What’s the best mortgage lender?
The best mortgage lenders should have excellent customer service, a broad range of mortgage products, 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.Choose your best mortgage lender. Start here
|The Mortgage Reports Score1
|Minimum Credit Score2
|Average Loan Costs3
Home Point Financial
American Financing Corporation
Mr. Cooper (Nationstar)
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 rankings. See our full editorial disclosures here and our review methodology here.
In this article (Skip to…)
- Best mortgage lenders
- Choosing a lender
- Mortgage rates
- Loan options
The 10 best mortgage lenders of 2022
|Avg. 30-Year Mortgage Rate
|Home Point Financial
|American Financing Corporation
|Mr. Cooper (formerly Nationstar)
|Caliber Home Loans
Source: 2022 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data via CFPB. Historical average rates are for comparison purposes only; your own interest rate will be different.
*These lenders specialize in select loan types and may not help every borrower.
What is a mortgage?
A mortgage is a particular kind of loan product that various financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, offer to help people purchase homes. Borrowers use the loan to finance a home purchase and then repay the money with interest over a specified time period.
The purchased property serves as collateral, which means that if the borrower fails to meet the repayment terms, the lender may repossess the home.
Mortgages are essential to homeownership, especially in locations where the cost of purchasing a home outright is prohibitively expensive for most people, such as New York or California.
How does a mortgage work?
A mortgage has three main components: the principal, the interest, and the loan term. The principal is the amount borrowed or the home’s purchase price. The interest rate is the cost of borrowing money, and the loan term is the amount of time it takes to repay the principal and interest.Check your home buying options. Start here
A mortgage’s terms and conditions can vary depending on the type of loan, down payment requirements, and the borrower’s creditworthiness. These factors are considered during the underwriting process, in which lenders assess the risk of lending to a specific borrower.
A mortgage application entails a detailed process that includes online applications, rate quotes, underwriting, and meeting minimum credit score requirements. Lender fees are also part of the process and can have a significant impact on the loan’s overall affordability. The mortgage process typically includes an appraisal to ensure that the home’s value matches the loan amount.
Types of mortgage loans
Prospective homeowners have a variety of mortgage options available to them, and the best choice will depend on a number of variables, such as the borrower’s financial situation, their long-term homeownership goals, and the market circumstances at the time of purchase.
Conventional mortgages are arguably the most common type of home loan. They typically have stricter minimum credit score and down payment requirements, but may offer more competitive interest rates and lower costs.
Conventional mortgages are a popular option for borrowers with good to excellent credit and a sizable down payment.Compare conventional loan rates from multiple lenders. Start here
Government-backed loans are a type of mortgage that is guaranteed by the federal government. These loans typically have lower minimum down payment requirements and are more accessible to borrowers with lower credit scores.
- FHA loans: The Federal Housing Administration guarantees this loan option. They accept 3.5% down payments and have less stringent credit score requirements than other loan programs. However, borrowers are required to pay for mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).
- USDA loans: The U.S. Department of Agriculture backs these loans for rural home buyers. They don’t require a down payment, but the borrower must pay an upfront and annual guarantee fee, which is similar to mortgage insurance for FHA loans.
- VA loans: The United States Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees this type of loan for veterans and active military members. There is no down payment required for VA mortgages, but borrowers must pay a one-time VA funding fee, which can be rolled into the loan.
Another mortgage option that homeowners may consider is refinancing. This involves replacing an existing mortgage with a new one, usually in order to obtain a lower interest rate or to cash out home equity. The difference between the market value of a home and the outstanding mortgage balance is referred to as home equity.Verify your new rate. Start here
Homeowners can borrow against their equity for a variety of purposes, including home improvements, education costs, and debt consolidation.
Second mortgages are an option for homeowners who want to use the equity in their homes without refinancing or selling. These can take the form of home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), allowing homeowners to turn their home equity into a savings account. Here’s a brief overview of each:
- Home Equity Loans: The lender provides a lump sum based on the home’s equity. Borrowers repay the loan over a fixed term at a fixed interest rate. Using a mortgage calculator can help homeowners estimate potential borrowing amounts and monthly payments. These loans are ideal for significant one-time expenses.
- Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs): The lender offers a credit line based on the home’s equity, and homeowners can borrow as needed, similar to a credit card. Interest is only paid on the amount used. HELOCs are practical for ongoing expenses or as a financial safety net.
The specifics of these loan products can vary based on location and the lender’s criteria. Finally, it’s worth noting that these options should be pursued with a solid repayment plan in place.
How to compare mortgage lenders
You may notice our picks for the best lenders for home loans 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 at a 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: which may be 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 offering down payment assistance. This can be a game-changer for first-time home buyers.
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, a solid down payment, little debt, and other features that make you look like a responsible borrower.Compare rates from multiple lenders. Start here
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 an equal footing. So, make sure your loan estimates factor in the same number 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?
|Special Eligibility Requirements
|Yes, with <20% down
|N/A (Often 620)
|Must have military service history
|Must buy in a rural area
|Yes, with <20% down
|Loan amount above conforming loan limits
Finding the right loan type is personal. You have to consider your own goals; 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.Find the best loan for you. Start here
How to get a Mortgage
Securing a mortgage is a significant step in the home-buying process. Here’s what you can expect.
- Assess your financial situation: Before you even start looking at houses, you should have a clear understanding of your budget, credit score, and what you can afford.
- Save for a down payment: Most mortgage options require a down payment. The amount varies, but saving enough funds can increase your chances of securing a mortgage and lower your monthly payments.
- Get preapproved for a mortgage: Preapproval involves a lender checking your financial situation to determine how much they would be willing to lend you. It gives you a better idea of your budget and makes you a more attractive buyer to sellers.
