LoanDepot mortgage review: A mortgage lender with many options

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LoanDepot mortgage and refinance loans at a glance

  • Conventional loans: Yes
  • FHA loans: Yes
  • VA loans: Yes
  • Refinancing: Yes
  • Jumbo loan: Yes
  • Adjustable rates: Yes (10/1 ARM, 7/1 ARM, 5/1 ARM, 3/1 ARM)
  • Fixed rates: Yes (30-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year)

Licensed to lend to people in all 50 states, LoanDepot has grown to become one of the largest mortgage lenders in the U.S. since the company’s founding in 2010. The lender offers a number of different mortgages, including low down-payment options that can be great for first-time homebuyers and refinancing.

Pros

  • Offers wide variety of home loan options
  • Offers options to apply online or speak to a loan officer
  • Waives lender fees when refinancing your existing LoanDepot mortgage

Cons

  • Not the most transparent about rates
  • No USDA loans or HELOCs

5 things to know about a LoanDepot mortgage or refinance loan

First-time homebuyers will appreciate that the company offers both Federal Housing Administration loans as well as FHA construction loans (203k loans), which have down payment requirements as low as 3.5%. And borrowers can benefit from LoanDepot’s technology, which streamlines some of the most cumbersome parts of the application process.

1. Wide variety of home loan options

LoanDepot offers an array of home loans, including conventional, FHA, Veterans Affairs, Home Affordable Refinance Program, jumbo, home equity loans and refinancing. It’s also an approved mortgage lender for the FHA’s 203k home renovation loan program, which allows you to finance up to $35,000 of repairs and remodeling costs into your mortgage.

The lender has a variety of loan terms with fixed rates — ranging from 10 to 30 years — as well as four variable-rate loan options: 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The interest rates on these ARMS can change after a certain period of time.

But LoanDepot does not offer U.S. Department of Agriculture loans. And while it does have home equity loans, it doesn’t offer home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.

Get tips for how to choose the best mortgage for you.

2. Digital application process that may save time

LoanDepot leverages technology in an attempt to simplify the lending experience. Its proprietary mello smartloan™ platform seeks to verify various pieces of personal information — like your income, employment history and assets — digitally.

With this loan engine, your loan officer may be able to waive your appraisal entirely, saving you time and money. And even if you don’t qualify for an appraisal waiver, LoanDepot’s technology may be able to appraise and clear the title on your home in minutes instead of days or weeks.

Thanks to these time-saving tools, LoanDepot estimates that loans underwritten with mello smartloans™ could reduce your time to closing by up to 17 days. In fact, it says that some loans could be given approval to close in as few as eight days. That could be a big boon if you want or need a fast closing date.

3. Phone and in-person assistance available

Time-saving digital tools are convenient and helpful. But it’s still nice to be able to talk to a human being when you have questions or need help.

With LoanDepot, you can call up a licensed loan officer if you prefer. And it has more than 200 offices across the U.S. where you can work with someone face-to-face.

4. Difficult to compare rates before applying

In its “rate assumptions” disclaimer, LoanDepot says that its published interest rates may include up to three points (including lender fees and discount points). According to Freddie Mac as of September 2020, the average 30-year mortgage comes with fees and points of 0.8.

Advertising rates that would cost borrowers up to three points can be misleading, since the rates may only be accessible to people who have the money to purchase those discount points — which requires more cash at closing.

You’ll want to temper your excitement about the interest rates you see on its site until you’ve applied and received an actual quote.

Check out our home affordability calculator to get an idea of what you may be able to afford.

5. No lender refinancing fees for existing LoanDepot customers

When you buy a home with LoanDepot, it comes with a “lifetime guarantee” that you’ll never pay lender fees with LoanDepot again. If you decide to refinance your mortgage with LoanDepot down the road, it will waive its lender fees and reimburse any appraisal fees.

But you can’t take advantage of this refinancing benefit if it’s been less than 12 months since you took out your original loan. Also, the guarantee doesn’t cover loans you apply for through third-party referral sites, like Credit Karma, or LoanDepot’s wholesale division.

Who is a LoanDepot loan good for?

LoanDepot may be a strong option for first-time homebuyers, since it offers both FHA and VA loans. Both of these government-backed loan programs have low minimum down payments and more-lenient borrower requirements for people who apply through approved lenders.

FHA loans with any lender that offers them can be attractive because they let you put as little as 3.5% down with credit scores of 580 or higher. People with credit scores as low as 500 may be approved with a down payment of at least 10%.

And for military members and their families, VA loans provide even more-attractive loan terms — it’s possible to get a VA loan with no down payment at all. And, unlike FHA loans, there’s no need for private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums for people who put less than 20% down.

LoanDepot’s online lending platform may also make it a good fit for homebuyers who want a seamless digital experience or want to try to shave time off their closing date.

And if you’ve had a mortgage loan with LoanDepot for more than 12 months and are considering refinancing, it’s definitely worth a look because of its fee waiver.  

How to apply for a LoanDepot mortgage

You can start the LoanDepot application process by visiting its website or by calling up a loan officer. Eligibility requirements will vary by the type of loan that you apply for. But here are a few of the types of documents you may need to provide.

  • Tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Proof of previous mortgage or rent payments
  • List of debts
  • List of assets

You may also need to verify any gifted funds or provide proof of additional income sources, such as rental property income or alimony. Your information can be linked digitally and the entire loan process, from application to closing, can be handled online.

Not sure if LoanDepot is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you want to compare rates with several lenders or your application is denied, keep in mind that you have 14 days to shop around without your credit being affected by multiple hard inquiries. Instead, you should only feel the impact of one hard inquiry on your credit scores by shopping within that time frame.

  • Rocket Mortgage: If you’re looking for an online mortgage lender that offers a strong mobile app experience, Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans may be a good fit.
  • Better Mortgage: If avoiding certain lender fees is a top priority, Better Mortgage’s home purchase and refinancing loans could be a strong option.

About the author: Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and m… Read more.