Best Mortgage Lenders In Georgia | January 2023
If you are planning to buy a home in Georgia, congratulations. Georgia has a lot to offer. Here is a list of the best Georgia mortgage lenders available.
From the high-energy vibe of Atlanta to hiking in the Blue Ridge mountain chain, relaxing on a beach, or eating a bowl of shrimp and grits in Savannah, there is a lot to love about living and investing in Georgia.
If you are looking to buy property in the Peach State, you probably need a mortgage. SuperMoney researched some of the top GA lenders, and these are Georgia mortgage lenders that made the cut.
SuperMoney's list of the best mortgage Georgia lenders is based on the qualitative recommendations of our community members and the quantitative recommendations of our ranking algorithms. We analyzed more than 100 mortgage lenders and focused on lenders with a presence in Georgia that provide competitive rates and terms.
The importance of comparing GA mortgage lenders
Beautiful landscapes, high-class entertainment, below-average housing costs, and a relatively affordable cost of living are just a few of the things that make Georgia a wonderful place to live and invest in real estate. We get it. Spending time analyzing lender offers is not what you want to be doing with your time.
However, don't allow all that natural beauty to distract you from the task of finding the best Georgia mortgage lenders for you and your family.
The key is to shop around and compare several offers (at least three) to find the best deal. Whatever you do, don't accept the first mortgage loan a financial institution offers you.
According to a recent study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the average borrower would have saved $300 a year, or $9,000 over a 30-year mortgage, if they had invested a few minutes comparing the best loan options available to her.
How to compare GA mortgage loan options
When shopping for Georgia mortgage lenders, you will obviously be looking at interest rates to see which offers the best deal. However, interest rates are only part of the story when comparing offers. You also need to compare overall interest cost, loan term, and the customer satisfaction of a mortgage lender's clients.
Remember the interest rate of a mortgage lender does not provide you with the total cost of closing a home loan with a mortgage lender. There are other fees and expenses to consider, such as:
- Application fee
- Credit report fee
- Appraisal fee
- Underwriting fee
- Property taxes and additional government fees
- Mortgage insurance
Having to compare all these fees can seem overwhelming, but it's easier than you may think, thanks to Georgia's state legislation on mortgage loan estimates.
Georgia mortgage regulations and loan estimates
The State of Georgia Department of Banking and finance requires that
"Every mortgage lender or mortgage broker shall make the following disclosures in writing to applicants for residential mortgage loans: within three business days of receipt of the application but no later than seven days before consummation of the loan, a Loan Estimate, as required by federal law, including but not limited to 12 CFR §1026.19 and 12 CFR §1026.37 (source)."
All that means that a lender in Georgia must provide you with a standardized document that lays out all relevant fees and expenses in an easy-to-understand format.
Frequently asked questions about GA mortgage lenders
What is the minimum credit score to buy a house in Georgia?
The short answer is that the minimum credit score to buy a house in Georgia is probably around 500, but that's only because some FHA mortgage lenders will consider credit scores in the 500 – 579 range if you can put a 10% down payment on a home.
A more realistic answer is that the minimum credit score is between 620 and 640, but it varies a lot by the mortgage lender, mortgage program, and the size of your down payment.
Here are some ballpark minimum credit scores for the main mortgage types.
- FHA and VA loans: The absolute minimum (per the FHA) is 580 if you make a 3.5% down payment. However, since COVID-19, most Georgia lenders will typically require a credit score of 620 or higher to qualify for FHA and VA mortgages.
- Conventional loans: You can qualify with a FICO score ranging from 620 to 660.
- USDA, Jumbo, and Conventional loans: This category commands the highest credit score requirement at 660.
Remember that these minimum credit scores are just estimates. View them as a rough benchmark of what you can expect to see when filling an online mortgage application.
However, in the end, what matters is whether a mortgage lender will (or won't) approve your mortgage, not the minimum credit score.
What is the average credit score in Georgia?
According to Experian, the average FICO score for consumers in Georgia was 689 (675 VantageScore) in 2020. Georgia was the state with the fifth-lowest credit score.
What is the Georgia Dream program?
According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Georgia Dream homeownership program was created to make homeownership possible for eligible low- and moderate-income Georgians by providing affordable financing options, down payment assistance, and homebuyer education.
How does the Georgia Dream homeownership program work?
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) explains that its role in the Georgia Dream homeownership program is to "act as the secondary market for lenders who want to provide an affordable mortgage product to low- and moderate-income Georgians (source)."
First, you need to apply with a participating mortgage lender for Georgia Dream loans. Remember that the loans are secured or guaranteed by FHA, VA, USDA-RD, or conventional uninsured loans.
Once the lender has completed the process and gives credit approval, the information is forwarded to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for compliance review and funding approval.
How do you qualify for the Georgia Dream homeownership program?
To qualify, you must be a first-time home buyer, or a home buyer who has not owned a home in the past three years, or a home buyer who purchases a home in a targeted area.
Applicant must have a minimum middle credit score of 640, meet income and purchase price limits, and have limited liquid assets.
What is a targeted area?
According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a targeted area is an "entire county or a census tract in which at least seventy percent (70%) of the families have a Household Annual Income that is eighty percent (80%) or less of the statewide median family income, or an area designated by the state as an area of chronic economic distress and approved by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury. "
First, check your credit report (if you haven't done so recently). This will help you determine what rates and terms you can expect.
Second, shop around for the best mortgage lenders. Get quotes from at least three mortgage brokers or lenders. The list of best lenders above is a good place to start.
Thrid, consider all your mortgage options. Check what rates you qualify for with special programs (VA, USDA, Local government programs), adjustable vs. fixed rates, and various term lengths.
Finally, negotiate. Because you have multiple loan offers, you are in a better bargaining position. Show your best quote to the other mortgage lenders, and ask them if they can beat or at least match it.