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Buying a home is one of the hardest—and most expensive—decisions you’ll ever make. And since most borrowers need to take out a mortgage, finding a lender can be equally challenging.
We know how overwhelming it can be to choose a mortgage lender to buy your house, so we researched 45 leading companies and identified the five best mortgage lenders based on their loan options, rates, customer service, and typical time to close a loan, along with other important factors.
Best Mortgage Lenders of December 2022
- Best Overall: Rocket Mortgage (Quicken Loans)
- Best for First-Time Homebuyers: Fairway Mortgage
- Best for Multiple Loan Options: Caliber Mortgage
- Best Big Bank Lender: Bank of America
- Best for Bad Credit: Prosperity Home Mortgage
- Best for Military Members: Cherry Creek Mortgage
- Best Online Lender: Primary Residential Mortgage
Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and/or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Best Overall : Rocket Mortgage (Quicken Loans)
Highly rated for customer service
Digital application process
Quick closing time
Does not offer USDA or renovation loans
May have higher fees than other lenders
Self-employed borrowers need to speak with an agent
Rocket Mortgage is our choice as the best overall mortgage lender because of its high customer satisfaction ratings, its mortgage options, and its convenient online application process.
J.D. Power ranked Rocket second in its 2021 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. The study evaluated and ranked 23 leading lenders based on application processes, loan options, communication, and loan closings.
Rocket Mortgage has several mortgage options, including conventional loans and jumbo loans. It’s also a provider of government-backed loans, like FHA and VA mortgages.
In general, borrowers need a credit score of 620 or higher to qualify for a conventional loan, but borrowers with lower scores may be eligible for a Rocket FHA loan. On average, loans close within 26 days—faster than many other lenders.
Although Rocket Mortgage could be a convenient option for many home buyers, the lender doesn’t offer USDA loans, and its fees may be higher than you’d get from other lenders. Rocket doesn’t disclose its fees on its website, and a company representative told us fees can vary based on the loan structure.
Best for First-Time Homebuyers : Fairway Mortgage
Offers FHA and low down payment loans
Personalized credit improvement plans
Offers mortgage options specifically for physicians
Does not disclose its credit requirements online
Longer closing times
Uses third-party loan servicers
Fairway is a national mortgage lender that offers multiple mortgage products. Fairway can be especially helpful for first-time homebuyers since the lender offers FHA loans as well as conventional loans with a minimum down payment of just 3%.
Borrowers can also take advantage of Fairway’s CrediTools program, where a Fairway team member will create a personalized credit improvement plan for you. You can boost your credit score over time, making it easier to qualify for a loan and get a lower interest rate.
Fairway doesn’t list its minimum credit score requirements on its site, but a loan officer told us the minimum score for most loans is usually 620. FHA loans have a minimum score requirement of 580.
Fairway may have a longer time to closing than some other lenders, but it has robust educational resources to help new homebuyers make informed decisions.
Best for Multiple Loan Options : Caliber Mortgage
Multiple mortgage options
Offers mortgages for self-employed borrowers
Renovation loans available
Does not list mortgage rates or fees online
Longer time to closing
Caliber Home Loans is a lender best suited for borrowers looking for mortgage solutions for particular situations. The lender offers conventional and government-backed loans—including FHA, VA, and USDA loans—but it also has unique products specifically designed for certain borrowers. For example, self-employed borrowers can take advantage of the lender’s SmartSelf loan and qualify for a mortgage with their bank statements rather than needing two years of tax returns. With this option, borrowers can finance up to $3 million.
Caliber has loans for renovations and new construction, as well as mortgage programs with low down payment requirements. Eligible borrowers can qualify for a loan with just 3% down, and some programs have flexible credit requirements.
The lender doesn’t list its rates or fees online, so you need to work with a loan officer to discuss your situation for those details.
Caliber’s customer satisfaction ratings are slightly lower than leading competitors. In the J.D. Power U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, Caliber was ranked 11 out of 23 lenders, with a score just below the industry average.
Best Big Bank Lender : Bank of America
Grants for moderate-income home buyers
Borrowers can pre-qualify and apply online
Limited information about fees
Does not offer USDA or renovation loans
Does not disclose average time to close
If you’re more comfortable working with a large bank than a smaller lender, Bank of America could be a good choice. If you’re a BofA customer or have a Merrill investment account, you could qualify for valuable interest rate discounts on your mortgage.
Bank of America has several loan programs for borrowers with small down payments and less-than-perfect credit. Borrowers with low or moderate incomes could qualify for a mortgage with as little as 3% down and less expensive mortgage insurance. Plus, some borrowers may be eligible for grants that will help cover a portion of your closing costs or down payment.
