Illinois Mortgage Lender

    Finding The Best Illinois Mortgage Lender

    While the median home price of $194,500, Illinois is a bargain compared to the national average of $269,039. With the best mortgage lender, it’s possible to capitalize on these prices and find an affordable home in Chicago or other cities in the Prairie State.

    A good lender can provide you with a loan that fits your needs and helps you save money. If you’re wondering how to find a good Illinois mortgage lender, you’re in luck! Read on to find out the best five mortgage lenders in Illinois and learn how to conduct lender research yourself with our five key criteria.

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    Choosing An Illinois Mortgage Lender 

    It takes research and time to find the best mortgage lender to finance your home in Chicago or other cities. To guide you through the process, we chose five essential criteria you can use during your search.

    Mortgage Loan Products Offered

    There are many loan programs on offer, and the best loan for someone else may not be the best for you. You need to understand what kinds of mortgage loans are on offer to choose which one works best to buy your home in one of Illinois’ many cities.

    Here are the most common mortgage products offered on the market today:

    • Conforming mortgages: Mortgage loans that do not exceed local lending limits set by guarantor companies Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Conforming loan limits in Illinois are set at $548,250.
    • Jumbo mortgages: These loans can exceed the state’s lending limits and are used to buy more expensive homes. However, jumbo purchase loans also cost more money due to higher mortgage rates. 
    • Fixed-rate mortgages: These purchase loans have static mortgage rates that won’t change. Their stability makes them popular with first-time homebuyers.
    • Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs): Mortgage rates on an ARM readjust yearly based on market movements. These loans typically have an initial period of fixed mortgage rates that lasts between 3 and 10 years. 
    • Government loans: Most government loans in America are backed by the Federal Housing Authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Department of Agriculture. These loans offer low rates and reduced down payment requirements to eligible borrowers. 
    • Mortgage refinancing: Taking a mortgage refinance means applying for a new loan to repay your existing mortgage. A refinance can help you save money by changing your mortgage terms or getting lower refinance rates.
    • Home equity lines of credit (HELOC): A HELOC is a credit card-like loan that uses your home as collateral. 


    Illinois mortgage rates are always subject to change without notice. For a better measure of affordability, we use four factors that determine how easy it is to qualify for a loan from your lender or bank:

    • Minimum credit score: Your credit score measures the likelihood that you’ll pay debts on time and is usually the primary point of consideration for lenders when determining your risk. Most mortgage lenders require a minimum score of 620, but some make it easier to get a loan through a lower credit score requirement.
    • Minimum down payment: Most mortgage loans require a 20% down payment, but some mortgage lenders may allow as little as 3%. However, paying less than 20% may require you to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can drive up your monthly payments.
    • Closing fees: There may be other costs involved with your loan, including the origination fee, appraisal costs, and other expenses. These fees need to be paid at closing and may cost up to 5% of your loan amount. Some lenders offer no or waived closing fees, but they may be folded into your monthly mortgage payments instead of being paid upfront.
    • Homebuyer assistance programs: Many states offer homebuyer assistance that includes low-rate loan programs and closing cost grants. They’re primarily meant for first-time homebuyers, but some states offer options for repeat homeowners.

    Application Process

    Because a complicated application can frustrate and turn away borrowers, a convenient loan process is a sizable advantage for mortgage lenders. To measure this criterion, we use three main metrics:

    • Availability of online application: Being able to apply for loans online is pretty much the standard nowadays. While the absence of online applications isn’t a dealbreaker, online application forms help people who can’t apply for a mortgage with a loan officer or at a bank branch. 
    • Rate transparency and accuracy of estimates: Rate shopping and comparing between multiple mortgage lenders is easier if lenders provide rate estimates on their page. Some lenders display them prominently on its site, but other lenders may need you to browse around, speak with a loan officer, or provide financial data first. 
    • Length of the application process: Loan processing time is an important criterion if you’re aiming to buy a home in competitive markets like Chicago or other major cities. If the loan takes too long to close, your dream home may be bought by someone else. Most mortgage lenders complete loan processing within a few weeks, but in some scenarios or lenders, your loan may take several months to close. 

    Customer Service And Ratings

    You want a mortgage lender that cares about its customers and won’t leave you high and dry – that’s why we put customer service as one of the key factors. We score this criterion by looking at research data from two review organizations: the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and J.D. Power.

    BBB is an organization that measures the trustworthiness of a business. It assigns businesses a letter grade from F to A+ based on factors like the way a business handles complaints and how transparent its business practices are.

    Meanwhile, J.D. Power scores businesses by reviewing feedback and satisfaction from thousands of consumers. These findings are then published in an annual customer satisfaction report where it awards the best-performing companies.

    Access To Services

    We measure a bank or lender’s accessibility with two factors:

    • Whether a lender provides loans nationwide
    • The number of physical branches it operates

    The first point is important because if a particular lender doesn’t service your state, you have no option but to search for another bank. 

    The second one is important if you prefer to apply for loans in person with a loan officer or talk to mortgage brokers face-to-face. While most lenders only have offices in Chicago and major cities, you may find lenders that open branches in smaller towns.

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    The Best Illinois Mortgage Lenders

    We’ve compiled a list of the five best mortgage lenders in Illinois with the five aforementioned criteria. Since each of these Illinois mortgage lenders is the best at something, you need to choose whichever one best suits your needs.

