Best Refinance Mortgage Lenders for 2020
Refinancing your mortgage is often one of the best single strategies to improve your overall financial situation. Think about it – not only do you have an opportunity to lower your interest rate and monthly payment, but often to reduce the term of your mortgage as well.
No matter how you do it, there’s real potential to save thousands of dollars by doing the best mortgage refinance.
You’ll help your cause if you work with one of the best refinance mortgage lenders, and each lender has its niche that it provides with the best mortgage refinance. For that reason, I’m presenting this list of seven different mortgage refinance companies, by emphasizing the type of refinancing in which they excel.
Top 7 Refinance Lenders
Here are the best lenders for mortgage refinance in 2020:
- Rocket Mortgage: Best Online Lender
- Veterans United Mortgage: Best VA Lender
- Fairway Independent: Best FHA Lender
- SoFi: Best Jumbo Lender
- Chase: Best Lender with Full-Service Banking
- New American Funding: Best Bad Credit Lender
- Lending Tree: Best Online Marketplace
1. Rocket Mortgage
Best Online Lender
Rocket Mortgage is the online lending platform for Quicken Loans, which has grown to become the single largest mortgage loan originator in the US. If you make an application for a mortgage through Rocket Mortgage, you’ll be working with Quicken Loans. So, while we’re specifically talking about Rocket Mortgage – primarily because of their all-online application process – we’re talking about Quicken Loans as well.
Rocket Mortgage is a full-service mortgage lender that can handle refinancing all types of mortgages, including conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, and even USDA loans. You can apply for a rate reduction loan, a reduced loan term, cash-out, or refinance for home renovations. You’ll have your choice of fixed-rate mortgages for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs).
Rocket Mortgage is the online arm of Quicken Loans, which is the highest-ranked non-military lender on the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey (released November 14, 2019) with a score of 880 points out of 1,000.
- Quick, easy online application process
- Get pre-approved in less than 10 minutes
- Handle the entire refinance process from the comfort of your home or office
- Most financial accounts can be accessed online (less paperwork from you!)
- Dedicated customer support, on an as-needed basis only
- No local branches if you like face-to-face contact
- No secondary financing options, like home equity lines
- Does not consider alternative credit
2. Veterans United
Best VA Lender
Despite the name, Veterans United actually handles all types of mortgage products, including conventional, Jumbo, FHA, and USDA, in addition to VA refinance mortgages. While they specialize in VA mortgages, Veterans United offers the other types of loans with the realization that a VA loan may not always be the best fit for a veteran. For example, VA loans are not available for vacation homes or investment properties. Since Veterans United offers conventional financing, they can accommodate a veteran looking to buy or refinance either type of property.
Veterans United is one of the largest and best regarded VA mortgage lenders in the country. They have advisors on staff from each branch of the US military to provide advice on how to serve the needs of veterans best. And though they have only a minimal number of brick-and-mortar branches, they lend in all 50 states.
In the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey, Veterans United scored even higher than Quicken Loans, at 891 out of 1,000 points. But it was not included in the ranking because it’s a military lender. The company also has a rating of ”A+”, the highest rating on a scale of A+ to F from the Better Business Bureau.
- Specializes in VA loans, but handles all other mortgage types
- Provides free credit counseling
- Operates in all 50 states
- 24/7 customer service
- All-online process for most applicants
- No branches in most states
- No secondary financing, like home-equity lines
3. Fairway Independent
Best FHA Lender
Though we’re ranking Fairway Independent Mortgage as our top lender for FHA mortgages, they handle all other types of loans as well. That includes conventional, Jumbo, VA, and USDA loans. And if you’re interested, they also do reverse mortgages. The company operates in all states (including the District of Columbia) except Alaska in West Virginia.
One of the major advantages of Fairway Independent is that they operate both online and through a network of brick-and-mortar branches in nearly every state.
Fairway Independent was the second-highest ranked mortgage lender in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey, with 865 points out of 1,000. And like Veterans United, they also have a rating of “A+” from the Better Business Bureau.
- Branch offices located in most states
- Entire loan process can take place online
- One of the highest-ranked mortgage lenders for customer satisfaction
- Excellent mortgage educational tools on their website
- Offers reverse mortgages
- No secondary financing
- Not available in Alaska or West Virginia
Best Jumbo Lender
SoFi is, of course, best-known for student loan refinance. But in recent years, they’ve expanded into various other types of loans, including personal loans and mortgages. The company also offers a wide variety of other financial services, including insurance and especially career guidance.
On the mortgage front, SoFi offers both conventional and jumbo loans, but not VA and FHA mortgages and other types of programs.
But the Jumbo program is especially noteworthy. You can take a mortgage of up to $3 million on either a purchase or refinance. And you only need either 10% down on a purchase or 10% equity on a refinance. And even if your equity (or down payment) is less than 20%, no private mortgage insurance is required. If you have slim equity in your home, that will save you a big chunk on your monthly payments.
SoFi scores an “A-“ rating with the Better Business Bureau, which isn’t the highest rating, but it’s close enough.
- No PMI on Jumbo loans with as little as 10% equity
- $3 million loan amounts with just 10% equity or down payment
- Offers other loan programs, like personal loans and student loan refinances
- SoFi has a strong support community
- Offers career building and counseling
- Conventional and jumbo loans only
- You must have good or excellent credit
- Currently lends in only 41 states
Best Lender with Full-Service Banking
Chase is the largest bank in the US and one of the largest in the world. If you prefer to have your mortgage at the same institution where you bank, Chase is a prime option.
As the largest bank in the country, Chase has a network of branches in most states and operates on a national level. Not only do they offer virtually every type of mortgage loan product, but they’re also strong in secondary financing, including second mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
As a full-service bank, they also offer all types of banking services. That includes checking and deposit accounts, the full range of loan products, investments, commercial banking, and even international operations.
