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Stearns Lending mortgage review

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A home loan–focused lender with many government-backed options.

Stearns Lending focuses on one thing: loans that help borrowers open the door to a new home. It offers many options for first-time homebuyers looking for low down payments and a wide range of government programs, including FHA 203(k) renovations loans. But watch for overwhelmingly negative customer reviews.

Details

Loan types Conventional, Refinance, FHA, VA, USDA, Reverse
Minimum credit 620
Available States Not available in: NY

Pros

  • Rate locks
  • Mobile application
  • Educational tools

Cons

  • Poor customer service
  • Billing and escrow issues
  • Not available in New York
Trustpilot doesn’t include user reviews for Stearns Lending. And it’s not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), though it earns an A+ from the BBB based on internal criteria that includes years in business and response to complaints.

On that, nearly all customer reviews rate Stearns Lending a mere one star. Customers report lost loan payments and incorrect billing fees with department runaround when attempting to resolve these issues. Carefully read your contract, statements and bills to catch problems early.

What types of loans does Stearns Lending offer?

  • Conventional. Fixed- and adjustable-rate options with down payments as low as 3% with a minimum 620 credit score.
  • FHA. Down payments as low as 3.5% with fixed or adjustable rates for qualified borrowers with a FICO score of 580 or higher.
  • VA. Veterans and active-duty military may qualify for a VA loan with 0% down.
  • USDA. No down payment and easier credit guidelines for eligible properties.
  • Jumbo. Fixed rates over 15 or 30 years or adjustable rates for 5, 7 or 10 years on up to $3 million. ARM loans require 5% down and membership with ACU.

Other loans offered by Stearns Lending

  • Refinance. Conventional fixed financing over 25 or 30 years or a five-year adjustable-rate loan. Borrow more than your current mortgage with a cashout option. Or choose an FHA Streamline or VA Streamline refinance with less documentation for qualified borrowers.
  • Reverse. A home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) uses your home as collateral. You must meet with an independent certified counselor before applying.
  • FHA 203(k). Streamline your purchase and renovations through this 30-year fixed-rate mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration.
  • Stearns Doctor. New doctors and dentists can qualify for down payments as low as 5%, and select student loan payments aren’t included in your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage. Low- to moderate-income borrowers may qualify for financing with a minimum 3% down payment. The program allows for multiple sources for the down payment and closing costs, such as gifts from relatives.
  • Fannie Mae HomeReady. Finance properties in designated low-income areas by meeting income limit requirements for the property’s location.

Stearns Lending fees

Stearns Lending fees vary by state and depend on the loan you’re interested in.

Most borrowers can expect to pay:

  • Application fee
  • Processing fee
  • Underwriting fee
  • Origination fee
  • Rate lock
  • Fees to third parties — flood specialists, appraisers and title companies

Requirements

Requirements come down to the type of loan you’re applying for:

Maximum loan-to-value (LTV)Maximum debt-to-income (DTI)
Conventional loans97%43%
FHA loans96.5%50%
Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage loans97%No set maximum. But most lenders want a ratio below 45%.

Documentation

Preapproval speeds up the application process before you start looking at potential homes. Here’s what you’ll need to submit:

  • Government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license
  • One month of pay stubs
  • Proof of other income, if applicable
  • Two years of W-2 forms and Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), if applicable
  • Two years of federal income tax returns
  • Statements for assets
  • Signed letter if your down payment is a gift

How to get a home loan with Stearns Lending

You can start the process of applying online, but you’ll eventually need to speak with a loan officer to complete it:

  1. Go to the Stearns Lending website and click Get Started at upper right.
  2. Indicate whether you’re buying a new house or refinancing. Click Next.
  3. Enter the purchase price and down payment, and click Next. If you don’t yet have this information, click Skip.
  4. Enter details about the location of your purchase by ZIP code or city and state. Click Next.
  5. Answer whether you currently own a home. Click Next.
  6. Answer whether you’re eligible for military financing. Click Next.
  7. Choose the property type — for example, single-family residence, condo or multifamily.
  8. Indicate whether you’ll use the property as your primary home, secondary home or investment home. Click Next.
  9. Complete your contact information and click Submit.

Stearns Lending says you’ll hear from a loan officer within three business days.

Pros and cons of Stearns Lending

Pros

  • Rate locks. Lock your interest rate for 14 to 90 days for a fee. If your loan closes after your lock expires, Stearns Lending will extend it another week for free, or for 30 days for a fee.
  • Mobile application. Apply through a free app, and your details go directly to loan underwriting, which might speed up approval. Chat by video with your originator, and even share your screen on desktops and laptops.
  • Educational tools. Stearns Lending offers a comprehensive blog about home loans, tips for buying and selling and recent news about the company.

Cons

  • Poor customer service. Customers online report long wait times by phone and unhelpful agents.
  • Billing and escrow issues. Borrowers report issues that include lost loan payments and billing errors that can negatively affect your credit.
  • Not available in New York. If you live in the Empire State, you’ll need to look elsewhere for a loan.

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What is Stearns Lending?

Founded in 1989, Stearns Lending is a wholesale lender that works with licensed mortgage brokers to provide a variety of home loan options to borrowers. It supports 81 retail home loan branches nationwide that provide regional financing to borrowers. Furthermore, Stearns Lending supports eight regional home financing joint ventures and is an equity partner with Certainty Home Loans and Citywide Home Loans.

Frequently asked questions

Expert review

Kimberly Ellis

Review by


Kimberly Ellis is a writer at Finder specializing in home loans. She hails from New York City with a BA from Queens College. She has written extensively about the real estate and finance industries. Kimberly is also a language lover and aspiring polyglot.

Expert review

Stearns Lending offers a full suite of mortgages — including 403(k) renovations loans, and a mobile app that supports a fully digital application — a boon for convenience. But it garners an overwhelming number of negative reviews that include serious accusations of poor customer service and mistakes that ended up affecting borrowers’ credit scores.

It’s possible these issues arose around the time that Stearns Lending filed for bankruptcy. Still, borrowers beware with this lender.

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