InterFirst Mortgage Review: A Private Equity-Backed Lender Looking to Grow

Posted on February 3rd, 2021
InterFirst Mortgage Review: A Private Equity-Backed Lender Looking to Grow

Today we’ll examine “InterFirst Mortgage,” which bills itself as a private equity-backed mortgage originator that is motivated to grow.

Their game plan is to acquire consumer-direct call centers and “strategically located licensed conforming/government wholesale mortgage operations” throughout the United States using their available capital.

While they briefly placed operations on hold in 2017 in light of what they believed was “oversaturation and overvaluation in the mortgage market,” they relaunched in mid-2020 with an expanded business model and proprietary loan origination platform.

Let’s learn more about them.

InterFirst Mortgage Fast Facts

  • Private equity-backed direct-to-consumer mortgage lender
  • Founded in 2001, relaunched in 2020 by current CEO Dmitry Godin
  • Headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois (Chicago suburb)
  • Offers home purchase loans and refinance loans
  • Also operates wholesale and correspondent lending divisions
  • Parent company is Chicago Mortgage Solutions LLC

Interfirst Mortgage Company refers to itself as a $35 billion mortgage originator, though with the year we’ve had recently, they may need to increase that number.

The point is that despite a relaunch in 2020, they’ve been around a while, and know what they’re doing. In fact, their leadership team has more than 100 years of mortgage experience.

The company was initially launched all the way back in 2001, then relaunched in 2020 by current CEO Dmitry Godin with a brand-new look.

They operate a retail direct-to-consumer division, along with a wholesale lending department and a correspondent lending division.

This means you can apply directly on their website, with an approved mortgage broker, or via a bank/credit union that acts as a correspondent.

My understanding is they do not have branches you can visit, so you’ll be working remotely if you go the direct-to-consumer route through their website.

InterFirst is currently licensed in 19 states, with plans to expand to all 50 in the near future.

Here’s where they’re currently doing business: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

I believe they’re only doing wholesale lending in the state of Utah at the moment, meaning you’ll need to work with a mortgage broker if financing a property there.

How to Get Started with InterFirst Mortgage

  • You can also call/email them or fill out their online contact form
  • If you don’t want to wait you can simply jump right into the application on their website
  • Their Blend-powered mortgage application allows you to complete most tasks paperlessly
  • But it might be best to get pricing first then apply with the assistance of a loan officer

One thing I like about InterFirst Mortgage is the ability to just dive into the mortgage loan process without having to speak to anyone or jump through hoops.

Once you arrive at their website, all you need to do is click on “Buy a Home” or “Refinance” and you’ll begin the home loan process.

Their digital experience is powered by fintech Blend, which is one of the biggest names in the game.

You’re able to complete most tasks paperlessly, including linking financial accounts, scanning/uploading paperwork, and eSigning disclosures.

Once your loan is submitted, you’ll be given a timeline of events, current loan status, and a list of tasks that need to be completed to get to the finish line.

While you don’t need a human to help you get going, it’s probably smart to call in and speak with a loan officer first to get pricing.

Since mortgages are price-sensitive, you should check to see where they stand on interest rates and fees before you formally apply.

But if you’re already sold on them, you can forgo that step.

Just note that at the beginning of the application, they’ll ask if you’re working with someone, and if yes, you’ll need to provide that name.

InterFirst Mortgage is big on technology, but will still pair you with an expert lending team consisting of a loan officer, process, underwriter, and funder.

Loan Programs Available at InterFirst Mortgage

  • Home purchase loans
  • Refinance loans: rate and term and cash out
  • Conforming loans
  • High balance loans
  • Fixed-rate options: 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 year terms
  • Adjustable-rate options: 5/1 and 7/1 terms

InterFirst Mortgage lends on owner-occupied primary residences, second homes, and investment properties (1-4 units).

You can get a home purchase loan or a refinance, including rate and term and cash out refinances.

It’s unclear if they offer any sort of renovation lending as details are light on their website, but there’s a decent chance they do.

