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Best Mortgage Lenders in Georgia in 2019
Whether you’re looking at properties in the heart of Atlanta or quieter towns like Brunswick, choosing the ideal lender for your home mortgage requires more than just rate-shopping. Find out which lenders were the best in the state or use the quotebox below to find the latest rate quotes.
The Best Mortgage Rates Among Georgia Lenders
One simple way to start looking for a mortgage is to sort your choices according to interest rate. Sorting mortgage lenders by rates can be an easy way to rank lenders in terms of cost, but it doesn’t fully capture other factors that might have long-term consequences on your borrowing experience; these include aspects such as customer service and closing fees. To help you better evaluate lenders in these areas, we’ve categorized lenders based on how well they matched up to borrower needs in certain key areas and outlined our top picks for each category. We looked at every aspect of each lender ranging from the transparency of their pricing to the variety of terms they brought to the table.
Best Mortgage Lender for First-Time Homebuyers: SunTrust
A familiar name in traditional consumer banking, SunTrust proved to be the best available option for first-time homebuyers looking for an in-person experience in the state of Georgia. With its wide network of branch locations and a wide array of home loan programs, SunTrust presents an easy solution for Georgians who want to be sure they’re doing business with a familiar face, regardless of whether you live in Gwinnett, Muscogee or Cherokee County.
SunTrust isn’t the cheapest mortgage lender available, but it’s the most cost-effective option among lenders that provide dependable access to in-person services. While major banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America also have large branch networks, SunTrust consistently offered better combinations of mortgage rates and loan fees for the estimates we received. SunTrust also scored fairly high in J.D. Power’s survey of customer satisfaction in loan servicing, giving homebuyers in Georgia one more reason to consider SunTrust for their home purchase needs.
Finally, borrowers who already have a checking account or savings account with SunTrust will have an advantage over applicants who don’t already hold an account with the bank. Existing customers are likely to be offered preferential rates on new home loans, thanks to SunTrust’s relationship bonus. Keeping all of your accounts in one place also streamlines your month-to-month finances by allowing you to set up automatic payments on your mortgage from a SunTrust bank account. This makes SunTrust a solid mortgage option for first-time buyers who want the most competitive rates and personalized customer service experience.
Best Mortgage Lender for Refinancing: Quicken Loans
We selected Quicken Loans as our top pick for existing homeowners looking to refinance on their loans, thanks to the company’s outstanding term flexibility and competitive refinancing rates. Quicken Loans is also the second most active originator of refinancing and home equity mortgages in the state, when viewed over the past five years, making it a great choice for borrowers looking to cash out on their properties in Georgia.
While Quicken Loans offers a variety of fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage options, borrowers who want to optimize their loan terms can apply for Quicken Loan’s unique YOURgage, which is essentially a standard fixed-rate mortgage that you can structure anywhere between eight and 29 years. The majority of mortgage lenders will offer rates at 15 or 30 years, with some variety in between, but Quicken Loans is one of the few national lenders we’ve seen provide borrowers with the option to customize their mortgages across such a wide range of terms.
Finally, borrowers looking to sell their homes in a few years, or refinance into a lower—albeit temporary—interest rate, can choose between a variety of ARMs that feature low lifetime rate caps of as low as 5% over your initial rate. These options provide borrowers with attractive refinancing features for borrowers looking to sell their homes within a few years, as well as a definitive rate cap that guards against potential rate hikes.
Best Online Mortgage Lender: Guaranteed Rate
Guaranteed Rate stood out in our analysis because it offered some of the most competitive rate quotes of any mortgage company in Georgia, both online and off. While it holds a relatively small share of the market, the online lender is rapidly expanding its presence, having seen around 32% year-over-year growth in average mortgage amounts originated over the past five years. This growth rate exceeds all of the top 10 most active lenders in Georgia, with the exception of Regions Bank. Guaranteed Rate also provides Georgians with flexible options for purchase and refinancing, including FHA loans and VA loans with 15- and 30-year terms.
While Quicken is another popular online lender, we chose Guaranteed Rate as the better option for Georgians, based on loan estimates we received for multiple addresses located throughout the state. The two mortgage lenders advertised fairly similar rates, but a closer look at mortgage points shows that Guaranteed Rate tends to charge lower initial fees. Although Quicken is the bigger name in online mortgages in America, consider starting with Guaranteed Rate if your first priority is to minimize expenses on a purchase mortgage.
