LoanDepot Mortgage Review 2021

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Online lenders are becoming more popular, especially post-pandemic – but some borrowers still want to know that they can walk into a physical location and sit down with a loan officer face-to-face.

LoanDepot provides the best of both worlds, with a host of online mortgage application and closing options, over 200 branch locations, and extended customer service hours.

Best for Online + Traditional Lending Experience
LoanDepot Mortgages
  • NMLS#
    174457
  • Min. Credit Score
    620
  • Learn More
  • Mortgage Details

LoanDepot Mortgage Overview

LoanDepot is the second-largest nonbank mortgage lender in the United States. First established in 2010, the company is currently headquartered inFoothill Ranch, California.

Though LoanDepot primarily specializes in mortgage refinancing, this tech-first lender also offers a variety of purchase and renovation loans.

And with a license to lend in all 50 states and over 200 branch locations, it’s ideal for borrowers who want a hybrid online and in-person experience.

Plus, with its proprietary mello smartloan software, LoanDepot claims that it can close most loans 50-75% faster than the industry average.

In fact, some borrowers may move from application to signing on the dotted line in just 8 days!

LoanDepot Mortgage Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Get preapproved in minutes
  • Expedited closing period
  • End-to-end digital lending process
  • Over 200 branch locations
  • Lifetime Guarantee can save thousands in future refinancing costs

Cons:

  • No USDA loans or home equity lines of credit
  • Higher than average mortgage rates and origination fees
  • Must contact a loan officer for a rate quote
  • Confusing website

How Do LoanDepot Mortgages Work?

To get started with LoanDepot, you can apply online or contact a loan officer to get a rate quote.

If you find their preliminary terms agreeable, you can move forward with a full application online or by dropping by one of their 200 physical locations.

Whether you prefer the personal or digital touch, LoanDepot’s mello smartloan program is there to speed things along.

The lender claims that this proprietary software can reduce your closing period by as many as 17 days from the industry average!

Once a backend feature, LoanDepot has moved its proprietary software front-and-center. This program helps the lender collect and verify information, aid the appraisal process, and conduct your title clearance, among other tasks.

And if you’re applying online, mello smartloan allows you to upload documents, track your progress, and even e-sign paperwork right from your couch.

If you don’t want a completely digital experience, you can call customer service or waltz into a branch anytime during business hours.

The company’s knowledgeable loan officers can help you choose a loan, submit your application for underwriting, and even schedule an appraisal and home inspection. Then, once your loan is approved, the lender will schedule a closing date.

LoanDepot Mortgage Loan Types and Products

LoanDepot purports to have over 300 products on its menu, including:

  • Conventional and jumbo mortgages
  • Government-backed FHA and VA loans
  • FHA 203(k) and Fannie Mae HomeStyle home improvement loans
  • Renovation and construction loans
  • Refinancing

However, LoanDepot does not offer USDA loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

And though the lender claims to offer home equity loans, they’re not listed on its website, and inquiring borrowers have reported being steered to cash-out refinances instead.

A home equity loan acts as a second mortgage, while a refinance replaces your existing mortgage.

LoanDepot Mortgage Rates and Terms

LoanDepot offers both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Its fixed-rate products come with terms of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.

Meanwhile, LoanDepot’s ARMs maintain a fixed rate for 3, 5, 7, or 10 years, after which rates adjust with the broader market.

LoanDepot does not provide current mortgage or refinance rates on its website. Instead, prospective borrowers are directed to call or request a quote online by providing some personal details and contact information.

But according to information gathered under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, LoanDepot’s 30-year fixed interest rates in 2020 averaged around 3.17%. Meanwhile, median total loan costs came in around $4,000, with a median origination fee of $1,600.

LoanDepot Mortgage Fees

LoanDepot also does not post its fees anywhere on its website. To get an idea of the lender’s costs, you’ll have to submit a quote request.

How to Qualify for a LoanDepot Mortgage

Likewise, LoanDepot does not provide qualifying guidelines on its website, either.

