Best mortgage lenders of 2023

Written by Josh Patoka / December 20, 2022
Reviewed by Jamie Young

Comparing the best mortgage lenders can help you find a home loan with a competitive rate and term. Many of these lenders offer home loans with flexible down payment and income requirements that can benefit homebuyers who struggle to qualify for a traditional mortgage.

We’ve ranked both traditional and online retail lenders using several factors—including whether the lowest rate is higher or lower than the national average, fees, potential discounts, borrower eligibility, customer experience and the ease of the application process.

Inside this article

  1. Best mortgage lenders
  2. Best overall: Bank of America
  3. Best for FHA loans: Better.com
  4. Best on a budget: Ally
  5. Best for discounts: Chase
  6. Best for military: Navy Federal Credit Union
  7. Best online lender: Rocket Mortgage
  8. Best for first-time homebuyers: PNC Bank
  9. Compare the best mortgage lenders
  10. Why some lenders didn’t make the cut
  11. Methodology
  12. Frequently Asked Questions

Best mortgage lenders

  • Best overall: Bank of America

  • Best for FHA loans: Better.com

  • Best on a budget: Ally

  • Best for discounts: Chase

  • Best for military: Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Best online lender: Rocket Mortgage

  • Best for first-time homebuyer: PNC Bank

Best overall: Bank of America

Why it’s the best

Bank of America is the best overall option for many existing homeowners and first-time homebuyers since they offer many fixed-rate, low-down-payment and government-backed home loans. Doctor loans are also available for medical professionals with a high student loan balance.

This lender doesn’t publicize traditional credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) requirements as they analyze several borrower factors. Some include your ability to pay, banking relationships and current home equity (if applicable).  

In addition to loan programs that may accept a down payment as low as 3% of the home purchase price, the lender also offers grants to reduce a borrower’s down payment and closing costs.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Many different loan options

  • Down payment and closing cost assistance

  • Flexible borrower requirements

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer USDA loans

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) refinance loans only available to existing customers

  • Preapproval can take up to 10 days

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: No maximum

  • Perks: Income-based grants and Bank of America Preferred Rewards discounts

  • Preapproval time: Up to 10 days 

  • Time to close: Typically 4 to 6 weeks

Best for FHA loans: Better.com

Why it’s the best

Buying a home or refinancing through Better.com can minimize your home loan APR as you won’t pay an origination fee, which usually ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the loan value. The platform also offers a real estate agent service that could save you as much as $2,000 on closing costs.

Since you’ll pay fewer fees, Better can be one of the best FHA lenders—requiring only 3.5% down and a minimum credit score of 580.

In addition to FHA loans, Better.com offers conventional, jumbo and VA home purchase loans. Home improvement loans and cash-out refinancing are available as well. First-time homebuyers may also be able to take advantage of flexible terms and minimal fees.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No origination fees

  • Many different loan options (including FHA and VA)

  • Live chat and phone support

Cons

  • Online only

  • Doesn’t offer USDA loans

  • Better Real Estate discount not available in all states

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: 50% 

  • Perks: No origination fees, up to $2,000 in closing cost savings with real estate agent service, $100 Better Price Guarantee

  • Preapproval time: As little as 3 minutes

  • Time to close: Typically 30 to 45 day

Best on a budget: Ally

Why it’s the best

Ally doesn’t charge lender fees—such as application, origination, processing and underwriting fees—that big banks are more likely to collect. Traditional fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages as well as jumbo loans are available through Ally.

First-time homebuyers can apply for the Fannie Mae HomeReady Mortgage program, which may only require a 3% down payment. Additionally, an Ally jumbo loan may only require a 10% down payment.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No lender fees

  • HomeReady loan only requires a 3% down payment

  • Can get preapproved within a few minutes

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer FHA, VA or USDA loans

  • Online only

  • Doesn’t offers home equity loan products

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: 50%

  • Perks: No lender fees, down payments as low as 3%

  • Preapproval time: Initial preapproval within a few minutes

  • Time to close: A few weeks to a few months, depending on the situation

Best for discounts: Chase

Why it’s the best

Chase is one of the better big banks to get a home loan from as you can qualify for a relationship discount up to 0.50%. Your total interest rate discount depends on your Chase banking and J.P. Morgan investment balances.

Additionally, borrowers in select areas can qualify for a Chase Homebuyer Grant worth up to $5,000. This assistance can be helpful to first-time homebuyers.

You may also prefer Chase as you can apply online or through a local branch. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Can apply online or in person

  • Offers relationship rate discounts

  • Homebuyer grants worth up to $5,000

Cons

  • Best relationship discount requires a high deposit balance

  • Doesn’t offer USDA loans

  • Certain loans have strict requirements

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: 43%

  • Perks: Homebuyer grants, relationship discounts, closing guarantee

  • Preapproval time: Not disclosed

  • Time to close: Within 3 weeks (or you’ll get $5,000 through Chase’s closing guarantee)

Best for military: Navy Federal Credit Union

Eligible service members, veterans and their spouses can qualify for several Navy Federal Credit Union home loan programs that don’t require a down payment. These include federally-backed VA loans as well as a Military Choice loan for borrowers who have exhausted their VA loan benefits. 

Additionally, a Homebuyers Choice loan is available that doesn’t require a down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI). You may consider this option if you're ineligible for the Military Choice program, which has similar benefits and a lower interest rate. 

