About HomeBridge Financial Services
HomeBridge Financial Services is an online and brick-and-mortar mortgage lender who offers loans for a variety of different homeowners.
Their mortgage and loan offerings are more extensive than the typical online lender, which makes HomeBridge unique.
According to HomeBridge’s “manifesto”, a statement of what they’re all about, the company says “we don’t just process transactions or close deals, we help families achieve their dream of homeownership.”
In a world where banks don’t have a great reputation for being customer-focused, HomeBridge’s message of integrity and dream-achieving is a breath of fresh air.
HomeBridge started back in 1989 under the name Real Estate Mortgage Network, but changed their name in 2014 to reflect their focus on mortgages and other home-related loans.
Their CEO is Peter Norden, a Farleigh Dickinson University grad with an extensive background in financial services.
HomeBridge presents itself as a customer-focused company who values integrity, but is this just a marketing tactic?
It’s hard to answer that question without digging into what the company offers, what their application process is like and what other people are saying about them.
We’re going to spend the next few minutes reviewing each of those areas, and then conclude our review with a few general observations.
What HomeBridge Offers to Homebuyers
HomeBridge’s loans can be split up into two different categories: mainstream and niche.
You’ll find plenty of familiar mortgages offered by HomeBridge:
- FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration
- VA loan: Backed by the Department of Veteran Affairs
- Fixed/Adjustable rate loan: Interest is either fixed or changes every year
- USDA loan: For homes outside designated urban areas
- Jumbo and Super Jumbo: For homes costing $417,000 and above
- Second Home/Investment: To purchase another home to use or flip
Each one of these loans has their own set of nuances and fees. Knowing the difference between these loans can help you, at the very least, get an idea of the basics of a mortgage: insurance, fees, interest rate, APR and down payments.
Most mortgage conversations you have with friends or with a real estate agent will include at least three or four of the mortgages we mentioned above.
HomeBridge’s loans go far beyond the usual ones, though. Their website has 10 of these loans:
- FHA 203(k): Up to $35K for a home remodel
- FHA 203(h): For victims of natural disasters
- VA 95% cash-out: Refinance a VA loan and cash out equity.
- FNMA HomeStyle: Renovation loan from lender Fannie Mae
- HomeBridge Home Fixer: Renovation loan from HomeBridge
- Construction-to-permanent: Loan for building a home
- Energy-efficient mortgage: For energy-efficient upgrades to your home.
- Interest-only: Pay only interest for the first 5 to 7 years
- Mixed-use or commercial: For business properties
- Low/moderate Programs: Designed for homebuyers with low/moderate income.
- FHLMC Open Access: Refinancing from Freddie Mac
As you can see, HomeBridge offers a wide variety of loans to either buy a house or update your existing home.
Pro tip: HomeBridge also offers short-sale assistance. If you need to sell your home for less that what’s left on your mortgage, they can help.
The HomeBridge Application Process
Because HomeBridge has more than 70 brick-and-mortar locations across the country, you can choose to apply in-store or online.
The mortgage application is in-depth and covers your basic personal information, information about the loan you want, employment/income numbers, assets/liabilities, and a series of consent and declaration statements about your information.
Once you fill out your application, you’ll be “pre-approved”, which means HomeBridge has used your information and credit history/scores to calculate a loan amount, APR and fee structure.
Make note of these fees and interest rates, and don’t be afraid to ask your loan originator what certain charges are and why they’re there.
The purpose of a pre-approval is to let you know how much you can spend on a house or renovation, but it’s not ironclad, so keep that in mind. Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll start your house search.
In the meantime, HomeBridge will keep in contact with you about your application. If you’re missing documents or they need more information from you, they’ll let you know.
Once you’re ready to make an offer on the house you want to buy, HomeBridge’s underwriting department gets to work to finalize your loan amount and verify that all the information you submitted is accurate.
At some point in this process, HomeBridge will ask you to pay for an appraisal of the home you want to buy.
In the midst of the appraisal and underwriting, the paperwork process can get really drawn out, and it may be the point at which HomeBridge tells you that you can’t get the loan for which they pre-approved you.
It doesn’t happen often, but we’ve read through enough complaints about mortgage lenders to know that it does.
Pro tip: A big disadvantage of the HomeBridge application process is that you can’t track your application online like you can with other online lenders.
What People Are Saying About HomeBridge Financial Services
Choosing the right mortgage company is tough. One of the ways you can do it is by comparing pre-approvals because they help you see which companies give you the best rates and which ones charge the highest fees.
