loanDepot is a lending site specializing in home loans and mortgage refinancing. They offer five different types of mortgages with two different interest-rate structures.
What makes loanDepot an interesting choice for mortgages is that they’ve funded more than $100 billion since 2010, their site claims. Also, they have brick-and-mortar locations across the country at which you can meet with a loan officer face-to-face.
The company is based in California and was founded in 2010 by Anthony Hsieh, who has an extensive background in lending. He is a former CEO of LendingTree, HomeLoanCenter.com and LoansDirect.com, a mortgage company started in the late 90’s that E*Trade bought.
loanDepot is by no means the only online lender who provides mortgages. Because of this, it’s really important to be intentional about your search for the right home loan or mortgage refinance. Your search should factor in the types of loans that your lender offers as well as the level of customer service they provide.
The mortgage application process is extensive and invasive, so you want to be working with someone who responds to your calls and emails and who can provide up-to-date information. This is the aspect of buying a home that people often forget.
So, with these things in mind, our review is going to cover the types of mortgages that loanDepot offers, the reviews it gets from past customers and how loanDepot stacked up against the competition in J.D. Power’s most recent mortgage originator customer satisfaction survey.
At the end of our review, we’ll talk about the company’s general pros and cons and who we think it’s good for.
The Mortgages loanDepot Offers
As we mentioned earlier, loanDepot offers homebuyers four different types of mortgages: Jumbo, VA, FHA and conventional mortgages. These four mortgages serve four different purposes.
Jumbo loans, according to their site, are loans for homes that cost between $417,000 and $2 million.
VA loans are loans that the Department of Veteran Affairs offers to members of the military (active, retired, reserve, National Guard) that offer helpful features such as no credit check and no down payment.
FHA loans are mortgages that come from the Federal Housing Administration. The government created these loans in order to make it easier for Americans to buy homes and, as a result, down payments are low (3.5%) and available to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580.
In some cases, mortgage experts have told us, you can get an FHA loan with a credit score of 550, provided you can make a 10% down payment instead of the standard 3.5% FHA down payment.
The final category of mortgages are conventional loans, which aren’t part of any particular government agency like the FHA or VA loans. Interest rates tend to be lower than what you’d get with an FHA or VA loan.
A Quick Word About loanDepot’s “No-steering” Policy
When you work with a loanDepot loan officer, he or she is operating under the company’s “no-steering” policy. Basically, their loan officers aren’t allowed to push you into a mortgage program simply because it benefits him or her.
In the financial world, this is known as a fiduciary responsibility; your loan officer should help you find the mortgage that benefits you the most, not them.
The Refinancing Options loanDepot Offers
A “mortgage” is usually what people call the first mortgage they get to buy a home. In some cases, borrowers have an opportunity to lower their monthly mortgage payment by refinancing their first mortgage into what is known as a “second mortgage”.
In these situations, you’d go to loanDepot and give them the details of your current mortgage as well as the value of your home and they’ll decide, after a thorough application process, if you qualify for a refi. If you do, they’ll pay off your previous mortgage for you and get you started on payments for your second mortgage.
loanDepot offers one main type of refinancing: HARP loans
- Loan is owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
- You owe more on your house than it’s worth, or,
- The ratio of your loan balance to your home value is greater than 80%
- One or fewer late payments in the past 12 months
- No payments more than 30 days late in the past six months
- You got the mortgage after May 31, 2009
The program’s website indicates that you can save an average of $200 per month using the program. To find out if you’re eligible, you can go to the HARP website and enter your information. If you are eligible, you’d then go to a HARP lender – loanDepot is one of them – and apply.
LoanDepot's Home Equity Loan
Earlier we pointed out that equity is the value of your home minus what you owe on your mortgage. So, if you owe $150,000 on your mortgage and your home is worth $250,000, then your equity is $100,000.
LoanDepot can provide you a loan equal to up to 90% of that $100,000. The idea here is that you can use that money to upgrade your home, buy a second home or do pretty much whatever you want with it.
You’ll make monthly payments on the loan, with the idea being that, should you sell yourself, you’ll be able to pocket the equity and balance out what you borrowed, minus interest and fees.
» For Further Reading: A Comprehensive Guide to Second Mortgages
Consumer Reviews of loanDepot
The reviews we saw on sites like Zillow and LendingTree are superb. One of the things we read in many different reviews was that the service provided by the loanDepot loan officer was attentive and communication was prompt.
Negative comments by consumers included someone who set up a pay-from account to make payments on their loan and loanDepot, they said, never made the withdrawals and therefore hurt the borrower’s credit scores.
Another bad review came from a real estate agent whose client couldn’t get a home because, they said, loanDepot asked for documentation at the last second and has kept postponing the finalization of the funding.
Based on our research of loanDepot’s existing reviews, we believe there’s a good chance that you’ll be happy with your experience. However, remember that every borrower is different and the length of closing is, in part, determined by how quickly you can provide the document sand information loanDepot asks for.
J.D. Power Rankings
Every year, consumer research company J.D. Power releases customer satisfaction surveys about all kinds of products and industries, including mortgage originators (companies who fund mortgages).
The firm’s 2017 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study ranked loanDepot #8 out of 21 national or regional lenders who don’t have special requirements for membership (i.e. military service).
J.D. Power gave loanDepot an overall “Power Circle” rating of 3 out of 5, which means that the company performed about average, according to the customers with whom J.D. Power spoke in order to generate their rankings.
Of note is that the company finished ahead of the following popular banks and websites: U.S. Bank, Caliber Home Loans, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and PNC.
In 2016, loanDepot was #9 out of 18 companies, earning 3 Power Circles.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of loanDepot
Based on our research of what loanDepot offers on their website and their reviews, we believe that their strength is a combination of their refinancing options, their commitment to their no-steering policy and the fact that they get sparkling reviews from customers.
We also think that their brick-and-mortar locations offer an advantage for borrowers who are leery about getting a mortgage via a completely online process and would rather sit down with a human in order to hammer out the details of their funding.
You don’t have to meet with your loan officer in person if you don’t want to, but the fact that loanDepot gives you that option could be a tipping point for you.
As for the company’s downsides, we believe that there are better choices out there for those who value a premium customer service experience. While loanDepot didn’t perform poorly in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey, there were companies like Guild Mortgage Company, Quicken Loans and PrimeLending, the three companies who finished first, second and third, respectively.
Is loanDepot the right company for you? We believe it could be if you value using a company who has been around for a while, has done a good deal of lending and who has a fiduciary policy meant to protect you.
We recommend getting a quote from loanDepot and several other lenders just to see which mortgage options you have. You might find that other lenders may give you more options for your mortgage or that closing costs are lower with one company than they are with another.
If you’re looking for mortgages because this is your first home purchase, then take a look at our guide to first-time homebuyer mortgages. You’ll find examples of good mortgages for first-timers as well as expert insight from mortgage professionals.