Pedestrians walking past a Wells Fargo branch
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Wells Fargo is a $1.9 trillion-asset bank that offers many mortgage options beyond the conforming loans that most banks offer through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Wells Fargo has a number of programs in the nonconforming space to help first-time homebuyers, applicants with low credit scores or those who need discounts on closing costs.

Despite the recent problems with its sales practices, Wells Fargo remains the largest mortgage originator for all types of home loans, making $146.3 billion in mortgages in 2016.

Wells Fargo Snapshot

  • Wells Fargo offers mortgage applications online, by phone, or in person at its more than 5,900 branches nationwide.
  • Wells Fargo’s mortgage products include both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages or refinances as well as home equity lines of credit and other home loan products.
  • The bank also offers specialty products for jumbo mortgages, new home construction and renovation loans, and mortgage benefits for eligible union members.
  • Available in all 50 states.

What Wells Fargo offers

Wells Fargo offers home purchase and refinance loans starting at 10-year terms and going up to 30 years as well as any year in between. It also has adjustable-rate home loans ranging between 5, 7 and 10 years. This includes a nonconforming ARM that initially caps the interest rate at 2 percent and no greater than 5 percent when the rate adjusts. This could help to prevent any sticker shock down the road if mortgages rates rise, which they are expected to do.

The bank has more unique products in its nonconforming space compared to other competitors. This includes a mortgage product that requires only 3 percent down and $750 in closing credit if the applicant agrees to take a homebuyer-education course. The applicant does not have to be a first-time homebuyer.

Wells Fargo also offers a mortgage program for members of unions that have partnered with the bank in which they get $500 back in closing-cost credit, among other perks. There are more than 30,000 unions that participate in the Union Plus mortgage program, says Joe Rogers, executive vice president of sales and service systems office at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Minimum borrower requirements

Wells Fargo offers conforming loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that mainly require at least a 620 credit score (FICO) and an overall debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or less. But Wells Fargo will go below those requirements depending on the applicant’s financial profile.

“If someone came in with 610 FICO score but had strong income or other compensating reasons, would the borrower be turned down automatically? No,” says Rogers. “We try to look at the whole transaction and make a decision from there.”

How to apply for a Wells Fargo mortgage

You can apply for a Wells Fargo mortgage online, by phone or at any of the 5,900 branches nationwide. It’s worth first researching their products online but the bank offers a wide range of mortgage products that can shift periodically. So it’s ultimately best to talk to someone at the bank who can walk you through more options or ways of structuring your costs.

Even if you are initially turned down by Wells Fargo or told not to apply for a mortgage at that time, the bank offers a program called “My Home Roadmap Service” where you can get up to two hours, or $250, of pre-purchase counseling with a certified national credit counselor.

What fees will you pay

Wells Fargo typically stays within competitive market rates, but they have specialty programs that offer a lower or flexible rates and discounts on your closing costs depending on your needs. You can compare their general interest rates to other lenders here.

Some of Wells Fargo’s mortgage products will require you to pay for mortgage insurance or a fee to lock in your rate. The bank also charges a fee to get an appraisal on the home, but it will sometimes waive the fee if it can get a similar appraisal digitally.

Ask about all of the closing costs for various mortgage products to make sure you can afford the loan. And you can always check how much of a home you can afford before applying for a mortgage through Bankrate’s mortgage calculator.

Advantages

If you don’t fit the typical conforming mortgage requirements, Wells Fargo may still likely to work with you or offer you a specialty program that is not be widely available.

“We have a large appetite for the nonconforming business,” says Rogers.

And as one of the largest U.S. banks, it has a heavy branch presence if you prefer applying in person.

Disadvantages

Wells Fargo has recently admitted that it created millions of fake accounts, and found that it wrongfully charged some mortgage applicants a fee to extend their interest rate lock while waiting to close on a home.

However, the company is vetting itself for other issues with its sales practices, and President Donald Trump has vowed to crack down further on the company’s wrongdoing through a consumer regulator, according to a tweet.

What people are saying about Wells Fargo

More people have come forward about issues with Wells Fargo since federal regulators cited the bank for faulty sales practices. As of December 21, 2017, roughly 926,270 consumer complaints have been filed against the bank with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to its public database. Of those complaints 3.5 percent, or 32,656, were related to mortgages.

The bank has been trying to redeem its reputation, so as a new customer, you might be offered a better experience.

“You earn people’s trust in drops and you lose their trust in buckets,” says Rogers. “We lost it in buckets and we know that it’s our job, each and every day, to make sure we’re giving customers advice that’s sound.”

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