Open Mortgage Review: Could Be More Transparent

Last updated on July 1st, 2020
Open Mortgage Review: Could Be More Transparent

One of the coolest (or I guess weirdest) cities in the world is home to Open Mortgage LLC, the subject of our latest mortgage review.

Who Is Open Mortgage?

  • Multi-channel mortgage lender (retail/wholesale/correspondent) based in Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA
  • Founded in 2003 by Scott Gordon
  • Has 70+ branches in 27 states and nearly 400 employees
  • Currently licensed in 48 states and the District of Columbia
  • Funded more than $900 million in home loans in 2019

The company, which calls itself a multi-channel mortgage lender, was founded in 2003 by Scott Gordon.

They’ve got some 70+ branches in 27 states across the nation, and are licensed in 48 states and the District of Columbia, with Alaska and New York the only exceptions.

Open Mortgage operates both a wholesale lending division for its mortgage broker partners, along with a correspondent business for smaller banks and credit unions.

Additionally, they maintain operations centers in Austin, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2019, the mortgage banker said it funded over $900 million in home loans, making them a mid-sized lender in the grand scheme of things.

However, they say they’re “primed for expansion,” so perhaps they’ll break the billion-dollar mark in 2020.

It’s certainly possible, given their recent acquisition of Premier Home Mortgage, a deal expected to add $300 million in annual volume.

They also hired the core team of Live Well Financial, which shut down in mid-2019.

In July 2020, they joined the movement Stop Hate For Profit and pledged to stop advertising on Facebook for the month in an act of solidarity.

How to Apply for a Mortgage with Open Mortgage

  • You can fill out a short pre-qualification form on their website
  • Visit a retail branch if you want to meet someone in person
  • Or contact a loan originator directly via their online branch search
  • They do not seem to offer a digital mortgage application at this time

Similar to some other lenders, like New American Funding and Academy Mortgage, you can’t apply directly online, which might be a turnoff to some in the digital age.

Instead, you can either locate a branch nearest you and reach out to the branch manager there, or fill out a short pre-qualification form on their website and wait to hear back.

Once connected with a loan originator, one of their 364+ employees will help you apply for a mortgage.

While it’s unclear what their actual loan process is like (e.g. digital verification of accounts, document upload, etc.), they say their “application process is designed to be as thorough as possible on the front end.”

In other words, they’ll want to make sure they gather all the necessary information from you upfront to ensure there aren’t any hiccups along the way, and that you do indeed qualify.

That being said, it’s not clear how quickly they close loans, or what the timeline looks like.

Open Mortgage Loan Options

  • They offer home purchase, refinance, renovation, and reverse mortgages
  • Appear to specialize in government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA
  • Do not list specific loan programs on their website
  • Unclear what types of fixed-rate and ARMs are available

While their loan process is a bit of a mystery, they’re fairly open about their many loan options, which a loan originator will go over with you.

Don't let today's rates get away.

Open Mortgage offers both home purchase loans and refinance loans, along with reverse mortgages for seniors.

They offer pretty much every loan type, including conventional loans, government loans, jumbo loans, and home renovation loans.

You can get a conforming loan, FHA loan, VA loan, USDA loan, FHA 203k loan, and even a down payment assistance (DPA) loan.

However, it’s unclear what loan programs they offer, such as fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages.

My assumption is you can get all the usual stuff like a 30-year and 15-year fixed, along with 5/1 and 7/1 ARMs.

They also don’t list their mortgage rates or fees on their website, so it’s hard to get a good idea of how competitive they are.

And while they are accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, they only have two customer reviews on the BBB website.

One is from a disgruntled mortgage broker partner and the other about a loan servicing issue.

Their reviews on Zillow are mostly favorable, though there are less than 20 of them in total.

In summary, I expected Open Mortgage to be a little bit more tech-driven given their Austin, TX headquarters.

They could also up the transparency too, given their name…

The Pros and Cons of Open Mortgage

The Good

  • Wide array of loan programs available
  • Can visit a retail branch and work with a real human
  • Mostly positive reviews on Zillow
  • A+ rating with Better Business Bureau

The Possible Bad

  • Unclear what loan types are available (fixed, ARMs, etc.)
  • Do not list mortgage rates on their website
  • Do not disclose lender fees
  • Seem to lack technology offered by other lenders

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