loanDepot Mortgage Review: Digital Process Helps You Close 17 Days Faster

Last updated on March 24th, 2021
loanDepot Mortgage Review: Digital Process Helps You Close 17 Days Faster

One of the largest nonbank mortgage lenders in the country is loanDepot, typically landing on the top-10 list overall year after year.

In fact, they’ve even cracked the top five in some years as well, so they’re certainly a big time player in the mortgage world.

At one time, they were even the subject of speculation that they’d be acquired by mega retailer Amazon in its effort to enter the mortgage business.

And in early 2021, they became the Official Mortgage Provider of Major League Baseball (MLB). So expect to see their name and brand around a lot more this year.

Let’s get some history on loanDepot and determine if they’re a good fit for your home loan needs.

loanDepot Launched in 2010

  • Direct mortgage lender that offers home purchase and refinance loans
  • Founded in 2010, headquartered in Foothill Ranch, CA
  • Offers industry’s first end-to-end digital mortgage
  • Ranked 2nd largest nonbank lender and a top-10 retail mortgage lender
  • Also the 5th largest VA lender in the country
  • Over 200 retail branches nationwide and growing
  • Went public in early 2021 under ticker symbol NYSE:LDI

Despite being a very young company, the Foothill Ranch, CA-based direct lender loanDepot has funded more than $200 billion in consumer loans by just their 10th anniversary.

They are led by industry veteran Anthony Hsieh, their CEO and chairman who previously worked at LoansDirect.com, E*TRADE Mortgage, and LendingTree.

The company refers to themselves as the nation’s fifth largest retail mortgage originator, and second largest nonbank consumer lender in the country (Quicken Loans is first).

They employ some 6,400 team members, including 2,000+ licensed loan officers, across 200+ branch locations nationwide.

In 2015, loanDepot began offering personal loans as well, which do not rely on collateral such as real estate.

In recent years, they’ve also launched several joint ventures with home builders and real estate brokerages to expand their purchase loan business.

Their latest is named Henlopen Mortgage, a partnership with Schell Brothers, a premier home builder.

Previously, they created BRP Home Mortgage, a collaboration between loanDepot and Brookfield Residential Properties Inc.

They also partnered with iBuyer OfferPad to create OfferPad Home Loans in late 2017.

In November 2020, they announced plans to go public after lots of speculation, and in early 2021 were trading under the NYSE ticker symbol LDI.

At last glance, the mortgage lender had a valuation of about $6.3 billion.

How to Apply for a Mortgage at loanDepot

  • You can apply online via a digital mortgage process from their website in minutes
  • Those who prefer a face-to-face meeting can visit one of their many retail branches
  • Or you can call them directly and deal with someone over the phone
  • They also have a wholesale lending division that works with brokers

In terms of applying for a loan, you can visit one of their 150+ branches nationwide, or call a representative at a branch near you. Some folks may still prefer a face-to-face sit down.

Their website features a search by branch or by loan officer if you’re looking for some place or someone specific, similar to the process over at New American Funding.

You can also start the process online at their website by hitting the “apply now” button. It will ask you if you’re currently working with anybody at loanDepot to ensure you are connected to the right person.

They also have a major wholesale division available in 46 states and the District of Columbia, meaning it’s possible to get a mortgage from loanDepot via a mortgage broker as well.

loanDepot Is Big on Technology

  • Company employs their proprietary mello smartloan technology
  • Uses data verification to digitally connect income, employment, and asset information
  • Fully digital experience from application through closing
  • Can shave 17 days off loan process and get you to clear-to-close in 8 days

In early 2019, loanDepot released its mello smartloan technology, which it bills as “the smarter way to mortgage.”

Instead of having to gather lots of financial paperwork and upload it to the lender’s website, mello allows you to digitally connect income, employment, and asset information.

This makes it both fast and secure— and once connected, their proprietary loan engines will determine the best loan options available, similar to the tech over at Rocket Mortgage.

You can also lean on their “expert loan consultants” if you need assistance in making a choice.

While the digital mortgage and data verification isn’t entirely novel or unique to loanDepot, they say mello smartloan is the “first-of-its-kind end-to-end digital home loan.”