If you satisfy the credit union’s membership requirements, you can then apply online or through a local loan officer

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Military-friendly loan programs

  • Offers 0% down payment loans

  • Online and local branch access

Cons

  • Strict membership eligibility

  • Doesn’t offer FHA or USDA loans

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: Does not disclose

  • Perks: 0% down payment loans, $1,000 rate match guarantee, up to $9,000 cash back through their RealtyPlus homebuying service in most states

  • Preapproval time: Can be instant (could take longer in some cases)

  • Time to close: Up to 30 days for purchase loans (up to 45 days for refinancing)

Best online lender: Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage makes it easy to apply online. You also have many mortgage options, including conventional, FHA, VA and jumbo loans.

The platform also simplifies the mortgage discount process with its Rocket Rewards program. This loyalty program is free to join and lets you earn rewards points by reading articles and completing other tasks. You’re able to redeem these credits toward your closing costs as one example.

This platform doesn’t offer specialized first-time homebuyer loans like some lenders, although you can qualify for federal programs like FHA or VA loans with a credit score as low as 580.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Offers conventional, FHA, VA and jumbo loans

  • Can receive closing cost discounts

  • Can complete the entire application online

Cons

  • No longer offers USDA loans

  • No specialized loans or grants

  • Online only

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: 50% (depending on loan type)

  • Perks: Rocket Rewards loyalty points, $1,000 Verified Approval guarantee

  • Preapproval time: Typically within 24 hours

  • Time to close: Typically 30 to 45 days

Best for first-time homebuyers: PNC Bank

Why it’s the best

PNC Bank is one of the relatively few lenders that offer USDA loans in addition to FHA and VA federal home loans. This lender also provides conventional and jumbo mortgages as well as several specialty programs like:

  • Medical Professionals mortgage: Loans of up to $1 million that don’t require PMI and allow gifts to fund the down payment

  • PNC Community Loan: Can make a down payment as small as 3% without PMI premiums  

  • $5,000 Grant: If eligible, can use the funds to reduce closing costs, cover prepaid costs or put toward the down payment

These specialty mortgages as well as PNC Bank’s FHA, USDA and VA loan offerings can be beneficial for first-time homebuyers.

Additionally, a PNC loan officer will work with borrowers that have credit scores below 620 to find the best mortgage option.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Many different loan options (including FHA, VA and USDA)

  • Specialty loan programs with flexible down payment requirements

  • Can apply online or work with a loan officer

Cons

  • Loans may require a minimum 620 credit score

  • Branches not located in every state

  • Relationship discounts only for PNC Private Bank clients

More details

  • Interest rates: Below national average

  • DTI ratio: Generally 36% to 45% (varies per program)

  • Perks: $5,000 closing cost assistance grant, medical loans, potentially low down payment requirements

  • Preapproval time: Does not disclose

  • Time to close: Typically 7 to 10 days after final approval

Compare the best mortgage lenders

LenderMinimum rateMax DTI ratioTime to close
Bank of AmericaBelow national average No maximum4 to 6 weeks
Better.comBelow national average50%30 to 45 days
AllyBelow national average50%Few weeks to a few months
ChaseBelow national average43%3 weeks
Navy Federal Credit UnionBelow national averageDoes not disclose30 to 45 days
Rocket MortgageBelow national average50% 30 to 45 days
PNC BankBelow national average45% (varies by program)7 to 10 days after final approval

Why some lenders didn’t make the cut

Of the 14 mortgage lenders that we reviewed, only a fraction made the cut. The lenders that didn’t have high enough scores to be included received lower ratings mostly due to having a lack of transparency around credit score and DTI ratio requirements as well as preapproval and closing timelines. Some of the excluded lenders also had limited customer service options and bad customer reviews.

Methodology

Our expert writers and editors have reviewed and researched 14 popular lenders to help you find the best mortgage. Out of all the lenders considered, the seven that made our list excelled in areas across the following categories (with weightings): loan cost (30%), eligibility and accessibility (20%), customer service (20%) and ease of application (30%).

Within each major category, we considered several characteristics, including minimum APR, maximum allowed debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, minimum credit score requirements and applicable fees. We also evaluated each provider’s customer support options, borrower perks and features that simplify the borrowing process—like time to close and preapproval time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the best mortgage lender?

The best lenders typically offer low fees and responsive customer service. Two costs that can vary widely between lenders are origination fees and discount points, according to Rebecca Richardson aka The Mortgage Mentor. Borrowers should primarily focus on these expenses as third-party fees like appraisal and title fees won’t vary much.

“[In addition to comparing lender costs,] evaluating a loan officer’s responsiveness, experience and willingness to fully explain your options and the process,” Richardson suggests. “Saving money on your mortgage is important, but so is closing on time with minimal stress.”

Comparing loan estimates from multiple lenders will help you find the lowest rates and fees. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a loan estimate explainer to understand what to look for as you compare lender fees.  

Who generally has the best mortgage rates?
What is the best mortgage term to go with?
Are mortgage fees negotiable?

About the Authors

Josh Patoka

Josh Patoka

Josh became a full-time personal finance writer in 2015 after serving as a transportation operations supervisor for seven years. He draws from his own money management experience of saving for long-term goals, paying off debt, and career changes. His writing has been regularly featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and several award-winning personal finance websites.

Full bio
Jamie Young

Jamie Young

Jamie Young is an authority on personal finance who has been writing and editing for online media for 10 years. Her work has appeared on some of the best-known media outlets including Forbes, Time, CBS News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL, MSN, and more.

Jamie is passionate about finance, technology, and the Oxford comma. In her free time, Jamie takes care of her two crazy cats and ever-growing collection of plants. She’s also an avid gamer who watches way too many true crime documentaries. 

Full bio

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