What’s the best mortgage lender?
The best mortgage lenders should have excellent customer service, a broad range of mortgage products, in-depth expertise, and competitive rates and fees.
Each of our 10 best lenders excels in all these areas.
But remember, our top pick won’t necessarily be yours. You need to get quotes from multiple lenders to be sure you’re getting a great deal.
|Average Customer Review Score (Out of 5)1||Minimum Credit Score||Best Feature(s)2|
|Guild Mortgage Co.||5.0||600||Lowest average rates, best customer service (tie)|
|Movement Mortgage||5.0||580||Best customer service (tie)|
|Homebridge||5.0||620||Best customer service (tie)|
|CrossCountry Mortgage||4.9||580||Excellent customer service, low average rates|
|New American Funding||4.9||620||Excellent customer service, low average rates|
|Supreme Lending||4.9||620-640||Lowest average loan costs|
|Bank of America||4.6||620||First-time home buyer grants and programs|
|Homepoint||4.8||580||Flexible credit score requirements|
|Citizens Bank||4.7||620||First-time home buyer programs|
|Guaranteed Rate||4.6||620||Low average rates|
Editor’s note: The Mortgage Reports may be compensated by some of these lenders if you choose to work with them. However, that does not affect our reviews. See our full editorial disclosures.
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To find the best mortgage lenders in 2021, we started with a list of the 25 biggest home purchase lenders by volume. Then we narrowed down the selection based on:
- Customer service
- Average interest rates
- Range of loan options
- Minimum credit score
- Special perks for homeowners
The following lenders are some of the best in the nation. But they’re by no means the only good ones around.
So use this list as a starting point — but don’t be afraid to explore other lenders based on your needs, your home buying or refinancing goals, and local recommendations.
The 10 best mortgage lenders for 2021
1. Guild Mortgage Co.
It’s no surprise that Guild takes our No. 1 spot for best mortgage lender.
In 2020 — the most recent data available — Guild offered the lowest average 30-year mortgage rates of any on this list: just 3.15%.
And it ties for first place with two other lenders when it comes to the best customer service reviews, with a near-perfect score.
There’s plenty else to like about Guild Mortgage, too. For example, it offers many mortgage types, including some that others won’t touch — like USDA and renovation loans as well as those for manufactured homes.
Guild is also comfortable working with down payment assistance programs, which are essential for many first-time buyers.
You can choose how to engage with Guild. Its slick website provides all the functionality you need to make and track your application online.
But, if you prefer, loan advisors are readily available over the phone or in branches (in most states) to explain your loan options and to hold your hand throughout the process.
As for downsides? Well, Guild’s average loan costs were higher in 2020 than most others on our list. And you’ll likely need a 600 credit score for an FHA loan, while many will accept 580.
2. Movement Mortgage
Movement Mortgage had slightly higher average mortgage rates (3.24%) than Guild in 2020. But its median loan costs that year were more than $500 lower. That could be good news for borrowers who are short on upfront cash.
Movement also says it can approve FHA, VA, and USDA loans for applicants with scores as low as 580. And that’s important to many borrowers.
The company says its “goal [is] to provide underwriting results within six hours of receiving an application, process loans in seven days, and close in one day.” But it goes on to explain that’s not always possible in every case, especially difficult ones.
To achieve such rapid results, Movement relies on innovative technologies. And those are available to customers wanting to apply through its website.
However, Movement also has 650 branches across all 50 states. So it could also be a good choice for those who prefer the personal touch.
3. Homebridge Financial Services
Homebridge fares especially well when it comes to customer service reviews from borrowers.
The company says its goal is “making the complicated mortgage lending experience simple, easy and transparent for everyone involved.” And the proof is in its near-perfect customer satisfaction scores.
Along with great customer support, Homebridge offers a wide range of mortgage loan products. Those include some harder-to-find options like USDA loans, jumbo loans, and loans for second homes and investment properties.
There are downsides, including that Homebridge had one of the highest 2020 average mortgage rates (3.27%) and loan costs on our list. But we’re talking very narrow ranges here. And the dollar differences between the highest and lowest may not be as big as you’d think.
More importantly, you won’t know how low those rates and costs might be for you personally unless you request a quote. But you’ll likely need a credit score of 620 or higher, even if you want an FHA loan.
