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From first-time home buyer programs to mortgage refinances, Mortgage Citizen lets you shop home loans across multiple lenders to help you get your best rate. Start by clicking on a link below to find a mortgage that suits you:

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How to pick the best home loan for your needs

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or someone who's trying to refinance from a 30-year to a 15-year mortgage, it's important to ask yourself the following questions to help you determine what's the best home loan for you.

PURCHASE OR REFINANCE

Are you trying to buy a new home or refinance the home loan on a property you already own? Just because you used your current lender to buy your home doesn’t mean you need to use them again for your mortgage refinance.

FIXED RATE OR ADJUSTABLE RATE HOME LOAN

Do you want a standard fixed-rate or do you want a lower monthly payment upfront with potential for rate movements in the future? Adjustable rate home loans offer lower monthly payments in the short run but your payments will likely change over time.

CONFORMING OR JUMBO LOAN

How much do you plan to borrow with your home loan? Is the home located in a high-cost area? If your mortgage exceeds the conforming loan limit of $484,350 or more, you may need to take out a jumbo loan or high balance mortgage.

GOVERNMENT OR CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE

Government mortgage programs offered through the FHA, VA and USDA offer great low down-payment options for homebuyers, however conventional loans usually feature more flexibility for those with good credit.

What are the different types of home loans?

Consumers should discuss their options with mortgage lenders to come up with the program that best meets their needs. The following loan types are offered for borrowers looking to purchase or refinance a home.

CONVENTIONAL HOME LOAN

These are the most “vanilla” of home loans and are not backed by a government agency. As a result, lenders usually offer these loans to homeowners with better credit scores. They are offered in “conforming” and “non-conforming” variants.

VA HOME LOAN

VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and require as little as 0% down for qualifying homebuyers affiliated with the military. Unlike comparable FHA home loans, VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI).

FHA HOME LOAN

FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and allow qualifying homebuyers to put as little as 3.5% down on their home purchase. These feature lower qualification hurdles for borrowers facing credit issues.

USDA HOME LOAN

Designed for rural homebuyers and issued through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA loans are only available for properties purchased in qualifying rural areas. USDA home mortgages offer attractive rates and low down payment options.

What to do before applying for a home loan

Once you’ve selected a program, borrowers should compare mortgage rates and terms from mortgage lenders in their area. That’s easy to do online with sites like Mortgage Citizen.com. When comparing mortgage programs, consumers should gather the same information from each lender and contrast them after receiving multiple quotes.

This includes information like mortgage rates, available loan terms, lender fees, 3rd party charges and other closing costs, estimated APR and any special features like interest-only payments or prepayment penalties.

It’s important when shopping for a mortgage to get all home loan quotes at approximately the same time. Mortgage rates change constantly, because they are affected by the prices of bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which are bought and sold like stocks. Global economic news, Treasury auctions and decisions by the Federal Reserve can cause mortgage rates to move up and down very suddenly.

Just as stock prices change all day long, so can the rates on your home loan. This means a quote from Lender A on Monday can’t reliably be compared to one from Lender B on Wednesday. Mortgage Citizen allows consumers to easily compare real-time quotes from competing mortgage lenders, helping them make informed choices and save money.

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What kind of credit score do you need to buy or refinance a house?

Generally speaking, conventional home loans will require a credit score of 620 or higher according to Fannie Mae’s qualified lending requirements, but lenders will set their own minimum credit requirements.

MORTGAGE TYPE MINIMUM CREDIT SCORE
Conventional
620
FHA
500
VA
No minimum (whole loan profile reviewed)
USDA
640

Regardless of whether you’re buying for the first time or refinancing an existing mortgage, the minimum credit score required for a home loan will depend on the type of mortgage you’re applying for and your lender.

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