PrimeLending seeks to combine the clarity of an online mortgage broker with the personal touch of a neighborhood bank.
Among their home financing options, PrimeLending offers VA loans, which can streamline home financing for veterans and active duty military members.
Let’s take a look at the lender’s programs to find out whether you should consider PrimeLending as you buy, refinance, or renovate a home.
Dallas-based PrimeLending traces its roots to 1986 when it had 20 employees and a regional scope. Now, the company has more than 5,000 employees issuing loans in all 50 states.
Much of the company’s growth has happened in the past decade.
Since 2012, PrimeLending has been a top-10 mortgage lender, issuing $13.5 billion in loans in 2017 alone.
While it operates in more than 310 offices with locations in almost every state, PrimeLending customers and loan applicants often start the mortgage process online.
Working with PrimeLending Online
PrimeLending’s web site includes a lot of built-in guidance and education which can help first-time borrowers feel more comfortable as they navigate the lending process.
The site does not limit its scope to borrowing; it guides an applicant through the entire process of buying or refinancing a home, from deciding whether to buy a home to closing on a loan.
Customers can also find how-to videos, application-specific instructions, and tools such as mortgage calculators on the site.
PrimeLending’s Mobile Partner App extends these services to your phone, along with real-time loan status tracking and quick access to a loan officer. The company developed the app in-house, which makes it more seamless.
Working with PrimeLending In Person
PrimeLending’s online services can be matched, and at times surpassed, by competing online lenders.
However, PrimeLending’s ability to pair industry-leading online products with its growing network of physical branches is harder to beat.
The company connects new customers with a loan officer to help streamline and simplify the borrowing process.
A mortgage loan tends to be personal by nature. You’ll need to share bank statements and other personal financial information. Working with a dedicated loan officer you can meet in person makes this process seem less invasive to some applicants.
Customers can also choose to complete the process exclusively online by using electronic documentation and e-signatures.
PrimeLending Mortgage Loans
Even the easiest-to-access lenders won’t be of any help to you if they don’t offer loans to match your needs, whether you’re buying or refinancing.
PrimeLending offers a standard array of conventional and subsidized loans, including Veterans Affairs loans.
The company also provides more specialized services such as loans for energy-efficient homes and loans with closing cost assistance for lower-income applicants.
Veterans Affairs (VA) Loans
PrimeLending is authorized to issue mortgages through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
VA loans can make home buying easier for veterans and active duty service members. Guard members who have served six years or more can also qualify.
Advantages for VA borrowers include:
- No down payment: Unlike a conventional loan, you don’t have to save a large amount of cash before getting a mortgage.
- No private mortgage insurance: A loan exceeding 80 percent of a home’s value typically means borrowers must purchase mortgage insurance to compensate their lender if they default. VA loans bypass this requirement because the government backs your loan.
- Lower closing costs: These loans cap closing costs at a certain percentage, which can save thousands of dollars out of pocket or over the life of your loan if you were to finance closing costs.
VA Loan Alternatives
Other Subsidized Loans
VA loans comprise just a small portion of the subsidized loans available through PrimeLending. Borrowers who meet income and qualifications can also save through loan programs such as:
- FHA: The Federal Housing Administration subsidizes loans for lower-income home buyers, allowing down payments as low as 3.5 percent of the loan’s value and reasonable interest rates even for borrowers with sub-600 credit scores. Your home must meet federal housing guidelines, so a fixer-upper may not be an option.
- USDA: Loans subsidized through the federal Department of Agriculture help rural homebuyers enter the real estate market. Eligible borrowers can avoid all closing costs and access lower interest rates. These loans have caps in many regions; ask your PrimeLending loan officer about the caps in your area before applying.
Not everyone qualifies for a subsidized loan. Many applicants prefer the flexibility of a conventional mortgage that doesn’t come with an extra layer of federal oversight. PrimeLending, of course, offers a standard assortment of conventional loans:
- Fixed-rate mortgage: PrimeLending offers 15 and 30-year conventional loans with fixed interest rates. Fixed rates allow borrowers to keep the same payment throughout the life of the loan. Many conventional loans require at least 10 percent down. Paying less than 20 percent down will require buying private mortgage insurance, which you can cancel when you’ve paid off at least 20 percent of the home’s value.
- Adjustable-rate mortgage: A conventional loan with an adjustable interest rate can offer savings during the first year or two of the loan. After that, the introductory interest rate will expire and your new rate will fluctuate with market conditions. It could increase or decrease; typically it will increase. These loans also require down payments and private mortgage insurance until you own 80 percent of the home’s value.
A note about closing costs: While conventional loans require closing costs, PrimeLending now has an innovative program to help low to moderate-income customers pay up to $2,000 in closing costs.
This can be a deal maker for many homebuyers who worry about coming up with several thousand dollars to close a loan.
Be sure to ask your loan officer about the NeighborhoodEdge program if you think you’d benefit.
Real estate prices vary from region to region. Someone buying a home in a high-cost area may need the buying power of a jumbo loan.
Homes that exceed $424,100 in most states require a jumbo mortgage.
A jumbo mortgage usually requires applicants to have a credit score of 700 or higher, and expect to pay at least 20 percent down.
Loans for Refinancing
Existing homeowners may choose to refinance their current mortgage loan for a variety of reasons:
- To get a lower rate: Interest rates change over time. When rates reach historic lows, fixed-rate homeowners with higher rates can save money in the long run with a refinance.
