Caliber Home Loans has a large selection of mortgages, but its lack of transparency about its rates makes it a better fit for serious customers rather than for those just shopping around.
In addition to all the common types of home loans — conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA — Caliber Home Loans also offers its own portfolio of options, including several geared toward borrowers who have been denied traditional financing or have bad credit. Its Fresh Start loan is designed to help individuals rebuild their credit after a bankruptcy or a foreclosure, and you can choose between a fixed or adjustable rate. It also offers the Homeowner’s Access loan, which is great if you struggle to pay on time. And, if you’re interested in refinancing your home, Caliber can help you there as well.
Caliber Home Loans isn’t the best choice if you’re just casually comparing rates, though. It doesn’t list any information about rates and fees on its website, so you have to either call and speak to a representative or fill out the online form and wait to be contacted — and that could take a while.
|Rates||Contact company for rates|
|Best For||People who are serious about applying for a home loan, or those who don’t qualify for traditional financing|
|Not For||People interested in shopping around|
|Types of Loans Offered||Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, USDA, VA|
|States Served||49 (not Hawaii)|
|Better Business Bureau Rating||A+|
|Standout Features||Large selection of lending options
Special loans for people with bad credit
Fixed- and adjustable-rate loans available
Simple online application
Caliber Home Loans prides itself on providing affordable, innovative lending options and a customer-centric culture. It focuses exclusively on mortgages and refinancing, and services 94 percent of the loans it closes. Its emphasis on flexibility and building strong relationships with clients has helped it grow to become one of the top mortgage companies in America in just a few years.
Is it True?
Maybe. There’s no denying it offers a large selection of home loans — conventional, VA, FHA, Jumbo, USDA, not to mention its own Caliber Portfolio Lending Program. This contains several unique loan options for people with poor credit and those who don’t qualify for traditional financing. In this respect, Caliber Home Loans lives up to its claims of providing flexible and innovative lending solutions.
But whether these loans are also affordable remains in question. Caliber isn’t very transparent about the interest rates and fees you’ll pay with one of its loans. You have to either call a sales rep or fill out the online application and wait for someone to contact you to get that information. The application is straightforward enough, but when you submit it, you authorize Caliber to request your credit reports and other financial information, which you may not feel comfortable doing if you’re just shopping around.
Its customer service also seems to fall a bit short of its claims. I called the company’s main line and after several glitches with the automated menu, was informed that all representatives were busy and that I’d have to leave a message. I was told it might take up to two days for me to hear back from someone. That’s not ideal when you’re just looking to get a few questions answered. If you’re fortunate enough to live near one of Caliber’s branch locations, you can try reaching out to your local representative directly to save yourself some time.
Caliber has also faced one regulatory action by the State of Nevada in 2016 and New York is currently investigating its business practices, which may result in another regulatory action. Customers contend that Caliber refuses to negotiate with its customers to make its plans more affordable and is too quick to foreclose on borrowers who miss payments. Caliber refutes these allegations.
Our Deep Dive
- Nationwide availability: Caliber Home Loans are available to residents of every state except Hawaii. The company has branch offices in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you don’t live near one of these branch offices, though, you can contact the company’s headquarters in Texas and one of its centralized loan consultants will assist you.
- Options for those with bad credit: Caliber’s Fresh Start Program is designed for individuals working to rebuild their credit. There’s no waiting period and you can get a loan for anywhere between $150,000 and $1 million with at least a 15 percent down payment. There’s also the Homeowners Access plan for those who don’t qualify for traditional financing. If you worry about your ability to keep up with payments, this plan works well, as it allows you to have several late payments without penalty.
- USDA loans: These are fixed-rate mortgages designed for individuals who live in rural areas that don’t qualify for conventional loans. You don’t have to pay anything down and you can use these loans to refinance your home or purchase a new one.
- VA loans: VA loans are special options available only to former and active members of the U.S. military. These loans don’t require you to pay anything down, though you must have a credit score of at least 580.
