The best lenders for FHA loans in June 2021

This post was last reviewed and updated on June 1, 2021. 

The best FHA loan lenders of June 2021

Mortgage lender Min. credit score Min. down payment Next steps
Quicken Loans
580 3.5% See rates
Fairway
580 3.5% See rates
Guild Mortgage
600 3.5% See rates
New American Funding
580 3.5% See rates
Carrington
580 3.5% See rates

You may qualify with as low as a 500 credit score, but you’ll need a 10% down payment.

FHA loans are mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans are less risky for lenders than conventional mortgages (what you may think of as “normal mortgages”), so you can usually qualify with a lower credit score. FHA loans also come with lower interest rates than conventional mortgages.

The best FHA loan lenders have lower credit score requirements for FHA loans than for conventional mortgages. You can often qualify with a score as low as 580 with a 3.5% down payment, or as low as 500 with a 10% down payment. Although these are the rules of thumb, some lenders require scores as high as 640 for FHA loans.

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Your FHA lender should have other features that are important to you, too, such as digital closing options, live online chat, or physical locations.

Our expert panel for this guide

We consulted mortgage and financial experts to inform these picks and provide their insights about FHA loans and lenders. You can read their insights at the bottom of this post.

Our experts have also provided advice about how to know whether you should get an FHA loan or another type of mortgage.

Rocket Mortgage

Quicken Loans
Editor’s rating 4.5 / 5
Minimum credit score 580
Minimum down payment 3.5%
See rates from Rocket Mortgage

The bottom line: Rocket Mortgage is a good option if you want a smooth online experience and prioritize customer support.

The pros of Rocket Mortgage

  • Has ranked as the top lender for customer satisfaction from JD Power for 11 consecutive years
  • A+ rating in trustworthiness from the BBB
  • Quick, easy online experience
  • Live online chat with customer service
  • Available in all 50 US states

The cons of Rocket Mortgage:

  • No physical locations
  • Doesn’t accept alternative credit data — you must show your credit score to get a mortgage

Fairway Independent Mortgage Co.

Fairway
Editor’s rating 4.5 / 5
Minimum credit score 580
Minimum down payment 3.5%
See rates from Fairway Independent

The bottom line: Fairway Independent Mortgage’s smooth web interface and digital closing options make it excellent if you’re looking for convenience.

The pros of Fairway Independent:

  • A+ rating in trustworthiness from the BBB
  • Accepts alternative forms of credit
  • Easy-to-navigate website
  • Option to close on your mortgage digitally instead of in person
  • Available in all 50 US states

The cons of Fairway Independent:

  • Rates aren’t posted online

Guild Mortgage

Guild Mortgage
Editor’s rating 4.5 / 5
Minimum credit score 600
Minimum down payment 3.5%
See rates from Guild Mortgage

The bottom line: Guild Mortgage is a good option if you want to close online, but it isn’t available if you live in New Jersey or New York.

The pros of Guild Mortgage:

  • Accepts alternative forms of credit
  • Option to close online instead of in person

The cons of Guild Mortgage:

  • NR (No Rating) in trustworthiness because the BBB is reviewing its profile
  • Unavailable to residents of New Jersey or New York

New American Funding

New American Funding
Editor’s rating 4.25 / 5
Minimum credit score 580
Minimum down payment 3.5%
See rates from New American Funding

The bottom line: New American Funding is a strong mortgage lender overall, unless you live in New York or Hawaii.

The pros of New American Funding:

  • A+ rating in trustworthiness from the BBB
  • Accepts alternative forms of credit

The cons of New American Funding:

  • Not available to residents of Hawaii or New York

Carrington

Carrington
Editor’s rating 3.75 / 5
Minimum credit score 580
Minimum down payment 3.5%
See rates from Carrington Mortgage Services

The bottom line: Carrington is a good FHA lender unless you live in Massachusetts or North Dakota.

