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Top Mortgage Lenders in California

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Recently, I set out to find out who were the top mortgage lenders in California in 2021.

The state of California is by far the biggest market for home loans, accounting for something like 20% of the overall market.

Nowhere else even comes close, including heavyweights like Florida and Texas, with about 7% and 6% market share, respectively. Or New York with about 4%.

As you might expect, the big household names make this list, and many are also on the top-10 list nationwide.

Let’s take a look at who topped the rankings, and break it down by home purchase financing and mortgage refinancing.

Top 10 Mortgage Lenders in California (Overall)

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.Rocket Mortgage$94.4 billion
2.UWM$87.4 billion
3.Wells Fargo$61.0 billion
4.Chase$57.8 billion
5.loanDepot$42.9 billion
6.Bank of America$36.0 billion
7.Homepoint$30.7 billion
8.First Republic Bank$24.9 billion
9.Guaranteed Rate$24.3 billion
10.U.S. Bank$24.0 billion

Yes, Rocket Mortgage, formerly known as Quicken Loans, was the top mortgage lender in California, according to HMDA data from Richey May.

That comes as no surprise as they have also been the top mortgage lender nationally for a few years now.

The Detroit-based company managed to fund about $94 billion in home loans last year in CA, which was a near-10% market share.

They beat out their crosstown rivals United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), which mustered a close $87.4 billion in loan volume.

That’s also pretty impressive given the fact that UWM only works with mortgage brokers, as opposed to operating a consumer direct channel.

Coming in a more distant third was beleaguered bank behemoth Wells Fargo with $61 billion in loan volume.

Still pretty decent given all their mortgage-related and other problems over the past decade now.

In fourth was fellow depository bank Chase, managing $57.8 billion in loan volume.

They’ve been a big mortgage player for years since acquiring Washington Mutual about the housing crisis back in 2008.

Rounding out the top five was Orange County-based nonbank loanDepot with a solid $42.9 billion.

Also in the top 10 were Bank of America, Homepoint, First Republic Bank, Guaranteed Rate, and U.S. Bank.

That means the biggest mortgage lenders in California were equally divided between nonbanks and depository banks, though the former are leading the way.

Collectively, they funded nearly $500 billion in home loans last year, which is pretty darn impressive.

It’s also about half the overall volume of the state, which came in around $1 trillion.

So yes, most homeowners get their mortgages from these ten companies.

Top California Mortgage Lenders (for Home Purchases)

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.UWM$27.2 billion
2.Wells Fargo$25.2 billion
3.Chase$18.5 billion
4.Rocket Mortgage$14.9 billion
5.First Republic Bank$12.2 billion
6.loanDepot$10.2 billion
7.Bank of America$9.9 billion
8.U.S. Bank$9.9 billion
9.Guaranteed Rate$6.6 billion
10.Citibank$6.5 billion

Now let’s look at the top purchase mortgage lenders in the Golden State.

This list is a little bit different because some lenders specialize in home purchase financing, while others cater to existing homeowners looking to refinance.

Topping this list was UWM with $27.2 billion, beating out Wells Fargo’s $25.2 billion and easily surpassing Chase’s $18.5 billion.

Rocket Mortgage took the fourth spot with $14.9 billion, while First Republic Bank snagged fifth with $12.2 billion.

Also in the top 10 were loanDepot, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Guaranteed Rate, and Citibank.

The only lender in this list that wasn’t in the main list was Citibank, replacing Homepoint.

Going forward, lenders will want to focus on this part of the market if mortgage rates remain inflated relative to recent lows.

Simply put, it’s difficult to drum up refinance business when many homeowners have fixed rates in the 2-4% range.

Top California Mortgage Lenders (for Refinance Loans)

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.Rocket Mortgage$78.3 billion
2.UWM$60.2 billion
3.Chase$37.8 billion
4.Wells Fargo$34.3 billion
5.loanDepot$32.7 billion
6.Homepoint$24.3 billion
7.Bank of America$24.1 billion
8.Guaranteed Rate$17.7 billion
9.Nationstar Mortgage$14.5 billion
10.Freedom Mortgage$13.7 billion

Now let’s talk refis, which were all the rage in 2021, but have since fallen out of favor due to unprecedented increases in mortgage rates.

In this category, Rocket Mortgage ran away from the competition with an eye-watering $78.3 billion in loan origination volume.

Their crosstown rival UWM came in second, but by a wide margin with just $60.2 billion in refi loan volume.

Depository banks Chase and Wells Fargo snagged third and fourth with $37.8 billion and $34.3 billion, while loanDepot again made the list in the five spot with $32.7 billion.

Homepoint, Bank of America, Guaranteed Rate, Nationstar (Mr. Cooper), and Freedom Mortgage also made the top-10 list.

The only newcomers here were Mr. Cooper and Freedom Mortgage, while the rest were repeats.

Citibank was nowhere close when it came to refis, despite being a top home purchase lender in California.

Does Size Matter When It Comes to Getting a Mortgage?

As I always ponder with these top lender lists, does size actually matter?

Does it mean anything that your bank or lender is massive and bigger than others?

While that might be up for debate, as some could argue that a big institution might be more reliable or efficient or even cheaper, the opposite could also be said.

Ultimately, it’s nice to know who the big players are, but your personality might be better suited to a local credit union or mom-and-pop mortgage broker.

The mortgage lender you choose doesn’t have to be the biggest out there to provide exceptional service and competitive pricing.

Conversely, you might find a household name that does offer all those things mentioned above.

At the end of the day, obtaining a home loan is a big deal and it should be shopped accordingly.

That means lots of research and multiple quotes before you make your final decision.

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