Wells Fargo is one of the nation’s most well-known banks, providing various services to individuals and businesses. In addition to banking services, student loans, and automotive loans, Wells Fargo also provides mortgage lending to homebuyers. But how does the bank fare compared to other mortgage lenders in the United States?
In this Wells Fargo Mortgage review, we’ll discuss how well they do as a mortgage lender. We’ll provide several criteria of the features you should look for in a mortgage lender and discuss how Wells Fargo fares on each one of them.
What To Look For In A Mortgage Lender
To examine how well Wells Fargo performs as a mortgage lender, we need to define how we rate them. In this section, we’ll break down the five major criteria we’ll discuss in our mortgage lender review.
Mortgage Products Offered
First, we’ll review the mortgage loan options that they offer. We’ll also examine whether the lender has any down payment assistance programs as well as first-time homebuyer’s programs.
Conventional Fixed-Rate Mortgage
This is one of the most common loan types offered by lenders. These conventional loans feature an interest rate that remains the same for the entire loan term. This means that your monthly payment amount is also fixed over the life of the loan. Thanks to the predictable interest rates and payments, fixed loan products are popular with homebuyers.
Fixed-rate mortgages come in 15-year, 20-year, or 30-year terms and are regulated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). This means they’re subject to loan amount limits. You’ll also need to have a credit score minimum of 620 to qualify.
Conventional Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM)
Another type of conventional mortgage, ARMs features an annually-adjusted shifting interest rate. This loan type comes with monthly payment caps to ensure the borrower doesn’t overpay when the rates rise. Similar to fixed mortgage products, FHFA also limits the amount on adjustable mortgages. Like its fixed-rate counterpart, adjustable loan types require a minimum credit score of 620.
Jumbo mortgages are a subtype of conventional loans that allow you to borrow amounts that exceed FHFA-set loan amount limits. These mortgages are riskier than a regular conventional loan and may be subject to higher mortgage rates. Since jumbo loans are still conventional loans, you can get them as either adjustable-rate or fixed-rate loans.
These are loans insured by the federal government. Because of their more lenient requirements, these are designed to help lower-income borrowers or veterans become homeowners.
The most common government-backed loan types include:
FHA loan: Administered by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans are geared for low-to-middle-income homebuyers. They feature more relaxed credit score requirements and lower minimum down payment requirements. However, FHA loans require you to pay for mortgage insurance for the entire life of the loan to offset the lower credit scores needed to qualify.
USDA loan: This is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture to help residents in rural areas buy homes. This loan features no credit score requirement but comes with area restrictions and personal criteria for borrowers. In a USDA mortgage, you’ll also need to pay an upfront guarantee fee required by the USDA and an annual fee that acts as mortgage insurance.
VA loan: Guaranteed by the Department for Veterans Affairs, a VA loan is meant for active and former military service members. It features no down payment requirement and a lower minimum credit score to qualify. However, borrowers need to pay a monthly funding fee, replacing mortgage insurance.
A refinance is a type of mortgage that you can take after your first loan. Mortgage refinancing is usually done to replace your first loan with another one to take advantage of better mortgage rates or shorter terms. By shortening them, for instance expediting a 30-year loan into a 15-year one, you can save on interest payments in the long run. You can also change the mortgage type, like shifting an ARM into a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Rates And Fees
Transparency of rates and fees is an important criterion. Knowing your personalized interest rate would help you compare a lender’s rates against other providers. In addition to your rates, you should also know what fees you’ll be subject to when you take out the mortgage. This will help you calculate your estimated mortgage expenses better. For this criteria, we examine how easy it is to view your interest rate as well as your closing cost.
With the rise of digital mortgage lending and the coronavirus pandemic limiting mobility, online accessibility is becoming more and more important. This criterion examines the availability and convenience of the bank’s online features.
We examine whether you can start and complete the entire mortgage application online as well as look at any extra features they may offer through their apps and website. We also check whether the process is fully online or if you would need to visit a branch to complete certain processes.
While most major banks and lenders serve the entire United States (including territories like Guam and Puerto Rico), some are limited to specific states or may exclude territories outside the continental United States. For this criteria, we check the availability of the bank’s services as well as the location of their branches across the entire United States.
Customer satisfaction is an essential part of our rating of mortgage lenders. For this criterion, we examine the bank’s reputation from customer ratings review organizations, namely J.D. Power, the Better Business Bureau, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo (NMLS ID# 399801) was founded in California in 1852 as Wells Fargo & Company. Today, it is the fourth-largest bank in the United States by total assets. It also occupied number 26 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list.
The bank is one of America’s largest mortgage lenders, providing a wide selection of home loan products and services to prospective homeowners. In addition to banking services and mortgages, Wells Fargo also offers investment banking and asset management services through its subsidiaries.
Mortgage Products Offered
As of 2019, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is the nation’s second-largest mortgage lender with over $124 billion worth of mortgage loans funded during that year, only beaten out by Quicken Loans for the top spot.
Wells Fargo offers most mortgages provided by the nation’s other major lenders, which includes:
Conventional fixed-rate loan with 15-year, 20-year, and 30-year terms
Adjustable-rate mortgages with 5/1 and 7/1 terms
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans
Jumbo loans for loan amounts exceeding FHFA-set limits, available in fixed-rate and adjustable-rate loan terms
Mortgage refinance loans, including rate and term refinance
While Wells Fargo usually offers home equity-leveraging options like home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and cash-out refinance, they’re unavailable at the moment due to economic uncertainty.