We also liked Guaranteed Rate for the consistency of its services across counties. While borrowers living in populated regions like DeKalb County may have access to a large variety of mortgage lenders, borrowers living in less populated regions, like Floyd County, may have a smaller pool of lenders to choose from. One of the strengths of online lenders is that they offer fairly consistent service across the state, regardless of whether you live in an urban or rural area.
Best Mortgage Lender for VA Loans: USAA
As in many other states, USAA is our pick for the best VA lender in Georgia, thanks to its low mortgage rates and excellent performance in customer satisfaction metrics.
With a large military community in areas like Fort Benning, Georgia is home to hundreds of thousands of potential VA loan applicants who could benefit from USAA’s member-only rates and fees. USAA consistently offers lower rates on VA loans than any national bank we’ve reviewed, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America. It’s also one of the few lenders who’s willing to finance your VA funding fee, an upfront cost of at least 2.15% on the loan balance. This keeps your initial expenses down and leaves you with more resources to cover other closing costs such as homeowner’s insurance premiums.
USAA is well-known for its commitment to high quality service in auto loans and checking accounts, and its approach to mortgage lending is the same. In our overview of mortgage-related complaints filed with the CFPB, USAA posted one of the lowest rates of complaints relative to the volume of loans it handles. While it’s one of the best recommendations we can offer in the area of VA loans, membership in USAA is only open to qualified servicemembers or veterans. While this won’t be an issue if you qualify for a VA loan already, you may find it most convenient to move all your finances to USAA.
Best Mortgage Lender for Poor Credit: Homestar Financial Corp.
Our No. 1 pick among mortgage lenders for homebuyers with bad credit is Homestar Financial Corp., as the lender originated more FHA loans over the past five years than any other lender in the state. They also provide financing under the USDA loan program, which isn’t common among larger outfits like Chase or Bank of America; this can prove especially useful for buyers trying to purchase property in rural communities. We believe you’ll have a better chance of finding loan officers knowledgeable in special low credit financing programs at Homestar Financial than any other mortgage lender in Georgia.
Homebuyers with bad credit are often turned away when applying for conventional mortgage loans, but FHA mortgage loans have much lower credit requirements and entail down payments of as little as 3.5%. Rural homebuyers in counties like Stephens and Decatur are also in luck, as USDA loans require no money down for homebuyers seeking to settle in qualifying rural areas. However, borrowers should be aware that the credit requirements for USDA loans are more stringent than FHA loans, so this should be considered when evaluating your mortgage options.
How We Chose the Best Mortgage Lenders in Georgia
We looked at a variety of factors while grading the best mortgage loan companies in Georgia. Our analysis took a consumer perspective and weighed the following criteria:
- Total Cost: interest rates, closing costs
- Product: terms, programs, specialty
- Servicing: transparency, complaint data, branch network
We looked at how competitive each lender’s rates were, their variety of offerings and sum of their closing costs. While interest rates play a large role in lender selection, we also reviewed each lender’s terms on a total cost basis, factoring in both closing costs and fees. Although each detail is important, your main focus when comparing mortgage lenders should be to take a bird’s-eye approach that weighs all parts of a broad picture, rather than narrowing in on a single feature.
Many customers fail to distinguish between lenders on anything other than rates. However, customer service and experience play a huge role in determining whether your closing goes smoothly. We, therefore, reviewed a number of qualitative factors including publicly available complaint data, the speed of closings and size of lender branch networks. For example, a borrower in Warren County, Georgia, may have access to fewer lenders than a borrower in Clayton county. We, therefore, focused on lenders with large branch networks, as well as reputable online lenders that offer high quality customer service, irrespective of where you live.
Finally, it’s important to find the program that’s right for you. Most lenders offer conventional fixed-rate mortgages, but a smaller percentage of lenders are set up to do government-sponsored mortgage programs like FHA, VA and USDA loans. Whether these programs were available, and the lender’s relative expertise in these programs, also played a large role in determining the best-in-class lender for each category.
Most Popular Home Loan Companies in Georgia
We’ve listed the top five most popular mortgage companies in Georgia, ranked by number of originations. These lenders were picked based on the total number of residential mortgages originated over the past five years, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Top 5 Biggest Georgia Residential Mortgage Lenders, 2013-2019
|Rank||Company||Mortgage Originations||Average Mortgage Amount|
|4.||Bank of America||47,150||$171,642|
|5.||Fidelity Southern Corp.||35,904||$256,568|