Caliber Home Loans

Best USDA Lenders of 2020

The first questions you should ask any lender is how many USDA loans they process and in what general areas. “We are all selling in the secondary market. Because of that all of our rates are going be roughly the same,” says A.W. Pickel III, CEO of Waterstone Mortgage. “Terms will also be the same across lenders, since USDA guaranteed loans are only available in 15- or 30-year terms, and USDA direct loan terms are 33 or 38 years. Likewise, minimum eligibility requirements to qualify for a USDA loan are set by the government, so you won’t see a difference in minimum credit scores or maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratios to apply. If your credit score is below 620 and your DTI is above 29/41, you likely won’t qualify for a USDA loan through any lender.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that a lender can do is tell someone they are qualified for a USDA loan when they’re not, so we selected our top picks for USDA loan lenders based on their experience with USDA loans, customer reviews and availability.

Our favorite USDA lender
Caliber Home Loans

Accredited Partner

Since USDA loan rates and terms are so heavily regulated, the fact Caliber’s app lets the user track loan progress in real time could be the tiebreaker when comparing lenders.

PROS
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • Available in all 50 states
CONS
  • High origination fee
  • Rates unavailable online

What we like: Caliber Home Loans provides USDA mortgage loans and refinancing, among other loan options, to eligible borrowers in all 50 states. Through the Caliber Home Loans mobile app, you can track your loan application status, securely upload important documents, easily contact loan consultants, make payments and view e-statements. Caliber also contributes to charitable causes like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

All of Caliber’s loan experts are trained in customer service too, so it’s easy to get a hold of a loan specialist over the phone. Plus, many of the senior executives cut their teeth working directly with borrowers, so they understand your priorities as a homebuyer from the top down.

What to consider: Caliber does not allow you to view their rates online, so you’ll have to contact one of their loan specialists to get an accurate and current rate. Also, even though they are licensed to service in every state, they do not have physical branches in every state. Caliber’s origination fees are on the higher side of the USDA’s regulations—costs vary up to $1,200.

Great customer service
HomeBridge Financial Services

HomeBridge Financial Services
Accredited Partner

HomeBridge Financial Services is a great option for prospective borrowers who want a dedicated loan officer helping through the entire process, from pre-qualification to closing.

PROS
  • Secure online portal
  • Discounts for Costco members
CONS
  • Limited branch locations
  • No mobile app

What we like: HomeBridge Financial Services offers a mix of conventional and government-backed loans, including USDA loans. You can contact a USDA loan specialist through one of their branch locations if there’s one in your area. Otherwise, you can contact them over the phone or through their website. Track the status and progress of your loan through HomeBridge Financial’s online portal, or opt for disclosures to be mailed to your home.

As a member of Costco’s mortgage lender marketplace, HomeBridge is able to extend additional perks and benefits to Costco members. We like that HomeBridge Financial takes their customers’ feedback very seriously by making it a priority to personally respond to negative reviews and try to figure out what went wrong to minimize the same mistakes in the future.

What to consider: HomeBridge Financial Services doesn’t have a mobile app, and borrowers can’t electronically track their USDA loan application progress. HomeBridge Financial Services is licensed to issue USDA loans in all 50 states, but they only have brick-and-mortar locations in 30.

Good for no origination fee
AmeriSave Mortgage

AmeriSave Mortgage
Accredited Partner

AmeriSave is one of the few lenders that doesn’t charge an origination fee, and they’re a good pick if you’re most comfortable completing important transactions over the phone and online.

PROS
  • No origination fee
  • Locked-in rates
CONS
  • No branch locations
  • No mobile app

What we like: AmeriSave offers a wide selection of mortgage loan products, including USDA loans and USDA loan refinancing. In about 91 percent of AmeriSave reviews, customers were either happy or satisfied with the company and would recommend to a friend. If you get a loan through AmeriSave, you’ll be assigned a loan officer who will work with you through the whole process and help you collect important documents and information. In the pre-qualification phase, you’ll be able to get an idea of the rates AmeriSave Mortgage will be able to offer you. If you like what you see, you can start the process of pre-approval.

After you’re pre-approved, it’s easy to start uploading all the necessary documents through AmeriSave’s secure web portal. Another plus: Once you accept an approval from AmeriSave, those rates are locked in, meaning that will be the final rate you get when your USDA mortgage loan is finalized. AmeriSave will also assist in connecting you with a qualified real estate agent to negotiate your home purchase and a professional inspector to perform the appraisal.

What to consider: AmeriSave Mortgage services are currently unavailable in New York. They don’t have physical branches you can easily visit, which is what keeps their overhead low enough to waive origination fees.

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