Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Review

About Guaranteed Rate, Inc.

Guaranteed Rate, Inc.

Guaranteed Rate is one of the largest retail mortgage lenders in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, the Company has approximately 210 offices across the U.S. and Washington, D.C., and is licensed in all 50 states. Since its founding in 2000, Guaranteed Rate has helped hundreds of thousands of homeowners with home purchase loans and refinances and funded nearly $19 billion in loans in 2017 alone. The Company has become the Home Purchase Experts® by introducing the world's first Digital Mortgage technology and offering low rate, low fee mortgages through an easy-to-understand process and unparalleled customer service. Guaranteed Rate won an American Business Award for its Digital Mortgage technology in 2016, ranked No. 1 in Scotsman Guide's Top Mortgage Lenders 2016, was chosen as Top Lender 2016 and 2017 by Chicago Agent magazine, made the Chicago Tribune's Top Workplaces list seven of the past eight years, and was named Best Overall Online Lender and Best Lender for FHA Refinance by NerdWallet in 2018.

review breakdown

Interest Rates
Fees & Closing Cost
Customer Service

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What is Guaranteed Rate?

Based in Chicago, Guaranteed Rate has grown to a team of more than 3,000 across 200-plus local branches since its launch in 2000. The mortgage company is licensed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In 2017, the Guaranteed Rate originated more than 60,000 mortgages, and it is one of the nation’s 25 largest mortgage lenders by volume. Guaranteed Rate claims it was the first to offer a “digital mortgage” and continues to put innovative technology at the forefront of the customer experience.

Working with Guaranteed Rate

Guaranteed Rate offers loan products to meet the diverse needs of its customers. Depending on the mortgage program, the company accepts credit scores as low as 580 and, in some cases, does manual underwriting.

Guaranteed Rate provides financing for the following property types:

  • Single-family homes
  • Multi-family homes
  • Manufactured homes
  • Condominiums
  • Co-ops
  • Planned-unit developments
  • New construction
  • Investment properties

Guaranteed Rate mortgage products



Home equity

Guaranteed Rate special mortgage programs

Guaranteed Rate offers many unique programs that cater to a variety of needs and situations.

  • 2-1 Buydown program. Offered on 30-year, fixed-rate products through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this program reduces the interest on loans for new-construction homes by up to 2% for the first two years.
  • Family Opportunity mortgage program. This unique program allows buyers to finance a home for a relative under specific circumstances, including for a son or daughter in college, an elderly parent, or a son or daughter with disabilities. In some cases, the purchase is treated as a primary residence, provided the criteria are met.
  • Doc 5 program. Eligible medical students and professionals can put as little as 5% down on an adjustable-rate mortgage up to $1 million without private mortgage insurance.
  • Home 4 program. Homebuyers looking to finance an owner-occupied 2- to 4-unit property can put down as little as 5%.
  • Zero Down for Heroes. Though it’s unclear if this is separate from a VA loan, this program allows military veterans and active-duty servicemembers to purchase a home with no money down and no PMI.
  • Green Savings. Applicants can roll in the cost of energy-efficient upgrades when purchasing a home through this program, potentially as part of a VA energy-efficiency or other federal loan program.
  • Give 2 You. Guaranteed Mortgage will provide a grant of up to 2% of the purchase price if a buyer can come up with 3%.

The mortgage application process

Here’s what you can expect during the application process.

How to apply. Guaranteed Rate customers can submit an application online, via mobile app or over the phone. Online and mobile applicants begin by answering a few preliminary questions. The company’s Intuitive Loan Finder will then go to work to find the best loan type for you. You’ll also be prompted to choose a loan officer you wish to work with in your local area.

Next you’ll submit your application using the company’s Digital Mortgage and will be given the option to create a Digital Mortgage account.

If applying via phone, you’ll call a local loan officer to begin an application. After providing initial personal information over the phone, you’ll need to send documentation and other required information throughout the process via fax or by scanning and emailing.

If you are preapproved, your loan officer will give you the option of locking in your rate.

Disclosure process. If you choose to create a Digital Mortgage account, most of the rest of the mortgage process will be conducted electronically through the company’s cloud-based platform.

You’ll receive your preapproval letter digitally, as well as your credit scores from the three bureaus, all within a few minutes of starting your application.

Next, you’ll submit information and receive loan documents through the company’s document transfer and storage system, Transfersafe, and you’ll also begin an automated process of asset verification.

Phone applicants will receive loan disclosures by fax or email.

Submitting loan for approval. During the process, you will be assigned a mortgage consultant who will order an appraisal of the property and prepare your file for underwriting. Your loan may first be conditionally approved, meaning the underwriter needs more information before making a final decision. Once you provide any outstanding documentation, the underwriter processes the loan for full approval. If you’re approved, the loan will move to closing.

Loan applicants may also go through an expedited underwriting process at no cost via Guaranteed Rate’s Red Arrow Approval Express program before beginning to look at properties.

Closing. The closing process varies by state and loan product; but typically with new purchases, the sellers choose the location (usually at the closing attorney’s office). For refinance transactions, you will be able to select the location. Guaranteed Rate cuts down the amount of time spent at the closing table by allowing customers to sign most of the documents ahead of time.

Communication during the process

Guaranteed Rate takes a team approach to processing its mortgage transactions. Your initial contact will be with a loan officer whom you select. Each loan officer works within a mortgage “pod,” a team of specialists that sees your transaction through from beginning to end.

The various specialists who will work on your loan include a mortgage consultant, who will order your home appraisal and prepare your file for underwriting, an underwriter and a loan coordinator who will notify you of the underwriting status and request additional documentation if needed.

Throughout the process, the primary method of communication between you and the team assigned to your loan will be through your Digital Mortgage account, which will include a to-do list of anything you need to provide or take care of.

Of course, should you encounter any issues at any point during the application and approval process, personal support is readily available.

Pros and cons of a Guaranteed Rate mortgage


  • Unique loan programs. Guaranteed Rate has several loan programs to meet various circumstances and needs.
  • Digital preapproval. Customers can get preapproved and print their preapproval letter within minutes.
  • Locked-in rates. Guaranteed Rate offers rate lock protection for 55, 70 or 85 days through its Lock n’ Roll program and up to nine months through its Lock n’ Build program for new construction.
  • Automated and digital process. Guaranteed Rate simplifies the application and underwriting process as much as possible by automating steps, such as collecting bank statements and receiving paperwork digitally through its Transfersafe system.
  • FlashClose. For some loans, customers will be able to save time by signing most of their closing documents electronically, ahead of the closing.
  • Knowledge center. The company’s website has many informative articles and resources to educate consumers on preparing for their purchase all the way through homeownership.


  • Lack of information. Information on the special loan programs is not easily found on the website.
  • No first-time homebuyers program. Guaranteed Rate does not offer an official first-time homebuyers program or education, although it does provide the Give 2 You grant.
  • Not good for those who prefer pen and paper. Even though the company provides access to a loan officer after an application is submitted, it directs customers to its Digital Mortgage as the starting point.

Editorial Note: Parts of this article were reviewed by a lender to ensure accuracy prior to publication. The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.