That’s because it’s a fully digital experience from application through closing, not just part of the way.

For example, it comes with mello smartdecision, which instantly determines if you can qualify for an appraisal waiver, just minutes after submitting your online application.

Altogether, they believe mello smartloan can shave up to 17 days off the closing process and get you cleared to close in as little as eight days. That’s pretty fast.

What Does loanDepot Offer?

  • Fixed-rate mortgages: 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, 10-year
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages: 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs
  • Jumbo loans: Borrow up to $2 million
  • Government loans: FHA and VA loans
  • Home equity loans: up to 90% of home value

Like most large mortgage lenders, they offer home refinance loans, home purchase loans, and home equity loans.

That includes both rate and term refinances and cash out refinances, the latter useful if you want to tap equity and get a new interest rate on your mortgage.

They offer both conventional and government loans, including FHA loans and VA loans, but notably absent are USDA home loans.

Additionally, you can get a home equity loan or a renovation loan (FHA 203k loan).

And as noted, they also offer personal loans, which are funded by Cross River Bank, an FDIC-insured New Jersey commercial bank.

With regard to loan type, they offer all the usual stuff like fixed-rate mortgages and ARMs, in common varieties.

loanDepot Lifetime Guarantee

  • Only pay lender fees the first time you get a mortgage with loanDepot
  • They waive the fees when you refinance your original home loan
  • And reimburse the home appraisal fee as well
  • Must apply directly with loanDepot to qualify

If you get home loan financing from loanDepot once, you won’t have to pay lender fees if you use them again, for life.

With the loanDepot Lifetime Guarantee, they waive lender fees and reimburse your home appraisal fee when you refinance your existing loan with loanDepot in the future.

They say the average homeowner will refinance their mortgage every seven years, which they break down as four times over the span of a 30-year mortgage, and twice over a 15-year mortgage.

The guarantee doesn’t apply to loans obtained to purchase a new property, home equity loans, renovation loans, bond loan programs, down payment assistance programs, or personal loans.

Additionally, the guarantee only works if you submit your application directly to loanDepot (no wholesale or third-party applying such as through LendingTree).

Finally, for guarantees issued on/after January 1st, 2019, you must wait 12 calendar months from the date issued.

loanDepot Mortgage Rates

Unfortunately, loanDepot does not openly advertise their mortgage rates like some other mortgage lenders.

This makes it very difficult to know where they stand price-wise relative to other mortgage companies.

Additionally, they don’t mention any of their lender fees on their website, further complicating the whole shopping around process.

However, mortgage rate quotes are available by phone or online if you fill out an application.

In terms of loan servicing, loanDepot says your mortgage will either be transferred to their permanent New Jersey servicing center or a new loan servicer.

loanDepot Reviews

On Zillow, the company has a very impressive 4.88-star rating out of 5 from more than 4,000 customer reviews, which says a lot about their consistency.

Many of the recent reviews indicated that the interest rate was lower than expected, a good sign if you’re looking for a low-cost mortgage.

Over at LendingTree, they have a slightly lower 4.3-star rating out of 5 from about 4,500 reviews, which while not as strong as the Zillow rating, is still considered great.

Additionally, the company is recommended by 86% of those who reviewed them on LendingTree.

loanDepot has a less impressive 3.6-star rating on Trustpilot from over 3,000 customer reviews, some of which you want to read to get a better idea about customer service.

The good is they have an ‘A+’ rating on the Better Business Bureau website, despite not being an accredited company. So they should handle any customer complaints professionally.

loanDepot Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Tons of digital technology to make loan closings fast
  • Waives lender fees on subsequent refinance transactions
  • Has retail branches if you prefer to meet in person
  • Licensed in all 50 states and DC
  • ‘A+’ rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • Mostly positive customer reviews

The Potential Bad

  • Don’t let you view mortgage rates without calling them or filling out a form
  • Don’t offer USDA loans
  • Doesn’t publish lender fees (unclear if high or low)
  • High closing costs seem to be a common complaint among reviews

([photo: Brad Montgomery)

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