Just like virtually every other financial service, mortgage lending is increasingly moving online. Some of the best lenders now operate entirely online, making it quick and easy to both make application and navigate the loan process.
What’s more, you can get preapprovals in a matter of minutes, usually 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you’ve ever found the traditional mortgage application process to be slow and stressful, due to the face-to-face meetings and heavy documentation requirements, online mortgage lenders can provide blessed relief.
You can apply in a matter of minutes, and upload required documentation with the push of a button.
Who Are The Best Mortgage Lenders?
You owe it to yourself to check out the following lenders the next time you need to apply for a mortgage.
Quicken Loans has risen to become the largest retail mortgage lender in the entire country.
And they’ve done it all without having any local lending branches. And not only is Quicken Loans a direct lender, but they also handle nearly all the servicing of their loans. The service is available in all 50 states.
Because the two companies are related, much of the Quicken Loans process is handled through Rocket Mortgage. But one of the big advantages with Quicken Loans is that they handle all types of mortgages.
That includes conventional mortgages, FHA and VA loans, Jumbo mortgages, and even USDA loans. This is significant because many online lenders only handle a limited menu of loan options.
One of the reasons Quicken Loans has become the nation’s top lender is because you pay a single fee of between $400 and $750 for the entire process.
This is unlike the nickel-and diming process of charging multiple fees that’s so common among brick-and-mortar mortgage lenders.
But another big advantage is that Quicken handles much of the verification process through online sources, eliminating the need for customers to download much of the typical required mortgage documentation.
Still, be prepared to submit whatever documentation Quicken Loans can’t verify from third-party services.
Once you obtain your preapproval, you can lock in your rate for up to 90 days.
Lending Tree isn’t a direct mortgage lender, but a mortgage aggregator. Many different mortgage lenders participate in the platform, which causes them to compete for your business.
You complete a single online loan application on the platform, and lenders will present loan offers to you. There’s no need to go shopping and make applications with multiple lenders.
And perhaps best of all, as a customer, you pay no fees to Lending Tree for using the service. Instead, participating lenders pay Lending Tree to make their services available on the platform.
Once you complete an application, offers will begin coming in from various lenders. You can then choose which lender you’re going to work with.
Yet another advantage of having participation by multiple lenders is that it gives you access to virtually all types of mortgages. Many lenders specialize in a certain mortgage niche, like conventional or VA loans.
But since there are multiple lenders, you’ll be able to find one (usually more than one) for whatever loan type you’re interested in getting.
Probably the only real disadvantage of Lending Tree is that by completing an online application, you’re literally inviting solicitation by lenders.
Even after you select a lender and proceed with the application process, other lenders will continue to solicit your business through phone calls and emails. But that’s a small price to pay for getting access to so many different lenders.
Veterans United is considered the top VA mortgage lender in the country. This is because the company specializes in doing VA mortgages, which are not offered by all lenders – certainly not all online lenders.
VA loans are a specialized loan category, best handled by lenders who do a large number of them. If you’re active duty military or a veteran looking for a VA mortgage Veterans United should be your first choice.
They offer mortgages for purchases or refinances, including the VA Streamline Refinance, known as the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL.
They also offer USDA Loans, for home buyers with lower incomes who want to purchase homes in designated rural areas. (They’re not exclusively limited to the standard definition of rural, since the loans are available in 97% of the counties in the US.)
One of the features that makes Veterans United stand out as a VA lender is that they work with military advisors from each branch of the military service.
They also provide customer service on a 24/7 basis, which is another feature that’s fairly rare in the mortgage lending industry. And to help you find a home once you’ve been preapproved for a loan, they can connect you with real estate agents through Veterans United Realty.
If Veterans United has a weak spot it’s that they don’t offer other common mortgage types, like conventional or FHA mortgages.
SoFi (they do mortgages too!)
Best known for providing student loan refinances and personal loans, it’s often forgotten that SoFi also provides mortgage financing.
Like other lenders on this list, the entire process takes place online, which both speeds the application, and makes it much easier to supply needed supporting documentation.
SoFi offers a specialized mortgage product, which is a jumbo mortgage for both purchases and refinances, with a down payment as low as 10%.
Loan amounts are up to $3 million. The loans are available in both fixed and adjustable rates. They even offer interest-only loans, which is not unusual on Jumbo mortgages.
Though it’s an online mortgage lender, you’ll be assigned a loan officer who will work with you on a one-on-one basis. That adds a human element to an otherwise digital experience.
And in one of the qualities that makes SoFi stand out, your loan is underwritten and approved quickly, and you’re given an actual rate quote up front. You can use the Check My Rate tool to get an accurate rate quote. They claim to fund most loans within 30 days of application.
As a bonus, you’ll get a rate discount of 0.125% on any of SoFi’s other loan programs.
On the downside, SoFi doesn’t offer FHA or VA mortgages, nor do they offer second mortgages and home equity lines of credit. The program also seems oriented toward those with higher credit ratings, so you may need to look elsewhere if your credit score is average or below.
Freedom Mortgage (formerly J.G. Wentworth)
Best known for structured settlements,Freedom Mortgage, formerly knowns as J.G. Wentworth isn’t as well recognized as some of the other lenders on this list, but they’re actually a major player in the industry, and one of the most diversified loan sources.
