National vs. Local Mortgage Lenders: Which is Right For You?

There are so many decisions to make when you’re ready to buy a home. You will need to determine your budget, the area you want to live in, if you want a fixer-upper or a move-in ready home, and more. These are major decisions you will need to consider before your big purchase.  One of the less exciting things you will also need to decide as well, is which of your choices of mortgage lenders will you choose?

So what do you need to know and how do you decide? To gain a better understanding, it’s important to take a look at both local and national lenders and dive into the pros and cons of each. Here, we’ll break down the differences between national and local mortgage lenders and provide insights into which might be the best fit for you.

What is a Mortgage Lender?

A mortgage lender provides financing related to real estate, whether that’s to buy a property, construct one or fix one up. Some types of lenders, like a bank, also offer other types of loans and services, while others deal exclusively in home loans.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender assesses your ability to repay it based on your credit and financial picture. The lender then determines whether you’re qualified to borrow the funds and, if so, how much and at what interest rate.

Differences Between National and Local Mortgage Lenders

Note, the choice between national and local mortgage lenders depends on individual preferences, financial circumstances, and specific needs. Here are some key differences between national and local mortgage lenders to consider:

National Mortgage Lenders

Pros: 

  1. Typically they have a  larger presence and may offer a wide range of mortgage products and services.
  2. May offer convenient online platforms, 24/7 customer support, and streamlined processes. 
  3. May have broader market knowledge and access to a wide range of mortgage products and interest rates. 
  4. They may offer more standardized underwriting criteria and loan processing procedures.

Cons:

  1. The level of personalization and customer service may vary, and you may interact with different representatives throughout the loan process.
  2. Their understanding of local real estate markets and specific community dynamics may be limited.
  3. Qualification requirements and lending terms may be less flexible on the loan products offered. 

Local Mortgage Lenders

Pros

  1. Typically serve a specific geographic area, such as a city, county, or region. 
  2. They often prioritize face-to-face meetings, personalized guidance, and a dedicated loan officer to assist you throughout the mortgage application and approval process.
  3. They have a deeper understanding of local real estate markets, neighborhood trends, and lending practices.
  4. They can provide insights into local housing market conditions, property values, and financing options tailored to your specific location.
  5. They may have a better understanding of local economic conditions, employment trends, and borrower profiles, allowing them to tailor loan options to meet individual needs.

Cons:

  1. They may have a more limited reach but often provide personalized service and local market expertise.
  2. Their loan options may not be as diversified as national mortgage lenders. 
  3. Limited customer service hours as a national lender

RELATED: 15-Year vs. 30-Year Mortgage

Top 6 Largest Mortgage Lenders

  • Rocket Mortgage. Still the biggest player, Rocket originated 464,000 loans worth $127.6 billion in 2022, according to HMDA data. That’s a sharp drop from the boom year of 2021, when Rocked made more than 1.2 million loans worth $340 billion.
  • United Wholesale Mortgage. This lender originated 348,000 loans worth nearly $127.5 billion in 2022.
  • LoanDepot. Keeping its No. 3 spot, LoanDepot originated 156,000 loans worth $53 billion in 2023.
  • Wells Fargo. The megabank announced in early 2023 that it would dial back mortgage lending. But Wells Fargo originated nearly 143,000 loans worth $79 billion last year.
  • Fairway Independent Mortgage. Fairway originated nearly 128,000 loans worth $41 billion.
  • Bank of America. Returning to the top 10, Bank of America originated 121,000 loans worth $54 billion.

National vs. Local lenders: Which is Right For Me?

Ultimately, the choice between mortgage lenders depends on factors such as your comfort level with technology, preference for personalized service, need for local market expertise, and specific loan requirements.  If you prefer a more personal touch and insight into the local market, a local lender could be the right choice for you. 

Also consider how easy is it to get in touch with the lender? Do you need to be able to visit a branch? Do you have access to an online portal to set up auto-payments or view statements? Can you make payments over the phone or through an app? Consider what’s important to you in terms of access to your lender.

If you value a wide range of loan options and broad accessibility, a national lender might be more suitable. It’s essential to research and compare lenders, ask questions, and consider all factors before making a decision. Additionally, obtaining quotes and pre-approval offers from both national and local lenders can help you compare rates, terms, and loan options to find the best fit for your mortgage needs.