There are more online lenders today than ever before. As more people get comfortable doing business digitally (that’s a fancy way of saying from your couch), they want the convenience and quickness of online mortgage lenders.
This emphasis on consumer-friendly technology has opened the doors to a growing number of fintech startups that are investing their capital in digital platforms rather than brick-and-mortar locations. The result is more lenders competing for your business, which helps drive down the cost of lending while optimizing performance.
Because borrowers have different needs, financial profiles and loan goals, Forbes Advisor compiled a list of online lenders that excel in various areas, so there’s something for everyone here.
What is mortgage insurance (PMI)?
Private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI, protects the lender in the event that you default on your mortgage. Typically, if you make a down payment of less than 20% of your home’s purchase price, you will be required to pay PMI. How much you’ll pay for this insurance will vary, depending on factors that include the size of your down payment and your credit score.
How do I get preapproved for a mortgage?
Mortgage preapproval represents a lender’s offer to loan the buyer money based on certain financial circumstances and specific terms. Start by gathering documents your lender will need, including a copy of your Social Security card and recent W-2 forms, pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. The lender you select will then guide you through the preapproval process.
Guild Mortgage offers both in-person and online mortgage services. With office locations in 31 states, borrowers who prefer to do business face-to-face can visit a branch location. Conversely, borrowers in 48 states (not in New York and New Jersey) can apply online through its MyMortgage digital mortgage program.
Guild Mortgage is a great option for borrowers with lower credit scores, as its minimum requirement is 600—about 20 points less than what the average lender requires. Applying for a home loan through Guild Mortgage is also relatively easy and fast, making it an excellent choice for people who can’t afford to wait.
Tech-forward, Guild Mortgage provides services like auto-matching customers with down-payment help from state and local programs, which is ideal for people who might not have time to do the research themselves.
For buyers in a hurry, the lender offers a Homebuyer Express 17-Day Closing Guarantee program. This is considerably faster than the industry average of 43 days to close, according to Freddie Mac. The guarantee states that the lender pays $500 toward closing costs if the loan doesn’t close on time due solely to a Guild Mortgage delay.
LoanDepot is one of the largest non-bank mortgage lenders in the U.S., with more than 150 branches across the country and a robust online presence. Its loan products include conventional mortgages, government-backed loans and refinances.
Customers who use the lender’s Mello Smartloan online technology can expect to reduce their closing time by 17 days by reducing paperwork and digitally connecting and verifying assets, income and debt. Additionally, Mello Smartloan can digitally conduct title clearance, which is often one of the more time-intensive steps of the underwriting process. Another benefit of this technology is that it also determines whether some borrowers can waive the appraisal requirement, which can shave time and a few hundred dollars off the cost of your mortgage.
PNC Bank operates in all 50 states and provides a wide range of mortgage products, including specialty loans for low- and moderate-income borrowers.
PNC also offers an innovative online experience called Home Insight, which provides a deep dive into the homebuying process, enabling customers to determine the mortgage payment they can afford and start shopping for homes with real-time rate quotes and loan products. It also allows customers who have applied for a loan to follow along with the approval process and upload supporting documents. In addition, the customer can invite real estate agents into the process to monitor progress.
Home Insight combines a home affordability analysis, a monthly payment estimator that accounts for insurance and taxes and the ability to search for available home listings. It also connects unique budgets, real-time rates and loan products with a real estate listings search to help prospective home buyers better understand how much house they can afford.
PNC also offers a full digital pre-approval application, where borrowers may apply online and receive approval in a matter of minutes.
Mortgage borrowers can count on average fees and competitive interest rates, tracking just below the national average. Borrowers can also get a preapproval letter within 24 to 48 hours and they can get prequalified online within 15 minutes.
The minimum credit score on VA and FHA loans is lower than average, requiring just a 600 FICO. This can be helpful for first-time borrowers who might not have an established credit history.
If you’re a VA borrower (or refinancing a VA mortgage), Guaranteed Rate waives all loan fees. For first-time borrowers or folks with less than perfect credit scores, minimum requirements are lower than average. For example, the minimum FICO requirement for a conforming mortgage and USDA loan is 620 and just 600 for FHA and VA mortgages.