Today we’ll examine a growing Bay Area mortgage lender located in Corte Madera, which is just north of San Francisco, known as “Bay Equity Home Loans.”
They’re quite literally located on the San Francisco Bay, so it appears they named themselves appropriately.
Despite being around for just over a decade, and launching their business right around the time the housing bubble burst, they’ve managed to become a top-50 mortgage lender nationally.
That says a lot about their determination and perseverance, to not only survive that difficult period, but also emerge as one of the largest independent mortgage bankers in the country.
On top of that, they’re one of the highest-ranked mortgage companies out there in terms of customer satisfaction, landing in the top-5 on LendingTree. Let’s discover more about them.
Bay Equity Home Loans Fast Facts
- Retail direct-to-consumer mortgage lender
- Founded in 2007 by three brothers and close friends
- Headquartered in Corte Madera, California
- Offers home purchase financing, refinance loans, and reverse mortgages
- Licensed in 42 states (retail branches in 27 states)
- Funded nearly $5 billion in home loans last year
- Did more than 20% of total volume in state of California
- Also very active in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, and Washington
- Agreed to be acquired by Redfin in early 2022 for estimated $135 million in cash/stock
Bay Equity Home Loans is a retail, direct-to-consumer mortgage lender that was launched in 2007 by three brothers and a handful of their close friends.
As noted, they picked a terrible time to launch a mortgage company, but they somehow managed to navigate a massive housing crisis and come out stronger.
Today, they are one of the largest nonbank, independent mortgage lenders in the country, having funded nearly $5 billion in home loans last year.
And there’s a very good chance their 2020 numbers will be even more impressive given the record low mortgage rates that have been available for most of the year.
At the moment, Bay Equity Home Loans is licensed in 42 states and has physical retail branches in 27 states.
While they’re still growing, they aren’t licensed in the following states: Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. That could soon change, so stay tuned.
Last year, they did over $1 billion in lending in their home state of California, which accounted for about 25% of total volume, and another $900 billion or so in Colorado.
They were also quite active in Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, and Washington.
The company also recently launched a California-only digital lender called Homenda Mortgage.
In early 2022, Bay Equity Home Loans announced that it would be acquired by Redfin for an estimated $135 million in cash and stock.
The move is intended to grow the Redfin Mortgage brand more quickly to serve Redfin real estate agents.
How to Apply for a Mortgage with Bay Equity Home Loans
- First you need to get paired up with one of their local lending teams
- Use their online directory to locate a loan officer near you
- Once at their personal webpage you’ll see a link to apply for a mortgage directly online
- They offer a digital mortgage application process powered by Floify that is mostly paperless
In order to get started, you’ll need to head over to the Bay Equity Home Loans website and search their loan officer directory.
Once you find someone to work with, you can view their contact information, including phone number, email address, and branch address.
There will also be an “Apply Now” button you can click on to start your loan application. So you don’t actually have to speak to anyone to begin the loan process.
But if you want to get a mortgage rate quote first, which is probably recommended, you may want to reach out to a human before you fill out the digital loan application.
Speaking of, their 1003 mortgage loan application appears to be powered by fintech company Floify, which lets borrowers complete much of the process digitally.
That means the ability to fill out the application from a desktop computer or smartphone, link financial accounts via asset verification, eSign documents, and check loan status at any time by visiting the loan portal.
The company features in-house underwriters to ensure loans can get decisioned quickly and make their way to the finish line without major delays.
Given their incredibly high customer satisfaction ratings, chances are they close loans quickly and efficiently.
Loan Programs Offered by Bay Equity Home Loans
- Home purchase loans
- Refinance loans (rate and term and cash out)
- Home renovation loans (FHA 203k)
- Conventional loans
- Jumbo home loans
- Government mortgages: FHA/USDA/VA
- Reverse mortgages
- Down payment assistance (DPA) programs
- Fixed-rate mortgages: Terms between 10 and 30 years
- Adjustable-rate mortgages: Fixed-start periods of 5, 7, or 10 years
Bay Equity Home Loans offers all the loan programs you would expect from a full-fledged mortgage lender, including home purchase loans, refinance loans, home renovation loans, and reverse mortgages.
It’s unclear if they also offer home construction loans, so inquire with your loan officer if you’re in need of such a loan.
They lend on all property types, including primary residences, vacation homes, investment properties, and condos/townhomes.
They’ve also got the full range of government-backed mortgage loans, including FHA, VA, and USDA loans.
With respect to loan types, you can get a fixed-rate mortgage in various loan terms, or an adjustable-rate mortgage with a fixed-start period of 5, 7, or 10 years.
Lastly, they’ve got access to down payment assistance programs (DPA) for first-time home buyers and reverse mortgages for existing homeowners aged 62 and older.
Bay Equity Home Loans Rates
Like a ton of other banks and mortgage lenders out there, Bay Equity Home Loans doesn’t post their mortgage rates online.
As such, it’s difficult to know how competitive their interest rates are compared to other mortgage companies.
If you do want a mortgage quote, you’ll need to find one of their loan officers via their website directory, then reach out via phone or email.
The one clue we have about their rates comes from their reviews – on Zillow, many former customers indicated that the rate they received was lower than expected.
Their interest rates have also been rated as “excellent” on LendingTree. But it would be nice to see some daily sample rates as well.
Bay Equity Home Loans also doesn’t seem to list their lender fees on their website, so it’s unclear if they charge a loan origination fee, application fee, processing/underwriting, and so on.
Definitely take the time to get those questions answered before you proceed to ensure they are competitive pricing-wise.
Bay Equity Home Loans Reviews
On Zillow, Bay Equity Home Loans has a near-perfect rating, a 4.98 out of 5, based on over 7,000 customer reviews.
That might be the highest score I’ve seen for any mortgage lender. And the fact that it’s from that many reviews is super impressive.
On LendingTree, they have an equally astounding 4.9-star rating out of 5 from more than 18,000 reviews. They also boast a 99% recommend rating and rank in the top five based on customer ratings.
In both the “interest rates” and “fees & closing costs” categories, they are ranked excellent.
Over at SocialSurvey, it’s the same story – a 4.93-star rating out of 5 from nearly 40,000 customer reviews.
That might be the most impressive of all considering the volume of reviews at that site.
Lastly, Bay Equity Home Loans is an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau and currently has an ‘A+’ rating.
In other words, while experiences can always vary, they seem to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to customer satisfaction.
So if their mortgage rates and lender fees are also solid, they could be a great choice for those looking to finance a home purchase or refinance an existing mortgage.
Bay Equity Home Loans Pros and Cons
- Can apply for a mortgage directly online
- Offer a digital mortgage application process
- Lots of different loan programs to choose from including reverse mortgages
- Incredible reviews from former customers (near-perfection)
- A+ BBB rating, accredited since 2017
- Free mortgage calculators and helpful guides on site
- They may service your home loan as opposed to transferring it
The Maybe Not
- Not licensed in all states
- Do not publicize their mortgage rates
- Do not list their lender fees
- No smartphone app
(photo: Allie Caulfield)