Bank of America doesn’t offer all types of government-backed loans. For example, borrowers looking for a USDA loan to purchase property in rural areas will have to work with other lenders. And Bank of America doesn’t disclose its average time to close or its lender fees.
Bank of America is a multinational company that operates retail financial centers throughout the country.
Best for Bad Credit : Prosperity Home Mortgage
Low down payment options
Lower credit score minimum
Not available in New York or Hawaii
Doesn’t list its rates or fees online
Longer time to close
Prosperity Home Mortgage is a useful option for borrowers with bad credit because of its low minimum credit score requirement and homebuyer assistance options.
The company doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score online, but a company representative shared that its minimum for conventional loans is generally 600—a lower minimum than many other lenders require. And because it offers FHA loans, you may be able to get a mortgage even if your score is lower than that.
Prosperity doesn’t list its terms online, so you need to submit an application or work with an agent to see its rates and fees.
Struggling to get a mortgage with poor credit? See our picks for the best mortgage lenders for bad credit for some other options.
Best for Military Members : Cherry Creek Mortgage
Some loan options require 0% down
Multiple low down payment options
Low credit score requirements
Not available in all states
Must work with a loan officer
Information about fees and rates not available
Cherry Creek Mortgage is our pick for the best lender for military members because of its low down payment options for active servicemembers, Reservists, honorably-discharged veterans, and eligible surviving spouses.
With a Cherry Creek VA loan, eligible borrowers can buy a home with 0% down and no private mortgage insurance. VA mortgages usually have funding fees—ranging from 1.4% to 3.6% of the loan amount—but Cherry Creek allows you to roll the funding fee into your mortgage rather than having to pay it upfront.
Cherry Creek Mortgage is based in Colorado, and it’s licensed to issue mortgages in 41 states. Cherry Creek doesn’t list its interest rates or lender fees online. However, a company spokesperson told us the typical lender fee is $995. For detailed information about rates and fees in your area, you must work with a Cherry Creek loan officer.
Best Online Lender : Primary Residential Mortgage
Offers renovation and construction loans
Mortgages available for manufactured homes
Low down payment options
High minimum credit score
Website can be difficult to navigate
Not available in New York
Primary Residential Mortgage is our pick for the best online lender because of its easy application process. As you fill out a loan application, you can get help by contacting a loan officer or by using the live chat feature.
Primary Residential Mortgage has a range of mortgage options, including loan types that other lenders don’t offer. For example, not all lenders issue mortgages for manufactured homes, new construction, or fixer-uppers, but Primary Residential has several options for those property types.
It has low down payment options, with some loans requiring just 3% down. And its VA and USDA loans require 0% down, making homeownership more accessible.
Primary Residential Mortgage is available in 49 states; the only exception is New York. And while the company has an easy online application, its website can be difficult to navigate. It’s best for borrowers that know what kind of loan they want and don’t need a lot of educational resources to guide them.
Getting a mortgage used to be time-consuming and intensive. But with today’s technology, modern lenders like Rocket Mortgage make applying for a mortgage simple and straightforward. And you don’t have to sacrifice low rates and customer service for a streamlined application. From large banks to smaller niche lenders, getting a mortgage is easier than ever.
Whether you have bad credit or want to apply for a mortgage online, there’s a range of options to choose from. Before selecting a company, compare rates and terms from the best mortgage lenders to find the best home loan.
|Lender||Min. Credit Score||Max. DTI Ratio||Min. Down Payment||Days to Closing|
|Rocket Mortgage Best Overall||620||50%||3%||26|
|Fairway Mortgage Best for First-Time Homebuyers||620||47%||3%||30–45|
|Caliber Mortgage Best for Multiple Loan Options||620||49.9%||3%||30|
|Bank of America Best Big Bank Lender||620||55%||3%||Not disclosed|
|Prosperity Home Mortgage Best for Bad Credit||600||50%||3%||30|
|Cherry Creek Mortgage Best for Military Members||620||50%||3%||30|
|Primary Residential Mortgage Best Online Lender||660||50%||3%||21–30|
Guide for Choosing a Mortgage Lender
Should You Get A Mortgage?
If you're thinking about buying a home, you're probably wondering if you should get a mortgage. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:
- Your credit profile: Your credit score will affect the interest rate you're offered on your mortgage, so it's important to check your credit reports and score before applying for a loan. If you have good credit, you're more likely to qualify for a lower interest rate, which can save you money over the life of your loan. But if your credit is in the poor to fair range, you may want to put off buying a home until you can improve your score.
- Your debt-to-income ratio: Lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio to determine how much of a mortgage you can afford. This is the amount of debt you have divided by your income. Most lenders prefer that your DTI not exceed 43%, but some may go as high as 55%. The lower your DTI, the easier it will be to afford your payments. If you have a substantial amount of debt, delaying buying a home until you pay down some debt may be a smart choice.
