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Your first thought might be to visit your local bank or broker, but think again. Why? You're not likely to get the very best rates and terms there. True, you might get a promo or slightly lower interest rate for being a current customer, but will your financial institution shop around to find you the ideal loan for your situation?
More than likely, they'll fit you with whichever mortgage is convenient (or profitable) instead of working to get you a home loan with the best possible terms. With interest rates constantly fluctuating, it's never a bad time to start looking into your financing options if homeownership is your goal. Even if you're just curious to see how much you can ultimately afford when the time comes, that will help you start budgeting and saving to have enough to secure your new home when you're ready.
Friday, February 23rd
Better is not your average home loan provider - and that's a good thing. Started in 2014, this company is able to fund mortgages 100% online, without a single phone call (though you'll still have to attend closing in person). Of course, if you want to talk to someone, no problem: Better has support representatives and loan experts available around the clock if you've got a question about your application or want a status update on your home loan. At the time of this review, Better offered home loans everywhere except Nevada, where they hope to add to their services soon.
See rates with no personal info required
We've always appreciated how transparent Better is with their rates and fees. On their main page, it's easy to personalize today's local rates by clicking on the big green button. Just put in your zip code and watch the rate chart shift. Or add details like your credit score range, property type, and preferred mortgage type and get even more specific - all without having to disclose your identity. We love it. But, if you want to check rates more than one or two times, Better will prompt you to enter your email address for unlimited (and free) rate quotes. Or, get even more specific and personalize your rate quote. You'll be asked for more personal data, like what stage of the buying process you're in, your anticipated timeframe and so forth.
Make a cash offer...
Let's pause for a second to talk about one question you might not understand as you're getting to your custom rate quote. In some real estate markets, it's almost impossible to be the winning bidder without a cash offer. So what can you do if you don't have that much on hand? Use Better to make the cash offer for you. Yes, you read that correctly. You'll apply for your mortgage first, securing the approval and going through underwriting to determine your budget. You'll then work with a Better real estate agent to help you find the right home and make the offer.
...with no service fees!
When you have an accepted offer, you'll pay a security deposit of 5% of the purchase price as earnest money, which will be applied towards your down payment at closing. And, you'll pay prorated daily rent from the time between the cash offer closing and the closing on your Better mortgage (which will be 30 days or less). But, beyond that, there are zero administrative fees for using this service. Just be aware that this cash offer program isn't available in all 50 states - yet.
Watch for glitches
If you click "yes" on the cash offer program during the personalization process, your rate quote process stops and you'll be asked to provide your name and phone number to continue. At this stage, we actually encountered a glitch where the "click to confirm you're not a robot" security feature stopped working, and then we got an error saying "account creation blocked" . Oops! If that happens to you, just reach out via Better's toll-free number to get it taken care of.
Verify identity for quotes
Otherwise, you'll indicate if you already have a real estate agent and THEN you'll be asked to create an account. We didn't have any problems at this step of the process. Just be aware that you'll have to verify your email address before you can see your account, so no fake email addresses if you want to see your loan quotes. Next, you'll enter enough information for Better to verify your credit report through a soft pull, like the last four digits of your SSN and your mobile phone number.
Answer a few further questions
If Better determines that you'll qualify for a loan (should you choose to take that step), you'll also be asked to indicate if you want your taxes and insurance to be held in escrow or if you're going to pay them directly: your choice may be impacted by your state/local laws in that regard. Whatever you indicate, it's not a final commitment; it's just used for the purpose of showing you what your monthly payments will be. You'll also see an estimated closing date.
Extremely transparent with available loan choices
Once you get your Better rate quotes, you're going to be impressed. You'll see every possible combination of rates, points and terms that Better offers, primarily focusing on 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed mortgages (which is what 98% of home buyers choose). Make sure to tell your Better rep if you're looking for a different loan type, so that he or she can give you options for ARMs, FHA loans, and so forth.