But even lenders who have great rates and low fees can be a bad match because they have terrible customer service and use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to choose them.
We like turning to customer feedback to get a sense of how HomeBridge – or any lender, really – treats their clients.
HomeBridge Reviews from Lending Tree
More than 250 reviewers on LendingTree gave HomeBridge an average score of 3.8 stars, and 64% of reviewers would recommend the company to a friend. Around 70% of reviews were 4 or 5 stars and around 20% of them were 1 or 2 stars.
Of the positive reviews, customers said they received fast and helpful customer service, found the perfect loan and experience a “smooth and easy” refinance.
Negative reviews said underwriters were terrible to deal with, mortgage payments were double charged and the company’s online payment portal was buggy.
HomeBridge Reviews from Trust Pilot
HomeBridge has nearly 500 reviews on TrustPilot, and 84.1% of those reviews are 5 stars. One couple who left a review mentioned aspects of the loan process we found in many of the positive reviews:
“The assistant that we received far exceeded our expectations. Josh Murray was so helpful from start to finish, even with helping us achieve a higher credit score, answered all of our questions, very informative. Always made me feel like I was his only customer. I would highly recommend this company to anyone seeking assistance in securing a home loan.”
Negative reviews were few and far between – only a dozen 1-star ratings. A common thread through all of them was an annoyance with poor customer service during phone calls.
There were also complaints about borrowers having a difficult time making payments through HomeBridge’s website and over the phone.
HomeBridge Reviews from Better Business Bureau
At the time of publishing, HomeBridge had a C+ rating with the better Business Bureau. Consumers filed 18 complaints with the company and gave three reviews, all of which were negative.
Two of the reviews bemoaned how HomeBridge handled their escrow accounts for property taxes.
Why escrow for property tax? Property taxes are paid once a year, and sometimes a lender will ask the borrower if they want a certain amount of money taken out each month and kept in “escrow” to make sure the borrower has saved enough to pay their property tax.
In most cases, private mortgage insurance and homeowner’s insurance are also included in escrow payments.
The customers who complained about escrow said that HomeBridge missed property tax payments, resulting in late payments and, according to one consumer, canceled homeowner’s insurance.
When we took a look at the complaints consumers filed about HomeBridge, we found that 10 were related to billing issues, something we saw in negative reviews on other sites, too.
While we know that the reviews we highlighted can make you feel better or worse about choosing HomeBridge as your lender, we want to remind you that what was mentioned here is pretty similar to the praises and complaints customers voice about other mortgage lenders, too.
Our Final Thoughts on HomeBridge Mortgage
The mortgage world can be really overwhelming if you aren’t prepared for it.
Hundreds of websites claim to have the easiest application and the lowest rates, but there’s really no way to know that until you get pre-approved for a loan.
At that point, you can get a good idea of which fees you’ll be charged and what interest rate you’ll get.
Once you’ve got this data in hand, it’s time to do some hardcore comparison. Which loans were recommended to you? Which lender has the lowest fees and which one has the highest fees?
What interest rates did you get from HomeBridge and competitors and which lenders have the biggest margin between interest rate and APR (a sign that they’re cramming fees into your loan)?
If HomeBridge Financial Services is at the top of the list for fees and interest rates, then take your research to the next step.
Call HomeBridge and talk with their customer service agents, or stop by one of their physical locations and talk with a loan originator.
This real-world experience will give you a sense of how you’ll be treated over the next few months as you search for a new home or apply for a refinance.
Our advice? Don’t underestimate your first impressions. If you get the feeling that HomeBridge doesn’t have time for your questions before you get a loan with them, they may not have the time for you after you get your loan, either.
Based on our research, though, we think you’ll probably have a positive experience working with your HomeBridge loan originator.
Hundreds of customers have said they found the application process enjoyable and were impressed by how their loan originator treated them.
If you’re lucky enough to find your dream house and get a loan for it, we suggest you talk with HomeBridge about escrow payments.
There were a large chunk of complaints about their escrow system, so find out if there’s a way you can avoid that and pay your taxes and insurance on your own.
If you can’t make those payments on your own and you have to use a HomeBridge escrow account, then make sure you keep an eye on your linked bank account to make sure you aren’t getting double charged for homeowner’s/private mortgage insurance or property tax.
Also, check in with your private mortgage insurer and your local tax assessor now and then to verify that your payments have been received.
Aside from that advice, all of our research says that HomeBridge is pretty typical mortgage lender who’s been in the lending business for a long time.
While we think their low BBB grade isn’t a good sign, the other reviews we’ve read make us think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy borrowing from HomeBridge.