The pros of Carrington:

  • A+ rating in trustworthiness from the BBB
  • Accepts alternative forms of credit

The cons of Carrington:

  • Can’t see personalized rates online
  • Unavailable to residents of Massachusetts and North Dakota

Other mortgage lenders we considered

  • Bank of America: Bank of America offers competitive down payment assistance programs, but you’ll need at least a 640 credit score to get an FHA loan.
  • Chase: Chase is a good lender overall, but it also requires a 640 credit score.
  • Veterans United: Although Veterans United is a strong lender that offers FHA loans, its main focus is VA loans.
  • Regions: You might like using Regions, but the bank only has branches in certain parts of the US.
  • US Bank Mortgage: US Bank requires a 640 credit score to get an FHA loan.
  • Citibank: This bank received decent customer satisfaction ratings from JD Power, but an F in trustworthiness from the BBB.
  • Paramount Bank: You might like Paramount as an online lender, but it doesn’t show customized rates on its website.
  • NBKC: You may like NBKC’s live chat feature, but you’ll need at least a 640 credit score.
  • Penny Mac: Penny Mac offers a variety of mortgage types, but it ranks low on JD Power’s customer satisfaction survey.
  • Flagstar Bank: This bank has received an A+ from the BBB, but JD Power ranks it pretty low on customer satisfaction.
  • Mr. Cooper: JD Power ranks Mr. Cooper as about average for customer satisfaction.
  • Caliber Home Loans: You can find lenders with better customer satisfaction ratings from JD Power.
  • Fifth Third Bank: The bank doesn’t rank very highly on JD Power’s customer satisfaction survey.
  • Loan Depot: Loan Depot doesn’t provide FHA loan interest rates on its website.
  • Guaranteed Rate: You might like Guaranteed Rate, but it only has a B+ rating in trustworthiness from the BBB.
  • Freedom Mortgage: JD Power ranks Freedom Mortgage low for customer service.
  • Wells Fargo: Due to some recent scandals, Wells Fargo has received an F in trustworthiness from the BBB.
  • SunTrust: You might enjoy working with SunTrust, but the bank only has branches in the Southeast.
  • BB&T: BB&T’s website isn’t as easy to navigate as some of our top choices’ sites.
  • PNC Bank: This is a good lender overall, but you’ll need a 620 credit score to get an FHA loan.

Methodology

To choose the top FHA loan lenders, we looked at three main factors:

  • Credit score. FHA loans’ main appeal is that you don’t need a great credit score to qualify. However, some lenders have increased their FHA credit score requirement to be the same as their conventional mortgage requirement, usually around 620 or 640. We chose FHA lenders that kept their requirement around 580 or 600.
  • Customer satisfaction. If the lender appeared in the JD Power 2020 Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey, we looked at its ranking. If it wasn’t in the survey, then we read online customer reviews.
  • Ethics. Each of our top picks received an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, which measures companies’ trustworthiness. The exception is Guild Mortgage, whose BBB profile is currently under review. We also researched and considered any scandals in the past three years.

Are these mortgage lenders trustworthy?

The Better Business Bureau grades companies’ trustworthiness based on responses to customer complaints, honesty in advertising, and transparency about business practices. Here are the BBB grades for our top mortgage lenders:

Lender BBB grade
Rocket Mortgage A+
Fairway Independent Mortgage Co. A+
Guild Mortgage NR
New American Funding A+
Carrington Mortgage Services A+

Most of our top picks have an A+ from the BBB. The exceptions is Guild Mortgage, which has an NR (“No Rating”). The BBB says it is reviewing information for Guild Mortgage before updating the lender’s score.

A couple of these lenders do have recent public controversies, though.

In 2019, the US Justice Department required Rocket Mortgage’s parent company Quicken Loans to pay $32.5 million for alleged mortgage fraud. The Justice Department claimed Quicken Loans approved mortgage applications it shouldn’t have. Although Quicken Loans paid the settlement, the company never admitted to mortgage fraud.

In 2020, Guild Mortgage paid the United States $24.9 million when it was accused of approving FHA mortgages for people who didn’t qualify, resulting in loan defaults.

If any of these scandals worry you, you may decide to go with one of the other lenders on our list.

Frequently asked questions

What is an FHA loan?

An FHA loan is a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration. This means that if you default on your mortgage, the FHA will compensate your lender.

FHA loans are less risky for lenders than conventional loans, which are what you may think of as “normal mortgages.” So lenders will often approve you for an FHA loan with a lower credit score or debt-to-income ratio than with a conventional loan. FHA loans also come with lower interest rates.

How do I qualify for an FHA loan?

Many lenders will approve you for an FHA loan with a 580 credit score and 3.5% down payment. You may be eligible with a credit score of 500 to 579, but you’ll need a 10% down payment.

Keep in mind, some lenders are requiring higher credit scores for FHA loans recently, in part due to the economic uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, Chase and Bank of America both require a 640 credit score, the same score needed for a conventional loan with these banks.