Choose a loan you like
If you find a loan in your rates that sounds appealing, select it to add it to your Loan Estimate page. It's not a lock or a commitment, just a placeholder of sorts. It will then show up in the links on the left side of the dashboard. You'll also see a to-do list that you'll tackle if and when you decide to formally apply for a mortgage through Better, like documents that need to be uploaded to confirm your income or assets.
Phone help available if needed
Don't be afraid that applying for a mortgage online will leave you without help. As a matter of fact, we got a phone call after we entered our initial information, to see if we had any questions about the Better process. We were glad that the loan specialist was friendly and well-informed, but also that she didn't place any pressure on us to lock in a rate. There's also no worry about unsolicited emails and phone calls with Better: you can specify your contact preferences in your profile and opt to just get communications via whichever channel you prefer.
Don't worry about the BBB
You might be wondering why Better earns our first-place ranking, despite a "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau. The numbers tell the story: the BBB says that Better earned that grade for having 225 complaints filed against it over the last three years. But, when you look at our second- and third-place winners, those lenders have 911 and 1152, respectively. You can see why we're not letting our opinion of this mortgage lender be overly swayed by that "B" from the BBB.
Better keeps borrowers happy
Plus, when you look at the thousands of five-star reviews left by super-satisfied Better clients, that "B" starts to fade even more quickly. Across the board, Better clients describe the experience as smooth, transparent, and much faster than expected - for first-time buyers and experienced homeowners alike.
Obvious choice for home loans
That definitely lines up with our experience. Every step of the Better home loan process was easy to understand, very transparent, and best of all, gave us the best rates and terms we found anywhere. When you consider the extra bonus of being able to use a Better mortgage to make a cash offer in competitive real estate markets - for absolutely zero fees - it's obvious why Better earns our first-place ranking for home loans. Make this lender your first stop when searching for your home mortgage.
In 2021, Quicken Loans changed its name to Rocket Mortgage - but you'll get the same amazing service and home loan rates as you would expect from the Quicken brand. This is the largest lender in the US mortgage industry, with over five million loans closed.
No secrets when it comes to rates
This lender is impressively transparent with home loan rates. Right on their site you can see the most current rates for several fixed-rate loans, including VA and FHA, with all of the assumptions included (like paying points to get a lower rate). On the 30-year fixed mortgage, it also shows the one-day change, giving you a chance to see if rates are trending favorably or not so much.
Helpful tools to learn more
If you're just in the research phase, Rocket Mortgages recommends that you use their calculators to estimate what you can afford. Like most lenders' tools, these give you options for exploring how much you could borrow and what your monthly payments might be once you include taxes and insurance. They also have a closing cost estimator, while telling you to expect anywhere from 3-6% of your purchase price as a ballpark.
No impact on credit score to get rates
But, you can always go ahead and start on your application either way. You'll be walked through a series of questions to determine when you would need a home loan, the type of property you're looking at, whether or not you're a first-time home buyer, and so forth. Once you create an account and verify your email, Rocket will take you right to the application process, pre-filling in any information already gathered previously. You'll tell Rocket more about your purchase timeframe, the area where you think you might buy a home, and other information they need. Finally, Rocket Mortgage will ask for the information needed to run a soft credit check, so that they can see your credit score and determine how much you can afford in a mortgage.
Rocket services its loans
You'll have help at every step of the way, whether you do most of your home loan online or you work with a Rocket Mortgage rep. Closing times here tend to be much faster than average, and because this company services almost every single one of its loans (with the exception of jumbo loans), you can expect that customer service quality to continue even years after you've bought your home.
Terrific customer service
Rocket Mortgage gets lots of praise. That starts with an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. And, for 8 consecutive years, J.D. Power has indicated that this lender ranked the highest in customer satisfaction in Primary Mortgage Servicing. We also found over 2600 five-star reviews describing a home loan application process that's timely, easy to understand, and reliable. One client even said he "felt like a VIP" as his reps always looked for the ideal solution to each and every issue that came up.
Some complaints, but no worries
As with any big company, Rocket Mortgage also gets its fair share of complaints. There were just under 1,000 filed with the BBB over the last three years, but the majority of them seem to come from customers who either didn't wind up qualifying for a home loan (their home appraised lower than expected on a refinance or their income wasn't able to be verified) or who didn't understand some aspect of the application process.