- Your savings: In most cases, you’ll need a down payment of at least 3% of the home value to qualify for a mortgage. You’ll also need money to cover closing costs, and reserves of cash to show you can handle the payments. If your account balance is too small you could struggle to qualify for a loan, or you may be unable to handle any emergencies that pop up.
What to Do Before Applying for a Mortgage
Before applying for a mortgage, there are a few things you should do to ensure you have the best chance of being approved for a loan.
First, check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Lenders will review your credit to determine your eligibility for a loan and to set your interest rate, so look for any errors or issues that may be bringing your scores down. If you find any problems, you can dispute those errors with the credit bureaus.
Also consider how much house you can afford. You can use a mortgage calculator to see how your loan amount, interest rate, and repayment term affect your monthly payments.
How to Compare Mortgage Lenders
When shopping for a loan, it's important to compare mortgage lenders to ensure you're getting the best deal. Key points to consider include:
- APR: The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of borrowing money, and it's expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. It includes the interest rate as well as any fees that are charged by the lender.
- Down payment: This is the amount of money you'll need to put down upfront in order to get the loan. The higher your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be.
- Time to close: This is how long it will take to process and close your loan. Some lenders can do it in as little as 21 days, while others may take 45 days or more.
- Customer satisfaction: This is a measure of how satisfied customers are with their experience working with the lender. You can find customer satisfaction ratings on sites like J.D. Power and Trustpilot.
- Credit score requirements: Most lenders have minimum credit score requirements, so it's important to check what these are before you apply. If your credit score is on the low side, you may still be able to get a loan, but you'll likely pay a higher interest rate.
How to Apply for a Mortgage
Once you choose a lender, you can apply for a mortgage.
If you're applying online, you'll need to provide some personal information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, and employment history. You'll also need to supply financial information about your income, debt, and assets. The lender may ask for additional documentation, such as tax returns or bank statements.
Once you've submitted this information, the lender will run a credit check and verify your employment. The lender will review your application and credit to decide whether to approve you for a mortgage. If you're approved, you'll receive a loan estimate that outlines the terms of your loan, including the interest rate, monthly payment, and closing costs.
If you decide to move forward and purchase a particular home, you’ll need an appraisal and possibly a home inspection of the property. If everything looks good, the lender will work with you to set a closing date. At closing, you’ll sign the last of the paperwork, and you’ll officially be a homeowner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Mortgage?
A mortgage is a type of secured loan that is used to purchase a home. The loan is secured by the property you buy, so the lender can foreclose on it if you default on the loan. Mortgages are typically paid back over a period of 15 or 30 years.
What Are the Different Types of Mortgages?
There are several different types of mortgages available to homebuyers. The type of mortgage you choose will depend on your financial situation and your goals for the loan.
The most common types of mortgages are:
- Fixed-rate mortgages: These loans have an interest rate that remains constant for the life of the loan. Your monthly payments will be the same every month, making it easy to budget for your mortgage payment.
- Adjustable-rate mortgages: These loans have an interest rate that can change over time. Your monthly payments may go up or down depending on market conditions.
- FHA loans: These loans are backed by the federal government and are available to homebuyers with low credit scores.
- VA loans: These loans are available to veterans and active military members.
- Jumbo loans: These loans are used to finance homes that are more expensive than the conforming loan limit.
- USDA loans: These loans are available to homebuyers in rural areas.
Can You Refinance a Mortgage?
If your credit improves or mortgage rates decrease, you may be wondering if you can refinance to take advantage of lower rates. Mortgage refinancing is possible, but the process can be intensive—similar to applying for the original mortgage—and may require you to pay closing costs.
How Are Mortgage Interest Rates Determined?
Mortgage interest rates are determined by a number of factors, including the type of loan you choose, your credit score, and the current market conditions. You can shop around for the best mortgage interest rates by comparing offers from multiple lenders. Be sure to compare not only the interest rate but also the APR and terms and conditions of each loan, paying particular attention to any additional lender fees.
How We Chose the Best Mortgage Lenders
Our team evaluated 45 mortgage lenders and collected nearly 1,500 data points before selecting our top choices. We weighed 15 criteria and gave a higher weight to those with a more significant impact on potential borrowers.
The top picks were selected based on factors like quality of service (weighted 50%), operational features (32%), loan types (12%), and accessibility (6%). We took into account important considerations like whether or not the lender offers jumbo loans, how many states the lender is licensed in, and what the overall customer experience is like.
We also conducted a survey of 1,195 people who have taken out mortgages. We asked about customer satisfaction with various mortgage lenders, and learned which features are most important from a customer perspective. This information helped determine weights for criteria used for scoring.
Read more in our full mortgage lender methodology.