Stearns Lending Mortgage Review

About Stearns Lending, Inc

Stearns Lending, Inc

Our mission is to provide you with the products, support, and personal attention you deserve. Our employees guide customers through the steps required in order to meet their lending needs while maintaining their dignity, comfort, and confidence throughout the process. We handle your underwriting and closing documents at one of our local operations centers instead of outsourcing the underwriting of your loan to a third party. This enables us to provide lower rates, regular status updates, and a faster route to closing. At Stearns, our mission statement is simple: “We Can Help You”. Our people bring this goal to life every day.

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Recommended
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What is Stearns Lending?

Founded in 1989 by Glenn Stearns, who grew up in a low-income suburb of Washington, D.C., Stearns Lending bills itself as a lender that is willing to do things differently. Glenn Stearns says he follows the philosophy of putting “people before profit,” according to the company’s website. Stearns Lending has grown significantly since its founding. With headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., the lender saw more than $16.2 billion in loan volume in 2017.


Working with Stearns Lending

If you’re interested in getting a mortgage with Stearns Lending, the good news is it is licensed in most states, as well as the District of Columbia. In fact, New York is the only state where Stearns Lending is not licensed.

Stearns Lending offers both Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and conventional loans. If you apply for a conventional loan, you need a minimum 620 credit score; but for an FHA loan, you may still qualify with a score as low as 580.

Stearns Lending issues loans for several different property types, including single-family homes, multifamily homes and condos.


Stearns Lending products

Stearns Lending offers a variety of mortgages, including the following:

Purchase

Conventional mortgages: Stearns Lending offers five, seven and 10-year adjustable rate mortgages and 10- to 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages (meaning the interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan) that require as little as 3% down.

FHA loans: Backed by the FHA, these loans require just 3.5% down for most borrowers. Stearns Lending offers 15-, 25- and 30-year, fixed-rate FHA loans. Stearns Lending also offers five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages, meaning the interest rate stays fixed for the first five years.

USDA loans: These are available for borrowers in rural areas and are backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Stearns offers 30-year, fixed-rate USDA loans.

VA loans: Backed by the VA, these loans provide financing to veterans, active military personnel and their families. Stearns Lending offers 15, 25 and 30-year, fixed-rate loans and five-year ARMs.

FHA 203(k) loans: These rehabilitation loans provide financing for borrowers buying fixer-uppers or making renovations to their homes. Stearns Lending offers 30-year, fixed-rate FHA 203(k) loans.

Jumbo loans: These provide higher loan limits than other loan products, making them ideal for high-cost regions of the country. Stearns Lending offers 15- and 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages and five, seven and 10-year ARMs.

Refinance

Conventional: A conventional refinance lets you take out a new loan, possibly lowering your monthly payments or reducing the term in the process.

FHA 203(k): This loan program can let you refinance your mortgage and renovate your house.

Jumbo: This is an option for those who owe more than $453,100 on their homes.

FHA streamline: This program lets those with an FHA mortgage refinance with less documentation.

VA streamline: Otherwise known as an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), this option lets those with a VA mortgage refinance with little documentation.

VA cash-out: This refinance program lets those with a VA loan access the equity in their house when refinancing.

Home equity

Cash-out refinance: With a cash-out refinance, homeowners can tap the equity in their homes to finance renovations or other big-ticket items.

Stearns Lending special mortgage programs

Stearns Lending also offers a few proprietary mortgage programs that may be helpful for homebuyers.

If you are a doctor or dentist, you may be able to exclude your student loan payments, if they are in deferment or forbearance, from your debt-to-income ratio, which could allow you to qualify for a more expensive house. This program can only be used for a primary, single-family home.

If you’re buying a house that costs more than $1 million, you may qualify for Stearns Lending’s Gold Select 90 mortgage. This jumbo loan lets you borrow up to $1.5 million if you are an experienced buyer and up to $1 million if you are a first-time homebuyer. You may even be able to borrow more if you live in either New Jersey or California. The loan requires a 10% down payment. First-time homebuyers must have a 740 credit score to qualify, but others may have a  720.

Stearns Lending’s ‘Smart Start’ program gives you a reprieve on early mortgage payments by offering a reduced mortgage payment for the first two years of the loan. One of the benefits of this program touted by Stearns Lending is it can enable new homeowners to “ease into homeownership.”


The mortgage application process

To start the mortgage application process, you can call Stearns Lending at (855) 839-6487 or fill out a form to have a mortgage loan originator contact you.

For potential homebuyers who are comfortable with technology, Stearns Lending also offers Stearns Digital, a platform that lets you complete the application process via a mobile device. Here’s a brief overview of how it works.

  • You fill out a loan application by providing some personal information. If you need help, a mortgage loan originator can assist.
  • The platform can electronically verify your income, assets and employment.
  • Once your personal information has been verified, the application goes to underwriting, where it is either approved or denied.

Communication during the process

  • Your main point of contact through the application process is the mortgage loan originator.
  • He or she can help you fill out your application, and you can schedule a screen-sharing session and video chat during the process.
  • You can track the status of your loan digitally and upload documents as required.
  • You and your mortgage loan originator will get pop-up alerts on your phones when something changes with the loan process.

Pros and cons of a Stearns Lending mortgage

Pros:

  • Readily available. Stearns Lending is licensed in all but one state, making loans available in most parts of the country.
  • Digital platform. Stearns Lending makes it easy to apply for a mortgage loan online, which is useful for tech-savvy borrowers.
  • Wide variety of loan products. Potential homebuyers have a lot of products to choose from, making it more likely they can find something for their specific situation.
  • Programs for medical professionals. If you’re a doctor or dentist with outstanding student loans, you may qualify for a more expensive house despite your debt.
  • Products for expensive areas. In parts of the country where real estate is particularly expensive, you may be able to qualify for larger-than-average loans.
  • Reduced mortgage payments. You may have time to get used to homeownership with lower payments for the first 24 months.

Cons:

  • Branches not available everywhere. Not every region has a local branch, making Stearns Lending less than ideal for those who prefer face-to-face interaction.
  • Lack of clarity on home equity loans. The website lacks detailed information on home equity loan products.

Editorial Note: Parts of this article were reviewed by a lender to ensure accuracy prior to publication. The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.