A lender you can count on
Rocket Mortgage is the home loan giant that still manages to treat every client like family. Homeowners have very good things to say about the borrowing experience here, the home loan rates are competitive, and Rocket's closing timeframes can get you into your new house sooner than their rivals. This is one of our top providers for mortgages.
loanDepot specializes in refinancing home loans, but since 2010 they've funded almost $100 billion in new purchases: this lender is hardly inexperienced when it comes to mortgages. With over 10,000 employees on duty, loanDepot helps over 27,000 customers each and every month.
Answer questions, including phone number
When you start the home loan process with loanDepot, you'll indicate the zip code of the property you're considering, the estimated purchase price, the down payment amount, your credit score range, your phone number, and your email address. We thought it was a little strange that we had to click a button that said "see if I'm approved" , but the next page just took us to further questions. Be aware that you'll have to verify your phone number before you can continue with your loanDepot application.
Watch out for hard credit inquiry
At that point, you'll be assigned a loan consultant: you'll see his or her name and contact information right on the loanDepot site on every page you visit. You can fill in as much or as little as you wish, skipping any parts you'd rather fill in later. Be very careful on the page that asks to verify credit history: you have to click on the blue circle question mark to see it, but loanDepot will run a hard pull on your records at this step, unlike most lenders who have an identity verification/soft pull first. Until you're ready to commit to loanDepot as your lender, we highly recommend leaving this part blank.
Connect directly with your bank for account verification
One tool that loanDepot uses that streamlines the application process is under the "Adding Financial Assets" heading. If you bank with one of the bigger financial institutions in the US, you should be able to sign in and enter your accounts automatically. Otherwise, just enter your bank name, account type, and balance for each one manually.
Still no rate quotes
Unfortunately, no part of this process resulted in even a hint of rates, terms, or closing fees. You get all the way to the end of the questions and see a "submit" button - and the fine print says that you won't be able to modify your application after that point. It would be a good idea to reach out to that assigned loan officer and ask those questions before getting any further down the track, and since we got an email from ours while we were still entering that information, it seems like that's the way loanDepot encourages prospective applicants to proceed anyway.
Despite not being very forthcoming with mortgage rates, loanDepot enjoys a very strong reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives this lender its highest rating and accreditation. There are over 2,000 five-star reviews from borrowers who rave about loanDepot, and we're particularly impressed by the compliments from realtors who recommend this service to all of their clients. High praise indeed. Customers say that the home loan process is hassle-free, communication from loan specialists is frequent and helpful, and there are no nasty surprises during the application and underwriting process.
We also appreciate that loanDepot has a strict "no steering" policy. What does that mean? Your representative will never be incentivized to push you in the direction of any particular loan program, so you'll always get guidance towards the home loans that are in your best interests (and not theirs). Also, loanDepot doesn't fill their site with "teaser" rates to get your attention - but ones where you're unlikely to qualify for or ever obtain them. That's probably why you're not going to see today's rates posted anywhere on the loanDepot site.
Escrow refunds are problematic
The one area we found a lot of complaints is with respect to escrow refunds. In every other way, loanDepot seems to have its ducks in a row. But just looking through the complaints filed with the BBB (over 1,100 in the last three years), many of them come from frustrated homeowners whose escrow refunds hadn't arrived months after paying off a home loan or during a refinance.
Definitely worth a look
Fortunately, that won't apply to anyone seeking a mortgage with loanDepot. In all other regards, this is a trustworthy way to get a home loan. This lender has plenty of experience, lots of compliments from satisfied clients, and a fantastic overall reputation. Keep loanDepot in mind as you decide which provider should be your partner in your home financing.
New American Funding is a family-owned direct mortgage lender that is committed to helping people improve their lives through home ownership. The company maintains a strong mission to lending in underserved communities, partnering with various initiatives to foster home buying for minorities, military service members, and promoting diversity within their own employee teams.
