Tennessee Mortgage Lenders

    A Guide To Choosing The Best Tennessee Mortgage Lender For You

    Tennessee has a median home value of $167,200, a full $100,000 lower than the national median of $269,039 in the US as of January 2021. With prices like these, it’s no wonder that people are flocking to Nashville to find their perfect home.

    But to take full advantage of these low home prices, you’ll need a mortgage lender who can ensure you get the best rates and top-notch service. Read on and we’ll tell you what to look for and even give you our list of the top Tennessee mortgage lenders to help you make your dream home a reality.

    How To Choose A Mortgage Lender

    When people think of home loans, they think of interest rates. While looking for the lender with the lowest rates can be a great starting point, many other factors should go into choosing the perfect one for you.

    Product Variety

    There are different types of home loans, each designed to cater to different consumers. To make the most out of your loan and save money, you should learn about which type best suits your needs:

    • Conventional loans: Consumers with good credit, a stable income source, and can make at least a 3% down payment can generally avail of home loans offered by a private lender.
    • Federal Housing Association (FHA) loans: Government-insured FHA loans have more lenient requirements than conventional loans, making them more accessible to consumers. FHA loans, however, require you to pay mortgage insurance.
    • Veterans Affairs (VA) loans: Active military members, veterans, and their spouses can avail of VA loans, which boast better interest rates, lower closing costs, and do not require mortgage insurance or down payment.
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans: USDA loans are geared towards low-income consumers in rural areas, who often do not qualify for conventional loans.
    • Conforming mortgage loans: While most counties in Tennessee follow the conforming loan limit (CLL) of $528,250, there are a few where the CLL is set at $586,500.
    • Jumbo loans: Home loans that exceed the CLL are considered jumbo loans. Because of the increased risk to mortgage lenders, you must have stellar credit and be prepared to make a 10 to 20% down payment.
    • Fixed-rate loans: Homeowners can easily budget for their monthly amortization with fixed-rate home loans, which have a static interest rate for the loan’s entire duration. These are ideal for consumers who plan to stay in their homes long-term.
    • Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs): ARMs have a fixed interest rate for the first few years, which will then fluctuate depending on market conditions. Interest rates for ARMs are generally lower early in the repayment period, which makes them ideal for consumers planning to move soon.
    • Mortgage refinance: If you want to save money through better rates or consolidate debt, you can get your home loans refinanced. This means taking out a new loan to settle your existing mortgage.
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    Interest rates are always changing, making them a poor meter stick for affordability. Instead, consider these factors:

    • Minimum FICO score: Most mortgage lenders look for a minimum credit score of 620 or 640, but some take borrowers with scores as low as 500. This way, even consumers with bad credit can own a home.
    • Minimum down payment: Lenders will generally ask you to pay 20% of the home value as a down payment, but some accept as low as 3% with additional mortgage insurance.
    • Closing costs: These are the costs associated with your home loan, on top of the principal amount and down payment. Some lenders have little to no closing costs or may integrate them with your monthly payments, making your purchase more affordable in the long run.
    • First-time homebuyer programs: Many private lenders offer packages with lower requirements and other benefits, such as closing cost assistance.

    Application Process

    Look for a lender that makes applying convenient, makes it easy to view information on their products, and has a loan officer that’s easy to contact in case you need assistance. For this, you’ll want to think about:

    • Online convenience: Some lenders let you file your application online, making it convenient for consumers who live outside Tennessee or would rather avoid multiple paperwork runs.
    • Rate transparency: Home loan rates are a straightforward way to compare lenders apples-to-apples. If a lender publishes rates on their website, you can compare different lenders easily. However, some will require that you submit information just to get a quote.
    • Average timeframe: Inquire about the average timeframe between submitting your documents to closing the deal, so that you don’t miss out on great deals.

    Customer Service And Satisfaction

    Since you’re going to be working with your lender for years to come, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting good rates and good service. Fortunately, there are two organizations that can help you in your assessment.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a private, non-profit organization that rates businesses on a letter scale between A+ to F on its site. Ratings are based on a company’s market behavior, such as transparency in its services and how it responds to customer complaints, among other things.

    On the other hand, J.D. Power is a market research firm that releases an annual report of its customer satisfaction studies, including the mortgage industry.


    Of course, all this information means nothing if a lender doesn’t operate in your area. One of the pros to having a branch nearby is that it’s easier to talk to your loan officer in person.

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    The 5 Best Tennessee Mortgage Lenders

    “Best” is relative because each consumer has a different point of view. We’ve highlighted here the five best Tennessee mortgage lenders in and around Nashville. Each of them excels in something different and has its own pros and cons.