The lender supposedly accepts credit scores as low as 500 with a larger down payment. That said, conventional loan credit score minimums usually begin around 620, while jumbo loans require a credit score of at least 680 to 700, with down payments ranging from 3-10%.

That said, government programs often have laxer credit score and down payment requirements, often as low as 540-580 and 0-3.5%, respectively.

LoanDepot Mortgage Features and Benefits

Every mortgage lender comes with its own benefits and drawbacks (some more than others). Let’s look at what makes LoanDepot stand out from the crowd.

Easily Apply Online

LoanDepot makes applying online a breeze. You can opt for an all-digital mortgage process in most states, moving from application to closing without getting up from your couch.

And thanks to its proprietary software, you can validate information, track your progress, and sign documents online anytime.

And if you ever need help, a loan officer is just a phone call away.

mello smartloan System

LoanDepot routes both its online and in-person application process through its mello smartloan system, which helps the lender verify information, upload and process documents, and e-sign on the dotted line. The lender suggests that it can cut your closing time by 50-75%.

Mortgage Refinancing with LoanDepot

Refinancing makes up a large chunk of LoanDepot’s lending activities thanks to its quick closing time and menu of VA, FHA 203(k), and cash-out refinancing options.

But unless you qualify for its Lifetime Guarantee program, you’ll have to pay a variety of refinancing fees based on your location and loan parameters.

Lifetime Guarantee

And speaking of: LoanDepot’s Lifetime Guarantee is one of the lender’s prime selling points. If you refinance the same home you buy through LoanDepot’s mortgage services, the lender will waive all lender’s fees and reimburse your appraisal costs.

Of course, the Lifetime Guarantee comes with strings attached. For instance, you must:

  • Wait at least 12 months between closing your mortgage and refinancing your loan
  • Qualify for future refinances
  • Hold onto your certificate to redeem when it’s time to refinance

Additionally, just because you qualify for future refinances doesn’t mean that your approval or interest rate are guaranteed.

And if you want to refinance with a loan from another lender, you’re out of luck! (At least as far as waiving your fees goes.)

Grand Slam Package

If you’re really in the market for the whole housing package, not just a mortgage, then LoanDepot’s new Grand Slam product can help.

By using LoanDepot for a variety of services – including finding a real estate agent, securing your loan, and procuring title and homeowner insurance services – you can net up to $7,000 in rebates plus a digital home security system at closing. Phew!

LoanDepot Mortgage Limitations

While LoanDepot has a few benefits to its name, borrowers should also consider the lender’s drawbacks before making a decision, as well.

No HELOCs or USDA Loans

LoanDepot offers neither HELOCs nor loans backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While this doesn’t exclude the lender for all mortgage seekers, it can price out some low-income borrowers or those who might need a large revolving line of credit in the future.

Lack of Transparency Around Rates and Fees

Searching for rates and fees on LoanDepot’s website is frustrating because, ultimately, there are none.

The website offers a few false leads, such as links that say “30-year fixed mortgage rates” that take you to definitions and descriptions, rather than a rate chart.

And unless you set up an account, it’s difficult to find information on qualifying for a LoanDepot mortgage.

Aside from a lack of rate tables, there’s no way to see how much you’ll pay in fees, nor any special circumstances that LoanDepot might service.

Ultimately, you’ll have to apply – and hand over your personal and contact information – to get an estimate.

Confusing Website

Unfortunately, LoanDepot’s website confusion doesn’t end with their lack of transparency. The website itself, while visually appealing, descends into low-level chaos as you dive deeper.

For instance, you can find mortgage calculators and information about homebuying and loan programs, but the information is often repetitive and lacks organization.

And while many lenders use their blogs and FAQs to answer questions about how they’ll serve your mortgage needs, LoanDepot is notably silent on extra costs, fees, rates, and services.

How Does LoanDepot Compare to Other Mortgage Lenders?

#1. LoanDepot vs. Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage is the online lending site run by Quicken Loans.

Though it has a longer-than-average closing time, it also offers online and in-person mortgages in all 50 states, fast preapproval, and document and asset retrieval.

Plus, borrowers can lock their interest rates for up to 90 days. That said, Rocket Mortgage also offers a slightly smaller loan menu than LoanDepot.

