Before choosing a lender, it is best to understand the differences between a mortgage lender, originator and servicer, as well as the differences between a conventional home loan, a nonconforming loan or a government-backed loan. Choose the right lender by getting the right information.

Who They Are

Waterstone Mortgage Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Waterstone Bank SSB (NASDAQ: WSBF), with its headquarters located in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Waterstone Mortgage has branches in 20 U.S. states and is licensed to lend in 36 states, with branch listings on its website. If you are looking for a community lender, Waterstone is a quality regional lender with a long history. The bank was founded in 1921, and its mortgage corporation was founded in 2000.

Waterstone is a mortgage lender and servicer, providing loans and the daily functions and processes surrounding the mortgage. Not all lenders are both lenders and servicers. Providing both functions, Waterstone can ensure quality assurance throughout the entire process with one set of contacts. Eric Egenhoefer, president of Waterstone Mortgage Corporation, was involved in the entire life cycle of mortgages as he worked his way up from a loan processor, closer, loan officer and operations manager before starting Waterstone Mortgage. With over 600 employees, the company provides a wide range of products and is supported by a retail banking division that creates a real connection between lender and borrower. Waterstone is listed as the 63rd-largest residential mortgage lender in the United States as of the third quarter of 2014, with $490 million in loans.

Mortgages Products Offered

Waterstone's loan products page on its website offers an easy way to understand and view its loan products. The page has 13 loan products clearly defined and displayed in an easy-to-view comparison chart, which can help you discover which product would be better suited to your needs.

Fixed-rate, adjustable-rate and reverse mortgages are all available from Waterstone Mortgage. Most consumers are still choosing fixed-rate home loans, with interest rates at low levels and the prospect of increases. A reverse mortgage is generally for a retiree who is willing to take equity out of a home to fund retirement objectives, while still living in a legacy home.

Conventional, condo and jumbo home loans are available and provide nongovernment-backed loan instruments that differ significantly from conforming, government-backed or government-insured loan programs. These loans typically cater to high-income clients with high credit scores.

Waterstone Mortgage also offers loans targeted towards first-time homebuyers and those who need government help in acquiring lower down payment limits and mortgage insurance. These programs include Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural development loans, Veterans Affairs (VA) veterans' home loans and the HomeReady program for lower income and down payment requirements by the Federal National Mortgage Association (OTC: FNMA).

Mortgage Rates

Waterstone, just like many mortgage originators, does not offer interest rates online. A competitive market and many branches across many states generally mean the company's interest rates differ by local market, depending on local competition. Interest rate quotes are available by calling the company directly, or by filling out its online mortgage application or preapproval forms.

What Consumers Are Saying

Although Waterstone is an accredited Better Business Bureau company, it has 15 complaints over the last three years, and a lackluster 3.5 out of five stars from the organization. However, the company does have an overall A rating with the Better Business Bureau. With only four reviews on LendingTree.com, the company has three out of five stars, but there is not a large enough sample to confirm the rating.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Overview (WFC)

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