Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (2024)

We independently analyze every product we recommend. When you apply for or open an account using our links, we may earn a commission. None of our content has been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser. Learn more »

Finding a great mortgage lender can go along way toward easing the stress of buying your first home.

Here’s a comparison of some the best mortgage lenders in the United States. But keep in mind, these are only a few out of hundreds. Often times, the best mortgage lender for you will be the one that can offer you the best rate based on your credit score and the home you’re buying.

Overview: Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers

LenderMin. credit scoreRequired down paymentBest for
Rocket Mortgage5803%Overall
Chase Mortgage6203%Live support
Navy Federal6200%Military personnel
Reali6205%Cash offers
Luxury Mortgage5803.5%Self-employed
Alliant Credit Union6200%0% down payment

Today’s best mortgage rates

The following lenders have chosen to share real-time mortgage rates.

Rocket Mortgage

There’s a reason you’ve seen Super Bowl commercials for Rocket Mortgage. Quicken Loans is America’s largest mortgage lender by volume, and Rocket Mortgage is their magnum opus – an incredibly streamlined, online-only loan process.

With Rocket Mortgage, you can go all the way from getting a quick prequalification to fully closing on your home entirely through the app, available on desktop, iOS, and Android.

But what truly makes Rocket Mortgage stand out is just how darn educational it is. As a first-time home buyer, there’s a 100% chance that at some point during the loan app process, you’ll be asked questions you don’t know how to answer – or for a form you don’t have. Luckily, Rocket Mortgage offers ways to learn more every step of the way, and you can always contact a Quicken loan expert for more ad hoc assistance.

Rocket Mortgage isn’t perfect – namely, its rates are good but not great (Super Bowl ads aren’t free, after all). But if you value expediency and low stress over rock-bottom rates, it’s a solid pick.

Chase Mortgage

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (1)Chase is another low-stress destination for first-time home buyers to get a great rate on a mortgage. Unlike with Rocket Mortgage, you can’t go A to Z completely online with Chase – at some point, you’ll be connected to a live Chase rep to answer questions and wrap things up.

That being said, if you’re a first-timer, complimentary access to a live mortgage expert may actually be what you’re looking for. Plus, Chase’s team of live lenders is one of the best in the business – Chase Mortgage scores an almost unbelievable 4 out of 5 stars out of over 1,500 user ratings on Consumer Affairs.

If people take time out of their day to rave about their mortgage lender online, you know they’re the real deal.

Chase also competes on variety and price – they offer a wealth of mortgage types, terms, and impressively low rates for a big bank with high overhead. The cherry on top is their expediency guarantee – if for any reason they can’t help you close on your home in time, Chase will cut you a check for $2,500 to comp for the inconvenience.

With a compelling mix of old- and new-school lending, you can’t go wrong with Chase Mortgage.

Navy Federal

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (2)If you’re military-affiliated, you might be wondering if you can get an amazing deal on a mortgage just like you do on auto insurance.


Despite the name, Navy Federal accepts borrowers from all branches of the U.S. Military – and they have a lot to offer. For starters, they’re a non-profit credit union so their rates and fees are extremely low. And even if you do manage to find a better rate elsewhere, Navy Federal will either match it or write you a check for $1,000.

They even have a special program geared towards first-time home buyers. With HomeBuyers Choice, you can get a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage with up to 100% financing – meaning you can make as little as a 0% down payment. The program also offers adjustable-rate loans, which can greatly reduce the stress and hassle of relocating every few years.

For a mortgage lender that offers special rates and programs to the military community, and simply understands the unique needs of the community, look no further than Navy Federal.

Reali Loans

Full disclaimer: Reali is currently only available to borrowers based in 12 states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, MI, OR, PA, TX, VA, and WA. But if that’s you, you’re in for a treat.

Reali is a relative newcomer in the lending space, offering good rates, low fees, and a fully-online prequalification and preapproval process. So what stands out?

Reali seems to understand better than other lenders the plight of first-time home buyers being edged out of the market by foreign investors making cash offers. Even if the seller likes you better, they’ll still be more inclined to take the cash offer from some rich California-based investor simply because it’s faster.

That’s why Reali gives us a fighting chance with the Reali Cash Offer feature. Reali will make a cash offer on your behalf, buy the house, and then you buy it back from Reali – a structure similar to a traditional mortgage, but much quicker and much more appealing to sellers.

