The higher home prices rise, the greater the importance of saving every penny during the loan process.
National home prices have continued on an upward trend, making it especially important to save money wherever possible. One area where this can be accomplished is to find the best deal on a mortgage loan.
The Durham-Raleigh-Chapel-Hill metro-area in North Carolina saw median sales prices increase 20% year-over-year, according to the Durham Regional Association of Realtors May 2022 press release. With Mortgage rates also on the rise, 2022 homebuyers need to save for higher down payment to offset the higher cost of borrowing or be left taking on larger loans with higher monthly mortgage payments.
To help with affordable borrowing in the “Tar Heel State,” its imperative borrowers shop rates among different lenders. Being a highly qualified borrower alone will not necessarily guarantee you will get the best rate. In fact, two similarly qualified borrowers could see as much as a 0.5% difference in rates among different lenders, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a difference that could result in thousands of dollars of savings over the life of the loan.
Each borrower’s personal circumstances and financial goals will also play a part in finding the best mortgage lender. For instance, those with little saved for a down payment would fare better with a lender who is knowledgeable in low down payment and first-time homebuyer programs.
To help borrowers navigate the lender selection process, NextAdvisor reviewed 51 different mortgage lenders and scored each one on categories including transparency, accessibility, online convenience, loan product variety, and customer satisfaction. We then narrowed down the list to the 10 best mortgage lenders available to North Carolina residents.
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.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Mortgage Lenders In North Carolina
- Honorable Mention
- How We Chose the Best Mortgage Lenders
- How to Find the Best Mortgage Lender for Your Situation
- First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Programs In North Carolina
- Is It Better to Go with a Local North Carolina Mortgage Lender?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
10 Best Mortgage Lenders In North Carolina
- Guaranteed Rate’s Standout Feature::Guaranteed Rate says it can provide a preapproval letter in around 15 minutes, and the company goal is to be clear to close within 10 days.
- 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
- Lenders fees not available online
- Some loan types are brokered off to other lenders
Guaranteed Rate is a Chicago-headquartered firm with a strong online presence and 400 branch locations across the country. We ranked the company a top lender because of its top-of-the-line digital experience, helpful consumer tools, solid customer service, and variety of loan products, including all three government loans.
Guaranteed rate received fewer consumer complaints compared to most other lenders we reviewed. The company logged less than one complaint per 1,000 loans originated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) consumer complaint database, the agency responsible for collecting, monitoring, and responding to U.S. consumer complaints about financial services and products.
- Navy Federal Credit Union Standout Feature:Offers a unique relock rate option: You can lock in your interest rate and relock it twice if rates improve before closing.
- Specializes in providing services and advice to the military community
- Offers no-down-payment mortgages
- Has flexible credit requirements
- Doesn’t charge private mortgage insurance
- You can lock in your interest rate and relock it twice if rates improve
- Membership is limited to service members, veterans, and certain government contractors
- Doesn’t offer FHA loans and USDA loans
- You’ll have to request a customized rate quote
Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, Navy Federal Credit Union serves all 50 states and has 344 branches worldwide. Navy Federal Credit Union was a high-scoring lender by NextAdvisor because of its price transparency, streamlined online application process, and loan product variety. It has a slightly above average complaint ratio of 2.8 complaints per 1,000 loans with the CFPB. But this lender offers no-down payment and flexible credit requirements on most mortgage products to qualified military service members and their families.
- Rocket Mortgage’s Standout Feature:Despite its magnitude, the company has lower-than-average consumer complaints registered on the CFPB consumer complaint database.
- Quick and easy preapproval process
- Entirely remote application and approval process
- Lends in 50 states
- Wide range of loan options
- Strong customer service reputation
- No physical locations
- You’ll need to call or chat with a representative for some loan information
- No construction loans or renovation loans
- Advertised rates may include discount points, which increase your upfront costs
- Difficult to find mortgage menu of loans
Rocket mortgage is the online lender for Quicken Loans and is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the U.S. We ranked the Detroit-based company as one of the best mortgage lenders because of its simple online application process, low level of consumer complaints, the transparency and accessibility of its rates and fees, and the company’s wide offering of mortgage loan products.