- Find a house and make an offer: Once preapproved, you can start house hunting. When you find a home you like, make an offer through your real estate agent.
- Home inspection and appraisal: If your offer is accepted, a home inspection and appraisal will be done to ensure the home is worth the price and doesn’t have any significant issues.
- Finalize the mortgage: After a successful home inspection and appraisal, you will work with your lender to finalize the mortgage terms. This includes the interest rate, payment schedule, and other loan specifics.
- Close on the home: Once the mortgage is finalized, you will close on the home, sign all necessary documents, and get the keys to your new home!
Remember, the mortgage process can vary slightly depending on the type of loan, your financial situation, and the housing market, but these steps provide a general guide.
Best mortgage lenders FAQ
Who is the number one mortgage lender?
In 2022 — the most recent data available — Citibank and PNC Bank 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.
Which banks have the best mortgage rates?
In a recent study, we found the banks with the best mortgage rates to be Bank of America, GoodLeap LLC, AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation, and PNC Bank. This was based on 30-year fixed mortgage rate data filed for 2022 under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Your own mortgage rate depends on your circumstances, so there’s a good chance you could find a lower interest rate from a different lender.
What is the lowest ever mortgage rate?
The 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 6 or 7 percent, depending on the borrower. Of course, these are still low rates by historical standards.
Is it better to go through a bank or mortgage lender?
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, like Chase or Bank of America, might have more local branches where you can meet with a loan officer. But if you want convenience, online lenders such as Rocket Mortgage (formerly Quicken Loans) often have a simple application process and relatively fast closings. And for those who are securing a VA loan, using a specialty lender like Veterans United or Navy Federal Credit Union could be a wise choice. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find lender recommendations online, from friends and family, or from your real estate agent.
Can I get a mortgage with no money down?
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.
Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?
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 percent 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.
Should I get a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable-rate mortgage?
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 the market. 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.
Where can I get a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan?
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.
How can I get a lower interest rate?
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 and up), a decent down payment, and a lender whose strengths match your specific home buying or refinance needs.
Best mortgage lenders methodology
To find the best mortgage lenders, we started with a list of the 50 biggest lenders in 2022 (the most recent data available at the time of writing per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Data). We compared mortgage companies based on third-party data, including average 30-year fixed interest rates, median total loan costs, and median origination costs, as well as online customer ratings and a review of each lender’s mortgage offerings by our editorial team. Average interest rates and fees were sourced from loan-level data lenders are required to file each year under the HMDA Act. The editorial team of The Mortgage Reports conducts all mortgage lender reviews independently. You can read our full editorial disclosures here.
Recap: The 10 best mortgage lenders
To recap, here are our picks for the ten best mortgage lenders in 2022:
- PNC Bank
- Home Point Financial
- American Financing Corporation
- Citizens Bank
- Nationstar Mortgage
- Rocket Mortgage
- Caliber Home Loans
- Guaranteed Rate
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 in. You can get a head start by requesting personalized rate estimates below.Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you
1The Mortgage Reports Score is based on an independent review by our editorial board of each mortgage lender's loan offerings, requirements, customer service reviews, and online accessibility
2Minimum credit score reflects the minimum score required by each lender for an FHA loan at the time of writing
3Average loan costs sourced from loan-level data lenders are required to file each year under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Data shown here represents the most recent year available at the time of writing
As an enthusiast with demonstrable knowledge in the field of mortgage lending, I have extensive experience in analyzing various mortgage products, understanding market trends, and evaluating the performance of lenders. My expertise is based on in-depth research, industry reports, and a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing mortgage rates, loan options, and customer service in the real estate financing sector.
In the provided article, the focus is on identifying the best mortgage lenders based on criteria such as excellent customer service, a diverse range of mortgage products, and competitive rates and fees. The top 10 lenders listed in the article, including Citizens Bank, Guaranteed Rate, Home Point Financial, loanDepot, and others, are highlighted for their performance in these areas.
The article emphasizes the importance of obtaining quotes from multiple lenders to ensure that individuals secure the best possible deal. It also mentions that the top pick may vary for each person based on their specific needs and preferences.
The article then delves into explaining the concept of mortgages, describing them as a type of loan offered by financial institutions to help individuals purchase homes. The borrowed amount is repaid over a specified period with interest, and the purchased property serves as collateral. The importance of mortgages in facilitating homeownership, particularly in expensive real estate markets like New York or California, is highlighted.
The mortgage process is outlined, covering key components such as the principal amount, interest rate, and loan term. The underwriting process, which assesses the risk of lending to a specific borrower, is explained. The article also touches upon the detailed steps involved in a mortgage application, including online applications, rate quotes, and credit score requirements.
Different types of mortgage loans are introduced, including conventional loans with stricter requirements but potentially lower costs, government-backed loans (FHA, USDA, VA), refinance loans for obtaining a lower interest rate or cashing out home equity, and second mortgages in the form of home equity loans and HELOCs.
The article provides insights into how to compare mortgage lenders, emphasizing the importance of finding a lender that suits individual situations and comparing loan estimates. It suggests dedicating time to filling out mortgage applications and checking for specific details in the Loan Estimate document.
Tips for getting the best mortgage rates are offered, including shopping around with multiple lenders, checking credit reports, paying down debts, and being cautious about closing costs. The importance of comparing rates on an equal footing, considering discount points, and choosing the right loan type are also highlighted.
The article concludes with a brief FAQ section addressing common questions about mortgage lenders, rates, down payments, private mortgage insurance, loan types, and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loans. It provides a methodology for selecting the best mortgage lenders, based on factors like interest rates, loan costs, and customer ratings.
To summarize, the article offers a comprehensive guide to choosing the best mortgage lender, understanding the mortgage process, and making informed decisions in the real estate financing domain.