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5 best mortgage lenders in California

If you’re looking to buy a home in California, here are five of the Golden State’s leading lenders.

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With 840 miles of coastline and arguably the best weather in the US, California is home to some of the country’s most expensive real estate. If you’re in the market for a new place to call your own, one of these California mortgage lenders could help you buy your dream home.

Best California mortgage lenders in 2020

How we picked the best lenders

We selected these five lenders based on several criteria we found in our research including fees, loan amounts, interest rates and eligibility requirements. We considered reviews from sites such as Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Learn more about Finder’s rating methodology

Best for first-time homebuyers

Chase Bank

620
Min. credit score
3%
Min. down payment
When buying your first home, it can be helpful to have as much hand-holding as possible. Chase's website makes mortgages simple and straightforward by providing instructional videos and articles that walk you through every step of the process. Chase has nearly 1,000 branches in California, so you'll likely be able to meet with a lending advisor in person if needed.
  • Hundreds of branches. Speak with an advisor in person at any point in the process.
  • Full-fledged bank. Conduct all of your banking with just one institution, compared to smaller credit unions and online banks that only offer limited financial services.
  • Available discount. If you're already a Chase customer, you could qualify for a discount.
  • Several fees. Chase charges fees for underwriting, origination and your application.
  • Good credit only. If your credit score is below 620, you likely won't qualify for a loan.
Loan types Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, FHA, VA, HELOC
Minimum credit score 620
Minimum down payment 3%
States available Available in all states
Fees $395 application fee, in addition to additional undisclosed fees for origination, underwriting and mortgage rate lock.

Best for veterans

Navy Federal Credit Union

620
Min. credit score
0%
Min. down payment
Former members of the armed services deserve the best when buying a home. And compared to other California mortgage lenders, Navy Federal is an ideal fit for veterans. Mortgages through Navy Federal are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and they include exclusive benefits that aren't available to civilians. And considering there are more Navy Federal branches in California than in any other state, this lender is a popular pick for veterans and active-duty servicemembers alike.
  • No down payment. Some loan types don't require a down payment.
  • Exclusive benefits. Qualifying services can take advantage of significant discounts.
  • Rate-matching. Navy Federal will match better rates or give you $1,000 if it can't.
  • Membership required. Only customers of the credit union can qualify for loans.
  • Not the best reviews. Based on customer reviews left on Trustpilot, other lenders offer speedier approvals and better support.
Loan types Conventional, Refinance, Jumbo, FHA, VA
Minimum credit score 580 or higher, depending on loan type
Minimum down payment 0%
States available Available in all states
Fees No underwriting, document, or application fees, but "Choice" line of loans can require a 1% origination fee and 1.75% funding fees (Can be waived with an increase of interest rate)

Best for customer satisfaction

Quicken Loans

620
Min. credit score
3%
Min. down payment
When it comes to customer service, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better choice than Quicken Loans. Every year for the past decade, consumer intelligence company J.D. Power has ranked this lender above all others in terms of customer satisfaction. Quicken Loans has repeatedly received this distinction based on its rates, fees, loan options, approval process and communications.
  • No prepayment penalty. Pay off your loan ahead of time without getting punished.
  • Stellar support. Reach a representative seven days a week via phone or online chat.
  • Speedy service. Most home loans usually close within one month.
  • Application fee. Deposits are required, but you can apply them toward closing costs.
  • Extra steps. You'll be required to speak with a representative while applying.
Loan types Conventional, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA
Minimum credit score Conventional: 620
FHA: 580
VA: 620
USDA: 620
Minimum down payment 3%
States available Available in all states
Fees 0.5-1.0% origination fee; Quicken Loans charges a Good Faith Deposit of $400–$750 to help cover the cost of pulling your credit report, your home appraisal and additional loan processing costs. When you close your loan, Quicken Loans credits your deposit to your closing costs.

