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Direct Lender or Marketplace
Direct lenders provide loans to borrowers. Marketplaces help borrowers compare direct lenders.
Marketplace
Direct
Direct
Direct
Direct
Terms
The duration of your loan, i.e. the number of years to repay it.
10-30
5-15
15-30
15-30
15-30
Minimum Credit Score
All
630+
630+
630+
630+
Minimum Down Payment
Lowest down payment across all mortgage products
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Pros & Cons
Advertises rates
Non-conventional loans
Government-backed loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA.
Market-beating rates
Top Pro
Free to use
Funding within 5 days
Quick and effective approval process
Quick application and closure
Completely online lender
Top Con
Not a direct lender
Only deals with HELs, no other products
No rates without contact details
No HELs or HELOCs
No HELs or HELOCs
Bottom Line
Compares lenders in seconds
Specializes in Home Equity Loans
Combining experience and digital
Nation’s largest mortgage lender
Quicken Loans’ online lending service
Types of Loans
Fixed Rate
Conventional loan with fixed rate for duration of loan
Adjustable Rate
Conventional loan with adjustable rate for introductory period of 3-10 years
Cash Out Refinance
Alternative way of using home equity to borrow cash
HEL/HELOC
Loans and lines of credit that let homeowners tap into their equity to borrow large sums
Jumbo
Loan that exceeds FHA’s conforming limits, usually more than $424,100.
FHA
Government-backed loan for borrowers with low credit, with 3.5-10% down payment
VA
Government-backed loan for military personnel and veterans
USDA
Loans backed by Department of Agriculture for rural and suburban homes
Reverse Mortgage
Enables homeowners aged 62 and older to use their home equity to borrow
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2018
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50
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Comparing the Top Mortgage Lenders
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or real estate investor, purchasing a new home is always challenging. Getting a mortgage can be stressful and complicated, what with all the rates, fees, and paperwork to worry about. Fortunately, this website contains guides and reviews to the best mortgage lenders in the business. We’ve found everything there is to know about the mortgage lending industry to save you the trouble.
Types of Mortgages
Conventional Home Loans
The most common form of mortgage is a conventional mortgage. These types of home loans involve two parties: the borrower (you) and a lender. Most lenders require borrowers to make at least a 20% down payment to get a conventional mortgage, with some exceptions. For example, if you purchase a home for $300,000, your lender will require you to pay down at least $60,000 and loan you the remaining $240,000.
FHA Loans
This is a government-backed loan administered by the Federal Housing Administration for buyers with poor credit or lack of funds for a 20% down payment. FHA loans come in two forms: 3.5% down payment for borrowers with credit of 580-619, or 10% down payment for borrowers with as low as 500-579 credit score. The one major catch of taking out an FHA loan is that you must purchase monthly private mortgage insurance (which you can stop paying once you reach 20% equity).
VA Loans
The VA loan is a government-backed loan administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Some lenders offer VA loans without any down payment. Like the FHA loan, monthly PMI is a condition of taking out a VA loan. The following people may apply for a VA loan: veterans who have served at least 90 consecutive days of active service in wartime or 181 days of active service in peacetime; members of the National Guard and Reserve who have served at least 6 years; and spouses of veterans who died in the line of duty or as a consequence of a service-related injury.
Other Loans
Other types of loans include:
  • Jumbo loans: These are conventional home loans that exceed the FHA’s limit. The limits actually vary based on geographic region, typically around $300,000 to $424,000.
  • USDA loans: Government-backed loans administered by the US Department of Agriculture. These are designed for people buying in rural areas. Like FHA and VA loans, they offer the option of buying with a down payment of less than 20%.
  • Home Equity Loans: Often referred to as a second mortgage, these are loans that let you borrow money against your home equity. The most common type is the home equity loan, or HEL. Another type is the home equity line of credit, or HELOC, which is like a HEL except the borrower can withdraw money up to a pre-set credit limit.
  • USDA loans: Government-backed loans administered by the US Department of Agriculture. These are designed for people buying in rural areas. Like FHA and VA loans, they offer the option of buying with a down payment of less than 20%.
  • Home Equity Loans: Often referred to as a second mortgage, these are loans that let you borrow money against your home equity. The most common type is the home equity loan, or HEL. Another type is the home equity line of credit, or HELOC, which is like a HEL except the borrower can withdraw money up to a pre-set credit limit.
  • Cash-out Refinance: This is a type of mortgage refinancing option that lets the borrower turn some of their home equity into cash. Because this option lets borrowers “cash out”, so to speak, cash-out refinance is often a viable option to a home equity loan.
Types of Rates
Fixed-Rate Mortgages
This is the more popular of the two options, especially among first-time home buyers. Fixed-rate mortgages are mortgages with fixed rates for the entire duration of the loan. When you take a fixed-rate mortgage, you pay more in year one than you would if you took an adjustable-rate mortgage. However, your rate never increases (nor decreases), meaning you can plan exactly how much you’ll pay in monthly instalments across the life of the loan. Once you’re locked into a fixed rate, you’re protected when the Fed and the banks start raising rate.
Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
Adjustable-rate mortgages, also known as ARMs or variable-rate mortgages, carry higher risk and higher reward than fixed rates. ARMs are always cheaper than fixed-rate mortgage in year one, but they carry the risk of higher interest rates in future years. ARMs have two components: the number of years your introductory rate applies; and the intervals at which rates get updated. Most lenders offer ARMs of 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, or 10/1. A 3/1 ARM refers to an ARM with a fixed rate for the first three years and a rate update every year after that. The shorter your fixed period, the better your introductory rate (and the riskier the loan). Because of their unpredictable nature, ARMs are best used by borrowers with high risk appetite or with the intention of paying off their mortgage quickly.
Top 3 Mortgage Lenders
  • LendingTree is the internet’s largest loans marketplace. Founded in the 1990s, this service has helped millions of people get pre-qualified for all types of loans including mortgages. LendingTree works with a network of more than a hundred lenders to help its users find the best mortgage for their needs. To use the service, just provide a few details about yourself and the type of home loan you’re looking for, and LendingTree’s automated search tool will show you the best results.

