Nowadays, there are more online lenders than ever. Because borrowers have different needs and financial profiles, Forbes Advisor compiled a list of online mortgage lenders that excel in various areas. So, whether speed is a top priority or you want an online lender that specializes in a niche—for instance, if you’re a first-time homebuyer—there’s something here for everyone. Here are the best mortgage lenders 2023.
The Best Online Mortgage Lenders 2023
- Better – Best All-around Online Lender
- Guaranteed Rate – Best Online Lender For First-time Homebuyers
- PNC Bank – Best Online Lender With Brick-and-Mortar Branches
- Ally – Best Online Lender For Speedy Preapprovals
- LoanDepot – Best Large Online Lender
- Rocket Mortgage – Best Online Lender For A Wide Variety Of Options
- Guild Mortgage – Best Online Lender For Speedy Closings
- Mr. Cooper – Best Online Lender For Poor Credit
Tips for Choosing & Comparing Online Mortgage Lenders
You should choose an online mortgage lender the same way you’d pick a traditional lender: by shopping around. Studies have shown that borrowers who explore different options before deciding to work with a particular lender get better rates.
You can start with our list of recommendations, above. Be sure to take into account not just the interest rate or APR offered by each lender, but also closing costs and other fees. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the online approach: if you have questions during the application process, does the lender have reliable customer service Mortgage borrowers should choose a mortgage lender by examining features they deem essential and then conducting a side-by-side analysis.
For most borrowers, mortgage rates, fees, loan types and credit score requirements are the most important features to consider. You can start by researching online and reading lender reviews, though you may have to complete an application or call to get a rate quote, as many lenders don’t disclose fees or interest rates on their websites.
Other items often found on a lender’s website include mortgage discounts, borrower qualifications and any special features that set them apart (such as rate match guarantees or specialized technology that streamlines the application process).
We reviewed 12 mortgage lenders that do business both online and in person throughout the United States. The lenders we reviewed represent some of the largest mortgage lenders by volume, which include banks, credit unions and online lenders.
Our scoring methodology included capturing 10 data points, which covered interest rates, lender fees, loan types, discounts, accessibility and borrower requirements.
The best lenders received a score of four stars or better and represented outstanding performance or services in one or more areas.
The following is the weighting assigned to each category:
- Loan costs: 30%
- Speed: 20%
- Credit requirements: 20%
- Loan types offered: 20%
- Access and availability: 10%
Specific characteristics taken into consideration within each category include annual percentage rate (APR), average interest rate, origination fees, minimum credit score requirements, discounts and customer service availability.
We also offered bonus points up to 5% of the score when a lender considers alternative credit data.
To learn more about our rating and review methodology and editorial process, check out our guide on How Forbes Advisor Reviews Mortgage Lenders.
How To Get Preapproved by an Online Mortgage Lender
If you’re organized, filling out a preapproval application with an online mortgage lender can be a fast and easy task, with some online lenders claiming that you can even get preapproved in a matter of minutes. Lenders are otherwise required to provide a preapproval letter within three business days.
For online mortgage lenders—or any reputable lender for the matter—to get a sense of the size of the loan you can manage, they will need you to provide identifying information, such as your Social Security number and driver’s license, and details on your financial health.
Information Required for Mortgage Preapproval
To be considered for preapproval, you will need to fill out a mortgage application for lenders to run a hard credit check and provide most or all of these types of supporting documents:
- Income statements
- Tax returns
- W-2s (two years’ worth)
- Proof of assets (e.g. statements for your bank accounts, investment accounts and/or retirement accounts)
- Employment history
- Total monthly income (e.g. base salary, bonuses and rental income)
- Total monthly expenses and debts (e.g. revolving credit charges, student loans, auto loans and alimony)
- Disclosure of any judgements. (e.g. liens, delinquencies, bankruptcies and foreclosures)
- Gift letter (if a relative is funding your down payment)
- Divorce papers
Once you fill out the application and upload all the necessary information online, the lender will provide an estimated loan amount for which you qualify. The lender documents this in a preapproval letter that you can then supply to sellers as you shop for homes and make bids. You can apply for preapproval from several lenders at the same time.
It is worth noting that preapproval letters are only valid for a specific period, typically 30 to 60 days, depending on the lender, so it’s best to apply for preapproval when you are ready to start shopping for homes. However, if your preapproval window expires, you can resubmit updated documents to be considered for a new preapproval letter.