Source: CNBC —
The home-buying process can seem daunting for first-time homebuyers. The good news is there are some mortgage lenders that offer home loan products designed to provide more ease with the process, which can be very appealing to many first-time future homeowners.
To help you get started, CNBC Select rounded up a list of the best mortgage lenders first-time homebuyers should consider. We evaluated home loan lenders based on the types of loans offered, customer support, credit score requirements and minimum down payment amount, among others (see our methodology below.)
Beyond just the lowest rates, it’s important to go with the lender that offers the best loan terms to suit your needs. There’s a learning curve when it comes to homeownership, but we’ve included an FAQs section below to help you get a better understanding of some aspects of the process.
The best mortgage lenders for first-time homebuyers
- Best for loan variety: PNC Bank
- Best for educational offerings: Bank of America
- Best for lower credit scores: Rocket Mortgage
- Best for no lender fees: Ally Bank
- Best for no PMI: CitiMortgage
Best for loan variety
Who’s this for? PNC Bank has a wide variety of home loan options, making it easy for first-time homebuyers to find a loan that suits their circumstances. This lender offers conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, jumbo loans and HELOCs. On top of that, PNC Bank offers USDA loans, which can be tougher to find among some lenders. PNC Bank also has some specialized loan options, like the Community Loan, which is meant for individuals with lower cash reserves and allows for a down payment as low as 3% and no PMI (private mortgage insurance).
It also offers a Medical Professional Loan for interns, residents, fellows or doctors who have completed their residency in the last five years. Eligible borrowers for this loan can borrow up to $1 million and won’t have to pay PMI, regardless of their down payment amount.
In addition to all these offerings, PNC Bank gives eligible borrowers the chance to qualify for a $5,000 grant to be used toward closing costs. Eligible borrowers must have an income at or below 80% of the median household income for the metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or their desired property must be located in a low- or moderate-income census tract as designated by the FFIEC, according to PNC’s website.
Best for educational offerings
Who’s this for? Bank of America stands out for its first-time homebuyer educational resources. Aside from home loan calculators, which are typical for mortgage lenders to provide on their websites, Bank of America has an online “Edu-Series” for first-time home buyers. There are also guides on its website that break down key terms and a list of FAQs geared toward first-time home buyers.
Bank of America also offers a variety of loan options, including a home loan for medical professionals. With this loan, doctors, dentists, residents and fellows can make down payment minimums that are tiered based on the size of the loan they’re applying for. They’ll put down at least 3% on mortgages up to $850,000, at least 5% on mortgages up to $1 million, at least 10% down on mortgages up to $1.5 million and at least 15% down on mortgages to $2 million. If you’re a medical professional, Bank of America will also exclude your student loan debt from your total debt when you’re applying for the loan. This could bring down your debt-to-income ratio for the purposes of applying for the loan and make it easier for you to qualify.
Even if you aren’t a qualifying medical professional, you can still potentially take advantage of tiered down payment terms through the Affordable Loan Solution mortgage option. With this loan, eligible borrowers can make a down payment as low as 3% on loan amounts up to $726,200, and as low as 5% on mortgages up to $1,089,300. Mortgage insurance would be required if making down payments lower than 20%, but according to Bank of America’s website, the mortgage insurance would come at a reduced cost compared to that of other conventional loans.
Best for lower credit scores
Who’s this for? First-time homebuyers tend to be younger and may not have a long credit history, which can make it harder to qualify for a good mortgage rate. Rocket Mortgage stands here because it accepts applicants with credit scores as low as 580. The lender also has a program called the Fresh Start program that’s aimed at helping potential applicants boost their credit score before applying.
Rocket Mortgage offers conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans and jumbo loans but not USDA loans, which means this lender may not be the most appealing for potential homebuyers who want to make a purchase with a 0% down payment. Rocket Mortgage doesn’t offer construction loans (if you want to build a brand new custom home) or HELOCs, but if you’re a homebuyer who only plans to purchase a single-family home, a second home, or a condo that’s already on the market, this shouldn’t be a drawback for you.
This lender offers flexible loan repayment terms that range from 8 – 29 years in addition to standard 15-year and 30-year terms.
Best for no lender fees
Who’s this for? Ally Bank doesn’t charge any application fee, origination fee, processing fee or underwriting fees. These are what’s collectively known as “lender fees” and they can cost you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and eat into the money you put aside for buying your home. When you’re a first-time home buyer, going through the process as affordably as possible is often top-of-mind, so saving on these fees will let you keep more of your money for other things, like renovations or moving costs.
Keep in mind, though, that Ally Bank may still charge appraisal fees and recording fees and may charge for the title search and insurance. As long as you have all the necessary documents handy and submit complete and accurate information, you can get pre-approved for a loan in as little as three minutes online and submit your application in just 15 minutes.