    LendingTree is a great place to start if you’re looking to find market-beating rates. Like other marketplaces, the secret to its success is competition. By gathering all the top lenders in one place, LendingTree forces each provider to compete on rates and fees – to the benefit of the borrower (you). Where LendingTree stands out from the crowd is in its sheer size. It works with a huge network of trusted lenders from around the country to help gets its customers the lowest possible rates.

  • Founded in 1991, J.G. Wentworth has developed a reputation in recent years as a leading online mortgage lender. J.G. Wentworth offers home buyers the opportunity to apply online for almost any type of mortgage. Types of home loans include: fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable rates, cash-out refinance, and VA and FHA loans.

    The best thing about J.G. Wentworth is that it offers an entirely digital experience without compromising on customer service. Applicants can go through the entire process over the internet – from requesting that first quote to uploading documentation through to e-signing the closing documents. And if at any time you have a question, J.G. Wentworth’s friendly customer support staff are there waiting by the phone to answer your questions. With such a great reputation for customer service, it’s no surprise J.G. Wentworth underwrites more than $3 billion in home loans every year.

  • Quicken Loans overtook Wells Fargo as the largest mortgage lenders in the United States at the end of 2017. It originated 395 thousand loans worth a total of $81.3 billion for the year. Judging by the figures already released for 2018, it has continued to extend its lead at the top. Why is Quicken Loans so successful? The brief answer is that it offers a unique combination of accessibility, affordability, and availability.

    Quicken Loans lets its customers apply using the most convenient channel for their needs. These include: online applications, phone applications, mobile applications, and physical applications in branches scattered throughout the United States. Quicken Loans offers a huge variety of home loans, including conventional and government-backed loans with fixed or adjustable rates and a wide range of terms. It has trimmed the application process down to only the bare necessities, enabling it to close mortgages more quickly than most competitors – and passing on some of the savings to its customers.

How to Compare Mortgages
Here are some of the things to look for when comparing lenders:
  • APR: Your APR, or annual percentage rate, is the rate you pay each year based on interest rate plus lender fees. The lower the APR, the less interest you pay each year.
  • Terms: Loan duration, or term, is just as important as APR. Most lenders offer terms between 10 and 30 years. The shorter the term, the higher your monthly payments but less you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan. The longer your term, the lower your monthly payments but more you’ll pay your lender in the long run.
  • Customer service: Customer service is always important, but even more so when we’re talking about six-figure deals. Always search for a lender that is transparent about rates and fees, open about the requirements, and won’t waste your time dragging out the application process. In the digital age, all the top lenders offer the option of applying for a mortgage and uploading documentation online.
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