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The Best Purchase Mortgage Lenders of 2019

The 30-year mortgage is the most popular home loan for a reason. It gives homeowners the lowest fixed payment possible, with the security of knowing their rate can never change.

LendingTree reviewed data from hundreds of lenders across the nation that offer 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loans to come up with the top five best lenders of 2019. Our ratings are based primarily on the interest rate terms offered to purchase borrowers on LendingTree over the last 12 months, and then we took into account the quality of information each lender provides on their websites. You can read up on our full methodology below.

Here are the top five 30-year fixed rate mortgage lenders in 2019.

| The Federal Savings Bank


 

The Federal Savings Bank is a federally-chartered bank with the ability to finance mortgages in all 50 states. In addition to home loan programs, the bank offers deposit products such as checking, savings, CDs and money market accounts.

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Federal Savings Bank offered a median 30-year fixed rate of 4.74% on the LendingTree platform.

The bank’s website provides detailed mortgage product information on the homepage, with further information available by clicking through to each type of loan program offered. Consumers can also find many informational articles under the mortgage section of the website.

Federal Savings Bank also provides a wide array of mortgage calculator options, as well as investment calculator options for topics as unique as how to save a million dollars. These tools provide additional value to a customer who might be searching for information on how to save for a down payment.

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| Third Federal Savings and Loan Association


 

Third Federal Savings and Loan is a federally-chartered bank providing conventional home mortgages in 25 states, plus Washington, D.C. The bank was founded on May 7, 1938, and has branch offices in Ohio and Florida.

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Third Federal offered a median 30-year fixed rate of 4.75% on the LendingTree platform.

The bank’s website has a page dedicated to mortgage programs, highlighting a few loan types but providing little information about specific program offerings, such as conventional, FHA or VA loans. There is also an informational section about jumbo loans, plus several informational articles about purchase and refinance mortgages, helpful do’s and don’ts, and mortgage calculators.

There is an “Apply Today” button on the homepage, however you have to click around a drop-down menu to get to the purchase or refinance options, which will then lead you to another page where you can fill out an online application.

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| KS StateBank


 

KS StateBank was founded as Kansas State Bank of Manhattan in 1969. The bank is based in Manhattan, Kansas, and has branches in Minnesota, Arizona and Missouri.

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KS State Bank offered a median 30-year fixed rate of 4.82% on the LendingTree platform.

The homepage of the bank’s website features general home loan product information under the “Personal” drop-down menu of the website. It also includes a link with to a checklist of documents needed for each loan type, a glossary of mortgage terms and mortgage calculators.

There is no “Apply Now” button, but there is a “Find a Lender and Apply Today” link that takes the reader to a page where customers can choose a general application to fill out, or a list of loan officers at each of the bank’s branches to contact directly.

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| J.G. Wentworth Home Lending, LLC


 

J.G. Wentworth Home Lending, LLC is a direct lender operating under its parent company, J.G. Wentworth. The company has branches in 16 states and has been in business since 1992.

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J.G. Wentworth offered a median 30-year fixed rate of 4.88% on the LendingTree platform.

Information on the company’s loan options is easy to find from the homepage. There is also a wide variety of informational articles on topics related to buying and refinancing different types of properties, plus blog posts that go into detail about specific mortgage-related topics.

There is no “Apply Now” button and there doesn’t appear to be a link for filling out an online loan application, but there are buttons for getting a rate quote, finding a loan officer or talking to a specialist.

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| U.S. Bank


 

U.S. Bank originally started as First National Bank of Cincinnati in 1863. Besides mortgages, Minnesota-based U.S. Bank offers traditional consumer and business banking products.

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U.S. Bank offered a median 30-year fixed rate of 4.88% on the LendingTree platform.

The homepage has a “Mortgage and Refinance” link that takes you to a menu featuring loan product information and educational tools. There are also informational articles discussing important details that homebuyers and homeowners can use to learn about purchase and refinance loan options.

There is no “Apply Now” button on the main website landing page, but there is an “Apply for a mortgage” link that can be found after clicking on the “Buy a home” button.

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How we choose our “best” lenders

A mortgage is likely the largest debt you will take on in your lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to gather as much information as possible.

Our “best” winners aren’t chosen based on rate alone, but also with a unique rating developed by our editorial staff called “Online Information Quality,” or OIQ. We’ve taken extra time to review the information you can access online, including how easy it is to access loan product information, use mortgage tools like mortgage calculators and fill out a loan application.