Rocket Mortgage stands out for the company’s high level of customer satisfaction. Rocket Mortgage originated over one million loans in 2020, making it the largest lender we reviewed by total volume. We found 0.48 complaints per 1,000 loans — or less than half a complaint per 1,000 loans occurred. This figure is very low compared to the average complaint ratio of 2 complaints per 1,000 loans among other lenders we reviewed.
- Veterans United Standout Feature:Veterans United provides a wealth of information on its website regarding what to expect through the loan process, closing, how to prepare for homeownership, home loans basics, credit, and underwriting.
- Mortgage loans available in all 50 states
- Educational content available through the company’s website
- Highly experienced in VA loans as a top three VA loan originator for five consecutive years
- Low number of consumer complaints with the CFPB
- Offers a number of loan programs including VA, jumbo, conventional, FHA, and USDA
- Full online application process
- Limited online rate information; must call to see other rate options such as discount points
- Difficult to find information regarding non-VA loan options
- Does not offer home equity loans or lines of credit
Veterans United Home Loans, headquartered in Missouri, is a mortgage lender that specializes in VA home loans in all 50 states. Veterans United is incredibly active in the VA loan space. The U.S. the Department of Veterans Affairs has listed Veterans United in the top three among VA loan lenders by volume for five consecutive years. While the company focuses heavily on VA loans, it also offers conventional, jumbo, FHA, and USDA loans.
Veterans United has a fully digitized and easy online application process. Compared to other lenders we’ve reviewed, the company had one of the lowest complaint ratios logged with the CFPB: less than half of one complaint per 1,000 loans originated.
- NASB’s Standout Feature:NASB has several programs that can help non-traditional borrowers get a home such as the self-employed and those with a less-than-prefect credit history.
- Lends in 50 states
- Has unique loans products for borrowers with credit issues or are self-employed
- Advertises daily interest rates for purchase and refinance loans
- Can get lower rate if rate drops during 90-day rate lock period
- Streamlined online application process
- Can get customized rate quote without hard credit check
- 12 in-person branches, but only in Missouri
- Does not offer USDA loans, construction loans, renovation loans, and home equity products
- Higher credit score standards on FHA and VA loans
Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, North American Savings Bank (NASB) is a full-service bank that lends in all 50 states. North American Savings Bank has a more extensive mortgage menu than most, including options for veterans, first-time homebuyers, self-employed people, and borrowers with less-than-perfect credit histories. That’s because the bank offers VA loans, FHA loans, and mortgages for people who don’t fit conforming loan standards. NASB also has a streamlined online application process with transparent pricing for browsing borrowers.
- Truist Bank’s Standout Feature:There is an allure of convenience to also have your mortgage through the same institution you bank with
- Offers a full lineup of the major mortgage programs
- Advertises sample mortgage rates on both the SunTrust and BB&T websites
- Mortgages available in 47 states and Washington, D.C.
- Can submit an application online, by phone, or in person
- Gathering mortgage product information is slightly confusing because of the merger
- Mortgages not available in Hawaii, Alaska, or Arizona
Truist Bank, now merged with Suntrust and BB&T under its name, has an extensive footprint across the U.S. through its thousands of brick-and-mortar branches and online presence. Along with the company’s solid menu of mortgage products, easy-to-use online application process, transparency of rate and fee information, and average number of complaints compared to other reviewed lenders, the brand’s website is easy to navigate with several useful resources to help with the borrowing process, such as calculators, videos, and sample mortgages.
Truist offers a comprehensive menu of online or in-person banking accounts such as checking, savings, money market, and CDs. If you are in the market for a bank, looking to switch banks, or already have a Truist account, there is an allure of convenience to also have your mortgage through the same institution. Some lending institutions also give incentives or discounts to existing account holders.