    1. Guaranteed Rate - Best For Rate Transparency 

    Credit score requirement: 620 (600 for FHA & VA)

    Down payment requirement: 3%

    Loan programs offered: 

    • Conforming fixed-rate loans
    • Conforming ARMs
    • Jumbo loans
    • FHA, VA, and USDA loans
    • Mortgage refinancing

    BBB Rating: A-

    JD Power rating: 832 in 2020 study

    Overview: As one of the earliest players in digital mortgage lending, Guaranteed Rate boasts a completely online application process. Moreover, it provides a questionnaire that helps consumers find the best loan for them. These loans also come with sample rates – you don’t have to talk to loan officers or mortgage brokers to get an estimate.

    However, you should keep in mind that Guaranteed Rate is only rated an A- by BBB, instead of the A+ most of its competitors boast. This relatively lower score came from a government action when Guaranteed Rate was found to have broken rules on its FHA and VA loan programs. 

    Lender availability: Guaranteed Rate offers loans all across America and operates 300 offices in 46 states. 

    2. Fairway Independent Mortgage - Best Mortgage Product Variety

    Credit score requirement: 620

    Down payment requirement: 3%

    Loan programs offered: 

    • Conforming fixed-rate loans
    • Conforming ARMs
    • Jumbo loans
    • FHA, VA, and USDA loans
    • Mortgage refinancing
    • Home equity loans

    BBB Rating: A+

    JD Power rating: N/A

    Overview: One of Fairway’s primary strengths is its suite of mortgages. The lender supplements its conventional and government mortgages with many proprietary loan programs. For instance, you can get home renovation loans if you’re looking to make home improvements. Meanwhile, if you’re working as a medic or doctor, you can get a Physician Loan that allows you to pay 5% down without mortgage insurance.

    There are also many ways to apply for a loan at Fairway. Potential homeowners can start an application through the FairwayNOW app, its site, or with a loan officer at any Fairway branch. Moreover, you can check your application status and contact Fairway customer service at any time.

    Lender availability: Fairway offers loans all across America and operates over 700 branch locations in 48 states. Alaska and West Virginia do not have a Fairway branch.

    3. Better Mortgage - Fast Loan Closing And Price Guarantees

    Credit score requirement: 620 (500 for FHA loans)

    Down payment requirement: 3%

    Loan programs offered: 

    • Conforming fixed-rate loans
    • Conforming ARMs
    • Jumbo loans
    • FHA loans
    • Mortgage refinancing

    BBB Rating: B

    JD Power rating: N/A

    Overview: Better Mortgage is a digital lender committed to providing a fast and transparent digital lending experience for consumers – it closes most of its loans within 14 days. In comparison, many other mortgage lenders take 30 to 60 days to close on a loan.

    The company is also proud to provide the lowest prices through the Better Price Guarantee. It states that if another lender gives you a lower loan offer, Better will make an offer that’s $1,000 cheaper. If it can’t beat that offer, Better will give you the $1,000 in cash. While this offer is subject to certain terms and conditions, this commitment to low prices is at least worth considering.

    Lender availability: Better is licensed to originate loans in 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The four states not covered are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

    4. Veterans United - Best For VA Loans 

    Credit score requirement: 640

    Down payment requirement: 0%

    Loan programs offered: 

    • Conforming fixed-rate loans
    • Conforming ARMs
    • Jumbo mortgages
    • FHA, VA, and USDA loans
    • Mortgage refinancing

    BBB Rating: A+

    JD Power rating: 873

    Overview: As the nation’s largest VA lender, Veterans United’s expertise in VA loans is second to none. Veterans United assists current and former military members and their families to buy homes. In addition to VA loans, consumers can also apply for other government-backed and conventional mortgages.

    Most mortgage applications in Veterans United are done through phone or online. Its online pages give you a list of tasks to guide your application process. If you run into any issues during the application process, you can also take advantage of the 24/7 customer services provided by Veterans United.

    Lender availability: Veterans United is licensed to originate loans all across America but only has branches in 18 states.

    5. Carrington Mortgage Services - Best For Low Credit 

    Credit score requirement: 500 for FHA & VA, 550 for USDA, 620 for conventional

    Down payment requirement: 3%

    Loan programs offered: 

    • Conforming fixed-rate loans
    • Conforming ARMs
    • FHA, USDA, and VA loans
    • Mortgage refinancing

    BBB Rating: A+

    JD Power rating: 703

    Overview: Carrington offers a suite of loans similar to its peers, ranging from conventional, government, to refinance loans. However, unlike most mortgage lenders, Carrington also takes nontraditional credit data into account when reviewing your application. It uses data like your rent payments and bank statements to determine your eligibility for a loan.

    The company, like many others, has a fully online application process, complete with electronic document uploading and signing. However, Carrington doesn’t have automated loan tracking, which means you need to contact a loan officer to keep track of your application status. 

    Lender availability: Carrington provides loans nationwide except in Massachusetts and North Dakota.

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    Closing Thoughts 

    Mortgages are a major financial commitment, so choosing the right lender can make life easier (and less expensive) for you in the years to come. Choosing an affordable lender can help you save money while choosing one with good customer service ensures that all issues with your loan can be cleared up quickly.

    Looking for more resources in your search for a mortgage lender in Illinois? Wesley Mortgage, LLC is here for you! Our team of pros can also guide you through the mortgage process and help you achieve your dream home in Illinois. Contact us today to get started!

    Written By Ed Wallace
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