Daily rates posted
New American Funding posts daily rates for 15- and 30-year fixed home loans, plus FHA and VA 30-year fixed. But, before you get too excited about any of the rates you see, be sure to look at the disclosures: most of the quotes assume you're paying points for a lower rate, and you may need a certain minimum credit score to be eligible. Plus, there are a lot more mortgage types available here than just 15- and 30-year conventional fixed, so your best bet is to click on the "Buy a House" button and get started.
Get ready to answer lots of questions
You'll be asked the basic questions about what type of property you're buying, your credit score range, employment status, and so forth. You'll have to create an account at the end of the questionnaire, and then use the "get started" button to create a preliminary application. That step can feel a little scary, because New American Funding doesn't really tell you what they're doing here - until you get to the point where it asks for your SSN and assures you that it's a soft pull just to verify identity. (You can also skip that step.) Either way, this part is really detailed: you'll be asked to enter your employment income for the previous two years, your assets and liabilities, and much more. If there's anything you don't want to enter, you can click "next" or "skip for now" , and you'll still get to the NAF dashboard for your application.
Jumping the gun a little
We were disappointed that even after entering all of those details, we still weren't given a list of possible rates for our home loan. Our dashboard took us to a page that felt an awful lot like a full-fledged mortgage application: asking for an upload of two most recent bank statements, two years of tax returns and W2s, plus a purchase and sale agreement. Easy now, we said we were just in the "shopping around" phase of home-buying!
Helps you make an all-cash offer
One feature offered by New American Funding that we didn't spot with many rival lenders is the Buyer Accepted program. If you're in a market where cash is king and offers contingent on financing are being laughed out the door, you might need an outside-of-the-box strategy for getting the home you want. How does it work? Essentially, New American Funding buys the house in cash (using a 3% payment from you as earnest money) and sells the house back to you for the original price. You'll pay a "small convenience fee" (that they don't disclose until later) that can be added into the purchase price. NAF can even rent the house to you until your financing is secured.
Plenty of positive feedback
Reputation-wise, New American Funding mostly comes out on top. The company has an "A+" and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau - always a good start. There were only a little over 150 complaints registered there over the last three years, which is pretty impressive considering that NAF has a portfolio of over 200,000 mortgages. We also found tens of thousands of five-star reviews, not just for the lender but also for specific, named agents. For the most part, people say the process is smooth and their agent was friendly and helpful.
A few snags in the process
On the other hand, some clients have experienced delays in the funding process. More than once, we found people referring to a free 60-day rate lock that didn't happen as promised; rates had gone up between the requested lock date and closing, leading to higher costs for the borrower. Others mentioned having a hard time getting rates after filling out a complete application (similar to our experience described previously).
Room for improvement but still solid
Still, on the whole New American Funding is a solid option among home loan providers. Their overall reputation is very positive, they offer a unique way to make a cash offer even with a traditional mortgage, and we appreciate their dedication to helping all prospective homeowners get the funding that they need. We'd love to see some improvements to the preapplication and quote process, but that doesn't get in the way of making New American Funding a lender we can recommend.
For over 20 years, AmeriSave has been helping people get and refinance home loans. They've funded over $103 billion for nearly 400,000 homes in 49 states plus Washington DC (sorry, New Yorkers, but AmeriSave isn't an option for you).
Not as many rates displayed now
In the past, prospective borrowers could click on the Rates tab and get a chart of the current rates and terms. During our most recent visit to the AmeriSave site, we could only find a preliminary idea of one "as low as" daily rate. Just check the bottom of the page for all of the corresponding assumptions and disclaimers. As with any home loan provider, your rates and terms depend on your borrower profile.
Phone verification can be tricky
Click on Home Purchase to start the process of prequalifying for an AmeriSave mortgage. You'll be asked for your current address, your step in the home purchasing process (signed a purchase agreement, researching options, and so on), and other typical details. To confirm your identity, AmeriSave asks you to provide a mobile number and respond with a verification code. We had some challenges getting the site to recognize our cell number: we kept getting error messages saying that it "does not appear to be valid" , and we had to use another number on a different carrier (or call AmeriSave's toll-free number to continue the process).