- Sebonic Financial’s Standout Feature:Sebonic’s proprietary borrowing platform, Octane. We found Octane to be one of the best online application processes
- Offers a streamlined digital application and closing process
- Funds conventional loans, jumbo loans, and all three government-backed loan programs
- Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
- Interest-only jumbo ARMs available
- Mortgage rates aren’t published on the lender’s website
- Doesn’t offer home equity loans, HELOCs, renovation loans, reverse mortgages, or construction loans
- In-person branches only available in Charlotte, North Carolina; Gaithersburg, Maryland; and Las Vegas, Nevada
Sebonic Financial is the mortgage lender division of North Carolina-headquartered Cardinal Financial. Sebonic Financial scored well with NextAdvisor because of the company’s high-end digital borrowing experience, full mortgage product lineup which is available in all 50 states, and the lender’s history of below-average customer complaints with the CFPB. Based on 2020 data, Sebonic has less than one complaint per 1,000 loans originated in the same year.
Although Sebonic’s mortgage rates and fees are not listed on the company website, the online system, Octane, makes it easy to access a quote without a credit check or drawn-out process. With Octane, borrowers can get a fast rate quote, start an application, upload documents, and sign closing documents, with real-time updates along the way. We found Octane to be one of the best online application processes compared to other lenders we’ve reviewed. It’s easy-to-use, high-tech, and we appreciate the ability to have a full-online digital experience with the option to speak to loan officers.
- Pennymac’s Standout Feature:Very low complaint history and best overall online user experience with price transparency and user-friendly application process
- Advertises daily interest rates for purchases and refinances
- Customized rate quote available online
- User-friendly online experience
- Available in 49 states (not available in New York)
- Maintains 16 branch locations spread across nine states
- Doesn’t offer home equity products, jumbo mortgages, reverse mortgages, construction loans, and renovation loans
- Doesn’t share information about minimum qualification requirements on its website
Pennymac Loan Services isn’t a well-known name. But the California-based mortgage lender stands out for its convenient online application process, ability to get a rate quote without a credit check, transparency of rates and fees, and low frequency of consumer complaints with the CFPB. In 2020, the CFPB reported less than 0.30 complaints per 1,000 loans. Pennymac offers most major mortgage products and all three-government loans in 49 states, with 16 brick-and-mortar branch locations.
The brand had one of the lowest complaint ratios among lenders we reviewed, but the more noticeable standout feature is the overall online experience. At NextAdvisor, we value price transparency and accessibility. Pennymac met this expectation with daily rate and fee updates and customizable rate quotes on its user-friendly webpage.
- Watermark Home Loan’s Standout Feature:The “Non-QM loan,” or “Non-Qualified Mortgage” for the non-traditional borrowers, such as the self-employed, a history of bankruptcy, or with less attractive debt-to-income ratios.
- Solid mortgage menu of products including all three government loans
- Unique loan product for the non-traditional self-employed borrower
- Calculators and tools very helpful
- Easy digital application process
- Low level of consumer complaints
- Only originates mortgages in 38 states (more states coming soon)
- A breakdown of lender closing fees is not provided with rate quote
Watermark Home Loans based out of Irvine, CA, and currently licensed in 38 states. The company is named one of NextAdvisor’s best mortgage lenders of 2022 because of its streamlined online application process, extensive loan product menu including standard conventional, jumbo, and refinance loans, but also all three government-backed loans (FHA, VA, and USDA). Another stand out product by Watermark is its “non-qualified mortgage” meant to serve borrowers with unique income criteria, such as the self-employed.
Watermark has a fully digital online application process with document uploading capabilities. The company also offers an online notary service so you can opt to complete closing paperwork all online versus in person.
Borrowers can receive a customized rate quote by filling out a form online with basic information and then will get an email with a few different quote options to review that lays out clearly discount points, lender credits, or closing costs options. Watermark Home Loans advertises national daily rate averages along with data indicators of how much each loan type’s rate has moved up or down in the last 30 days.
Watermark has a lower-than-average number of consumer complaints: Less than one complaint per 1,000 originated loans in 2020, according to the CFPB’s consumer complaint database.
- LenderFi’s Standout Feature:Out side of third-party closing fees, LenderFi advertises no additional lender fees as part of the closing costs.