- To shorten a loan: Longer-term loans, such as a 30-year fixed, require more interest but they offer lower monthly payments. If you have a 30-year loan but can now afford a higher payment, refinancing with a shorter-term loan like a 15-year fixed could help you save.
- To tap into equity: The more payments you’ve made, the more of your home you actually own. A refinance can help you access your home’s paid-off value, also known as equity. It’s best to reinvest this cash into your home through renovations or improvements rather than spending it on other purchases.
Borrowers can use PrimeLending’s conventional and subsidized mortgage loans to refinance an existing mortgage.
The new loan will pay off your current loan. If you borrow more than you currently owe, you can use the extra cash to improve your home.
The same regulations for VA, USDA, and FHA new home loans also apply to refinanced mortgages.
Home Improvement Loans
Some borrowers want to tap into equity without refinancing the entire loan. PrimeLending offers several ways to borrow against your home’s equity while keeping your current mortgage, including:
- HomeStyle: This program makes it easier to finance multiple projects together into one loan, ideal for restoring an older home.
- EZConventional: Creates a dedicated account to fund repairs in your home; best for minor, cosmetic improvements.
- Pool escrow: A specially designed program for installing an in-ground pool at your home.
- FHA 203(k): A special program for existing FHA borrowers who need to make improvements.
- HUD REO: A program for people who want to save by buying and fixing up a foreclosed home.
- USDA Repair: Another targeted program for restoring a home in a rural area; best for existing USDA loan holders.
PrimeLending does not offer a mortgage equity line of credit. Many banks offer these loans, which behave like credit cards funded by the equity in your home. They tend to have higher interest rates at most lending institutions.
PrimeLending Application and Approval
Like many leading online mortgage brokers, PrimeLending guides applicants through the home-buying process step by step.
Your personal loan officer should also be available to help you navigate the system.
You’ll start with an application for pre-qualification. Getting pre-qualified means PrimeLending thinks you’re in good enough financial standing to start home shopping.
You’ll also get an idea about what kind of loans you may qualify for: conventional vs. subsidized; fixed rates vs. variable rates.
If you get pre-qualified, PrimeLending will assign your case to a loan officer who should share your loan offers.
Analyzing Your Options
Pre-qualified applicants will have already submitted some basic information about their income, debt, and credit score. Your loan officer will present a variety of payment scenarios for different kinds of loans you may be able to get.
This stage can help you know how much home you can fit into your budget. Remember: These estimates do not reflect the full loan underwriting process; details of your loan offers could change once lenders fully analyze your financial situation.
When you’ve found a home, entered into a contract to purchase, and set a closing date, PrimeLending’s underwriters will start finalizing your loan.
This underwriting process basically confirms the data you’ve already provided and checks out the property you’re buying. If underwriters discover discrepancies, your loan offers could change.
Through its site, its app, and your access to a loan officer, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up with your loan’s status.
Most loans finish underwriting within 48 hours.
A refinance or a specialized renovation loan will go through a similar process.
PrimeLending Pros & Cons
It’s a safe choice to go with PrimeLending for a new mortgage, a refinance, or a renovation loan. The company stands on solid financial footing and it continues to earn high marks from customer review sites.
Customers like the simplicity PrimeLending brings to the entire process of shopping for and buying a home.
The company covers a lot of bases and checks a lot of important boxes:
- VA Loan Availability: Not all lenders can issue Veterans Affairs loans, which can save veterans and active duty military members a significant amount of money. PrimeLending does, and it offers the other federally subsidized loans we discussed above.
- Online Experience: As stated above, PrimeLending’s online and mobile tools are top-notch.
So, what could be better about PrimeLending? Though its stable of loans is filled with proven options, we did notice a few weak areas that could concern some borrowers:
- Not so upfront about rates: By not publishing its interest rates online, customers must get pre-authorized before seeing how PrimeLending’s rates compare to other loans. This can make shopping around more difficult, though most consumers ultimately find the company’s rates to be competitive.
- No equity line of credit: Borrowers who want the flexibility of a home equity line of credit, which allows homeowners to spend money as needed on repairs, should look elsewhere.
- Somewhat limited fixed terms: Many other lenders offer 10-year and 12-year fixed rate mortgages. PrimeLending’s shortest term is 15 years. Most borrowers — especially first-time home buyers — won’t miss these options. However, shorter-term loans do allow for more interest savings for borrowers who can afford the resulting higher monthly payments.
- Origination fee: Some borrowers report dissatisfaction with PrimeLending’s loan origination fee. While fees of $1,000 (or more) are common at almost all mortgage lenders, this fee has surprised some PrimeLending borrowers because the company tends to be transparent elsewhere in the process. This experience depends partly on the individual loan officer’s tendency to share fees up front.
- Appraisal fee: It’s also common for a borrower to pay the appraisal fee before closing, but some PrimeLending customers also have been surprised by the fee, probably because the site doesn’t mention it.
PrimeLending could be your go-to mortgage lender if you’re looking for a VA-approved, online-friendly broker with a physical presence throughout the nation.
You can learn a lot more from your one-on-one loan officer if you don’t mind sharing some income information and your Social Security number to get pre-authorized.
And be sure to ask your loan officer about loan origination fees so you’ll know where you stand.
If you need a 10- or 12-year mortgage or you’d rather not share income information before getting interest rate quotes, take a look into our other top VA-approved mortgage lenders.