Finding the best mortgage lender in 5 simple steps

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There is no shortage of banks, online lenders, mortgage brokers, and other players willing to accept your loan application. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the right mortgage lender. Sign up for a Bankrate account to discover insights, analysis, and lender ratings from our team of mortgage experts.

Types of mortgage lenders

  • Direct lenders
  • Mortgage brokers
  • Correspondent lenders
  • Wholesale lenders
  • Portfolio lenders
  • Hard money lenders

Direct lenders

Banks, credit unions, online companies, and other enterprises are examples of direct lenders because they offer mortgages to borrowers directly. They create and finance mortgages, service them (i.e. manage their repayments), or outsource the service to a third party. They also set the lending rates and terms. These can vary greatly depending on which lender you use.

Pros: In-house process from application to completion. Borrowers typically work with loan officers
Cons: Prices and terms vary widely by lender.

Mortgage brokers

Independent, regulated specialists who work as matchmakers between lenders and borrowers are known as mortgage brokers. The broker usually charges a small percentage of the loan amount (usually he is 1-2%) for the service and the lender pays this (but it is passed to you as part of the mortgage cost ). They don’t fund loans, set interest rates or fees, or make lending decisions.

Pros: Works with multiple lenders on behalf of the borrower
Cons: Potential conflict of interest

Correspondent lenders

Correspondent lenders create and fund their own loans, but after the loans are closed, they quickly sell to larger lenders in the secondary mortgage market.

Pros: Access to various credit products
Cons: Borrowers only know which company is managing the mortgage after the sale. Service providers can be difficult to track

Wholesale lenders

Wholesale lenders do not communicate with borrowers, in contrast to direct lenders. They typically work with their mortgage brokers and other third parties to offer loan products at discounted rates and rely on brokers to help borrowers apply for mortgages and go through the approval process. increase.

Pros: Lower or more favorable credit terms
Cons: You have to go through a third party (such as a broker) to do wholesale transactions.

Portfolio lenders

The portfolio lender initiates and funds the loan from the customer’s bank deposits, thus maintaining the loan and not reselling it after closing. Portfolio lenders typically include community banks, credit unions, savings, and credit institutions.

Pros: Helps borrowers with special circumstances qualify for loans. Opportunity to work with local institutions
Cons: Potentially limited loan amounts or poor terms

Hard money lenders

Coinlenders are individual investors (individuals or groups) that provide short-term loans secured by real estate. While traditional lenders scrutinize your financial ability to repay your mortgage, hard money lenders are more concerned with the value of your property to protect your investment. We demand repayment in a short period of one year. They also typically charge origination fees, closing costs, and interest rates that are up to 10 percent higher than traditional lenders.

Pros: It may be easier to qualify borrowers who don’t meet the criteria for traditional loans. Fast approval and disbursement of funds
Cons: Higher fees and tariffs. Short-term loans have higher monthly payments

How to find the best mortgage lender

Finding the best mortgage lender requires shopping in many different places. Consider various options such as banks, local credit unions, and online lenders. Ask for interest rates, loan terms, down payment requirements, mortgage insurance, closing costs, and fees of any kind, and compare these details with each offer.

Before you start shopping, there are some steps you can take to get the best price.

  1. Strengthen your credit
  2. Determine your budget
  3. Know your mortgage options
  4. Compare rates and terms from multiple lenders
  5. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  6. Read the fine print

Strengthen your credit

Review your financial situation and improve your standing if necessary long before you find a mortgage lender and apply for a loan. This means checking your eligibility credit score and credit report. You are entitled to receive free credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) available at
If your score needs some work, first check your credit report for errors, late payments, unpaid accounts in collections, and high balances. Paying off each credit card with less than 30% of available credit and making payments on time is the best way to improve your score, says a national mortgage lender based in Aurora, Colorado. said Jason Bates, vice president of purchasing for the company American Financing. In addition to a solid credit score, lenders want to see if they can handle existing debt and new mortgage payments, so they look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This formula sums up all your monthly debts and divides them by your total monthly income to get a percentage. Many lenders require a DTI ratio of less than 43%, but some loan programs allow up to 50%.

To keep your DTI ratio manageable, avoid taking out new money or making large purchases on your credit card for at least three months before applying for a mortgage. This rule must be followed until the mortgage is completed. Because the lender can get your credit report at any time during the application process until you close.

Determine your budget

The key to finding the right mortgage is knowing how much home you can afford. Lenders may stretch their budgets and qualify for loans that leave no room for unexpected expenses, but taking out such a mortgage can be a bad move financially.