- Rate quotes can be obtained online without a credit check
- Quick and easy to reach a loan representative by phone
- Very friendly customer service
- Does not charge lender fees
- Super transparent pricing
- Short list of loan types: No VA, USDA, or home equity loans
- Loans are not offered in all 50 states
- Company’s website has minimal educational content
Headquartered in Calabasas, CA, LenderFi is named one of NextAdvisor’s best lenders because of the company’s easy-to-use online application process. LenderFi provides a unique feature to its rate quotes: A full, transparent, line-by-line breakdown of all rates and fees before even getting a credit check. Discount points are clearly advertised with how they affect the APR and monthly payment. The quote even estimates homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), property tax costs, and all third-party closing fees.
The company advertises that it does not charge lender fees as part of the closing costs. Third-party closing fees, such as appraisal, title insurance, and inspection costs still apply. But LenderFi says no additional lender costs are passed to the borrowers. Instead, all lender-related costs are rolled into the quoted rate and APR.
- Costco Mortgage Program Standout Feature:Costco members have access to a network of lenders in one marketplace, one credit check, and potential discounts and incentives for borrowing through this platform.
- Costco members get discounts on lender fees
- Applicants can compare loans from several lenders
- The mortgage application process is quick and automated
- Fee discounts are only available to Costco members
- Not a direct lender, but a marketplace program
The Costco mortgage program does not originate mortgages, so it was not included in the list of best mortgage lenders. However, the useful marketplace is worth an honorable mention. Costco members have access to a network of participating mortgage lenders offering discounts and incentives for borrowing through this channel. Through the Costco mortgage marketplace website, you can fill out a universal application, compare loan offers, and cash-in on discounts or lender fees if you choose a lender through this program. The marketplace platform is easy to navigate with transparent pricing and terms. You can get a rate quote online in minutes and will only be contacted by the lender with your expressed permission.
How We Chose the Best Mortgage Lenders
To find the best mortgage lenders in North Carolina, we first looked at all the mortgage lenders NextAdvisor has reviewed so far. We then eliminated any lender that is not available to North Carolina residents.
To score mortgage lenders, we’ve developed a framework using a weighted average score between 0 and 5, with more weight awarded to the criteria we determined to be the most important.
Our list doesn’t take into account key financial factors like mortgage rates, APRs, and fees, because those depend on market conditions and your individual creditworthiness. Instead of focusing on those numbers, it’s best to first determine the qualities you want in a lender and how to find the best mortgage rates. Then you’ll be prepared to find the best lender for you.
The factors we used to evaluate the best mortgage lenders:
- Online Convenience: A lender is scored 1 through 5 based on the company’s online application experience. A 5 is awarded if the company’s mortgage application can be completed fully online with a streamlined process, including uploading documents and a customized rate quote. A lower score is awarded if additional phone calls are needed to process an application or for a poor online user experience.
- Transparency: Lenders are scored 0 through 5 based on the accessibility and transparency of mortgage rates, lender fees, and credit check requirements for rates and/or fees. A 5 is awarded if the lender advertises rates and fees on its websites and doesn’t require a hard credit check to get rates and/or fees. Conversely, a lower score is awarded when consumers cannot easily access rate and fee information and/or must go through a hard credit check to access them.
- Nationwide Availability: Lenders are scored 1 through 5 based on the company’s geographical footprint. A lender can score a 5 if it operates in all 50 U.S. States. Lenders were eliminated from this list if they are not licensed to lend in the state of North Carolina.
- Loan Product Variety: Lenders are scored 1 through 5 based on their loan product menu and variety of products offered. A high score of 5 is given if most or all mortgage products are available, with a lower score awarded for a limited mortgage menu.
- Customer Satisfaction: To measure customer satisfaction, we reviewed the number of complaints filed against each lender with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2020. We divided the total consumer complaints with the total number of loans originated over the same time period to get a complaint ratio per 1,000 loans originated. We sourced the total loans originated using publicly accessible data provided under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and regulated by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).
