First Centennial Mortgage Review: A Top-20 Lender in Illinois That’s Also Family-Owned

Illinois sign

Today we’ll check out “First Centennial Mortgage,” a family-owned and operated mortgage lender based out of Aurora, Illinois.

They are one of the most active mortgage lenders in the Prairie State, only beaten out by major depositories like Chase and U.S. Bank, along with mortgage behemoth Guaranteed Rate.

The company was founded by brothers Steven and David McCormick in the mid-1990s, and both are currently executives working with the lender.

Their advantage is being the “perfect size,” big enough to offer all the loan programs you could ask for, but small enough to deliver exceptional customer service without the bureaucracy.

They’ve been named one of the Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America by Mortgage Executive Magazine, and a fastest-growing private company by Inc. Magazine for five years running.

First Centennial Mortgage Fast Facts

  • Direct-to-consumer retail residential mortgage lender
  • Offers home purchase loans, refinances, and renovation loans
  • Founded in 1995, headquartered in Aurora, IL
  • Licensed to do business in 17 states nationwide
  • Funded $5 billion in home loans last year
  • Roughly two-thirds of overall volume came from home state of Illinois

First Centennial Mortgage is an independent, direct-to-consumer retail mortgage lender located just west of Chicago.

They also have branches in a dozen other states where they do business, so it’s possible you could work with them at an office if you live nearby.

But chances are you’ll work remotely with one of their loan officers as they lean on technology quite a bit to get their loans closed.

At the moment, they’re licensed in 17 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The company funded a sizable $5 billion in home loans last year, and are a top-20 mortgage lender volume-wise in Illinois.

Nearly two-thirds of their overall volume comes from their home state, so if you live there, chances are you’ve heard of them.

Last year, roughly 63% of their total production consisted of mortgage refinances, with the remainder home purchase loans.

So they could be a suitable choice for both a home buyer or an existing homeowner looking for new loan terms.

For the past six years, they’ve been recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the Chicago Tribune. Hopefully happy employees equates to happy customers.

How to Apply with First Centennial Mortgage

It’s super easy to get started with First Centennial Mortgage, whether you’re buying a home or refinancing an existing mortgage.

Their claim to fame is known as “go,” a digital mortgage application that lets you spend less time fumbling around with paperwork and more time doing what you enjoy.

It’s powered by fintech company Blend, a leader in the digital mortgage space.

And you can formally apply for a home loan without even speaking to anyone, assuming you know you want to work with First Centennial Mortgage.

Once you create an account using email and a password, you can perform most application steps digitally, including the linking of your financial accounts using login credentials.

You can also securely upload any necessary documents and start and stop from any device you see fit.

Once you apply, you’ll be able to check the status of your application at any time, and message your loan officer with any questions.

All in all, they make it really easy to apply for a mortgage and track your progress thanks to their use of the latest mortgage technology.

A loan officer can also walk you through all the steps and review your financial information to ensure you don’t get lost along the way.

And as mentioned, they have brick-and-mortar offices in many of the states where they do business, so it might be possible to work face-to-face.

Loan Programs Offered by First Centennial Mortgage

  • Home purchase loans
  • Refinance loans: rate and term, cash out, streamline
  • Home renovation loans: FHA 203k and Fannie Mae HomeStyle
  • Conforming loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • FHA loans
  • VA loans
  • USDA loans
  • Fixed-rate mortgages: 15, 30 and other loan terms available
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages: 5, 7 and 10 year options
  • State Bond Programs

One thing that stands out about First Centennial Mortgage is their expansive loan program menu.

They have something to suit just about everyone, whether you’re a first-time home buyer who needs financial assistance or an investor who needs a jumbo home loan.

FCM offers State Bond Programs that provide below-market interest rates to eligible home buyers, which are sponsored by state or local Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs).

You can also get a government-backed mortgage such as a VA loan or USDA loan if you don’t have down payment funds.

Those who already own a home can take advantage of a refinance to obtain a lower mortgage rate or get cash out.

And if you’ve got your eye on a fixer-upper, they offer both the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan and the FHA 203k loan.

Both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages are available in a variety of different loan terms to fit all goals and budgets.

First Centennial Mortgage Rates

While they’re big on lending options, there isn’t much pricing information on their website.

As such, you’ll need to get in touch with a loan officer to get the latest mortgage rates. While you’re at it, inquire about any lender fees, such as a loan origination fee.

This information doesn’t appear to be publicized, so it’s hard to know how competitive they are.

However, they could offer excellent pricing, as indicated by their many positive reviews. And because they’re not a big bank, but still a large company, pricing may be strong.

Always take the time to gather multiple mortgage quotes from different banks, lenders, and mortgage brokers to ensure you get the best mortgage APR.

Veterans may qualify for a $0 down VA loan

First Centennial Mortgage Reviews

Over at SocialSurvey, the company has a stellar 4.90-star rating from 2,400+ customer reviews. Be sure to filter by loan officer to find some truly exceptional to work with.

On Zillow, First Centennial Mortgage has a near-perfect 4.97-star rating out of 5 from more than 1,000 customer reviews.

Quite a few of their more recent reviews indicate that the customer received a lower interest rate and/or lower closing costs than expected. So that’s a good sign if you’re looking for a deal.

They’ve also got a 4.7-star rating on Google from about 120 reviews, and a 4.9 on Facebook from roughly 50 reviews.

The company is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and currently holds an ‘A+’ rating based on customer complaint history.

At last glance, they’ve had six complaints in the past three years, including four in the past 12 months.

To summarize, FCM may be a good choice for all types of borrowers, whether you’re a first-timer, seasoned investor, or somebody in between thanks to their extensive product menu.

Just be sure to compare their pricing to other companies to ensure you get a great deal on your mortgage.

First Centennial Mortgage Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Digital mortgage application powered by Blend
  • Also have physical branches in many states
  • Can apply for a home loan online in minutes
  • Tons of different loan programs to choose from
  • Stellar customer reviews across ratings sites
  • A+ BBB rating, accredited business
  • Recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the Chicago Tribune
  • Free mortgage calculators and mortgage glossary on site

The Maybe Not

  • Aren’t licensed in all states
  • Do not disclose mortgage rates or lender fees

(photo: Gary Todd)

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