It’s an all-online lender, with the entire process taking place on the website. They’re also a direct lender that has funded more than $10 billion in mortgages since the company was launched in 1992.
They provide all types of loans, including conventional, FHA, VA, Jumbo and USDA mortgages. Most are available in both fixed and adjustable rates.
Adjustable-rate mortgages are available in terms of three years, five years, seven years, and 10 years, all based on a 30-year payout and amortization.
If you’re active duty military or a veteran, the company specializes in VA mortgages. But they also offer specialized conventional programs for first-time homebuyers, as well as renovation mortgage products, including FHA 203k loans.
One of the biggest advantages with this lender is their “Close-On-Time Guarantee”. If you miss the closing date, and it’s the fault of J.G. Wentworth, the company will pay your first month’s mortgage payment, up to $2,500 (though not all loan programs are covered).
Like some of the other lenders on this list, Freedom mortage doesn’t offer secondary financing. There’s also a handful of states they don’t lend in.
Another online lender best-known for student loans and personal loans, Credible also makes online mortgages available.
Much like Lending Tree, Credible includes participation by multiple mortgage lenders. However, the company is a mortgage broker, and has live licensed loan officers to assist you with the entire application process, all the way through closing.
You complete your application online, and begin getting prequalification rates in a matter of minutes. When you apply, your credit report won’t be pulled, and therefore won’t generate an inquiry that can hurt your credit score.
The platform uses a question-and-answer format which you complete to begin the process. Once you select the lender, you can also upload required documentation on the website.
However, be aware that Credible is a limited mortgage source. Though you can get quotes from various lenders, they focus on refinances, primarily cash-out refinances. But if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, Credible is an excellent source.
The platform provides participation by banks, credit unions and other mortgage lenders. Loans can either fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgages.
Naturally, that means if you’re looking to purchase a home, you’ll need to look elsewhere. But it’s often best to work with a specialized lending source if you only need the type of program they’re offering.
Credible limits they’re programs to refinances, and they’re very good at them.
No relation to Home Depot, loanDepot (that’s not a misspelling, it’s loanDepot) is a diversified online mortgage lender, that also provides assistance from live loan officers.
Otherwise, the entire loan process is fully digital. But if you prefer, the company has more than 150 branch locations (“loan stores”) in various cities across the country. But through the online process, they lend in all 50 states.
They’ve also provided funding for more than $100 billion in mortgages for both purchases and refinances.
They offer all types of mortgages, including conventional, FHA, VA and Jumbo loans, in both fixed rate and adjustable rate variations. Like most online lenders, they do not offer second mortgages, including home equity lines of credit.
One of the big advantages with loanDepot is that they specialize in FHA and VA loans. But much of their clientele are referrals from homebuilders.
One of the most interesting features is the loanDepot Lifetime Guarantee. They promise if you obtain a mortgage through the company once, you’ll never pay lender fees again.
Once you do your first loan, they’ll waive lender fees and even reimburse your appraisal fee if you refinance your home.
Still another interesting feature is their mello smartloan (what can we say – they like lower case letters!). You digitally connect your income, employment and assets, enabling quick and secure data verification.
Once you supply the information, their proprietary loan engines determine your loan options, then you’ll be assisted by live loan consultants.
Rocket Mortgage is perhaps the best-known of all online mortgage lenders, because their TV and Internet ads are only everywhere, all the time.
Part of the Quicken Loans organization, the two companies seem to be gradually merging into one, with Rocket Mortgage increasingly representing the company’s public face.
In fact, Rocket Mortgage is described as “an online mortgage experience developed by Quicken Loans”. So it’s really an “experience” rather than a company!
Rocket Mortgage may be the consummate online mortgage source, because that’s where the entire process takes place. Although the company can easily be reached by either phone or live chat. The company operates in all 50 states, so you can obtain financing wherever you are.
They provide all types of mortgages, including conventional, FHA, VA, and Jumbo loans. All are available in both fixed rate and adjustable rate. But like most lenders on this list, they don’t provide second mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
As the TV commercials say, you can make application online, and get a preapproval in just minutes. However, be aware that the complete application process will be more involved.
When you apply, you’ll get expert, custom recommendations that will show you real interest rates and payments.
One of the major benefits of working with Rocket Mortgage is that they provide a to-do list to help you move through the process.
This will not only let you know what you need to do as part of the process, but it will also enable you to keep track of your loan’s progress. You can even use the Rocket Mortgage app to make payments online.
Final Thoughts on the Best Mortgage Lenders
The biggest advantage of online mortgage lenders is that streamlines what has traditionally been a very cumbersome loan process.
You no longer need to meet with a loan representative for a tense face-to-face meeting. Nor do you need to overnight what seems to be an endless list of required documentation.
You can complete your application entirely online, get live, personal assistance as needed, and supply all necessary documentation digitally.
Online mortgage lending isn’t necessarily the least expensive way to get a mortgage. But it does speed the process and eliminate much of the stress. And it increasingly appears that the entire industry is gradually moving toward an online process.
The lenders on this list have gotten there ahead of the rest of the pack, and are rapidly becoming better at it.
So if you need a mortgage, particularly in a hurry, don’t make your local bank or credit union the first stop. Instead, check out a couple of these lenders, and see how easy and fast the mortgage process can really be.