First Federal Bank mortgage: Low down payments and specialty options

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In a Nutshell

First Federal Bank has several mortgage options for first-time homebuyers looking for low- or no-down-payment loans. But the lender provides limited information online. If you’re looking for greater transparency online or a digital mortgage experience, you may want to look elsewhere.
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First Federal Bank mortgages at a glance

  • Conventional loans: Yes
  • FHA loans: Yes
  • VA loans: Yes
  • Refinancing: Yes
  • Jumbo loan: Yes
  • Adjustable rates: Yes
  • Fixed rates: Yes

Though First Federal Bank primarily operates in the Southeast, it offers a variety of home loans to customers nationwide. Its options include low-down-payment programs, construction-to-permanent mortgages, and jumbo loans for those looking to purchase high-value properties.

Pros

  • Several low- or no-down payment options
  • Options for manufactured homes and specialty loans
  • First-time homebuyer guides and resources

Cons

  • Limited physical footprint
  • Lack of transparency about rates and fees
  • No home equity options

4 things to know about a First Federal Bank loan

1. It has several mortgage options

In addition to the commonly used conventional mortgages, First Federal Bank offers a handful of other home loans options.

  • Low-down-payment programs — For those looking to buy a home with a low down payment — or no down payment at all — First Federal Bank originates loans under the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, programs. Depending on the program, you can qualify for a mortgage with a down payment between 0% and 3.5% of purchase price.
  • Construction-to-permanent mortgages — If you’re building a new home, First Federal Bank provides a construction-to-permanent mortgage. This type of loan allows you to combine construction financing and mortgage financing into one loan with one closing date.
  • Manufactured home purchases — Finding financing for manufactured or modular homes can be challenging. Some banks prohibit using certain mortgage programs to purchase manufactured homes. But First Federal Bank offers financing for manufactured and modular homes with available options including FHA, VA and conventional loans.

2. Details about rates and fees are scarce

Many lenders, including major banks, list their current mortgage rates and fees on their websites. The advertised rates are typically for people with specific credit profiles and certain loan amounts, but the listings can give customers an idea of what rates and fees to expect.

First Federal Bank doesn’t include any information about its interest rates or fees on its website. The only way to get those details is to fill out an application or contact a loan officer, so comparison shopping will take extra work.

3. Branches are only in certain states

Though First Federal Bank issues loans to customers nationwide, it only operates branches in a few states. The bank is based in Florida, with 25 branches in the Southeast and operation centers in the Midwest.

The lack of a physical footprint may be frustrating for people who want to meet with a loan specialist in person and don’t live near a First Federal Bank branch.

4. It recently acquired the mortgage division from BNC National Bank

In June 2023, First Federal Bank acquired the mortgage division of BNC National Bank. Thanks to the acquisition, First Federal Bank took over servicing existing BNC mortgages. Previously, First Federal Bank originated loans from its locations in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin.

Taking over the BNC mortgage division will also allow First Federal to serve customers from BNC’s locations in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas and North Dakota.

Who is a First Federal Bank mortgage good for?

First Federal Bank’s mortgages are best for people who want personalized, in-person assistance and are shopping for a home in the Southeast. The bank operates 25 branches in the southern states, and customers can meet with loan specialists at local branches — a helpful perk for first-time homebuyers that need additional guidance.

It could also be a good match for people who have struggled to find financing for manufactured, modular or specialty homes. First Federal Bank offers a range of loan products for different property types, from manufactured homes to luxury mansions.

First Federal Bank provides limited details about its loans online, so you’ll need to work with a loan specialist to discuss your loan options, eligibility and down payment requirements. If you’re looking for a completely digital experience, First Federal Bank might not be the right lender for you.

How to apply for a First Federal Bank loan

Eligibility requirements for home loans vary by loan type. But First Federal Bank doesn’t disclose its minimum income, credit or debt-to-income ratio requirements for any of its loans. It also doesn’t have a prequalification tool, so there’s no way to check your eligibility online.

If you want to see loan details or find out how much you can borrow, you’ll have to contact a First Federal Bank loan specialist. They’ll need information about your income, debt and employment. You can start a mortgage application online, but you’ll need to contact a loan specialist to complete the process.

First Federal Bank does have a checklist of documents you’ll need to complete your application. The list includes the following documents:

  • Pay stubs from the last 30 days
  • W-2 forms from the past two years
  • Current driver’s license or passport
  • Bank statements from the past three months, including saving, checking and investment accounts
  • If using money you received as a gift, you’ll need a letter, evidence of transfer and evidence of withdrawal
  • If you’re self-employed, completed tax returns from the past two years and a business profit and loss statement for the current year

Not sure if First Federal Bank is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you want to shop around for a loan, try to keep your credit inquiries to a limited time window. Though the exact length of time varies by scoring model, you generally have 14 to 45 days to shop around. The hard inquiries completed for one type of loan during that window are counted as a single inquiry.

Before moving forward with First Federal Bank, explore other options, like these alternatives.

  • Better Better is worth considering if you want to be able to handle every part of the mortgage process online.
  • Chase If you’re a first-time homebuyer, Chase offers special mortgage options with low down payment requirements. Some borrowers may qualify for a grant to cover part of the closing costs and fees.


About the author: Kat Tretina is a personal finance writer with a master’s degree in communication studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Obsessed with her many side hustles, she focuses on helping people pay down their … Read more.