- Simple online application: If you’d rather not speak to a representative, you can apply for a Caliber home loan online. All you have to do is answer a few questions about yourself, your finances and your budget. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. Then, you wait for a representative to contact you about your options.
- Mortgage calculator tool: Caliber’s website has a mortgage calculator tool to help you determine how much your monthly payment will be. In theory, it’s a useful tool, but in practice, Caliber’s lack of transparency renders it useless. Since there’s no information about interest rates on its website, consumers are left guessing what number to put into the calculator.
- Few educational resources: Caliber Home Loans doesn’t do much to help you understand the process of buying or refinancing a home. This kind of material isn’t critical for people who have done it before, but first-time home buyers could benefit from more online resources to help them understand how home loans work.
The total cost for your home loan is highly dependent on interest rates. It may not seem like much, but even a quarter of a percentage point makes a big difference over the life of your loan. And if your credit is bad, you’re likely to have above-average interest rates to begin with. So you definitely don’t want to hand your cash to the first company who pre-approves you.
Say you have a $300,000 mortgage with a 4 percent interest rate. The total cost over 30 years comes out to $515,609. Now consider that same mortgage with a 4.25 percent interest rate. Now you’re looking at $531,295 over 30 years. That extra 0.25 percent just cost you $15,686. So it’s important to take time to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best possible rate.
Check with multiple lenders to see what kind of rates they’ll offer you before you commit to one company. You’re going to have your home loan for a long time, so you want to make sure you’re choosing the right lender — one that not only offers affordable rates, but also has great customer service, and is flexible enough to work with you should a financial crisis arise down the road.
Due to Caliber’s unfortunate lack of transparency, the only way to get any information about its interest rates or costs is to speak to a representative directly. This means you could end up waiting a while to hear back from them. Filling out the online application or having your personal information at the ready if you’re getting a quote by phone can speed up the process.
- Quicken Loans: Quicken Loans stands out as one of the most transparent companies in the industry, and it doesn’t take long to get pre-approved. It offers fixed- and adjustable-rate conventional mortgages, as well as FHA, VA, and Jumbo loans. Its interest rates, which are listed clearly on its website, are pretty reasonable. It’ll even send updates by email or text to let you know exactly when they change. Its online resources are useful for understanding the different types of home loans and which is best for your situation.
- Alliant Credit Union: Alliant Credit Union provides home loans in addition to its other banking services. Choose between a 15- or 30-year fixed term or an adjustable rate mortgage with a 3-, 5-, 7- or 10-year initial term. There’s no application fee and you can pay as little as 3 percent down, though you’ll save more in the long term if you have a bigger down payment. Current interest rates are clearly listed on Alliant’s website, but if you’d like a more accurate estimate, you can fill out a custom quote and receive personalized estimates instantly.
- Citibank: Citibank gives borrowers a choice between fixed- and adjustable-rate conventional mortgages, as well as FHA, VA, and Jumbo loans. You can figure out the current interest rates by entering some basic information about the property you’re looking at. There is an online application, but you must wait for a call back from a representative before you can be approved. Or you can do the entire thing over the phone, if you prefer.
What Others Are Saying
- The New York Times highlights the numerous consumer complaints Caliber Home Loans has received in recent years. The complaints — refusing to negotiate terms with borrowers and quickly foreclosing on delinquent borrowers — have spawned an investigation by the New York Attorney General. In particular, the issue is Caliber’s loan modification: “The critics contend the temporary modifications merely enable Caliber to begin collecting payments on a loan that has been delinquent for many months or years, but provide no permanent relief to a borrower whose income has declined because of a financial crisis.”
- Moody’s reaffirmed Caliber Home Loan’s SQ3+ rating in 2015. It stated that “the company demonstrates solid roll rate performance for prime loans compared to its peers. Caliber uses an independent call monitoring group which allows an objective assessment of its collector’s performance.”
The Bottom Line
What Caliber Home Loans lacks in transparency, it makes up for in versatility, with one of the largest selections of home loans in the industry. If you’re serious about applying for a home loan or your credit is bad, Caliber is definitely worth checking out.