Today we’ll take a thorough look at “Waterstone Mortgage,” a residential mortgage lender backed by a billion-dollar depository bank.
Despite being the subsidiary of a large publicly-traded company, they still have the feel of a local, independent mortgage lender.
The main advantage of that backing is a much bigger lending menu, which gives them the ability to offer unique loan products the other guys can’t.
They also pride themselves on being home purchase loan experts, a big plus if you’re attempting to buy in today’s ultra-competitive housing market.
But existing homeowners can benefit from their endless product menu too – let’s learn more to see if they could be a good fit for you.
Waterstone Mortgage Fast Facts
- Retail, direct-to-consumer mortgage lender
- Offers home purchase financing, refinances, and construction loans
- Founded in 2000, headquartered in Pewaukee, Wisconsin
- A wholly owned subsidiary of WaterStone Bank SSB
- Funded roughly $4.5 billion in home loans last year
- Nearly 20% of business comes from New Mexico (2nd largest in the state)
- Also very active in Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin
- Licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
Waterstone Mortgage is a retail, direct-to-consumer mortgage lender based in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee.
They were founded in the year 2000 as a three-person team, and quickly expanded before being sold to Wauwatosa Savings Bank in 2006.
Just two years later, that company changed its name to WaterStone Bank, making them a wholly owned subsidiary.
This means they have the backing of a large, publicly-traded company and the expansive loan menu that comes with it.
Last year, they funded a whopping $4.5 billion in home loans, making them a major mortgage player nationwide.
Despite being headquartered in suburban Milwaukee, they are the second largest mortgage lender in the state of New Mexico, second only to Rocket Mortgage.
Waterstone is licensed to do business nationally, and also quite active in the states of Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin.
They appear to be very well connected with local real estate agents as they have a 60%+ purchase loan share, which is uncommonly high.
The remainder of their business consists of mortgage refinances and home improvement loans.
How to Apply with Waterstone Mortgage
To begin, you can either visit their website or go to a local branch if one is located near you.
They have physical locations in about 20 states nationwide, so it might be possible to work with a loan originator in person.
Either way, you’ll find a wealth of information online, including a branch and loan officer directory, along with helpful guides and loan calculators.
From there, you’ll have the option to select an individual to work with and apply electronically via a mostly paperless process.
Their digital mortgage is powered by ICE Mortgage Technology (formerly Ellie Mae), a leading fintech company in the home loan space.
It allows you to upload loan documents safely and securely, link financials like a bank account for easy and reliable importing, and eSign all those disclosures.
Once submitted, you’ll be able to check loan status 24/7 and complete most loan tasks electronically, whether it’s ordering the home appraisal or satisfying outstanding conditions.
Thanks to their in-house team of processors, underwriters, and closers, you should be able to close quickly.
In fact, Waterstone Mortgage also developed a “Close On Time Calendar” to give customers an idea of what goes on along the way, and what to expect. But perhaps most importantly, how to close on time!
Those looking to buy a home in this competitive housing market can take advantage of their Platinum Credit Approval, which they call the next best thing after an all-cash offer.
It’s a mortgage pre-approval that involves a robust, upfront underwrite of your loan file to give home sellers peace of mind that you’re a highly-qualified buyer.
There’s also a Waterstone mobile app and a Realtor-exclusive website to help your agent stay in the know as you progress to the finish line.
Simply put, they offer best-in-class technology backed by real humans to ensure you close your home loan quickly and conveniently.
Loan Programs Offered by Waterstone Mortgage
- Home purchase loans
- Home renovation loans (including jumbo options)
- Construction loans (all-in-one financing)
- Refinance loans: rate and term, cash out, streamline
- Conforming loans
- Jumbo loans
- FHA loans
- VA loans
- USDA loans
- Manufactured home loans
- Doctor mortgages (100% financing options)
- Community Experts loan (0% down payment)
- Community Heroes loan (1% down payment)
- State Bond and Down Payment Assistance programs
- Wealth Building Loan
If you go with Waterstone Mortgage, you’ll find no shortage of available loan programs. This is the advantage of being backed by a billion-dollar depository bank.
They offer just about everything under the sun, from home purchase loans to refinances to new construction loans and manufactured home loans.
You can finance any major property type, whether it’s a single-family home, cabin, townhome/condo, or multi-unit investment property.
The full suite of government-backed loan programs (FHA/USDA/VA) is available, along with both conforming and jumbo loan options.
Additionally, they’ve got loan programs tailored specifically for doctors and first responders, and even community experts like accountants and actuaries that require no down payment.
If you’re building, their Single Loan Close Construction program allows you to bundle the cost of the land/lot, construction of the property, and your permanent mortgage.
In term of specific loan types, you can get a fixed-rate mortgage like a 30-year or 15-year fixed, or an adjustable-rate mortgage like a 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 ARM.
Unique to Waterstone is a so-called “Wealth Building Loan” that features a 20-year loan amortization period attached to either a 7/1 ARM or 10/1 ARM.
It allows homeowners to build equity faster than traditional 30-year mortgages and do so with zero down payment.
Waterstone Mortgage Rates
One slight negative to Waterstone Mortgage is their lack of information when it comes to pricing.
They don’t seem to list their mortgage rates or lender fees online, so it’s hard to know how competitive they are.
To determine that, you’ll need to get in touch with a loan originator to discuss rates and fees before you proceed to the formal application.
Be sure to inquire about any typical costs, such as an application fee or loan origination fee.
And take the time to compare their quoted mortgage APR to that of other banks, lenders, and mortgage brokers.
Once you’ve done your diligence on the mortgage shopping front, you’ll be able to better assess them as a whole.
They appear to offer excellent customer service and a wide product selection, but your mortgage rate will likely stay with you for a long, long time. So make sure it’s low!
Waterstone Mortgage Reviews
On Zillow, Waterstone Mortgage has a nearly-perfect 4.97-star rating out of a possible 5 from over 4,100 customer reviews.
Their score is doubly impressive given the large volume of reviews, and many recent ones indicate that both the mortgage rate and closing costs were lower than expected.
That gives us a nice hint about pricing, which should always be a top consideration when obtaining a mortgage.
You can also find reviews for their individual branches on Google, many of which are perfect 5-star reviews.
For example, their Winter Park, Florida branch location has a 4.9-star rating from over 450 reviews.
They are also an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (and have been since 2009) and currently hold an ‘A+’ score based on complaint history. So customer service appears to be top notch.
To sum things up, Waterstone Mortgage might be best-suited for a first-time home buyer (or any home buyer) thanks to their wide array of tools and available loan programs.
Their fully-underwritten pre-approvals could give you an edge in a competitive housing market, and their zero-down home loan options are also a plus if you happen to be cash-strapped.
The only real question mark is pricing, as they don’t publicize mortgage rates or lender fees online.
But if they’re competitive with other banks and brokers, they should certainly be a consideration for your home loan needs, whether it’s a home purchase or a refinance.
Waterstone Mortgage Pros and Cons
- Can apply for a home loan online or at a local branch
- Licensed to do business nationwide
- Their digital mortgage process is mostly paperless
- Tons of unique loan programs to choose from including 100% financing
- Offer fully-underwritten pre-approvals (good for competitive housing markets)
- Excellent customer reviews
- A+ BBB rating, accredited since 2009
- Free smartphone app
- Free mortgage calculators and online guides
The Perhaps Not
- No mention of mortgage rates or lender fees
- Do not service loans