To determine the best 30-year fixed-rate mortgage lenders, we analyzed data from actual loan terms offered by lenders to borrowers on LendingTree. We chose the top five lenders by rate for the last 12 months. Then we selected for lenders that originate mortgages in at least 25 states. From that list, we gave each lender an OIQ rating based on answers to the following when accessing the lender’s main website. One point was given for each yes answer.

Is there general product information on the website?

If the website features both basic terms of the loan (30 year, 15 year, adjustable rates) and program offerings (Conventional, FHA, VA), it scores a full point.

Is there general home loan information on the website?

Borrowers can make the most informed decisions if they have additional information regarding mortgages in the form of explanation articles, FAQ sections or links to an informational blog. Sites that have additional mortgage information score an extra OIQ point.

Is the general home loan information easy to find?

If the information is available with less than two clicks on the homepage, it scores an extra point, since a consumer will be able to get the information easily without having to search extensively through the site.

Are there any education tools (e.g. loan calculators) on the page or at least one click away from the homepage?

Mortgage calculators, home value estimators and other tools help consumers to make educated decisions, so landing pages that feature them score an additional OIQ point.

Is it easy to find the “apply now” button?

Mortgage users in the digital age want a quick online way to apply for a mortgage, so if the “Apply Now” button is easy to find on the homepage, it will be easy for a consumer to apply once they’ve gotten the information they need to proceed to the next step in the mortgage process.

Tips for shopping for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage

There are lot of moving parts when it comes to getting a mortgage, and getting an accurate rate quote is not as easy as just hitting the apply button on a website. There are some basic steps you should take to have the most successful mortgage shopping experience.

Tip 1: Know your three Cs

In the world of mortgage underwriting, the “three Cs” are credit, capacity and collateral. These three factors can result in the approval or decline of any mortgage application, so before you get started, you need to know how each of them relate to your financial situation.

Credit reputation

In order to get an accurate rate quote on any mortgage product, you need to know your credit scores. Lenders analyze if you’ve made on-time payments, how much credit you have, how long you’ve had it and what types of credit you have.

Capacity

This is basically how much income you earn every month, compared to how much total debt you’ll have once your potential new house payment is factored in. This is more commonly referred to as your “debt-to-income” ratio, and is even more important than your credit score since it determines how likely you are to repay your loan.

Part of capacity is also determining how much money you have toward a down payment. This is important because most loan programs require at least a minimum down payment of 3% to 3.5%, and you need to budget for closing costs of 3% to 5% as well.

Collateral

The term collateral relates to the type of property you are buying. Purchasing a condominium or manufactured home comes with different rules than buying a single family residence, and to get an accurate rate quote, you’ll need to make sure you price your rate based on the type of property you are buying.

Tip 2: Know the loan programs you qualify for

Should you get a conventional loan, an FHA loan, a VA loan or a USDA loan? Or do you need an “alternative” loan due to complicated self-employed returns or credit issues?

The only way to answer these questions is to learn the minimum requirements for each of these loan programs before you start applying for a mortgage. Using the information you gathered from the three C’s above, you can evaluate the programs that you are most likely to qualify.

Tip 3: Get your rate quotes on the same day, in writing

Interest rates and the costs associated with them fluctuate on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. In order to get an “apples-to-apples” comparison, you also need to make sure you provide the same information to each lender.

If you forget, for example, to mention to one lender that you are buying a condominium, you’ll get a rate quote that looks much lower than the others, and will be unpleasantly surprised when you get a revised loan estimate later at a higher rate, or with more costs.

Tip 4: Only compare the lender fees when making your decision

Loan estimates and fee sheets contain a lot of information, but the only items you’ll want to consider as you are shopping is the lender fees. These can include origination, discount, underwriting, processing, appraisals and credit reports.

Ignore costs like title fees, prepaid interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance and mortgage insurance — those fees will be the same regardless of the lender you choose.

Final decision making

When it’s time to make the final decision, you’ll want to consider a few thing besides the final rate and costs.

  1. Fast closing times: If you need to close quickly, be sure to discuss this with the companies you are shopping. Not all lenders can close in less than 30 days, so if this is important, make sure you let the loan officer know.
  2. Personalized service: Some customers still prefer a face-to-face meeting with someone, so take this into consideration if you are only speaking to online lenders. It possible you’ll be working with multiple people during the process, so if you want one person to guide you through the process, you may want to choose a local bank or a realtor-referred lender.
  3. Get the lock in writing: Be sure to request your rate lock in writing. This is pretty common practice now, but until you receive confirmation of the lock, usually by email, your rate may still be subject to changes as the financial markets change.

The rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

 

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