Yolander Prinzel is a financial writer and editor with more than two decades in the industry as an insurance agent, underwriter, securities trader, and writer. She has written for a number of financial publications and websites such...
Mortgage Lenders of America was founded in 2000 and has funded more than 30,000 U.S. loans in its 19 years in business. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, and had a 2017 mortgage volume of $880 million. In late 2018, the company was purchased by online real estate marketplace Zillow and is now operating as Zillow Home Loans.
Working with Zillow Home Loans
Zillow Home Loans is licensed to lend money to borrowers in these 41 states:
While the company has a few offices staffed with loan officers, it primarily focuses on borrowers who call in to get loans or use the Zillow Home Loans website.
Zillow Home Loans requires all borrowers, including FHA borrowers, to have a minimum credit score of 640. The company has a team of in-house underwriters who do not rely on an automated underwriting system, meaning a person reviews every loan manually.
The company issues loans for the following property types:
Zillow Home Loans products
Zillow Home Loans offer a variety of products for refinancing and purchase, although it does not offer any home equity loan products. The company’s product offerings include:
Currently, most applications submitted to Zillow Home Loans are completed over the phone either with the borrower calling in or a loan officer reaching out to a borrower after they’ve submitted contact information on the website. The company is currently testing its online dashboard, which will ultimately allow for document retrieval, integrated financial accounts and update notifications.
Apply by phone. While borrowers can trigger the application process online, loan officers will generally follow up by phone, email or text (if the conversation is ongoing) to finalize the application.
Digital disclosures. The company can digitally transmit disclosures to borrowers via email.
Manual underwriting. The company’s underwriters verify each borrower’s employment income and assets. They also ensure the underlying property meets requirements. Processors order appraisals and third-party verifications about a day or two after the full application is received. Zillow Home Loans offers a variety of rate-lock durations, implementing them at different times in the process based on what works best for the borrower.
Flexible closing. After distributing disclosures, closing is scheduled based on the borrower’s preferences. The company works with a national provider to close.
Communication during the process
Throughout the loan process, the loan officer is the borrower’s single point of contact. The loan officer provides updates to the borrower and answers questions via email, text or phone, depending on the borrower’s preference.
Loan officers are available after hours to accommodate borrowers with day jobs. The lender concentrates on developing deep relationships with borrowers, and the availability of loan officers is an important factor in doing so.
Pros and cons of a Zillow Home Loans mortgage
Flexible communication options. Loan officers focus on communicating with borrowers in the manner they like best, including text, email and phone.
Good for homebuyers who want a guided experience. The company’s culture is oriented around purchase, making it an expert resource for homebuyers and ensuring it provides specialized support for first-time buyers.
Potential future updates. The company is currently testing a portal that will provide an online dashboard to borrowers.
Flexible loan locking. Loan locking options are timed based on the needs of the borrower in the current lending environment.
Manual underwriting. With 100% of loans manually underwritten, borrowers have some ability to explain special situations that could typically stand in the way of loan approval. In addition, self-employed borrowers can secure loans.
Offers loans for a variety of home types. This includes manufactured homes.
Requires a relatively high credit score for FHA loans. The company’s minimum credit score, including for FHA loans, is 640.
Does not offer home equity products.
Not focused on in-office lending. Although the company has a handful of offices with loan officers, it primarily engages in taking applications through its call center. For people who prefer more face-to-face interaction, this may be a negative.
Does not yet have an e-loan process.
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.