How to Find the Best Mortgage Lender for Your Situation
The best mortgage lender for you will depend on your preferences and goals. Lenders differ in the types of products and services they offer, so you’ll want to find one that is best suited for your circumstances.
You can consider things like whether the lender conducts business online, or if they have physical branch locations you can visit. If you’re unfamiliar with the lending process, it could be helpful to be guided through the process in-person with a loan officer. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable navigating the loan process on your own, you could opt for the convenience of an online lender instead.
Here are a few other items you can think about in finding the right lender.
Types of Loan Programs Available
Lenders may offer a varying range of loan options, each with its own set of pros and cons. Depending on your circumstance, finding a lender who offers the right loan program for you could mean the difference between getting approved or denied for a loan.
Conventional loans can be a good choice for borrowers with good credit scores and a stable history of income. But if that’s not an option, government backed loans such as FHA loans can offer additional flexibility for borrowers with low credit scores and blemishes on their credit report. Similarly, VA loans can allow eligible borrowers with qualifying military service to become homeowners with no down payment requirement. And if you’re looking for a larger loan amount, you’ll need to find a lender who offers jumbo loans.
Shop Rates With Multiple Lenders
Regardless of how knowledgeable you are with the loan process, it’s highly recommended to shop rates with several lenders to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Lenders may sometimes offer temporary incentives, promotional offers, or discounts which could be more competitive than another lender’s standard pricing. Make sure you get written loan estimates from each lender, and try to provide each lender with the same loan scenario.
The Lowest Rate Doesn’t Always Mean the Best Deal
Two different lenders can advertise the same mortgage rate but charge very different closing fees. Make sure to compare all the fees associated with borrowing a mortgage, such as closing costs and lender fees. A low rate with high closing costs can eat away at the savings you thought the low rate provided.
Comparing each loan’s APR (annual percentage rate) can give you a better picture of the actual and overall cost. That’s because the APR factors in many of the loan’s fees, in addition to the interest rate, over the loan’s full term.
Using this Home Loan Comparison Calculator, you can enter in all the variables of each offer and see a side-by-side comparison. When entering each loan, make sure to add the closing costs and other upfront fees. Then you can see the actual costs for each loan over time.
Home loan comparison calculator
Compare your payment options side-by-side to see which is right for you and your financial situation.
Find the mortgage that’s best for you by comparing the cost of multiple loans over time.
First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Programs In North Carolina
For eligible borrowers, first-time home buying assistance programs can provide grants, funds to cover down payment requirements, and tax credits to reduce some of the financial hurdles to becoming a homeowner. The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) has several programs available.
These programs include:
- NC Home Advantage Mortgage: Not required to be a first-time homebuyer
- NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment: Available for first-time home buyers and military veterans
- NC Home Advantage Tax Credit: Available for first-time home buyers and military veterans
- Community Home Buying Programs (Community Partners Loan Pool and Self Help Loan Pool): Available for borrowers who do not exceed county income limits
- House Charlotte: Not required to be a first-time homebuyer
- Raleigh Homebuyer Assistance Program: Available for first-time homebuyers
- Greensboro Homebuyer Down Payment Assistance Program: Available for first-time homebuyers
If you are interested in any of the programs offered, make sure to connect with a lender who is also familiar with and participates in these programs.
Is It Better to Go with a Local North Carolina Mortgage Lender?
Online lenders and lenders local to North Carolina each have their own pros and cons, and you’ll want to look at what is most important to you. Local lenders can have more specialized knowledge about the areas you are looking to buy a home. As a result, they could be more likely to offer a more streamlined process in selecting and recommending third-party vendors to get the process completed more quickly. Online lenders, on the other hand, can offer a more convenient way for you to complete tasks in the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule.
Here are a few additional pros and cons you can consider.
Pros and Cons of Choosing an Online Lender
Reduced overhead can lead to more competitive rates and fees
Can reduce or eliminate the requirement for you to meet in-person
Can save time by allowing you to complete required tasks online
Streamlined online process to provide documents to lender
Reduced overhead is not a guarantee of lower rates or fees
Can be more difficult to reach a live person for questions
May not be familiar with your home’s specific neighborhood