Best for low rates

New American Funding

620
Min. credit score
3%
Min. down payment
If you're looking for the lowest interest rates in California, New American Funding could be a fit for you. This lender might not have as much brand recognition as the others on this list, but the interest rate could be unbeatable for qualified applicants.
  • Good for the self-employed. The manual process helps entrepreneurs get approved.
  • Helpful resources. This lender's website includes useful tools and enlightening articles.
  • Online management. Submit documents and track the status of your loan on the web.
  • Uncertain fees. It's hard to know exactly what you'll pay until your application is complete.
  • Some offline steps. You must speak with a representative for a quote or to get approved.
Loan types Conventional , Refinance, Jumbo, HELOC, FHA, VA, USDA, Reverse
Minimum credit score 620
Minimum down payment 3%
States available Not available in: HI, NY
Fees Expect fees to include appraisal fees, title charges, closing fees (Courier fees, processing fees, administrative fees, rate-lock fees, and broker fees), and state taxes.

New American Funding doesn't disclose actual costs on its website. Ask your loan consultant for the specific fees associated with your pending loan, and keep an eye out for additional fees in your loan documentation.

Best local lender

Bank of America Mortgage

620
Min. credit score
5%
Min. down payment
Although many modern lenders let you apply for a mortgage online and manage it entirely from your web browser, many prefer to sit down with someone face to face. Bank of America has more than 850 branches throughout California, making it easy to talk to a loan officer in person, no matter where in the state you live.
  • Lower interest rates. Compared to some other nationwide lenders, BoA has better rates.
  • Other credit data is OK. BoA considers rent and utility payments for some applications.
  • Discounts for existing customers. Save up to $600 on origination if you already use BoA.
  • Questionable service. Customers commonly complain about the quality of service.
  • Fined for financial fraud. Bank of America's track record isn't exactly immaculate. In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, BoA has shelled out a staggering $76 billion for misleading investors about the quality of their mortgages.
Loan types Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, HELOC, Jumbo, FHA, VA
Minimum credit score Conventional: 620
Minimum down payment 5%
States available Available in all states
Fees Expect fees to include appraisal fees, title charges, closing fees and state taxes.

Ask your loan consultant for the specific fees associated with your pending loan, and keep an eye out for additional fees in your loan documentation.

Which lender is best for me?

There’s certainly no shortage of mortgage lenders in California, which can make choosing the right one a challenge. A few tips to keep in mind when you’re shopping around:

  • Consider customer reviews. Check Trustpilot and the BBB’s website to see what others think.
  • Get several preapprovals. Compare loan estimates to see which lender offers the sweetest deal.
  • Negotiate the best rate. Use your research to talk your preferred lender down to a lower rate.
  • Understand any uncertainties. Read the fine print and ask about anything you’re unsure of.

Average rates and fees in California

Even though California is home to some of the country’s most expensive real estate, the state’s mortgage rates generally trend below the national average. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in California average 3.125%, and are expected to remain relatively low well into 2021. Closing costs in California averaged 1.05% of the sales price according to 2019 data from ClosingCorp. Continue researching mortgage rates in California or compare closing costs in California for more information.

Should I use a broker?

This list only includes direct lenders in California because only they can approve and finance mortgage loans. If you’re too busy to shop around for the best deal — or if you’d rather have someone do the legwork for you — it might be in your best interest to work with a broker.

Be wary, though. Brokers’ interests may not align with your own, and they’ll almost certainly apply fees you could have otherwise avoided. Many brokers do abide by above-board practices, however. To find the best broker for your needs, compare the rates various brokers charge, and read reviews to ensure your top choice offers exceptional support.

Bottom line

The best mortgage lenders in California each offer their own strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your unique situation, one of them might be a perfect match for you. Compare and contrast what they each have to offer, or continue exploring your home loan options.

Frequently asked questions

Home loans ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We analyze top home loan providers and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include: rates and fees, product selection and borrower experience.

Read the full methodology of how we rate home loan providers.

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