The company has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau. Meanwhile, Chase was the seventh-ranked mortgage lender in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey.
- Full-service banking services
- Operates nationwide
- Generous secondary financing options
- Discounts to existing Chase customers
- Strong customer support
- High fees, including origination and rate lock fees
- Human needed to get complete information
6. New American Funding
Best Lender for Borrowers with Impaired Credit
New American Funding is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country, operating in all states except New York in Hawaii. They provide all types of mortgage financing, including conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, and reverse mortgages.
It’s not so much that New American Funding specifically issues loans for borrowers with impaired credit, but more that they use a hands-on approach. That is, they primarily underwrite loans manually, rather than relying entirely on automated underwriting, which is entirely credit score based. They’re more likely to accept alternative credit methods and have a strong emphasis on working with Spanish-speaking applicants. In addition, they have mortgages specifically designed for the self-employed, as well as fixer-upper properties.
If your situation is at all out-of-the-box, this is a company worth considering.
Like many of the other mortgage lenders on this list, New American Funding has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Offers all loan types, including secondary financing
- Hands-on approach to maximize loan approval
- Specializes in more challenging loan types
- Works extensively with the Spanish-speaking community
- Not available in New York or Hawaii
7. Lending Tree
Best Online Mortgage Marketplace
Lending Tree is perhaps the single biggest online marketplace for all types of financing. That includes credit cards, student loans, personal loans, business loans, and mortgages. It’s the perfect website to shop for quotes from several lenders from a single application.
As an online marketplace, Lending Tree isn’t a direct lender. But it has participation from hundreds of lenders, including dozens of mortgage lenders. It’s likely that some, most, or all the lenders on our list are participating on the platform. That participation creates competition for your mortgage business, raising the likelihood you’ll be able to select the lender offering the best rate and terms for your refinance.
And of course, one of the other significant advantages of Lending Tree is that you can use it as a source for other types of financing. For example, if you’re also shopping for an auto loan, a student loan refinance, or a balance transfer credit card, Lending Tree is an excellent place to find what you need.
Lending Tree also has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. But keep in mind that rating applies to Lending Tree as a loan source, and not as a direct lender, which it isn’t.
- Online marketplace giving you access to multiple lenders
- All types of mortgage loans available
- Other personal and business loans available as well
- No cost to use the website
- May include lenders with less than top reputations
- Too many lender options can get confusing
- Not a direct lender
Why Should I Refinance My Mortgage?
A lower interest rate and monthly payment are only one of several reasons to refinance your mortgage. Others to consider include:
- Taking a shorter loan term. Refinancing from a 30 year loan to a 15 year can chop your loan repayment in half, saving you tens of thousands of dollars in interest.
- Going from a variable rate loan to a fixed rate. Variable rates can be attractive at the very beginning, but they have the potential to rise dramatically. Refinancing into a fixed rate will give you a predictable rate and monthly payment.
- Removing private mortgage insurance. If you have PMI on your current mortgage, refinancing is one way to get rid of it.
- Removing a cosigner from your loan. When it comes to mortgages, refinancing is generally the only way to release a cosigner from the loan.
- Taking cash-out. Though I don’t recommend this strategy, it can make sense if you want to use the proceeds to make improvements to your home.
Is a Cash-out Refinance a Bad Idea?
A lot of homeowners with substantial home equity come to see that equity as a way to pay off high interest credit cards or use the funds for a major upcoming expense, like a wedding or even a big vacation. On the surface, it can make sense since mortgage debt typically carries the lowest interest rates available.
The risk, however, is that any time you take cash out on a refinance, you’re increasing the indebtedness on your home. If you do a cash-out refinance and increase the mortgage on your home from 60% of the value to 80%, you’ll have less cushion should property values in your area begin to fall.
But on a more practical level, doing a cash-out refinance moves the clock on your mortgage back to zero. You’ll be starting with a brand-new loan – maybe even one that’s larger than the original mortgage – then committing to paying it off all over again.
It’s also worth noting that any time you do a refinance of any type, there are closing costs involved. Those typically range between 2% and 3% of the new loan amount.
How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work?
A reverse mortgage is a type of refinance in which you take equity out of your home but aren’t required to make monthly payments. They’re actually a form of FHA mortgages, formally called Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). They’re designed specifically for homeowners, age 62 and over.
With a reverse mortgage, you borrow the equity out of your home and can take it either as a lump sum, periodic distributions, or even monthly payments. You can even set up a line of credit to access funds as you need it. No repayment is required until either the borrower dies or the securing home is sold. And even though it’s a special program, it is a refinance and includes similar closing costs and fees to any other type of refinance.
Is it Cheaper to Refinance with My Current Lender?
Any time you refinance your mortgage, you owe it to yourself to shop around. You should certainly consider any offer by your current lender, but only against offers from the competition.
It may be that your current lender will offer certain benefits, like discounted fees. But that’s not always the case.
One of the complications in the mortgage industry is that while some companies originate loans, acting as lenders, others service them. That’s why mortgages are frequently sold and resold after closing. It’s possible that your current mortgage servicer doesn’t even offer loan origination, and won’t be able to refinance your loan at all.
But even if they can, it’s always best to shop between lenders. Never assume your current lender is giving you the best deal. Seeing you as a captive client, they may provide you with something less than the best deal. That’s why it’s so important to shop.
It’s Worth It to Shop Around
In the end, a mortgage is too large a financial transaction to take lightly. Even though shopping and applying can be an uncomfortable situation, the stakes are too high to do otherwise. Do your homework, check with several lenders, and choose the one offering the best deal for you. Hopefully, you won’t have to do it for a long time after that, and you’ll reap the benefits for many years.