    Navy Federal Credit UnionBetter.comCarrington Mortgage ServicesChase MortgageBank of America
    Best forVA loansOnline convenienceLow creditRate transparencyLarge loan amounts
    Conventional loan
    FHA loan
    VA loan
    USDA loan
    Conforming mortgage loan
    Jumbo loan
    Fixed-rate loan
    Adjustable-rate mortgage
    Other criteria
    Min. credit score (FICO)FHA/VA620 (for VA)620 (for FHA)500620620
    Min. down payment0%3.5%3%3%3%
    BBB rating (A+ to F)-BA+A-A+
    JD Power report rating (out of 1000)889 (not included in ranking)-741814806

    1. Navy Federal Credit Union - Best For VA Loans

    The Navy Federal Credit Union offers home loans to its members at competitive rates. Its specialty is VA loans, with interest rates as low as 1.86%. Navy Fed also offers exclusive no-down-payment, no-insurance home loan products to its members. Navy Fed’s Freedom Lock program lets borrowers relock their loans at lower rates so you can ensure you’re getting a great deal.

    HomeSquad is Navy Fed’s online portal, which allows users to get pre-approved, track loan status, view payment history, and contact their loan officer remotely. The only drawback is that Navy Fed is limited only to members. 

    Availability: NFCU operates in all 50 states and has 3 physical offices in Tennessee.

    2. Better.com – Best For Online Convenience

    Better.com is a digital mortgage platform that makes homeownership “fast, transparent, and low-cost for everyone.” As advertised, its site is simple and intuitive, making it user-friendly even to first-time homebuyers. Information on its products and personalized rates are easy to find too.

    Better.com does not have any physical branches. Instead, the entire mortgage process is done completely online. You can apply for pre-qualification, file a loan application, receive an offer, submit your documents, and even close your loan without once having to see your loan officer face-to-face.

    While Better.com does not offer VA or USDA loans, it may win you over with the promise of no lender fees. This means no extra fees for origination, application, processing, or underwriting – translating to thousands of dollars in savings.

    Availability: Better.com operates in 46 states, including Tennessee. As transactions are done completely online, Better.com has no physical branches.

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    3. Carrington Mortgage Services – Best For Low Credit

    If your credit isn’t in the best shape, Carrington might be the lender for you. Its stand-out product is the three-tier Carrington Flexible Advantage program. 

    The basic loan is designed for borrowers with credit as low as 550 and doesn’t require mortgage insurance. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, history of late payments, and other negative credit events are acceptable. The higher tiers of the program tout the same benefits but have slightly higher credit score requirements.

    For all its pros, however, Carrington needs to improve its rate transparency and online convenience. Information on rates and closing costs is not readily available. The Carrington Quick Pay mobile app allows you to view your loan details and make a one-time payment but not much else. And while you can start your application with Carrington online, you’ll have to visit one of their 6 physical branches to complete the process.

    Availability: Operates in all states except Massachusetts and North Dakota, but only has 6 branches (none in Tennessee).

    4. Chase Mortgage – Best For Rate Transparency

    Chase Mortgage offers a wide selection of home loan products with flexible terms and refinancing options. It also offers the Chase DreaMaker loan with a 3% down payment and reduced mortgage insurance.

    On its website, you can view information on its loan products and access educational resources for homebuyers, such as blog posts and videos on mortgage basics. You can find its rates on its website, including loan calculators that let you compute a personalized estimate before even applying.

    As one of the biggest banks in America, you’ll be able to find a physical location easily in most major metropolitan areas like Nashville. Alternatively, you can also apply or receive pre-qualification online through its website. Payments can also be done through its mobile app.

    Availability: Chase Bank has 10 branches in Tennessee.

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    5. Bank Of America – Best For Large Loan Amounts

    As one of the ten biggest mortgage lenders in the U.S. in 2020, Bank of America offers a variety of home loans to meet a wide range of consumer needs. This includes options for low-income and first-time homebuyers, such as home grant programs and 3% down payment plans. You can find all its rates on its website.

    Discounted origination fees and home equity interest rates are also available to existing account holders who are in its Preferred Rewards Program. Enrollment in the program requires a minimum of $20,000 across all your BoA accounts.

    For large loan amounts, this lender offers jumbo loans. Take note, however, you will need a good credit score to get a loan from this lender.

    Availability: BoA has more than 30 branches with bilingual support in Tennessee.

    The Bottom Line

    Searching for a good Tennessee mortgage lender goes beyond low-interest rates. You’ll want to consider the type of loan, down payment, lender costs, refinance options, and what arrangement will best help you nab your perfect home.

    Investing in a home is oftentimes a lifelong commitment. Improve your knowledge with more resources, learn more about home loans, and figure out which Tennessee mortgage lender is right for you with Wesley. Email or phone us today!

    Written By Ed Wallace
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