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.
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.
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The 10 best mortgage lenders of 2022
We compared the top 50 mortgage lenders in the U.S. to find the ten best mortgage lenders overall. Our selection is based on a range of criteria including average interest rates and fees, customer reviews, and loan options available at each lender. Here’s what you should know about each of our top picks.
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 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, 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?||Special Eligibility Requirements|
|Conforming Loan||3%||620||Yes, with <20% down||No|
|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, with <20% down||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 2021 — the most recent data available — Rocket Mortgage 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, Bank of America, Veterans United, Better, and PennyMac. This was based on 30-year fixed mortgage rate data filed for 2021 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 5 or 6 percent, depending on the borrower. 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 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 2021 (the most recent data available at the time of writing). 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 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. All mortgage lender reviews are carried out independently by The Mortgage Reports’ editorial team. 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:
- Citizens Bank
- New American Funding
- Guaranteed Rate
- American Financing Corporation
- Better Mortgage
- Home Point
- Finance of America
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.
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
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.