In addition to the aforementioned loan products, Wells Fargo also offers a proprietary program called yourFirst Mortgage, which is geared for first-time homebuyers with low-to-moderate income.
Wells Fargo’s yourFirst Mortgage comes with a lower minimum down payment requirement of 3%. If the borrower completes a homebuyer education course, they’ll also receive a $750 credit for closing costs. However, if you pay less than a 20% down payment on yourFirst Mortgage, you’ll need to pay for mortgage insurance as well.
If you’re looking to purchase a newly-built home or an under-construction property, you can also opt for a Builder Best loan. This option features a longer period of interest rate-lock and the option of buying down your monthly payment.
Wells Fargo Mortgage Rates And Fees
The mortgage tool available on Wells Fargo’s website provides a preliminary estimate of your interest rate and a breakdown of your monthly payment amount. The interest rates estimate will be given once you input the loan amount you’re looking to take, your area, as well as your credit score estimate.
Once you get the estimate of your mortgage rates, you can change the terms of the mortgage to see how much you’ll have to pay monthly as well as the annual percentage rate (APR). In addition to your mortgage rates, you’ll also get an estimate of the fees that you need to pay upon your loan’s closing.
They provide a complete breakdown of closing costs, detailing the individual items that you need to pay in addition to your first down payment. Wells Fargo also allows you to apply for a “rate lock”, which ensures that your rates stay the same even when market rates rise.
Wells Fargo Mortgage provides you with the most important details of your mortgage. They give detailed breakdowns of your loan estimate that include mortgage rates, monthly payment amount, and details on your closing costs.
Wells Fargo offers digital tools to help you complete the entire mortgage application process online. To support the online application process, the bank provides tools that allow you to upload and sign documents digitally.
Once your loan application is being processed, you can track its progress using their yourLoanTracker program. This tool can also help you communicate with your loan officer. It also provides a checklist to ensure that neither you nor Wells Fargo misses anything during the application process.
If you prefer to apply for your mortgage in person, Wells Fargo boasts more than 5,000 branches located across the United States. However, these offices are spread over 36 states, which means that you can only apply online in 14 states – including Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Ohio. If you live in one of the 14 states without a Wells Fargo branch, you can apply online instead.
Wells Fargo also offers mortgage consultations with its staff. To arrange this, you need to fill a form and create an appointment for a discussion at a later date.
Great customer service encourages customers to come back again and again. Therefore, earning and keeping customers’ trust is essential. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo may have stumbled in that regard due to past financial scandals.
According to the study done by J.D. Power on mortgage customer satisfaction across US lenders in 2019, Wells Fargo scored an “above average” 837 points out of 1,000. This places them behind rivals such as Quicken Loans and Bank of America.
Another case against Wells Fargo’s customer satisfaction comes from Better Business Bureau (BBB), an organization that rates companies by their trustworthiness. Currently, Wells Fargo is unaccredited by BBB and the website lists three alerts of government action against them.
However, the bank is viewed more favorably in the eyes of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). From all the mortgages it originated in 2019, Wells Fargo received 0.33 complaints per 1,000 home loans – putting it slightly ahead of Chase with 0.36 and winning by a sizable margin against Bank of America with 0.53.
In this section, we’ll break down several notable strengths of Wells Fargo home mortgages.
Down Payment Assistance Programs
The out-of-pocket payments on a mortgage may be harder to pay for some, which is why Wells Fargo provides programs to assist lower-income homebuyers to purchase a home. To reduce initial costs on your mortgage, you can apply for a NeighborhoodLIFT program that provides forgivable loans for paying your down payment.
Getting a yourFirst mortgage is another option you can consider. They feature lower down payment requirements and feature more flexible credit score requirements.
Flexibility In Mortgage Application Process
Wells Fargo offers many ways for you to apply for a mortgage. Wells Fargo’s robust online mortgage application is an extremely convenient way to apply for a loan. You can also apply by phone or visit a bank branch if you’re in one of the 36 states with a Wells Fargo office.
If you want to directly communicate with a consultant at a later date, you can also take advantage of their scheduled mortgage consultation services.
However, there are also several points where Wells Fargo Mortgage still needs to improve. We’ll break them down in this section.
No Branches In Several States
While the bank has offices in 36 states, you’ll likely have no other option aside from applying online or by phone if you’re located in one of the 14 states without a Wells Fargo office. This may pose a problem if you’re looking to apply in person due to personal reasons.
Troubled History And Reputation
Unfortunately, Wells Fargo has been plagued with various financial scandals in the past. They’ve been accused of opening fake accounts to fulfill sales goals and foreclosing on homes by mistake. Due to this, they’ve experienced their fair share of government action and have been subject to millions of dollars in fines.
Wells Fargo provides borrowers with a variety of home loans with competitive interest rates. Plus, you can apply online, in person, or by phone. The bank also provides down payment assistance and first-time homebuyer-specific options to help customers buy homes more affordably. However, their past scandals may prove to be a deal-breaker for some people.
Shopping for mortgage options? Wesley Mortgage, LLC has compiled numerous lender reviews to help you decide which one is the best mortgage lender for you. If you need a personal mortgage consultation, contact us today and see how our financial professionals can help you!