Watermark Home Loans 2022 Review: Transparent Pricing and a Solid Mortgage Menu

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Best for the Self-Employed Borrower
Watermark Home Loans 2022 Review
Watermark Home Loans 2022 Review
Best for the Self-Employed Borrower
Watermark Home Loans 2022 Review
  • Minimum Credit Score:
    620 for conventional
  • Minimum Down Payment:
    0% to 3% depending on the loan program
  • Can Apply Online:
    Yes
  • Operates In:
    38 States

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Only originates mortgages in 38 states
  • A breakdown of lender closing fees is not provided with rate quote
The Bottom Line

Watermark Home Loans has an 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. 

Overall, Watermark Home Loans could be a great option for those that seek a fully digitized experience.

 

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. 

Watermark Home Loans Full Review

Watermark Home Loans is a mortgage lender based out of Irvine, CA, and currently licensed to lend in 38 states. According to a Watermark representative, a few more state licenses will become available this year, further expanding the company footprint .

In addition to conventional, jumbo, and all three government loans, VA, USDA, and FHA, it also offers several niche products such as a “non-qualified mortgage.”

You can get a customized rate quote online without a credit check by first filling out a rate quote request form. Shortly after filling it out, we received a customized rate quote via email. You can also apply online using Watermarks intuitive application process. You can upload documents and close from start to finish. A loan officer can be reached during business hours and you can access the loan portal at any time.  

Watermark Home Loans: Loan Types and Products

Watermark Home Loans offers mortgage loans for those looking to purchase or refinance a home. Loans are available for a primary residence, second homes, and investment homes, although some loan programs may have certain restrictions. 

For borrowers with less than 10% or 20% in down payment savings, or with credit score challenges, Watermark advertises the availability of government loans such as FHA, USDA, and VA loans for qualified borrowers.  

Here is a full list of the types of mortgage loans the lender offers:

Watermark Home Loans: Transparency

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. The company also provides a host of calculators where borrowers can plug in figures to see estimated monthly payments and home loan affordability based on income and debts. Watermark also has an optional rate alert feature where borrowers will be notified if market rates drop below your current rate. This could be helpful for homeowners looking to refinance but haven’t made the move yet. 

Watermark’s loan options are easily accessible on their website. One stand out product is their “Non-QM loan,” or “Non-Qualified Mortgage.” According to the website, non-traditional borrowers, such as the self-employed, can use this loan type to potentially qualify for a mortgage. The caveat being at a higher rate, though.

Another important note is Watermark’s lower-than-average number of consumer complaints. When checking the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau’s (CFPB) consumer complaint database, we found less than one complaint per 1,000 originated loans. This is below the average of other lenders we’ve reviewed

Watermark Home Loans: Rates and Fees 

You can receive a customized rate quote by filling out a form online with basic information such as your income, address, and estimated home value. You will get an email with a few different quote options to review with options for discount points, lender credits, or closing costs options. A loan officer will quickly contact you via email, text, and phone call to follow up with the process and answer any questions. 

Each quote will give estimated loan fees, but a specific breakdown of those fees is not provided with the quote. To obtain a Loan Estimate (LE) with a list of fees, customers must submit a full loan application and allow for their credit to be pulled. Keep in mind that rates can change daily, and third-party fees are dependent on your specific loan scenario.  

When reviewing your Loan Estimate, look to make sure the rates don’t include discount points so you can get the best apples-to-apples comparison to LE’s from other lenders. When shopping around, know that many lenders offer a variety of rate and fee combinations. Lower rates have smaller monthly payments over the life of the loan but may come at the cost of more up-front costs in the form of discount points or closing costs. Higher interest rates may offer lender credits to cover your upfront closing costs but at the cost of higher monthly loan payments.

Refinancing With Watermark Home Loans

Watermark allows customers to submit refinance applications online. After applying, Watermark’s process is similar to many other lenders. A Loan Estimate (LE) will be provided along with loan disclosures, options to lock in a rate will be presented, and the lender will provide a list of items needed from the customer. Items needed may include an appraisal inspection of the home, income documents, and borrower explanations to address any discrepancies. Once everything is provided, Watermark’s underwriting department will review the items. Then, final loan documents will be generated for signature. 

Watermark Home Loans Compared to Other Mortgage Lenders

Watermark Home LoansCarrington Mortgage ServicesWintrust Mortgage
Minimum credit score620 for conventional, other programs may vary620 for conventional, 500 for FHA, VA, and USDA620 for FHA, 640 for conventional
Minimum down payment0% to 3%, varies based on loan program0% to 3.5% depending on the loan program0% for VA, other programs may vary
Where does the lender operate?38 states48 states and Washington, D.C.All 50 states
Major loan typesPurchase, refinance, conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, non-qualified mortgage, fixed-rate, adjustable-rateConventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, refinance, adjustable-rate, fixed-rateConventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, construction, renovation, refinance, HELOC

How to Shop Around to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

When shopping for the best mortgage rate, it’s important to also consider all the fees and discount points in the Loan Estimate. Lenders may offer a lower interest rate, but it could be due to discount points that lower the rate, but you have to purchase upfront at closing. Similarly, higher interest rates could be applied by lenders offering lender credits.

Always get at least two to three quotes from different lenders, Before making a final decision, you should always request a Loan Estimate (LE). This step will often require the lender to pull your credit. The benefit of having a LE in hand is you can make a true apples-to-apples comparison with other LE’s. Fees can vary based on loan amount and down payment, so if you compare loan estimates among lenders you should ensure they are all for the same loan scenario. 

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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.