Soft pull on credit to get quotes
Once you've jumped through those hoops, you'll have a soft credit check to get a rate quote. That's the only option: you can't self-report your credit score or even get a ballpark of your rates. That's pretty standard within the home loans industry, but some lenders give you a little more information before requiring identity verification.
Reputation trending downward
While we're happy to see that AmeriSave continues to have an "A+" and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, some more recent client feedback has us feeling a little hesitant about recommending this lender wholeheartedly. Yes, they have over 6600 five-star reviews, but many of the client comments we read from the last few months are very unhappy with this lender. From pushy and disrespectful customer service reps to huge delays in processing paperwork that resulted in much higher monthly payments, there are too many negative comments for us to trust that AmeriSave is completely living up to their earlier five-star ratings.
Non-refundable application fee
Another downside that you may not spot until later is AmeriSave's non-refundable application fee of $500. We eventually found it in the "Advance Application Fee Agreement" part of our home loan application, but we might not have noticed it if it weren't for it being mentioned by other AmeriSave clients. In other words, once you start the formal application process, there's no way to get that money back - even if your mortgage application is denied or you find a better rate with another lender. We could understand that if it was non-refundable after the appraisal part of the process (after all, that costs money and is paid to a third party), but it's not great to have it applied regardless.
Could be better, could be worse
We give AmeriSave a cautious three-star rating. There's something to be said for a lender that operates in almost all 50 states, has been around for two decades, and that has a history of keeping customers happy. And yet, we can't ignore the apparent downturn in more recent months. You may want to keep AmeriSave in reserve as a backup option for home loans, if you don't find what you need with one of the higher-ranked options in our review.
If you'd like to see your home loan options with a variety of lenders, LendingTree is a resource that might get your attention. When you provide LendingTree with your information, you'll get matched with various banks and other financial institutions that they've already vetted: up to five offers, depending on your state of residence, credit history, and so forth. But, keep in mind that you'll still have to complete all of the steps to prequalify and then apply for your loan with any lender in your results list: LendingTree just makes the match, and you do the rest.
Basic initial questions
Get started by clicking on the "Home Purchase Quotes" button on the main Mortgage Loan page. You'll be asked to identify the type of property you're hoping to buy (single-family home, townhome, condo), if it'll be used as a primary or secondary residence/rental, the city where it's located, whether or not you've already found a home to buy, and so forth.
Your contact info shared far and wide
One thing to watch out for is the part where they ask for your phone number. As you can read in the fine print beneath the "Find My Rates" button, you're consenting to have your information shared with up to five of LendingTree's partners (sure, that's what we're here for) AND that those partners may share your information with THEIR partners (hey, wait a minute...). Time and time again, we find people complaining that just looking up rates on LendingTree resulted in months of not-really-solicited calls, texts, emails and regular mail from lenders they'd never heard of - offering not-great rates and even products that weren't related to what they had been looking for (pitching refinancing when they were originally looking for a second mortgage).
No quotes without identity verification
You could opt to not put in your actual details, but then your results will only be vague matches with generic banks, if you're even matched at all. For example, when we declined to enter our phone number or SSN, we were told that they couldn't find a lender and suggested a personal loan instead.
LendingTree recommendations benefit themselves first
If you decide to provide your information to get your specific recommendations, you should also be aware that LendingTree's disclosure reveals that your five loan matches may not be the best ones available to you. That's because LendingTree's compensation for matching you "may impact how and where products appear on this site" . So, if LendingTree is going to make more money by showing you a less-beneficial-to-you loan, you might not see other mortgage possibilities that would be better.
Surprisingly positive user feedback
And yet, you could still be matched with a terrific home loan from a reputable lender. When you get your list of mortgage matches, you can see what other LendingTree clients have said about each partner - and there are many with dozens (or even hundreds) of positive reviews from satisfied clients. Just be sure to do your own research before connecting with any of the lenders in your list.