4. CrossCountry Mortgage
CrossCountry ties in second place for lowest average 30-year mortgage rates in 2020 (3.17%).
True, its upfront loan costs were competitive rather than the lowest. But CrossCountry could be a strong contender if you’re focused on value for your money — especially considering its strong customer satisfaction scores.
And CrossCountry’s credit score thresholds are low. You may be approved for an FHA loan if your FICO score is 580 or higher, though you’ll likely need 620 for other types, including USDA, VA, and conventional loans.
CrossCountry’s website also talks about its Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI).
It says, “If you can’t make the full 20% down payment, we may be able to pay your mortgage insurance for you. However, your interest rate will be slightly higher to cover this expense.” This is a unique program that not all lenders offer.
However, a higher interest rate can cost you more in the long run — so make sure you crunch the numbers to find the best loan option for you. You can get a custom rate quote from CossCountry to see how your savings stack up.
5. New American Funding
New American Funding is another mortgage lender with ultra-low average mortgage rates (3.18%) in 2020.
Yes, its average loan costs that year were higher than the average for our list. But not by much. And its customer service is excellent, according to online reviews.
New American Funding can approve conventional loans with a credit score as low as 620. But you may need a higher score for other loan types.
However, the company promises to view each loan application on a case-by-case basis. So if there’s a good, historical reason why your score’s lower than normally required, New American Funding may still try to find ways to approve you.
New American Funding also has its own remarkable product, called I CAN. This lets you pick any loan term you want between eight and 30 years.
Most homebuyers and refinancers choose a 30-year loan, which spreads your monthly payments out and keeps each one low. But, if you can afford higher payments over a shorter term, you could save a huge amount in mortgage interest.
6. Supreme Lending
At 3.20%, Supreme Lending was mid-range on our list for low 30-year mortgage rates in 2020. But its total loan costs were the lowest by far. They were less than half of the highest-cost lender on our list.
We’re talking about serious potential savings here. If you’re worried that cash will be tight at closing, this might win Supreme a place on your short list.
And you don’t have to worry about compromising on customer service to save a dollar. Supreme tied for fourth best customer satisfaction on our list, according to online reviews.
But remember — closing costs vary a lot from one borrower to the next. So you’ll need a custom Loan Estimate from Supreme Lending to see your actual fees.
On the downside, Supreme Lending does tend to have higher credit score thresholds than most.
7. Bank of America
Well, here’s a name you know well. Bank of America is among the most famous U.S. financial institutions. And for good reason: in our study, it has a solid reputation for customer service as well as pricing and fees.
When it comes to average mortgage rates (3.19%) and loan costs in 2020, BofA does well compared to the others top mortgage lenders.
And it even has a couple of grant programs to help first-time home buyers cover their down payments and closing costs.
The America’s Home Grant program can offer a lender credit of up to $7,500 toward certain closing costs, including discount points. And the Down Payment Grant can offer up to 3% of the home’s purchase price to a maximum of $10,000.
BofA also has a down payment center than can help you find other down payment assistance programs local to you. Check the lender’s website for details and terms and conditions.
Even if you’re in love with the idea of free money, you still need to compare Bank of America’s quote with a few other lenders. In the end, you may find an even better deal elsewhere.
HomePoint does well for average mortgage rates (3.18% in 2020), tying in third place for the lowest on this list.
HomePoint also comes in a highly respectable third for average loan costs that year. And it does well for customer service, too.
That makes HomePoint sound like a solid all-rounder. And it is. But there’s more to it.
To start with, HomePoint is accessible to those with challenging finances. Its credit score thresholds are as low as any here: 580 for FHA and VA loans and 620 for conventional and USDA ones.
Borrowers with lower credit scores tend to pay higher mortgage rates. And that might have skewed HomePoint’s averages for rates and costs. So request a quote, because this could easily turn out to be one of your best deals.
9. Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank seems to offer its own version of the Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance that CrossCountry offers. You can buy with a down payment of as little as 3% of the purchase price and pay no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Provided you and your new home meet certain eligibility requirements, you can also apply to Citizens Bank’s own down payment assistance program.
But you’ll likely need a decent credit score to qualify for any mortgage from Citizens Bank. It looks for a minimum of 620, even for FHA loans.
