Best online mortgage lenders of 2021

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Bankrate compared more than 50 financial institutions, including those that are completely digital (with no branch locations) and ones with an online and physical presence, to determine the best online mortgage lenders this year.

We based this comparison on depth of online services, including the ability for borrowers to:

  • Apply for a loan online
  • Chat with real-time support
  • Check your loan status (via app or online portal)
  • Electronically sign

We also evaluated lenders based on access to online tools, such as a calculator to estimate your mortgage payment, an education hub or a glossary of mortgage terms, and for additional considerations, such as the company’s footprint and loan offerings.

Based on these criteria, here are the best online mortgage lenders in 2021 (in alphabetical order).

Best online mortgage lenders

AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation

AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation is an online mortgage lender licensed in 49 states and Washington, D.C., with an array of loan offerings spanning:

  • Purchase and refinance
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA, VA and USDA loans

What to know: As an online mortgage lender, AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation offers online prequalification within three minutes, as well as convenient online services like chat support, e-signature/file upload and loan status tracking. Through the lender’s website, borrowers can calculate whether to buy or rent, what their mortgage payment is or their potential refinance savings, and access the Mortgage Knowledge Center built out with educational articles and videos.

Better Mortgage

Better Mortgage (also known as Better.com) is an online mortgage lender licensed in 43 states and Washington, D.C. The lender’s loan products include:

  • Purchase and refinance
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA loans

What to know: Better Mortgage has an online preapproval process, completed in three minutes, in addition to chat support and the ability to add documents, check your loan status and e-sign paperwork. The lender’s online tools include affordability, amortization and refinance calculators, a comprehensive glossary of homeownership and mortgage terms and a Resources hub for borrowers. Better Mortgage doesn’t, however, offer VA loans or USDA loans, which can be limiting to some.

Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate is both a brick-and-mortar and online mortgage lender, available in all 50 states in the U.S. Its loan offerings include:

  • Purchase and refinance
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA, VA and USDA loans

What to know: Even with a physical presence, Guaranteed Rate offers online preapproval, as well as other in-demand digital services like loan tracking. The company also developed “FlashClose” eClosing, which allows you to e-sign prior to your closing date, and an app, GR Loans, that allows you to apply for a loan, compare offers and quotes, and more. Its online services include calculators, a Knowledge Center and housing market research and resources.

Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage, the digital mortgage arm of Quicken Loans, is available in all 50 states in the U.S., with loan types including:

  • Purchase and refinance
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA and VA loans

What to know: Through Rocket Mortgage, you can apply online both when you want to prequalify and when it comes time to make an offer and get financing. Like other online mortgage lenders, Rocket Mortgage has chat support and e-signing capabilities, and also has an app with checklists, push notifications, auto-pay set-up, and more. Its online tools include a Learning Center with information on purchasing or refinancing a loan.

Truist

Truist, a brick-and-mortar and online mortgage lender, was formed from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Bank, widening the company’s reach to 47 states and Washington, D.C. Truist’s mortgage products include:

  • Purchase and refinance
  • Conventional loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA, VA and USDA loans

What to know: With its branch locations, Truist combines in-person interaction with the convenience of online services, including the ability to apply for a loan (or prequalify for one) and get loan status updates. Currently, you can use either the BB&T or SunTrust apps for access from your devices, and the company also has a unique CreditSmart course for homebuyers, held online, that can help you qualify for a lower-down payment mortgage.

What is an online mortgage?

An online mortgage is a home loan originated by a lender based either entirely online, with a digital end-to-end experience from application to closing, or a brick-and-mortar company with in-person locations and online services.

In recent years, many banks have built out their capabilities to include a digital mortgage platform, but a majority of mortgages are also being originated by non-bank institutions. Non-bank institutions include companies like loanDepot and Quicken Loans, while banks include well-known brands like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

In addition to digital lenders who are based either online or have a hybrid online and physical presence, there are digital mortgage brokers, such as Morty and Sage, who assist borrowers throughout the lending process, including finding loan products and rates. For borrowers new to purchasing or refinancing, these brokers can be a good place to start.

How does an online mortgage work?

With an online mortgage, all or many of the steps in the lending process can be completed electronically, whether through an app or online portal. These steps might include:

  • Preapproval or prequalification
  • Application and document upload
  • Loan processing and underwriting
  • Closing (sometimes called an e-closing)

By streamlining these steps — and, in the case of a digital lender, having no offices and overhead — online mortgages tend to have lower rates and overall costs, which can save borrowers thousands.

How to choose the best online mortgage lender

Getting financing for a home is a process, so many borrowers are attracted to online mortgage lenders simply for their convenience, efficiency and speed. These are important factors to consider when looking for the best online mortgage lender, but it’s also crucial to compare costs for your individual situation, and take the time to read mortgage lender reviews to learn what to expect from the online experience.

When comparing digital lenders, be sure to look for:

  • The kinds of loans they offer
  • Credit and down payment requirements
  • Application and origination fees
  • Rate-lock and other perks
  • What support options are available

Online mortgage pros and cons

Pros

  • Lower mortgage rates and fees due to low overhead
  • Online preapproval or prequalification, often in minutes, and shorter timelines overall
  • Real-time status updates

Cons

  • Can’t always connect with a human for questions or support
  • Can’t always get rates upfront; preapproval may be required
  • Chance of a breach or fraud in a completely digital process

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