Lenders will pre-approve you based on your total income, outstanding loans, and revolving debt, says Bates. Invoices are not taken into account in the calculation.

Consider these types of expenses and other financial goals to get a better idea of ​​how much you can afford. Calculate how much you should spend on your mortgage payments by looking at your monthly net income.

“Set a line-item budget for all your monthly expenses and keep your monthly mortgage payments modest,” says Bates, adding that this can help you find your ideal home quickly. It’s especially important for first-time homebuyers who can’t, he adds.

Know your mortgage options

An important aspect of finding the best mortgage lender is speaking their language, including understanding the different types of mortgages. Some preliminary research also helps distinguish between mortgage fact and fiction.

“Traditionally, when it comes to taking out a mortgage, many people either go to the bank first or pay 20 percent to buy a house,” said Matt Ishbia, United’s president and CEO. “That’s an outdated way of thinking.”

Many lenders offer traditional loans with as little as a 3% down payment, and some federally insured loans require no down payment or he only requires a 3.5% down payment. Consider FHA and USDA loans. If you’re a veteran, consider a VA loan. Note that many lenders charge higher interest rates and require mortgage insurance if the deposit amount is less than 20%.

Compare rates and terms from multiple lenders

It’s not a good idea to settle for the first lender you speak to. We work with a variety of lenders including banks, credit unions, online lenders, and local independent providers to ensure you get the best deal in terms of interest rates, fees, and terms. Find a lender you can communicate with the way you prefer: online, via text message, or in person.

If you don’t shop, you might leave money on the table. Several studies, including those by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Freddie Mac, have found that comparison shopping saves borrowers thousands over the course of a 30-year mortgage. Start looking for a lender.

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Interface Mortgage Company
Amerisave Mortgage Corporation
Cardinal Financial Company
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Pre-approved lenders do a thorough check of your credit and finances, so getting pre-approved mortgages from 3 or 4 different lenders is the only way to get accurate loan pricing.

Lenders may have different document requirements for pre-approval. In general, you should provide:

Motorist’s license or other government print ID
Social Security figures for all borrowers( to pull credit)
Domestic address history, as well as names and contact information for landlords in the once two times
Pay remainders from the once 30 days.
Two times of civil duty returns, 1099s and W- 2s
Printouts of bank statements for all accounts for the once 60 days
List of all financial accounts( checking, savings, brokerage accounts, 401( k), and other withdrawal savings plans)
List of all revolving and fixed debt payments, including credit cards, particular and bus loans, pupil loans, alimony or child support
Your employment and earnings history, as well as the names and contact details of your most recent employers
Information regarding the down payment, including the amount, the source of the funds, and gift letters if you are requesting assistance from a friend or relative.
Information on any recent liens or legal judgments against you or other borrowers, similar as IRS conduct, ruin, collections accounts, or suits

Remember: Pre-approval for a mortgage doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Lenders can double-check your credit, employment and income history, and assets at any time during the process. increase. For example, taking out a new car loan can change your financial situation and ruin your mortgage.

After pre-approval, Ishbia said, borrowers, are on “hold” to avoid opening new lines of credit, moving funds into bank accounts, or changing jobs before and during the mortgage process. need to do it. a

Read the fine print

We get it Mortgage documents make your eyes out. But if you don’t read them nearly and there are any crimes or surprises, you could feel the buyer’s guilt latterly. Check out this explainer on the loan estimate form lenders are needed to give you within three days of entering your mortgage operation.

Pay close attention to your interest rate, yearly payments, lender and loan processing freights, closing costs, and the down payment quantum. These particulars shouldn’t change dramatically from preapproval to closing if your credit and fiscal profile stay the same.
Lenders occasionally offer credits to help lower the quantum of cash due at the end. Be apprehensive, though These credits can push up the interest rate on your loan, which means you’ll eventually pay further.

As you compare loan estimates from different lenders, you’ll see a slew of third-party costs, similar to lender’s title insurance, title hunt figure, appraisal figure, recording figure, transfer levies, and other executive costs. You can negotiate some of these ending costs, but know that lenders don’t determine the freights for third-party services just their own.
Always ask questions if you don’t understand certain freights or spot crimes in the paperwork( similar to a misspelled name or a wrong bank account). Getting ahead of any issues beforehand can save you a lot of headaches latterly.


Doing the basic mortgage homework early on will help you succeed and familiarize yourself with the different types of mortgage lenders. Mortgages are not one-size-fits-all, so you need to understand how mortgages work and how they differ from one another. This will help you find the best mortgage lender and loan for your situation.

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