programs available for eligible borrowers
- Weaknesses: Lender fee information not available online
Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans is a leading online mortgage lender. The lender offers a broad selection of purchase and refinance loan options, and a flexible-term product called “YOURgage,” which allows borrowers to set the terms of their loan from eight to 29 years. The company gained prominence in the last few years by creating technology that allows borrowers to apply for loans completely online through Rocket Mortgage. Rocket Mortgage offers the customary menu of loan options, and borrowers can apply for mortgages and lock in rates completely online.
- Strengths: Online and phone customer service available; loan options include fixed-rate, adjustable-rate (ARM), VA, FHA, flexible-term and jumbo loans; low down payment requirement (as little as 3 percent down)
- Weaknesses: No brick-and-mortar locations; limited information about lender fees available online
Better Mortgage, also known as Better.com, is an online lender that was established in 2016. Better Mortgage provides a completely online process where rates, loan preapproval and resources are available 24/7.
- Strengths: Ideal for tech-savvy borrowers who prefer an online experience, with human customer support available if needed; no commissions or fees charged; automated process yields rate quotes in seconds, a preapproval letter in three minutes and closing within 21 days
- Weaknesses: No brick-and-mortar locations; VA and USDA loans not available
Bank of America is a brick-and-mortar bank that offers mortgages, refinancing and home equity lines of credit that can be applied for online, via phone or at a branch. The bank, the second-biggest in the U.S. measured by assets, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has 4,300 branches.
- Strengths: Provides interest rates online; can prequalify and apply for a loan online and submit documents digitally; low-down payment options available; discounts may be available for auto-pay, other factors
- Weaknesses: Lender fees not listed on website
PennyMac is a publicly traded, direct national lender that offers a wide range of loan options, as well as a first-time homebuyer program with a low down payment requirement (as little as 3 percent). PennyMac also has refinancing options, plus home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and streamline refinancing. Although there are sales office locations, borrowers must apply online or by phone. PennyMac's offerings cater to various borrowing needs, including people with both excellent and average credit, investors, veterans, existing homeowners and first-time buyers.
- Strengths: Online and phone customer service available; first-time homebuyer program with a low down payment requirement (as little as 3 percent down; offers a guarantee that they will close on time or the borrower gets a $500 Visa gift card (provided the late closing is the fault of PennyMac)
- Weaknesses: No brick-and-mortar locations; customer service call center hours limited
Mr. Cooper is a non-bank mortgage lender and servicer in the U.S. offering a wide variety of services, including dedicated and non-dedicated loans and manual underwriting for clients with special circumstances.
- Strengths: Available in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; electronic submission of loan documents; easy-to-use app that allows borrowers to check application status and make payments
- Weaknesses: Fees for services, including loan origination, rate lock and underwriting; no branch locations