Guaranteed Rate Mortgages Review — Fast Preapprovals and Closings

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Best Overall

Guaranteed Rate Review 2021

Guaranteed Rate Review 2021

Editor’s Score: (4.8/5)

Best Overall

Guaranteed Rate Review 2021

Editor’s Score: (4.8/5)

  • Minimum Credit Score:

    580 FHA, VA; 620 conventional; 680 jumbo

  • Minimum Down Payment:

    0% to 3.5%, depending on loan type; 5% jumbo

  • Can Apply Online:

    Yes

  • Operates In:

    All 50 States

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros

  • More than 400 branch locations nationwide
  • Operates in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Fully online mortgage application process
  • Detailed advertised rates for many of its loan products
  • Online preapproval 15 minutes
  • Fast closings

Cons

  • Lenders fees not available online
  • Some loan types are brokered off to other lenders

The Bottom Line

Because Guaranteed Rate originates mortgages in all 50 states, offers many loan options, and has a proven record of high-quality customer service, this lender is a good option for most borrowers. You can also get a quick rate quote on the website, which will help you figure out if you want to work with the lender. 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our mortgage lender reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships. For more information about our scoring methodology, click here.

Guaranteed Rate Full Review 

Guaranteed Rate is an online mortgage lender that also offers in-person help over the phone and at more than 400 offices around the country. The Chicago-headquartered firm is a top choice lender because it offers solid customer service, a fully online mortgage process, and helpful digital tools for its customers. Plus, Guaranteed Rate originates loans in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Here’s what else to know about the lender before applying.

Guaranteed Rate: Mortgage Loan Types and Products

Guaranteed Rate offers all the major mortgage programs for borrowers looking to purchase a home or refinance a mortgage. On the menu right now:

If you need to borrow more than the conforming limit, Guaranteed Rate offers jumbo mortgages up to $5 million. 

*With construction loans, reverse mortgages, and home equity products, you can start the application with Guaranteed Rate. They’ll take the application and broker it to another lender.

Guaranteed Rate: Transparency

Guaranteed Rate’s website is easy to use, and visitors can get a custom rate quote without providing personal information or agreeing to a hard credit pull. This is important because you’ll be able to see if the lender’s a good fit without it affecting your credit. 

If you decide to move to the next step, Guaranteed Rate says it can provide a preapproval letter in around 15 minutes online. Those who need more help or have questions can get in touch with a loan officer over the phone or at one of the lender’s 400 branches spread across the U.S. Customers can also use the lender’s mobile app to get customized rate quotes, start a mortgage application, and instantly connect with a loan officer via email. 

From start to finish, borrowers can complete the mortgage application, upload documents, and even sign closing paperwork online where e-closings are allowed. 

Guaranteed Rate also has dozens of resources on its website addressing the mortgage process, information on each loan type, explanations of common mortgage terminology, and calculators to help borrowers estimate their loan costs.

Guaranteed Rate: Mortgage Rates and Fees 

Guaranteed Rate advertises daily interest rates for all of the products it offers, such as 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate conventional loans, 30-year fixed-rate FHA loans, and 30-year fixed-rate VA loans. You can also personalize the quote based on loan size, down payment, credit range, and county, then compare options across several mortgage programs.   

If you later get a loan preapproval or apply for a mortgage, you’ll receive a detailed list of the fees you’ll pay at closing. We didn’t receive a sample list of fees from Guaranteed Rate, but the following are common among most lenders: 

Guaranteed Rate doesn’t charge prepayment penalties on any of the loans it originates, so you can pay off your mortgage early without incurring extra fees. However, some of the broker products do have prepayment penalties. 

Loan qualification requirements vary based on the type of loan you’re looking to get. Borrowers need a credit score of at least 620 and a minimum down payment of 3% to qualify for a conventional loan. Eligibility requirements are more flexible on government-sponsored loans because they come with less risk. Borrowers need a credit score of at least 580 and down payment of 3.5% on an FHA loan, while VA loans only require a credit score of 580. Borrowers won’t need a down payment with VA loans, though. 