If you live in one of the 12 states above and are fed up with losing homes to cash offers, Reali gets you back in the fight.


Out of every lender on this list, I think the Better understands Millennials and Gen Z, well, better than everyone else.

They know we work weird hours, which is why their live phone support operates 24/7. They know we like getting the best possible deal, so they charge scant, low fees. They also realize how much we appreciate expedient, well-optimized technology, which is why you can get a prequalification letter in as little as threeminutes.

But above all, Better understands that pretty much every Millennial and Gen Z has a unique debt/income situation. Priyanka might have high student loan debt, but also high income from her W-2. Malik might have zero debt and steady income, but a 590 credit score. Catherine has four different 1099s that might pay her $1,000 or $12,000 on a monthly basis.

All three scenarios are pretty common among the younger generations, and yet traditional banks may reject them since they don’t follow the debt-free, steady W-2 mold of previous generations. Better, however, will accept more varied debt/income/credit situations as long as you can provide reasonable proof of being able to pay your mortgage.

Read our full Better Mortgage review.

Luxury Mortgage

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (3)Luxury Mortgage may sound like a lender who finances $5 million McMansions and high rises, but the reality is quite the opposite – their main focus is actually on first-time home buyers and self-employed/1099 earners (yay).

For first-timers, Luxury Mortgage offers a variety of government-backed loan types to make your life easier. In addition to FHA and VA loans, Luxury offers USDA loans for homes in rural areas, HomeReady loans for low-income borrowers with OK credit, and Home Possible loans for low-income borrowers with good credit.

But perhaps Luxury Mortgage’s most compelling value proposition is its friendliness to non-W-2 earners. As mentioned, traditional banks tend to prefer W-2 earners over 1099 or self-employed – even if the latter borrower earns 3x as much. Luxury Mortgage has not one but three programs for non-W-2 earners – you can apply for a mortgage using just your bank statement, 1099, or even a list of your assets if you’re an investor with little liquidity.

By not being a stickler for high-earning W-2s, Luxury mortgage is a worthy choice for all first-timers, but especially those with alternative income sources.

Alliant Credit Union

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (4)Many of our parents probably put down 20% on their first home, but that was a little easier when homes were $70,000. Now, with starter homes in metro areas surpassing $350,000, the traditional 20-down rule of thumb isn’t so feasible.

To attract younger borrowers, virtually all of the lenders on this list have been muscling down their minimum down payments – some as low as 3%.

But 3% of a starter home’s market value is still a lot of money – when you double it to account for closing costs and private mortgage insurance (PMI), you’re looking at $20,000 – $25,000 cash required to purchase a home valued at $350k. Considering how the average Millennial has less than $8k in savings, 3% is still out of reach.

That’s why Alliant Credit Union deserves major kudos for offering the Alliant Advantage Mortgage Program, which erases the down payment entirely for first-time home buyers with excellent credit. As a not-for-profit, Alliant also charges low rates, low fees, and even discounts closing costs for first-timers.

Factor in Alliant’s legendary customer service and you have a superb choice for first-time home buyers.

What type of mortgage lender is best?

There are three types of mortgage lenders, and the “best” is simply the one that offers you the lowest rate combined with other features you value.

  1. Traditional banks like Chase and Wells Fargo tend to offer the widest variety of loan types and the ability to apply in-person.
  2. Credit unions like Navy Federal and Alliant tend to offer low rates, low fees, and the best programs for saving money.
  3. Digital lenders like Rocket Mortgage and Better tend to offer the best guidance, technology, and access to customer service – sometimes even 24/7.

When it comes down to it, the lowest rate-plus-fees should be a top consideration. If one lender offers you a 0.1% lower APR but you have to apply in person, it’s worth it. 0.1% on a 30-year fixed term can represent a savings of around $3,000 to $5,000.

What’s the difference between getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage?

One of the more crucial, yet confusing aspects of the mortgage application process is the difference between prequalification and preapproval.

Prequalification is when you give a lender some basic information (contact info, finances, income, debts, credit score, etc.), and they give you a rough estimate of how much they might be willing to loan you. Prequalification can take as little as three minutes and just gives you an idea of your buying power – not much else.