It didn’t do badly at all for median loan costs in 2020. Indeed, it was second-best on our list for those.
But the bank didn’t do well for its average mortgage rates that year. However, as we said before, the range among our picks for best mortgage lenders was small. And you might get a lower-than-average rate if you ask for a quote.
10. Guaranteed Rate
Someone had to come last on our list. And this year that was Guaranteed Rate. But remember, we’re picking the best of the best here. And this lender is excellent in most respects.
For example, it tied in second place for low average 30-year mortgage rates in 2020. And its average loan costs that year were lower than any of the top-five best mortgage lenders listed above.
So, if value for money is your main concern, then Guaranteed Rate should be near the top of your short list. But you’ll probably need a credit score of 620 or better to successfully apply for any of its mortgages.
If Guaranteed Rate is so good how come it’s in the No. 10 spot? Well, unfortunately, its online customer reviews let it down. If it weren’t for those, it would be way up the list.
How to shop for a mortgage lender
You may notice our picks for best mortgage lenders are all large companies.
These major lenders are available to most people, and big enough to be rated by official agencies. This lets us review mortgage lenders objectively.
But there are plenty of local lenders, credit unions, and mortgage brokers worth looking into as well.
So how do you know which mortgage lender is the best one for you?
Find a lender that works for your situation
Different lenders tend to specialize in different types of borrowers.
One might be the best at helping “top-tier” home buyers (those with stellar credit scores, large down payments, etc.), while another might offer much better rates and programs for those with weaker applications.
That means there’s likely a mortgage company out there with a great deal waiting for you.
The catch? You won’t know which one it is until you’ve compared loan offers side by side.
Compare Loan Estimates to find the best deal
Plan to dedicate a few hours to filling out mortgage applications before you’ll know which company is really best for you. We recommend checking with three or four lenders minimum.
By law, each lender is required to provide a standard Loan Estimate after you apply. This document will list all the information you need to compare mortgage loans side by side, including:
- Mortgage interest rates
- Annual percentage rate (APR)
- Estimated closing costs
- Monthly mortgage payments
- Loan terms and loan type
You can use these estimates to find a lender that matches your priorities: for instance, the lowest interest rate or the lowest upfront fees.
Finally, don’t forget to look for lenders that offer services that you find valuable.
For instance, you might not care as much about rates and fees if you can find a lender offer down payment assistance. This can be a game changer for first-time home buyers.
What are mortgage rates today?
Mortgage rates in 2021 are moving away from the record lows seen in late 2020 and early 2021.
Many experts think they’re going to rise even higher through the rest of this year.
Home prices were also shooting up when this was written.
So, if you’re thinking of getting a mortgage, you might want to act as quickly as you can. Because homeownership is going to get more costly — if those experts are right — as mortgage rates go higher.
How to get the best mortgage rates
Your mortgage rate depends on how “good” your application looks to lenders. To get the lowest rate, you need a high credit score, solid down payment, few debts, and other features that make you look like a responsible borrower.
With that in mind, there are steps you can take leading up to your mortgage application to ensure you get the best rate possible:
- Shop around with 3-4 lenders minimum
- Compare loan offers carefully
- Check your credit report and dispute errors in your credit history to improve your score
- Pay down debts to keep your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) low
- Keep credit card balances below 30% of your limit
- Watch out for closing costs, especially the loan origination fee which varies a lot by lender
- Consider buying discount points to lower your rate if you have extra cash upfront
Some lenders sneakily reduce the rates they offer in their quotes by assuming you’re going to buy discount points. Others don’t.
There’s nothing wrong with discount points if you want them. But you need to compare rates on equal footing. So, make sure your loan estimates factor in the same amount of points.
Choosing the right loan type
Choosing the right type of home loan is just as important as choosing the right lender.
Your loan type will help determine your eligibility as well as your interest rate.
Here’s a brief overview of the five main types of mortgage loans:
|Min. Down Payment||Min. Credit Score||Mortgage Insurance Required If <20% Down||Special Eligibility Requirements|
|VA Loan||0%||N/A (Often 620)||No||Must have military service history|
|USDA Loan||0%||640||Yes||Must buy in a rural area|
|Jumbo Loan||10-20%||680-700||Yes||Loan amount above conforming loan limits|
Finding the right loan type is personal.