Legit business, endless solicitations
LendingTree continues to have an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, so there are no concerns about this service being on the up-and-up. However, as we discussed earlier, there's no shortage of complaints about the avalanche of emails and phone calls that result from sharing one's contact information with LendingTree. Do you really want to be getting all of that - maybe even for months after you've already closed on your new home and have zero need for a loan offer?
Might not be worth the trouble
We love the idea behind LendingTree. Who wouldn't benefit from being able to comparison shop several financial institutions to get the best rates and terms on a home loan? But, because LendingTree benefits financially, you may not see the best possible mortgage offers here - on top of all of the not-really-solicited messages you can expect when using this service. It's up to you to decide if it's worth it to look for a home loan through LendingTree.
SoFi is short for "social finance" , and it relates to this lender's origins as a platform governed by private borrowers and lender/investors. Although SoFi now operates as a standalone financial institution, they still take a credit union-style approach to all of their financial products, even calling their customers "members" . SoFi offers home loans, in addition to many other options like credit cards, bank accounts, investments and more.
Easy to see rates and terms
We appreciate that SoFi gives you an idea of what to expect for loan rates and fees, without requiring you to sign up for an account first. You'll see the current rates for 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year fixed rate loans right on their main Mortgages page, and the fine print at the bottom will give you examples that include typical closing fees. Also, at the time of this review, SoFi was offering a 0.25% purchase pricing discount on conventional 30-year loans. Prospective borrowers could get that confirmed when locking in their interest rate during the application process.
Confirm your identity for personalized rates
Of course, your rates and terms will depend on how much you want to borrow, your credit history, income, and many other factors. Click the "View Your Rate" button to get your personalized rates: you'll be asked for your first and last name, state, and email address. That creates your SoFi account, but you'll have to go further than that if you want to see your personalized rates: it takes a soft pull on your credit before you can see a chart with your rates, terms, and even a breakdown for the total you'll pay in interest over the course of the mortgage.
Can't complete application 100% online
From there, though, you can't complete your application without reaching out to the specific broker shown on your dashboard. As for closing costs (which can vary, and often can be negotiated) and other fees, you're not given any idea at this stage of the application. We don't like having to take those steps to get such critical information - especially when other home loan providers give you those details before submitting a formal, hard-pull-on-your-credit application.
Most SoFi home loan customers are unhappy
Since our last evaluation, SoFi's reputation with the BBB has improved slightly: they've got an "A+" rating, and there were no complaints filed there. Plus, previous alerts about misrepresentation on student loans and mortgages no longer seem to be in effect. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that homeowners love SoFi: while we found almost 2,000 five-star reviews for this company, almost none of those were for their home loan products. In fact, practically every client review regarding mortgages was negative, and that's putting it nicely. Lowball appraisals, late delivery of funds for closing, and absent representatives on important transaction dates are just a few of the complaints logged by deeply unhappy SoFi home loan customers.
You've got better options
We don't recommend SoFi for your mortgage. This lender might be doing a "good enough" job on its other financial products, but with so many complaints specifically about their home loans, they're just not able to compete with the higher-rated companies we evaluated. You'll have a less frustrating experience elsewhere.
For more than three decades, Freedom Mortgage has been providing home loans and refinancing. This lender serves residents of all 50 United States plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and USVI, with over one million borrowers in their client "family" .
Four available loan types
You've got four possible loan types when using Freedom Mortgage for home loans: Conventional, VA, FHA, and USDA. Of course, not all applicants will qualify for every loan type, but at least they're available for those who do. Not sure which ones are right for you? Click on the "Learn More" button beneath each loan type's bullet points to get a quick education.
There's a four-step process when getting a home loan here. First, get pre-qualified. In five minutes or less, and with a soft credit check, you'll get an estimate of how much you can borrow. This step also results in a prequalification letter you can give to your real estate agent, and it may help you stand out over other prospective buyers. Now that you know what you can afford, it's time to find your castle, condo or cabin. If you don't already have an agent, Freedom Mortgage partners with HomeStory and can match you with a professional near you.
