If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, you might have come across Churchill Mortgage, which happens to be his mortgage lender of choice.
Why? Because like Dave, they believe that the real American Dream is debt-free homeownership, not a massive mortgage hanging over your head through retirement.
To that end, they do things a little differently than the rest of the industry. Let’s learn more about what makes them unique.
The History of Churchill Mortgage
- Direct-to-consumer mortgage lender founded in 1992 by Mike Hardwick
- Headquarters are located in Brentwood, Tennessee
- Employs more than 400 people with branches in dozens of states
- Does business in 46 states nationwide
- Funded more than $2 billion in home loans last year
- Did the most business in Tennessee, Texas, and California
- Their main product pitch is the money-saving 15-year fixed mortgage
Churchill Mortgage is a privately-owned company that was founded in 1992, meaning it has been around for nearly 30 years.
In the mortgage industry, that makes it one of the older companies still standing and/or independent, given many were lost during the Great Recession.
It was founded by Lawson H. (Mike) Hardwick, III in Brentwood, Tennessee. He was previously one of the principal founders of Franklin National Bank until it was acquired by Fifth Third Bank.
Today, his company has more than 400 employees across a nationwide branch network in 46 states.
They don’t appear to do business in Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, or New York.
In 2019, the company originated more than $2.2 billion in home loans, a record year for Churchill Mortgage.
Dave Ramsey’s Spin on Mortgages
There’s clearly a big link between Churchill Mortgage and Dave Ramsey, with the latter’s recommendations found on the former’s website.
As you can see from the illustration above, Dave believes in a few core principles.
First off, he wants you to be debt-free when it comes to consumer debt, such as credit cards, student loans, personal loans, etc.
Second, he wants you to have at least 3-6 months of cash in an emergency fund, which is also handy for meeting minimum reserve requirements with lenders.
Speaking of mortgages, he’s all about the 15-year fixed, as you might already know, given its much cheaper interest expense versus the more popular 30-year fixed.
And he expects you to come with a down payment of at least 10%, while only committing 25% of your take-home income toward a monthly mortgage payment.
What Churchill Mortgage Offers
- They originate conventional, FHA, VA and USDA mortgages
- You can also get a no credit score home loan
- Unclear what individual loan programs are offered
- They don’t advertise their mortgage rates or disclose lender fees on their website
One negative to Churchill is the lack of information regarding loan products.
While their website is filled with lots of helpful mortgage tips and how-to articles, they’re a little light on company details.
After some digging, I was able to see that they offer conventional, FHA, VA and USDA mortgages.
That’s good news because it means all the major bases are covered with regard to loan type.
But in terms of individual loan programs, such as 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, 5/1 ARM, etc., there’s no information.
I assume they offer all the most popular loan programs, but can’t say so definitively. It’s a bit bizarre that this information isn’t readily available.
Additionally, they make no mention of mortgage rates or lender fees, so we’re also in the dark on these key factors as well.
Without knowing any of this stuff, it’s very difficult to determine how competitive Churchill is versus other mortgage lenders.
Churchill Mortgage’s No Score Loan
- They offer mortgages without a credit score
- Because Dave Ramsey doesn’t have a credit score and his listeners may not either
- Alternative credit such as a cell phone bill or utility bill is used instead
- This establishes a history of payment behavior to determine creditworthiness
However, one of their more unique mortgage offerings is their “no score loan,” which allows you to get a mortgage without a credit score.
Why would they offer this you ask? Well, once again Dave Ramsey comes into the picture. Apparently, he doesn’t have a credit score, since he eschews all credit.
And there’s a good chance many of his loyal listeners are in the same boat, yet don’t have the money to pay all-cash for a home.
That’s where their no credit score home loans come in – they rely on alternative credit, such as a cell phone bill, utility bill, insurance premium, school tuition, child care, or rent payments.
This allows an underwriter to establish a history of on-time payments using that alternative credit.
In terms of approval, they say a 15-year fixed with at least 20% down provides the best chance of getting to the finish line.
They May Recommend a 15-Year Fixed
Speaking of 15-year fixed mortgages, there’s a good chance it might be recommended to you if you apply with Churchill.
As noted, they are big proponents of Dave Ramsey and being debt-free, and paying off a mortgage in half the time is a big step in achieving that goal.
Of course, a 15-year fixed will cost you about 1.5X your typical monthly mortgage payment, so it’s not for everyone.