You have to consider your own goals; for instance, do you want the lowest down payment possible? The lowest monthly payment possible? Do you have a lower credit score and need extra flexibility?
For more information about each loan type and help choosing, see our complete guide to types of home loans.
Best mortgage lenders FAQ
In 2020 — the most recent data available — Quicken Loans and Wells Fargo were the biggest mortgage lenders by volume. But naming the number one mortgage lender for quality is less straightforward. The right lender for you depends on your goals. We recommend considering the ten lenders listed in this review as well as local banks and credit unions.
In a recent study, we found the banks with the best mortgage rates to be Freedom Mortgage, Citibank, Guild Mortgage Company, and the American Financial Network. This was based on 30-year fixed mortgage rate data filed for 2020 under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Your own mortgage rate depends on your circumstance, so there’s a good chance you could find a lower interest rate from a different lender.
30-year mortgage rates hit their all-time low in January 2021, dipping to 2.65 percent during the coronavirus pandemic. But they’ve risen since then and are currently closer to 3 percent or a little above. Of course, these are still extraordinarily low rates by historical standards.
There are all sorts of mortgage lenders, including big-name banks, credit unions, online lenders, and mortgage brokers. The right one for you depends on your needs and wants. For instance, a big bank might have more local branches where you can meet with a loan officer. But if you want convenience, online lenders often have a simple application process and relatively fast closings. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find lender recommendations online, from friends and family, or from your real estate agent.
Shopping for a mortgage involves getting loan pre-approval from a few different lenders. Then you can compare interest rates and fees to see which one is offering the best deal. It’s a four-step process: 1. Decide on the type of mortgage you need. 2. Complete the application process with at least three lenders. 3. Compare your quotes carefully. 4. Choose the deal that’s best for you.
Both VA loans and USDA loans allow you to get a mortgage with no money down. Other low down payment loans require at least 3 percent. If that’s a little more than you’re able to afford, look into down payment assistance (DPA) programs across the country that can help cover your down payment with grants or low-interest loans.
Many home buyers have to pay for mortgage insurance, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. PMI is typically required on mortgages with less than 20% down. But note that a couple of the lenders listed above say they’ll pay your mortgage insurance for you. Those aside, PMI is a good thing in the sense that it can help you buy a home much sooner than would otherwise be possible. And it’s possible to refinance into a loan without PMI later on.
Most homebuyers choose a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) over an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Fixed-rate mortgages have the same rate and payment over the life of the loan, so there are no surprise costs. Adjustable-rate mortgages have a fixed rate for the first few years (usually 5-7), then your rate can move up or down with markets. An ARM might be good if you plan to sell in a few years. Otherwise, it presents the danger of your mortgage rate and payment eventually increasing.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not mortgage lenders. Rather, they help regulate ‘conforming’ loan programs that are available through almost every private lender. So you can apply for Fannie and Freddie’s loan programs with just about any lender you want.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the broader economy, interest rates for home loans reached record lows in January 2021. But they’ve risen since. To access the market’s lowest rates you’ll need a strong credit score (think 720+), a decent down payment, and a lender whose strengths match your specific home buying or refinance needs.
Recap: The 10 best mortgage lenders
To recap, here are our picks for the ten best mortgage lenders in 2021:
- Guild Mortgage Co. — Lowest average rates, best customer service (tie)
- Movement Mortgage — Best customer service (tie)
- Homebridge — Best customer service (tie)
- CrossCountry Mortgage — Excellent customer service, low average rates
- New American Funding — Excellent customer service, low average rates
- Supreme Lending — Lowest average loan costs
- Bank of America — First-time home buyer grants and programs
- HomePoint — Flexible credit score requirements
- Citizens Bank — First-time home buyer programs
- Guaranteed Rate — Low average rates
Remember, mortgage rates change daily.
So, once you find a lender you like, keep an eye out for low rates and be prepared to lock.
You can get a head start by requesting personalized rate estimates below.
1Average customer review scores sourced from LendingTree.com, Zillow.com, Bankrate.com, and J.D. Power’s most recent Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study where available for each lender
2Average interest rates and loan fees based on the most recent self-reported data all lenders are required to file under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)