Helps you know what to expect
When your bid on a home has been accepted, it's time to complete the full mortgage application (since prequalification was just the start). There are some helpful checklists on the Freedom site that will tell you the documents you'll need at this stage: you might as well make sure you have everything, regardless of where you take out a home loan. You can also read about the mortgage loan process, so you'll know what to expect and when.
Several options for closing
The last step is closing. While some lenders make you go to a third-party location, usually a title company, Freedom might be able to bring the closing to you. Check with your assigned loan officer to see what your options are.
Can't see rates in advance
Are Freedom's home loan rates competitive? Great question. When you click on the "Mortgage Rates" link at the top of the site, you're taken to a page that tells you... to give them a call or create an account. We understand that mortgage rates are very specific to each lender, to market conditions, and so forth - but a ballpark prior to signing up or getting on the phone would be nice.
Doesn't always resolve problems
How about Freedom Mortgage's reputation? We were glad to see that they have an "A+" from the Better Business Bureau, but a little less so when we saw almost 1200 complaints filed in the past three years. From what we gathered, Freedom maintains that "A+" by being sure to answer all complaints - but not necessarily by resolving them to their clients' satisfaction. Comment after comment, a pattern emerges of poor communication, late or nonexistent responses to account and payment issues, and difficulties in getting help from Freedom support. True, with over a million customers, a thousand complaints is a drop in the bucket. But when you're trying to resolve problems that can have a huge impact on your credit score, you want prompt responses from your mortgage company - and we're not confident that Freedom delivers.
Issues from start to finish
Plus, these problems seem to occur all across the home loan lifecycle, from application to servicing. Delayed communications can not only create those problems we mentioned with respect to credit histories, but also with successfully getting to closing in the first place. In a hot real estate market, you could lose the home of your dreams if your lender isn't 100% on the ball. We also read dozens of comments from homeowners whose mortgages were sold to Freedom, and who said that the experience has been nightmarish. Not a good sign.
We recommend using a different lender
For all of these reasons, Freedom Mortgage is not a lender we can comfortably recommend. You've got literally hundreds of options for getting a home loan, so why not choose a company that demonstrates a higher commitment to getting your paperwork done on time and answering any questions or concerns quickly too? You'll find several better options among the higher-ranked lenders in our review.
Never heard of Truist, and yet now this bank seems to be everywhere? This financial services company is the brand that emerged from the merger of two big-name banks, BB&T and SunTrust. It's now a top 10 US commercial bank, with headquarters in Charlotte, NC and over 2700 branches in 15 states plus Washington DC.
No problem seeing mortgage rates now
We like that Truist shows you right away what the current rates are for the mortgages they offer: 15- and 30-year fixed, 30-year jumbo, 30-year FHA, and 30-year VA. There's also a toggle to see how the rates change if you apply a point (if you pay 1% of the loan amount in exchange for a lower interest rate). At the time of our review, their mortgage rates were competitive with other big names in banking.
Not much help during preapproval
You can then decide if you're ready to apply for a home loan or if you'd rather prequalify, remembering that a formal application will impact your credit score while prequalification uses a soft pull that won't touch your credit report. However, if you choose the "Get preapproved" option, all you can do is submit your information (name, address, timeframe for home purchase, and name of real estate agent)...and wait for a Truist loan professional to reach out to you. That's a huge disadvantage compared with other home loan providers that let you get prequalified right away and provide a letter you can hand over to your agent to make an offer. Even if you're just in the "researching" stage of the home-buying process, why wouldn't you want even a preliminary idea of what you can afford without having to talk to a loan officer to get it?
Good reputation with the BBB
Nonetheless, at first we thought Truist was going to come out a winner among home loan providers. We were encouraged by their "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau and not overly dissuaded by the 1500+ complaints filed there in the last 12 months: after all, with over 2700 branches, that works out to fewer than one complaint per location. Not so terrible, right?