Preapproval involves handing over much more of your financial history, and allowing your lender to make a hard credit pull. In order to receive a preapproval letter, you’ll need to make an offer on a home. The preapproval app may take 30 to 90 minutes, and you can receive your letter within 2-3 days.

What programs are available for first-time home buyers?

There are dozens, if not hundreds of programs available to help first-time home buyers save time, stress, and money.

First-timers can find assistance programs at three levels:

  1. Federal – The Federal Housing Administration offers some assistance to first-time home buyers in the form of FHA loans. These are loans you apply for through your lender, but are insured by the federal government so the rates are lower. FHA-backed loans may make sense if you have a low credit score or are looking to make a low down payment, but be sure to counsel your lender for the best option to fit your unique situation.
  2. State – You may also qualify for a state-specific program like Georgia Dream, which provides down payment loans to lower-income borrowers, PEN (Protectors, Educators, and Nurses), and families with a member living with a disability. To find out, try Googling “[your state] first-time home buyer program.”
  3. Lender – Lender-specific programs tend to be the most attractive overall, since they’re coming from private institutions competing for your business. The Alliant Advantage Mortgage Program (AAMP), for example, offers a 0% down payment and discounts your closing costs.

To be clear, you can still get a great deal on a mortgage without leveraging one of these programs. They’re more geared towards providing assistance than providing a discount, if that makes sense. At the end of the day, the most important number is your rate plus closing costs.

Which mortgage is the easiest for first-time home buyers to get?

The easiest mortgage to get depends on which hurdle of the process you’re struggling to overcome.

If you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, Rocket Mortgage, Chase, and Better have the most streamlined and helpful workflows.

If you have erratic or non-traditional income, Better and Luxury Mortgage will be more likely to pre-approve you than other banks.

Finally, if you’re struggling because you have low credit, well, I strongly recommend you follow our step-by-step guide to improving your score first. Reaching a minimum threshold of 620 vastly opens up your options and saves you thousands in interest. But if you’re in a hurry, Rocket Mortgage accepts scores as low as 580.

Most important features of mortgages for first-time home buyers

As a first-time home buyer, what kinds of things should you look for in a mortgage lender?

Low-stress process

Applying for a mortgage can be stressful, so you’ll want to find a lender who’s made an effort to streamline their process (this is also a sign that they care about their customers and are up with the times).


You’ll also want to work with a lender who’s able to prequalify, preapprove, and close on your home quickly. Unnecessary delays could quite literally cost you your home!

Low rates and fees

Naturally, nothing is as important as getting a good rate. The only way to know you’ve gotten a good rate is to shop around, so take your time and don’t take the first offer you receive, even if it sounds low.

Specialized programs for first-time buyers

Finally, it’s worth determining whether a lender has any special programs for first-timers. Sometimes, a lender will just try to provide the best possible rates to everyone – and that’s OK and shouldn’t disqualify them from your search.


Buying a home for the first time can certainly feel daunting, but getting preapproved by the right lender for the right rate can take a tremendous amount of stress off your plate.

As a next step, check out How Much House Can You Afford?, where we’ll explain the Rule of 28 and give you other pro tips for moving fast and saving $1,000s.

I am an expert and enthusiast assistant. I have access to a wide range of information and can provide insights on various topics. I can help answer questions, provide information, and engage in detailed discussions.

Regarding the concepts mentioned in the article you provided, I can provide information on mortgage lenders, the types of mortgage lenders, the difference between prequalification and preapproval for a mortgage, programs available for first-time home buyers, and important features to consider when choosing a mortgage lender for first-time home buyers.

Let's dive into each concept in more detail.

Mortgage Lenders:

A mortgage lender is a financial institution or individual that provides loans to borrowers for the purpose of purchasing a home or property. Mortgage lenders evaluate a borrower's financial situation, creditworthiness, and the value of the property to determine the terms and conditions of the loan.

Types of Mortgage Lenders:

The article mentions several mortgage lenders, each with its own unique features and offerings. Here are some key points about each lender mentioned:

  1. Rocket Mortgage: Rocket Mortgage is an online-only mortgage lender and a subsidiary of Quicken Loans. It offers a streamlined, online loan process and provides educational resources to guide first-time home buyers through the application process. Rocket Mortgage is known for its expediency and low-stress approach to obtaining a mortgage.