The same goes for FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans, which aren’t mentioned anywhere.

The good news is they do offer conforming loans, including high balance loan amounts above the conforming loan limit, but it’s unclear if they offer jumbo home loans.

And you can get a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable-rate mortgage in a variety of different loan terms.

My one gripe is that they don’t have a clear lending menu on their website, which would alleviate some of these questions.

InterFirst Mortgage Rates

Like a lot of other banks and lenders, Interfirst Mortgage doesn’t post their mortgage rates online.

This doesn’t mean their interest rates are higher than the next guy, it’s just that we don’t know where they stand because they’ve provided zero hints.

As such, you’ll need to get in touch with a loan officer in order to get pricing.

While you’re at it, be sure to inquire about lender fees, such as loan origination fees, application fee, and so on.

Once you have all this information, you can determine if they’re a good choice based on the pricing piece, and perhaps on the personality piece as well if you like what you hear from a member of their staff.

Take the time to shop around and get multiple quotes from other lenders so you can accurately gauge where they stand pricing-wise.

While they appear to make it easy to apply for a home loan, you could be stuck paying the mortgage for a long time.

InterFirst Mortgage Reviews

On Bankrate, they’ve got a 4.4-star rating out of 5 from about 130 customer reviews, which is a solid rating. That includes over 100 5-star reviews.

Over at the Better Business Bureau, they have an even better 4.54/5-rating from 84 reviews, which is surprisingly high since the BBB website is typically where customers go to complain.

InterFirst Mortgage is an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau (since 2020), and currently holds an ‘A+’ rating.

While they’re somewhat young given their recent relaunch, they have fewer reviews at some of the other major ratings sites.

However, they still mustered a 4.45-star rating out of 5 from 20 reviews at Zillow, which while not a lot, is at least favorable to start.

Similarly, they have a perfect 5-star rating over at LendingTree from a mere 8 reviews, but all of them are 5-star reviews.

All in all, they appear to be building a strong reputation as a newly relaunched mortgage lender, and could be a good choice for either your home purchase or refinance needs.

Just be sure they offer the specific loan program you’re looking for, as those details seem to be missing from their website.

InterFirst Mortgage Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Can apply for a home loan without human assistance
  • Offer a digital loan process powered by Blend
  • Excellent customer reviews across multiple ratings websites
  • A+ BBB rating, accredited business
  • Free mortgage calculators

The Not

  • Aren’t licensed in every state
  • Do not publicize their mortgage rates or lender fees online
  • Unclear what loan programs they offer

3 Comments

  1. Thanasi February 19, 2021 at 12:01 pm -

    One of the most unprofessional and disorganized financial agencies I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with. I would like to warn everyone about my experience with them as a disheveled mess that spanned almost 7 months of spamming email, lost paperwork, and rude representatives that ultimately resulted in a go-nowhere service until I found a local credit union to take over. Stay away if you actually want to get a mortgage or refinance going.

  2. Kat April 11, 2021 at 8:40 am -

    I’m sorry to see Thanasi’s response, because I have had the smoothest, most wonderful and professional experiences in a financial situation that I have ever had. Immediate responses to email, detailed answers to my questions, the “upload documents” to their website is a dream in document collection. There was one technical website glitch preventing me from moving forward that was corrected next-day, and they had the wrong information about my credit union requiring a wet signature for their loan payoff request, which I corrected by talking to my credit union, but those were my two issues. And no one has been able to beat their offer, not even my credit union!

  3. howard hill April 29, 2021 at 12:27 pm -

    The underwriter waited until 2 days before my closing to request tax transcripts For other companies that is normally done in the beginning of the approval process (I used to be a loan officer). Not for my underwriter. Now I am having problems closing! Not only that, they want me to order the tax transcripts, which I’m fine with other than this should have been done 3 weeks ago, except the IRS can’t verify my phone number and so there is an excellent chance my loan doesn’t close on time if at all. I would recommend using another lender.

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