Things have changed - and not for the better
Unfortunately, it seems like any positive feedback for Truist is a remnant of its two merged companies: thousands and thousands of people say that customer service has tanked since they were switched to Truist from BB&T and SunTrust. It doesn't matter if you bank online or go into a branch, plan to wait a long time before getting any help - and don't expect much when you do finally get to talk to a representative. One homeowner said it took three calls and four reps to finally restore access to their mortgage account online after the merger. Another described it this way, and we think it's a good representation of the many other complaints we read: "Truist Bank creates problems they can't solve."
Not recommended for home loans - or banking
If you already have a banking relationship with Truist and there's a significant financial advantage to adding a mortgage to your accounts there, maybe it would be worth asking at your local branch to see what they could offer. Otherwise, we don't recommend applying for a home loan here (or, really, doing any kind of banking with this financial institution).
Ally is mostly known for banking and auto finance, with 2.5 million "deposits customers" and over 21,000 car dealerships in their network. This bank also offers most of the common home loan types, such as fixed, adjustable, and jumbo products.
See fairly accurate rates with no info required
We found some features on the Ally mortgages page that other lenders don't offer. For example, not only can you see today's rates on many different loan types, like a 7/6 ARM or a 30-year fixed, but you can also customize those rates by entering some basic details about the home's zip code and price, the down payment amount, and your estimated credit score range: no preapplication or SSN required. We weren't necessarily impressed by the rates we saw for our target property, but at least we were told upfront about what to expect.
No lender fees
Ally also wants to get your attention by offering zero lender fees: unlike most banks, this one won't charge you for your application, loan origination or processing, or underwriting. Those fees can be negotiable with other institutions, but it's nice that you don't have to jump through those hoops here.
In partnership with Better
When we started the prequalification process, we were surprised to see that Ally applications are managed by Better Mortgage, one of our highest-ranked home loan providers. What does that mean for you? If you apply for a loan here, your application will go through Better: they'll manage it, serve as a broker in certain situations, and then take your loan all the way through underwriting and closing. From that point, they hand it over to Ally for servicing.
Many unresolved complaints
We're not going to go through all of the steps of the Better home loan process here: you can read more about that in our in-depth review of that financial institution. We will say that while we love Better, we're not impressed by having Ally as the final destination for your home loan. Why? Ally has a disappointing "D-" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Out of nearly 1,800 complaints filed against Ally in the last three years, more than 100 were still marked as unresolved.
Not much positive feedback for this lender
It's actually challenging to find anyone with a pleasant experience doing business with Ally (beyond the three positive, obviously hand-selected reviews on the Ally site that also happened to be over a year old). Ally clients say that their customer service team is extremely hard to reach, and when you do get someone, it's usually a rep who is based overseas and difficult to understand. While most of the complaints about Ally are related to auto loans and banking, we also found problems specific to mortgages. These range from having multiple hard pulls that negatively impacted a prospective borrower's credit profile to significant delays in document processing.
Lowest-ranked option for home loans
There's no reason to trust Ally with your home loan. It's far too likely that you'll have a bad experience, with no easy way to make it right if something goes wrong during your application or during loan servicing. Choose a different lender for your mortgage.
Some mortgage terms stipulate that the funds can't come from a last-minute gift or contribution from a well-meaning family member, so plan ahead!
The easiest way to know how much you can borrow is by shopping for a home loan online. While some lenders require you to enter your personal information to show you their rates, others post sample rates online or let you choose your credit score range and other details to preview a more personalized quote. Be mindful that there's a difference between a "soft pull" on your credit - usually used to prequalify you, and only uses your address and phone number to verify your identity - and a "hard pull" that will impact your credit history.
The latter usually happens only when you've got a home under contract and you're ready to secure a mortgage, but pay attention to the fine print when you're checking out a lender's rates. You don't want to be "just browsing" and find out that your credit score took a nosedive with an unintentional hard inquiry on your report!
With many lenders interested in your business, how can you decide which one to use for your mortgage? Here are a few factors to look at before you complete a loan application:
To help you finance the home of your dreams, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular mortgage lenders. We're confident that this information will be useful on your journey to home ownership. Congratulations!
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