Optimum First Mortgage Review 2021: Closing Fee Discount for Existing Borrowers, but Process Isn’t Fully Digital

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Optimum First Mortgage Lender Review 2021
Optimum First Mortgage Lender Review 2021
Editor’s Score: (2.3/5)
Optimum First Mortgage Lender Review 2021
Editor’s Score: (2.3/5)
  • Minimum Credit Score:
    650
  • Minimum Down Payment:
    3% to 5%
  • Can Apply Online:
    Yes
  • Operates In:
    14 States

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Can get a rate quote without a hard credit pull
  • Wide range of fixed-rate loan terms
  • Offers conventional, jumbo, VA, and refinance loans
  • May waive closing costs on refinances if you have an existing loan with the lender
Cons
  • No FHA loans, USDA loans, construction loans, or renovation loans
  • Doesn’t advertise daily rates on its website
  • Available only in 14 states
  • Credit score requirements are stricter than some other lenders
  • Must sign mortgage documents in person
The Bottom Line

Optimum First Mortgage is licensed in 14 states and offers conventional loans, jumbo loans, stated-income loans, and VA loans, plus an appealing no-closing-cost refinance for existing customers. That makes Optimum a good option for higher-credit borrowers, existing borrowers who want to refinance, and new borrowers who need to buy a home within the lender’s footprint. Even though an application can be done online, some documents will need to be completed in person. 

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.

Optimum First Mortgage Full Review 

Based in Fountain Valley, California, Optimum First Mortgage has originated more than 20,000 home loans since it formed in 2008.

Optimum is licensed to lend in 14 states and offers conventional, jumbo, VA, stated-income, and refinance loans, but does not fund FHA and USDA loans. 

For questions, customers must call the lender or fill out an online contact form to request a callback. We found it easy to get in touch with a loan officer and received a rate quote without a hard credit pull. Here’s what else you should know about the lender before applying. 

Optimum First Mortgage: Mortgage Loan Types and Products

Optimum First Mortgage has loans for people looking to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. Here’s what the lender is offering right now:

The lender doesn’t offer renovation loans, construction loans, and mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans) or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA loans).  

But borrowers have several options when it comes to choosing the type of interest rate that comes with a loan. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the rate never changes and the principal-and-interest payments are predictable throughout the loan term. Compared to its competitors, Optimum offers a wider range of fixed-rate mortgages, including terms of 30, 27, 22, 20, 15, 12, 10, and eight years. 

Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, come with a fixed rate for a certain amount of time. Optimum First’s ARMs stay fixed for the first three, five, seven, or 10 years. Then the rate may go up or down once a year based on market conditions.  

Optimum First Mortgage: Transparency

Optimum First’s website includes a few borrower resources and information about some of the mortgage programs it offers, but it does not advertise rate quotes or list lender fees. 

So to get more information, borrowers will need to fill out an online contact form to schedule a phone call with a loan officer. Someone will follow up quickly and can answer your questions, send you a customized rate quote, create a preapproval, or process your loan application—depending on where you are in the loan process. 

Borrowers can submit a mortgage application online, over the phone, via fax, or in person at its Fountain Valley, California, branch. If you move forward with the application process, you’ll be able to upload documents into a personal portal and check your loan status there. However, you’ll need to use an in-person notary at closing, as there are no e-signature options.

Optimum First Mortgage: Mortgage Rates and Fees 

Optimum First Mortgage doesn’t advertise mortgage rates or list lender fees on its website, so you’ll need to fill out an online form to request a phone call with the lender. A loan officer will get in touch and provide a customized rate quote without a hard credit pull. This is important because you’ll be able to tell whether you want to move forward with the lender, without hurting your credit. 

When you later get a loan preapproval or apply for a mortgage, Optimum First will perform a hard credit pull, which may temporarily affect your credit. (Getting a hard credit pull at these milestones is common with all lenders.) You’ll also receive a more detailed list of the fees you’ll pay at closing, which may include the following:

  • Appraisal fee 
  • Costs associated with the title
  • Credit report fee
  • Discount points (optional)
  • Escrow costs
  • Processing fee
  • Recording fee
  • Tax service fee
  • Underwriting fee
  • Wire fee

Optimum First doesn’t charge prepayment penalties on any of its loans, so you can pay off your mortgage early without incurring extra fees. 

The lender requires a minimum credit score of 650 to qualify for a conventional loan, jumbo loan, or VA loan. You’ll also need a down payment of at least 3% (for first-time buyers) or 5% (for repeat buyers) for a conventional loan and a down payment of at least 5% on a jumbo loan. VA loans don’t require a down payment. 

Optimum allows borrowers to lock in an interest rate for up to 90 days for free, but there’s a fee to extend the rate lock. The lender says it closes conventional loans within 30 to 45 days, which aligns with current industry standards, and jumbo loans within 45 to 60 days.

Refinancing With Optimum First Mortgage

When it comes to refinancing, Optimum First offers two options: a traditional refinance and cash-out refinance. 

A traditional rate-and-term refinance can help lower your monthly payment if you qualify for a lower interest rate. However, you may pay more interest overall by extending the loan term, so do the math to see if this move works in your favor. You can also borrow money by doing a cash-out refinance, which uses your home equity as collateral.  

If you have an existing home loan with Optimum First Mortgage, you may qualify for its Lifetime Rate Protection Guarantee. The program allows eligible Optimum customers to refinance with zero closing costs if interest rates drop over the course of the loan. 

Optimum First’s website has a calculator to help you figure out how much you could save with a refinance, though you’ll need to contact the lender for a refinance rate quote. 

Optimum First Mortgage Compared to Other Mortgage Lenders

Optimum First MortgageAimLoan MortgageTruist Mortgage
Minimum credit score650620 for conventional loans; 720 for jumbo loansNot provided
Minimum down payment3% to 5%5%3% for conventional; 3.5% for FHA; 0% for VA and USDA
Where does the lender operate?14 statesAll 50 states and Washington, D.C.47 states and Washington, D.C.
Major loan typesConventional, jumbo, VA, adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, refinance, cash-out refinance, home equity loans, home equity lines of creditConventional, jumbo, fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, refinance, cash-out refinanceConventional, jumbo, VA, FHA, USDA, construction, adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, several refinance programs, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit

How to Shop Around to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

The mortgage rate you get depends on a few factors, including your creditworthiness and loan amount, but it also depends on the lender. Each lending institution sets its own interest rates, and they may change every day and even by the hour. So the best way to get a good mortgage rate is to compare offers across multiple lenders on the same day.

Once you’ve submitted mortgage applications with a few lenders, ask them for a Loan Estimate. You can use this document to compare the interest rate, monthly payment, lender fees, and closing costs. A mortgage calculator can help you figure out how much you’d spend on interest with each option. 

According to research from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the simple step of comparing offers can help you save as much as $300 per year. You may save even more based on the interest rate you receive and whether you negotiate. For instance, you can take the best offer and send it to another lender. Ask them to give you a better interest rate, waive lender fees, or do both. Lenders may be willing to compete for your business, especially if you have strong credit and a large down payment. 

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.