Most lenders also want your debt-to-income ratio to be 43% or lower for an FHA loan. Your DTI ratio is the monthly amount you pay toward debts divided by your gross monthly income.

The rules about property types are pretty lenient. You can buy a home for up to four families with an FHA loan, or a condo or manufactured home. The home must meet certain property standards, though.

The amount you’re allowed to borrow varies by where you live and what type of property you buy. Enter your state and county information to see your borrowing limits on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

How do I choose an FHA lender?

Find lenders that will approve your FHA loan application at your current credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Then apply for preapproval with your favorites and compare the interest rates and fees between each one.

Then think about what you need from a lender. Do you prefer to apply online? Maybe you also want to close digitally, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Or you’re looking for a company with live online chat features so you don’t have to wait on hold over the phone.

Decide what’s important to you and choose the lender that’s the best fit.

Is an FHA only for first-time homebuyers?

No, you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to get an FHA loan.

FHA loans are often marketed as first-time homebuyer programs because the lenient credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements can be ideal for younger people who don’t have the most robust financial profiles yet. But you can apply for an FHA loan even if this isn’t your first time owning a home.

The experts’ advice on choosing the best FHA loan lender

To help you learn more about homebuying, mortgages, and lenders, four experts weighed in:

  • Anthony Park, author of “How to Buy Your Perfect First Home”
  • Lauryn Williams, certified financial planner, founder of Worth Winning Financial Planning
  • Julie Aragon, mortgage broker, founder of Aragon Lending Team
  • Laura Grace Tarpley, certified educator in personal finance, editor of banking and mortgage at Personal Finance Insider

Here’s what they had to say about mortgages. (Some text may be lightly edited for clarity.)

What factors should someone take into consideration when choosing a mortgage lender?

Anthony Park, author:

“The canned answer is to just go with the lowest rate. However, you also want to take into account who’s going to serve your loan best. Are repayments going to be easy for you? Who is most likely to be able to help you if you need to take out a HELOC or refinance later, versus somebody who’s more of a one-off type?

“They may have the lowest rates to get you involved, but they might have very, very little hand holding after the fact. I wouldn’t recommend paying an exorbitant amount more for potential services in the future, but just don’t always necessarily go with the rock-bottom lowest rate. There’s sometimes a cost with that.”

Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

“Apply for preapproval with multiple lenders. Each lender’s preapproval letter states how much it would lend to you, and it locks in your interest rate. It’s an effective way to compare lenders and see which will give you the best deal.

“But try to apply with all the lenders within a month or so. When you apply for preapproval, a lender does a hard credit inquiry. A bunch of hard inquiries on your report can hurt your credit score, unless it’s for the sake of shopping for the best rate. If you limit your rate shopping to a month or so, credit bureaus will understand that you’re looking for a home and shouldn’t hold each individual inquiry against you.”

How can someone decide between a conventional mortgage vs. a government-backed mortgage, like an FHA loan?

Anthony Park, author:

“It really depends on if you qualify. If you do qualify for FHA or VA mortgages, those are no-brainers. just because the terms are so favorable. If you don’t qualify, you fall back by default onto conventional mortgages.”

Julie Aragon, Aragon Lending Team:

“The most common government loan that’s widely available to almost everyone is the FHA loan. There’s a couple of reasons why somebody would go with FHA instead of conventional one. Their credit is a little on the crummy side, let’s say below 700. You can get conventional with down to a 620 score, but the mortgage insurance gets really expensive. FHA doesn’t discriminate — no matter how perfect or crappy your credit is, the mortgage insurance is the same.”

How can someone know whether they’re financially ready to buy a home?

Lauryn Williams, CFP:

“You should have funds left over after everything is said and done as it pertains to purchasing the home. So if you don’t have an emergency fund plus a down payment, you’re probably not ready to purchase a home. Another thing I think about is credit card debt. While you can be approved for a mortgage with credit card debt and student loans and very little cash on hand, you put yourself in a very risky situation.”

Laura Grace Tarpley, Personal Finance Insider:

“You should be able to afford the extra costs that come with owning a home, like home repairs or lawn care. You didn’t have to budget for those things when you rented, because the landlord was responsible for maintenance.”

Mortgage and refinance rates by state

Check the latest rates in your state at the links below. 

Alabama
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Idaho
Illinois
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Wyoming

Laura Grace Tarpley is an editor at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her four years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to save, invest, and navigate loans.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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