Stearns Lending Mortgage Review

Stearns Lending has some great options for first-homebuyers. However, the lack of mortgage rates and fees information online makes initial research difficult.

J.D. Power Rating
N/A
Min. Credit
620
Min. Down Payment
3%
SimpleScore
3.5 / 5.0
close
SimpleScore Stearns Lending 3.5
Perks 4
Credit Impact 4
Customer Satisfaction N/A
Product Variety 5
Fees 1

Headquartered in Santa Ana, California, Stearns Lending was founded by Glenn Stearns in 1989. Although it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2019, it has since been financially restructured. It currently provides home loans to 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The great thing about Stearns Lending is that it makes homeownership more accessible for first-time buyers, as some mortgages require only a 3% down payment. What’s more, many Stearns Lending mortgages can be paired with state-run financial assistance programs that help borrowers with down payments. There are lots of purchase and refinancing products to choose from, and its website has plenty of buying and selling tips to up your knowledge.

*Rate based on 300,000 with a 10% down payment. 

In this article

    Stearns Lending at a glance

    LenderLoan AmountAPY RangeTermsKey Benefit
    Stearns LendingNot availableNot available5-30 yearsLow down payment mortgages

    What we like about it

    The biggest strength of Stearns Lending is that it offers many government-backed low-down-payment loans. Additionally, it operates a program allowing doctors and dentists to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 5% while also having certain student loan payments excluded from their debt-to-income ratio.

    Another positive feature often cited in Stearns Lending reviews is the ability to lock in an interest rate for an agreed period. The move comes with a fee but can potentially save you money if the interest rate increases. It can also make mortgage payments more predictable.

    You can begin an application online or through your mobile for added convenience. We like the tools and resources on the Stearns Lending website too, as they cover the buying and selling process comprehensively.

    Things to consider

    While the Stearns Lending blog has general information about the kinds of home loan fees you can expect in the buying process, its actual fees are not available on its website. You won’t find information on Stearns Lending mortgage rates, either. This means you’ll need to speak to a loan officer even when you’re doing initial research, and it can make it difficult to compare mortgage rates and terms between lenders to find the best mortgage for you.

    In terms of products, despite offering an extensive range of purchase and refinancing options, Stearns Lending does not provide home equity loans or HELOCs.

    Another potential drawback concerns the speed of the mortgage application process. After registering your interest, you may have to wait up to three business days for a loan officer to contact you. Finally, Stearns Lending mortgages are not available in New York.

    What you need to know

    For a conventional home loan, you can choose between five, seven or 10 years for adjustable-rate and 10 to 30 years for a fixed-rate loan. Options for FHA and VA loans are five years for adjustable-rate and 15, 25 and 30 years for fixed-rate. USDA loans are fixed-rate and 30 years in length, as are FHA 203(k) loans. Buyers in high-cost areas requiring jumbo loans have a choice of 15- or 30-year fixed-rate and five-, seven- or a 10-year adjustable rate.

    You can potentially lower payments for an existing mortgage with conventional fixed refinancing over 25 or 30 years, or adjustable refinancing over 5 years.

    While minimum and maximum loan amounts are not available on the lender’s website, Stearns Lending suggests borrowers can potentially qualify for a loan with up to 50% of their monthly income used to pay current debts.

    Stearns Lending encourages potential borrowers to register their interest and speak to a loan officer for tailored solutions.

    Here is how you can get started with an application for a Stearns Lending mortgage:

    1. Click the “Get Started” button on the Stearns Lending website.
    2. Answer the following questions:
      • Are you making a purchase or refinancing?
      • What is the purchase price and your down payment?
      • Where is the property located?
      • Do you currently own a home?
      • Are you eligible for military financing?
      • Are you buying a single-family residence, condo or multifamily property?
      • Will this be your primary, secondary or investment home?
    3. Enter your contact information then submit your inquiry.
    4. Wait for a loan officer to contact you.

    Fees and penalties

    Stearns Lending charges a number of fees, but these can vary depending on the state you’re in. Specifics on charges and penalties are not posted on the lender’s website, but typical fees include an appraisal, application and processing, underwriting, loan origination, rate lock and third-party services.

    If you have an FHA loan, you’ll have to pay 1.75% as an FHA Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premium, but this can be rolled into the mortgage.

    Collateral and criteria

    You’ll need a minimum FICO score of 620 to qualify for a conventional Stearns Lending mortgage. As mentioned, down payment can be as little as 3%, but you’ll need to buy private mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%. For an FHA loan, you’ll need a minimum FICO of 580 plus a down payment of at least 3.5%. USDA loans do not require a down payment, and the same applies for some VA loans.

    Compare top mortgage lenders

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    We’ve created the SimpleScore to help you objectively compare products and services here at The Simple Dollar.

    Our editorial team:

    • Identifies five factors to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each factor
    • Calculate an average of those five factor scores to get one SimpleScore

    We break down each of these five factors and their rating criteria for our review of the best mortgage companies.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    Some brands like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase have different SimpleScores because they offer more than one financial solution — like home loans, auto loans, personal loans and more.

    For instance, in our Bank of America Mortgage Review, we give the company a 3.8 out 5 based on our five rating factors for mortgages. In our Bank of America Auto Loans Review, we give the company a 4.4 out of 5 based on our rating factors for auto loans. By tailoring our SimpleScore to each financial solution, we’re able to give you a more accurate view of a brand’s services and how it compares to competitors’ services.

    Perks

    Mortgage lending companies that provide more perks receive a higher score from us.

    Hard/Soft credit checks

    We know that credit checks affect your score –– that’s why we favor companies that offer soft credit checks or hard credit checks when you want to see your pre-approval rates.

    Customer satisfaction

    We use the J.D. Power 2019 Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study℠ to find out how customers rate their experience with each company. (If a company is not included in J.D. Power’s study, we skip this rating factor and average the remaining factor scores.)

    Product variety

    Mortgage lenders that offer more products for their home loans are given higher scores.

    Fees

    Fees can add up fast. Companies that don’t require as many fees for your home loan receive a higher score with us.

    Kristie Kwok

    Contributing Writer

    Kristie Kwok is a finance content writer with in-depth knowledge of the banking industry from her previous work experience in banks such as UBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland. She is a qualified accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, specializing in Accounting and Finance.

    Reviewed by

    • Andrea Perez
      Andrea Perez
      Personal Finance Editor

      Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar specializing in personal finance. Prior to that she specialized in digital marketing content for online learning websites. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from the University of South Florida.