In fact, many won’t qualify for a 15-year fixed due to affordability constraints and DTI maximums.
If Dave were calling the shots, he’d probably say don’t buy the house unless you can afford the 15-year fixed.
It’s unclear what Churchill’s loan officers would say, but I’m sure they offer other loan products, such as the 30-year fixed.
Applying for a Loan with Churchill Mortgage
- At the moment you fill out a short form on their website
- Then you are connected with a loan officer from one of their branches
- The rollout of Churchill Next may change that process to a fully digital one
- There is also a smartphone app that allows you to upload documents and check loan status
Like many other lenders, you start by filling out a short form on their website. This include providing basic contact info, at which point you’ll be matched up with a Home Loan Specialist.
They refer to this as the “Churchill Checkup,” a 10-minute call to help align your mortgage with your personal goals.
While the company has branches nationwide, there are out-of-state branches that serve different states. So it’s possible your loan representative could be located halfway across the country.
In any case, once paired up, they will ask you what your housing goals are and then present the best loan options available to you.
This process will likely change thanks to its new initiative known as “Churchill Next,” which is their digital transformation powered by tech company Infosys.
The partnership will enable borrowers to interact with the company in any way they wish, without compromising the values and trust Churchill is built on.
In other words, in the future you might be able to apply for a home loan via the app or website without speaking to a human, if that’s your desire.
Additionally, the use of technology should lower company costs, which could translate to cheaper mortgages for its customers.
The Churchill Smartphone App
The company already offers a smartphone app via both the App Store and Google Play.
It lets users play around with mortgage calculators to determine what they can afford, or learn more about mortgages via helpful guides.
Additionally, you can get in touch with a loan officer or check loan status if you’ve already submitted an application.
It also gives you the ability to send documents securely, either by taking a picture or sending a file on your phone. So you can satisfy loan conditions on the go.
As Churchill Next gets integrated, you might be able to do just about everything via the app in the near future.
Rate Secured by Churchill Mortgage
If you’re in the market to purchase a home, Churchill lets you lock your rate for up to 90 days while you search for a property.
This is known as a pre-lock in the mortgage industry because you’re securing a mortgage rate before actually applying for a home loan.
Now if rates go up during that time, your interest rate remains unchanged.
But if rates go down, you get to take advantage of the lower rates available.
They also let you lock in the rate for an additional 90 days if you’re unable to find a home in the initial 90-day period.
This is similar to the RateShield Approval from Quicken Loans.
Churchill Certified Home Buyer Approval
Prospective home buyers can also take advantage of the so-called Churchill Certified Home Buyer pre-approval, which is stronger than your everyday pre-approval.
Instead of just submitting financial documents to a loan officer, your information is actually reviewed by a loan underwriter, who can conditionally approve you for financing on a new home.
As such, you and the home seller will have peace of mind that your mortgage will be approved if and when you find your dream home.
This can give you an edge over other buyers, and even help you compete with all-cash buyers too in hot housing markets.
And because you’ve done the bulk of the legwork up front, it should make for a smoother home buying process once you’ve found the right home.
Churchill Mortgage Reviews
I dug around some review sites to see what people thought of Churchill Mortgage. Over at the Better Business Bureau, they have an A+ rating and have been accredited since 1995.
While customer reviews aren’t factored into the BBB calculation, there were only three reviews on the BBB website. They were all one or two stars out of five. But three reviews isn’t much of a representation.
They had over 16,000 customer reviews as of this writing at SocialSurvey, with a 4.85 rating out of 5. Most customers seem extremely satisfied.
Similarly, they come highly rated at Zillow, with a 4.97 star rating out of 5, based on nearly 400 customer reviews.
So all in all, they appear to come highly recommended by past customers. And that makes sense since the company’s goal is to help you achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
Pros and Cons of Churchill Mortgage
- Seem to genuinely interested in educating customers on mortgages
- May recommend loan products that get you out of debt faster
- Offer mortgages with no credit score
- Wide array of loan programs available
- Have a digital loan process via Churchill Next
- Offer a free smartphone app
- Can pre-lock your rate and get a pre-approval reviewed by an actual underwriter
- A+ rating with Better Business Bureau
- Good reviews from past customers
The Potential Bad
- Not licensed in Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, or New York
- Unclear what lender fees they charge
- Do not advertise their mortgage rates
- Their debt-free strategies may not be a good fit for all applicants
- Don’t offer home equity loan/line products