Customers who want to borrow more than the conforming limit can get a jumbo loan with a down payment of at least 5% and a credit score of 680 or higher. 

Guaranteed Rate says you can lock in a fixed mortgage rate for up to a year in some cases — but fees may apply if you need to extend the rate lock, so it’s best to try and lock in the appropriate term. Closings can vary with each mortgage, but Guaranteed Rate’s goal is to be clear to close within 10 days. 

Refinancing With Guaranteed Rate

Depending on your goals, a mortgage refinance can help you save money with a lower interest rate, borrow cash, or switch from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate loan. Guaranteed Rate’s website offers plenty of information about the refinance process, how to decide if it’s the right choice for you, and a list of closing costs borrowers typically pay to refinance.  

The lender offers rate-and-term refinances — which allow you to get a new interest rate, loan term, or both — and cash-out refinances, which allow you to borrow money using your home as collateral. Guaranteed Rate also has FHA streamline refinances and VA IRRRL refinances, which allow homeowners to refinance through these programs with less paperwork. And if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac own your mortgage, you may be able to refinance through the new Refi Possible and RefiNow programs. 

Each refinance program comes with benefits and drawbacks, and you’ll need to figure out whether you’ll be in the home long enough to recoup the closing costs. 

Some lenders — including Guaranteed Rate — also offer no-cost refinances, which reduce your upfront expenses. The lender waives your upfront closing costs, then either increases your interest rate or folds the closing costs into your principal loan amount. Either way, your monthly mortgage payments increase, either in the form of a larger principal balance or higher interest rate.       

Guaranteed Rate Compared to Other Mortgage Lenders

Guaranteed Rate Movement Mortgage loanDepot
Minimum credit score 580 for FHA and VA; 620 for conventional; 680 for jumbo 580 (some mortgage programs may require a higher score) 620 for conventional loans; 700 for jumbo loans; 580 for FHA loans; 620 for VA loans
Minimum down payment 0% for VA; 3.5% for FHA; 3% or more for conventional; 5% for jumbo  0% to 3.5% 0% to 5%
Where does the lender operate? All 50 states and Washington, D.C. All 50 states and Washington, D.C. All 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Major loan types Conventional, jumbo, VA, FHA, USDA, renovation, construction, adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, refinance, cash-out refinance, streamline refinance, home equity products  Conventional, jumbo, VA, FHA, USDA, various renovation loans, adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, refinance, cash-out refinance, reverse mortgages Conventional, jumbo, VA, FHA, FHA 203(k) renovation loan, adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, refinance, cash-out refinance

How to Shop Around to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

Before you start shopping for homes, contact a lender and ask for a mortgage preapproval. Based on details about your financial situation, they’ll help you figure out how much you can borrow and will put the information in a preapproval letter. Use this document when setting your budget and touring homes. (Some sellers require a preapproval letter when accepting purchase offers.)

You’re not locked in with the lender that gave you a preapproval, though. When you’re ready to get a mortgage, submit applications with several mortgage lenders and ask for a Loan Estimate. This document shows your interest rate, closing costs, and other details about the loan. Comparing costs can help you find the best deal, though you may want to use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much you stand to save with a lower interest rate. 

Take a look at one example: Let’s say you receive two mortgage rate quotes on a home worth $200,000 with a 20% down payment and 30-year term.

Interest rate Monthly principal and interest payment Total interest paid over 30 years Interest saved
3.5% $718 $98,780
3.0% $674 $82,970 $44 a month or $15,840 over loan term

With a 3.5% interest rate, the monthly principal-and-interest payment comes out to $718. But with a 3.0% interest rate, you save $44 a month on interest costs — or $15,840 over 30 years. 

Editorial Independence

As with all of our mortgage lender reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships. For more information about our scoring methodology, click here.

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