Best Mortgage Lenders In California

Editor’s note: The Bankrate Score considers a mortgage lender’s products and services only; it is not a reflection of a lender’s internal operations or practices. We continuously evaluate each lender we review to ensure the Bankrate Score is consistent with this methodology. If you’d like to consider other lenders, visit Bankrate’s lender review hub.

If you want to buy a home in The Golden State, you’ll need to dig for some gold — and be ready to spend it fast. With home prices in California among the highest in the country and listings selling quickly, owning a piece of property here likely means you’ll need to borrow some money. You shouldn’t just borrow from the first mortgage lender you find, though. Compare mortgage lenders in California to find an option that’ll help lower your costs — and stress — on the road to closing.


Methodology

To determine the best mortgage lenders by state, Bankrate evaluated lenders based on several criteria, including affordability (APR, discounts and/or incentives); availability (approval/closing timelines, loan products); and experience (application process, customer service). We also evaluated lenders through the lens of different types of borrowers in California using Bankrate’s comparison tool.


Best mortgage lenders in California

Better.com

Better.com mortgage review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, bridge loan 620 for conventional loans Three-minute preapprovals; 24/7 support You’re looking to save on upfront fees

Pros

  • Digital experience ideal for tech-savvy borrowers
  • No lender fees

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer VA or USDA loans
  • Doesn’t offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or home equity loans

Homefinity

Homefinity mortgage review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, physician loan 620 for conventional loans; 600 or higher for FHA loans and VA loans Mobile app for easy document upload and application monitoring; no-closing-cost options; outstanding customer reviews You’re looking for low rates and upfront pricing

 

Pros

  • Convenient customized online rate quote tool
  • No lender fees

Cons

  • Quote tool only offers options for borrowers with credit scores of 660 or higher

Direct Home Lending

Direct Home Lending review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, investment property, reverse mortgage 620 for conventional loans; 680 for jumbo loans; 600 for FHA loans and VA loans Most closings in 30 days or less You’re looking for a jumbo loan

Pros

  • Jumbo loans up to $10 million with a lower minimum credit score
  • Low-down payment loans

Cons

  • No USDA loans
  • No HELOCs or home equity loans

Veterans United Home Loans

Veterans United Home Loans review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA 620 for conventional loans and VA loans Considers non-traditional credit data; 24/7 support; free credit counseling services; two California branch locations You’re looking for a VA loan

Pros

  • Specializes in VA loans
  • 24/7 customer service, plus two California branches
  • Thousands of five-star customer reviews

Cons

  • No HELOCs or home equity loans
  • Might charge lender fees
  • 620 minimum credit score

Interfirst Mortgage Company

Interfirst Mortgage Company review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, investment property 620 for conventional loans No lender fees; preapprovals in one day; easy online application You want to have zero upfront costs

Pros

  • No need to pay for upfront discount points
  • No lender fees

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer FHA, VA or USDA loans
  • Website doesn’t offer much information

New American Funding

New American Funding mortgage review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, investment property, flex-term, non-QM, reverse mortgage 620 for conventional loans Initiatives to serve Black and Latinx borrowers; offers non-QM options; more than 35 branches in California You’re looking to work with a lender with experience helping minority borrowers

Pros

  • Offers non-QM options for borrowers who might not be eligible for conventional or government-insured loans
  • More than 35 locations in California

Cons

  • Doesn’t list lender fees online
  • Not all loan options detailed online

Watermark Home Loans

Watermark Home Loans review

Loans offered Credit requirements Highlights Good if
Purchase and refinance; conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, construction and renovation loans, investment property, interest-only, reverse mortgage, condo and co-op, manufactured home, piggyback (80/10/10) 620 for conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans; 680 for jumbo loans; 580 for USDA loans Offers no-closing-cost option on certain products; free rate watch tool can help you monitor the market You’re looking to refinance or for an FHA loan

Pros

  • Competitive rates on FHA loans
  • Will waive VA funding fee for certain applicants
  • Offers piggyback mortgages, which can help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)

Cons

  • Doesn’t list lender fees on its website
  • Website has limited features

California conforming loan limits

When you borrow money to buy a home, you can’t dip into a bottomless pit for your mortgage; your budget might need to be within a certain threshold based on the type of loan you apply for in California.

For a conventional loan, the 2022 limit ranges from $647,200 in the more affordable areas of California like San Bernardino to $970,800 in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. These limits are set yearly by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

For an FHA loan, the 2022 limit ranges from $420,680 in lower-cost sections of the state to $970,800 in the most expensive places.

Bankrate’s county-by-county directory of loan limits in California can help you determine how much you might be able to borrow based on where you’re looking to buy.

California first-time homebuyer programs

If you qualify as a first-time homebuyer — meaning you haven’t owned a home in the last three years — see if you’re eligible for one of California’s programs designed to put purchasing a home within your reach. The California Housing Finance Agency, also known as CalHFA, offers a range of options geared toward buyers with low or moderate incomes for the area. You might be able to qualify for a loan with a low interest rate and/or a deferred loan to help cover a down payment and closing costs.

Certain cities might offer additional help, so be sure to search for municipal housing authority options, too. In Sacramento, for example, the Community Homeownership Initiative offers grants up to $22,000 for certain low-income first-time homebuyers.

How to find the best mortgage lender

Finding the best mortgage lender ultimately comes down to your individual needs and preferences. Consider what you want out of the home-buying process: Do you want a super-fast closing or to be able to talk to a loan officer in-person? Do you need help with closing costs? In addition, think about what you can do to make your financial picture look appealing to the best mortgage lenders. Identify any potential opportunities to improve your credit and save more money for a down payment, and shop around to make sure you get the best rate possible on a home loan.

Once you find that rate, ask your lender to lock it in. All signs point to somewhat higher interest rates throughout 2022, so you don’t want to let a good deal slip away.

Summary: Best mortgage lenders in California

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