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Top USDA Lenders in 2021: Pennymac Blew Away the Competition


Today we’ll take a look at the top USDA lenders by loan volume in 2021.

In case you need a refresher, USDA loans are reserved for properties located in rural parts of the United States.

They are one of the four major home loan types, which includes conventional loans, FHA loans, and VA loans.

The mortgage companies on the list below managed to originate more rural home loans than the rest of their peers.

While not a huge market relative to the other types of mortgages mentioned, banks and lenders still funded more than $33 billion worth of USDA loans last year.

Top USDA Lenders in 2021

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.Pennymac$5.4 billion
2.CMG Mortgage$1.2 billion
3.Newrez$893 million
4.Freedom Mortgage$880 million
5.Planet Home Lending$846 million
6.Fairway Indpt. Mortgage$641 million
7.Caliber Home Loans$575 million
8.U.S. Bank$568 million
9.Amerihome Mortgage$567 million
10.Homepoint$525 million

The lenders above beat out about 1,100 other mortgage companies to earn the distinction of top-10 USDA lender, per data parsed by Richey May.

The number one spot easily went to Pennymac, which is a big correspondent lender. That means their product may be resold via smaller local banks and credit unions.

Still, their $5.4 billion in USDA loan volume was well above their closest competitor, CMG Financial, which mustered just $1.2 billion.

For the record, Pennymac was also the top FHA lender last year as well, so they’ve been firing on all cylinders of late.

If you’re not familiar, a handful of ex-Countrywide executives founded the company in 2008, after the mortgage crisis wiped out former #1 mortgage lender Countrywide.

Third on the list last year was Newrez with $893 million in volume, followed closely by Freedom Mortgage and Planet Home Lending.

Freedom Mortgage was the top VA loan lender last year, so clearly some of these companies specialize in a variety of government-backed home loans.

Rounding out the top 10 were Fairway Independent Mortgage, Caliber Home Loans, U.S. Bank, Amerihome Mortgage, and Homepoint.

Top USDA Lenders (Home Purchase Loans)

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.Pennymac$5.0 billion
2.Newrez$852 million
3.Freedom Mortgage$802 million
4.Planet Home Lending$765 million
5.Fairway Indpt. Mortgage$618 million
6.Amerihome Mortgage$540 million
7.Caliber Home Loans$532 million
8.U.S. Bank$495 million
9.Movement Mortgage$472 million
10.Homepoint$466 million

Because USDA loans are primarily used for purchase transactions, the list above isn’t much different than the overall rankings.

Again, Pennymac topped the rankings by a mile. However, CMG Mortgage fell out of the top 10, which tells me they focus mostly on refinances. Granted they still came in #11th place.

Newrez snagged the second position, followed by Freedom Mortgage, Planet Home Lending, and Fairway Independent.

The rest of the top 10 were repeats other than Movement Mortgage, which was co-founded by Super Bowl champ Casey Crawford.

Top USDA Lenders (Refinance Loans)

RankingCompany Name2021 Loan Volume
1.CMG Mortgage$760 million
2.Pennymac$445 million
3.Planet Home Lending$81.2 million
4.Freedom Mortgage$77.7 million
5.Homepoint$59.8 million
6.Colten Mortgage$52.1 million
7.Union Home Mortgage$49.0 million
8.Flagstar Bank$45.4 million
9.Caliber Home Loans$42.8 million
10.Newrez$40.8 million

It’s apparently not very common to refinance a USDA loan into another USDA loan.

Instead, borrowers will typically get a USDA loan to fund their home purchase with zero down and relatively easier underwriting requirements.

Then perhaps refinance into a conventional loan later down the line once they’ve got some equity and mortgage rates are favorable.

This is evidenced by the minuscule volume of USDA refinance loans generated by the top ten lenders on the list above.

This is where CMG Mortgage shined, nearly doubling the volume of overall #1 USDA lender Pennymac with $760 million in USDA refinances.

They were followed by Pennymac’s $445 million, and Planet Home Lending’s $81.2 million.

Familiar names Freedom Mortgage and Homepoint completed the top five, while some newcomers made up the 6-10 slots.

The newbies included Colten Mortgage, Union Home Mortgage, and Flagstar Bank, along with Caliber and Newrez.

Do You Need to Use a Big Name USDA Lender to Get Your Home Loan?

The USDA loan is a bit of a specialty product, so you should find a company that knows what it’s doing.

This might include some of the names on the lists above given their familiarity with the government loan program.

They can be tricky and involve some unique underwriting aspects other loans don’t, such as income limits and the fact that the property must be located in a rural area.

That being said, it might be possible to find a mortgage broker that knows their way around the program, or even a smaller regional bank or credit union.

As you would (should) any other type of mortgage, put in the time to research the company and/or individual.

There will always be pros and cons of working with different lenders, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution out there.

(photo: Phil Kates)

Colin Robertson

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