  2. Chase Mortgage: Chase Mortgage is a traditional bank that offers a variety of mortgage types, terms, and low rates. It provides live support and has received positive ratings from users for its customer service.

  3. Navy Federal: Navy Federal is a credit union that caters to military personnel. It offers low rates and fees and has special programs for first-time home buyers, such as the HomeBuyers Choice program that provides up to 100% financing and adjustable-rate loans.

  4. Reali Loans: Reali Loans is a relatively new online lender available in select states. It offers good rates, low fees, and a unique feature called Reali Cash Offer, which helps first-time home buyers compete with cash offers from investors.

  5. Better: Better is a digital lender that focuses on serving Millennials and Gen Z borrowers. It offers 24/7 live phone support, low fees, and a quick prequalification process. Better is known for accepting a wide range of debt/income/credit situations.

  6. Luxury Mortgage: Luxury Mortgage primarily caters to first-time home buyers and self-employed/1099 earners. It offers government-backed loan types and has programs for non-W-2 earners, such as accepting bank statements or asset lists as proof of income.

  7. Alliant Credit Union: Alliant Credit Union offers the Alliant Advantage Mortgage Program, which eliminates the down payment requirement for first-time home buyers with excellent credit. It also provides low rates, low fees, and discounts on closing costs.

Prequalification vs. Preapproval for a Mortgage:

The article explains the difference between prequalification and preapproval for a mortgage:

  1. Prequalification: Prequalification is a preliminary step in the mortgage application process. It involves providing basic information to a lender, such as contact information, finances, income, debts, and credit score. Based on this information, the lender provides a rough estimate of how much they might be willing to loan you. Prequalification gives you an idea of your buying power but does not guarantee a loan.

  2. Preapproval: Preapproval is a more detailed process that involves providing additional financial history and allowing the lender to perform a hard credit pull. Preapproval requires making an offer on a home and typically takes longer than prequalification. Once preapproved, you receive a preapproval letter, which indicates the maximum loan amount you are eligible for. Preapproval strengthens your offer when making an offer on a home.

Programs for First-Time Home Buyers:

The article mentions various programs available to assist first-time home buyers. These programs can provide assistance, savings, and specialized loan options. Here are some examples:

  1. Federal Programs: The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers FHA loans, which are insured by the federal government and have lower rates. These loans are suitable for borrowers with low credit scores or those looking to make a low down payment.

  2. State Programs: Many states offer specific programs for first-time home buyers. Examples include Georgia Dream, which provides down payment loans to lower-income borrowers, and programs for specific professions or disabilities. Searching for "[your state] first-time home buyer program" can help you find state-specific programs.

  3. Lender-Specific Programs: Some lenders, like Alliant Credit Union, offer special programs for first-time home buyers. These programs may include low or no down payment options, discounted closing costs, or other benefits.

Important Features for First-Time Home Buyers:

When choosing a mortgage lender as a first-time home buyer, there are several important features to consider:

  1. Low-Stress Process: Look for a lender that has streamlined their mortgage application process to minimize stress and make it easier for you.

  2. Expediency: Choose a lender that can prequalify, preapprove, and close on your home quickly. Delays in the process can be costly and may even result in losing the home.

  3. Low Rates and Fees: Compare rates and fees from different lenders to ensure you are getting a competitive offer. Shopping around can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

  4. Specialized Programs: Consider lenders that offer specialized programs for first-time home buyers. These programs may provide additional benefits, such as lower down payment requirements or discounted closing costs.

Remember, the "best" mortgage lender for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It's important to research and compare multiple lenders to find the one that offers the lowest rate combined with the features you value.

I hope this information helps you understand the concepts mentioned in the article. If you have any further questions or need more information, feel free to ask!

Best mortgage lenders for first-time home buyers in 2024 | Money Under 30 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanial Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 5848

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanial Hackett

Birthday: 1997-10-09

Address: Apt. 935 264 Abshire Canyon, South Nerissachester, NM 01800

Phone: +9752624861224

Job: Forward Technology Assistant

Hobby: Listening to music, Shopping, Vacation, Baton twirling, Flower arranging, Blacksmithing, Do it yourself

Introduction: My name is Nathanial Hackett, I am a lovely, curious, smiling, lively, thoughtful, courageous, lively person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.