>> More: Rocket Mortgage Review

#2. Guild Mortgage vs. LoanDepot Mortgage

Guild Mortgage provides a wide range of conventional, reverse, refinance, and government-backed loans in 48 states.

The lender claims that it can close on some loans in just 17 days, and borrowers may be approved with a credit score as low as 540 at 0% down.

But this lender comes with its own drawbacks – namely, limited customer support and a longer preapproval wait time. And, like LoanDepot, Guild Mortgage doesn’t disclose its rates online.

>> More: Guild Mortgage Review

#3. Better Mortgage vs. LoanDepot

Better is an online-only mortgage lender that provides 24/7 service through its digital and on-demand human assistance.

It claims to cut closing times in half and save more than $3,000 for the average borrower due to its lack of lender fees.

Better primarily offers conventional, jumbo, and refinance loans, though it now services FHA loans in a handful of locations.

>> More: Better Mortgage Review

LoanDepot Mortgage FAQs

Is LoanDepot a Good Choice for Mortgages?

LoanDepot can service borrowers who prefer in-person, online only, or hybrid experiences, as well as those who need a variety of loan options.

And with over 200 branch locations and its mello smartloan software, it’s ideal for borrowers who require both flexibility and reliability.

But if you’re looking for an easily navigable website or rate transparency, LoanDepot provides neither. And if you need USDA mortgages or HELOCs, you’ll have to find another lender.

>> More: Best HELOC Lenders

What Types of Mortgages Does LoanDepot Offer?

LoanDepot offers both fixed- and adjustable-rate conventional, jumbo, FHA, and VA mortgages. Borrowers can also refinance their existing loans.

And while LoanDepot purports to have home equity loans upon request, borrowers may be steered toward a cash-out refinance, instead.

>> More: Best Online Mortgage Lenders

Does LoanDepot Offer Mortgage Refinance?

LoanDepot offers mortgage refinance for conventional and jumbo loans. Borrowers can also take advantage of VA, FHA 203(k) renovation, and cash-out refinance loan options.

And if you’re refinancing the same loan you bought with LoanDepot’s mortgage services, you might qualify for a fee waiver through the lender’s Lifetime Guarantee.

Is it Safe to Use LoanDepot?

LoanDepot maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and uses its mello smartloan system to verify and secure your information. It’s as safe as a hybrid mortgage lender gets!

What Credit Score Do You Need to Qualify for a LoanDepot Mortgage?

To qualify for a conventional loan, you’ll need a minimum credit score of at least 620 and a down payment of 3-5%.

However, government-backed loans serviced by LoanDepot may come with lower credit and down payment requirements.

Where are LoanDepot Mortgages Available?

LoanDepot is licensed to originate mortgages in all 50 states.

Who is LoanDepot Best For?

LoanDepot is best for borrowers who need flexibility, reliability, and a quick closing period. And while the lender services borrowers who need a variety of fixed- and adjustable-rate loans, the place it really stands out is its refinancing programs.

Bottom Line: LoanDepot Mortgage Review

LoanDepot is a solid lender than offers borrowers flexibility in how they go about their mortgage process.

With their mello smartloan program, Lifetime Guarantee, and 200 branch locations, you can get started anytime, anywhere, and pick up where you left off with ease.

Whether you go from application to close entirely in pajamas or stop in at a branch for a face-to-face experience, the choice is yours.

But LoanDepot isn’t right for everyone. You’ll want to consider whether their higher-than-average rates and fees are worth it for you, or if you’re getting a better deal than you would elsewhere.

And if you’re not planning to refinance in the future, you might ask if their Lifetime Guarantee is enough to keep you around.

 

Jordan Blansit
Jordan Blansit

Jordan Blansit is a Senior Writer, Researcher, & Product Analyst for SimpleMoneyLyfe with an inexplicable predilection for mortgages, investing, and personal finance. When she’s not click-clacketing from the comfort of her living room, you can find her in the California Redwoods or Oregon Siskiyous. Jordan’s areas of expertise are mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and investing.