Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review 2020

Guaranteed Rate mortgage rates

ProductInterest RateAPR
30-year fixed rateVariesVaries
15-year fixed rateVariesVaries
7/1 ARM rateVariesVaries

Accurate as of 7/17/20

Headquartered in Chicago, Guaranteed Rate is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country. It has over 4,000 employees and funded more than $19 billion in loans in 2018. The company gets high ratings for customer satisfaction, and nearly all of its customers say they would recommend it to family and friends. But is Guaranteed Rate the right mortgage lender for you?

Why it might pique your interest

Although Guaranteed Rate offers personal loans, this lender is best known for its mortgages. Guaranteed Rate claims it was the first to offer a digital mortgage nationwide and aims to provide the lowest mortgage rates to its customers.

Guaranteed Rate offers a wide variety of home loans to suit every borrower’s needs, including FHA and interest-only mortgages. It also has several loan programs that help borrowers in specific situations afford homes or renovations, such as the Family Opportunity program. It allows borrowers to buy a home for a relative who can’t afford one on their own, including an elderly parent or a child who’s in college.

Guaranteed Rate also has a transparent, user-friendly website and a suite of digital tools that makes the mortgage process easier for borrowers. The company also has an online loan finder called GRaffordable to help you find the right mortgage for you based on your financial priorities.

It has an online portal called TransferSafe that allows you to upload your financial statements securely and a platform called FlashClose that enables you to e-sign all of your closing documents remotely. With fully digital closings, you can complete the entire mortgage process online from anywhere.

Guaranteed Rate mortgage overview

Loan types: 

  • FHA loans. These are backed by the federal government and are good for first-time homebuyers.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages. These come as 5/1 or 7/1 ARMs, which is slightly limiting.
  • Fixed-rate mortgages. These come in terms of 15 or 30 years. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a 10-year mortgage, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • Interest-only mortgages. This gives you lower monthly payments from the start so you can afford a higher home price.
  • Jumbo loans. These are loans for home prices that are more expensive than the current conforming limit.
  • VA loans. These offer special benefits for active-duty and veteran service members.

If you don’t mind having fewer term lengths to choose from, Guaranteed Rate is a great option. It has competitive APRs for its fixed-rate mortgages, even without discount points. In most cases, you won’t have to put down extra money at closing to get the lowest rates.

Guaranteed Rate also has several loan programs to help borrowers with unique circumstances, including:

  • The Dream Bigger program allows borrowers who are purchasing a new construction home to roll the cost of upgrades (like fencing or a pool) into their mortgage.
  • The Home 4 program enables borrowers to buy a multi-family property with just 5% down on a conforming loan.
  • The 2-1 Buydown program lowers the interest rate on new construction homes by up to two percentage points for two years, making it easier to build equity and afford your monthly payment.
  • The Green Savings program allows borrowers to wrap the cost of energy-efficient upgrades, like solar panels, into their mortgage loan.
  • Lock n’ Build protects your interest rate for up to 12 months while your new home is under construction.
  • The Doc 5 program enables eligible medical practitioners to buy a home for up to $1 million dollars with just 5% down and no private mortgage insurance.

Pros and cons 

Pros 

  • Large mortgage amounts — Guaranteed Rate has a maximum loan amount of $5 million, which enables buyers to finance homes on the more expensive end.
  • Competitive rates — The company offers annual percentage rates as low as 2.792% without discount points, so you won’t have to pay thousands at closing to get a good rate.
  • Digital mortgage process — Guaranteed Rate has a streamlined online mortgage process and can perform digital closings. Customers can apply for a mortgage online, upload their financial statements to a secure portal and sign closing documents from the comfort of their own home.
  • Special loan programs — Guaranteed Rate offers several unique loan programs to help buyers afford homes, including Give 2 You, which gives buyers a 2% grant when they buy a home with 3% down.
  • High customer satisfaction — Guaranteed Rate was ranked tenth overall for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power in 2019. About 96% of Guaranteed Rate’s customers also said they’d recommend the company to family and friends.

Cons 

  • Lender fee — Guaranteed Rate charges a $1,290 lender fee on all of its loans. If your employer is part of the Corporate Benefits Preferred Lending program or you qualify for the Premier Customer Appreciation program, you may not have to pay it.
  • Down payment for FHA loans — If your credit score is less than 620, you’ll have to make a 10% down payment on your FHA loan. Many lenders only require borrowers to put 10% down if their credit score is below 580, so this is a drawback.
  • Limited number of locations in some states — Some states only have one or two physical branches, so you may not be able to apply for a mortgage in person, depending on where you live.
  • Lacks certain term lengths — Guaranteed Rate doesn’t offer the 10-year fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages, which could be a drawback for homebuyers looking for shorter payment terms.

FAQs

Is Guaranteed Rate good for mortgages? 

Mortgages from Guaranteed Rate are best for borrowers who meet the following lending criteria: a good credit score (at least 620), strong credit history and ongoing employment. Prospective borrowers can apply and pre-qualify for loans in-person at a Guaranteed Rate branch or online.

Overall, Guaranteed Rate customers typically say that they are happy with their experience, and Guaranteed Rate has been ranked as a top mortgage lender of 2020. In fact, 96% of customers expressed satisfaction with Guaranteed Rate and said that they would use the company again.

Who owns Guaranteed Rate? 

Guaranteed Rate was established in 2000 by Founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli, who still runs the company. In 2017, Guaranteed Rate sold a minority stake in the company to Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm based in Boston.

Guaranteed Rate is headquartered in Chicago but operates more than 300 physical locations across the country, with branches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Customers can also apply and qualify for loans online through the Guaranteed Rate website.

Is Guaranteed Rate a direct lender? 

Yes, Guaranteed Rate is a direct lender. With Guaranteed Rate, qualified borrowers can select from a range of loan options, including 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), jumbo loans, FHA loans, VA loans and interest-only mortgages.

By answering a few questions on its website, Guaranteed Rate will help you find the right loan for your needs. You’ll start by sharing what stage of the mortgage process you’re in, whether you’re just starting your home search or you have already signed a contract. From there, you’ll fill out some details about your home, as well as your credit history, income and assets. If your application is verified and approved, you’ll get your pre-approval letter.

The final word 

Guaranteed Rate has competitive rates and receives high marks for customer satisfaction. It also has a convenient digital mortgage process and a variety of unique loan programs to help home buyers afford homes. On the downside, it charges a significant lender fee, has a limited number of branches and has stricter credit score requirements for its FHA loans than other lenders. If you have below-average credit, it may not be the best choice for you.

Jessica Walrack

Personal Finance Contributor

Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, Interest.com, The Simple Dollar, and PersonalLoans.org. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and somewhat fun.