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Zillow Home Loans Review: Best-in-Class Service Offered By a Household Name, But How Are the Rates?

November 15, 2023

In the spring of 2019, “Zillow Home Loans” was launched by its parent company Zillow.

You probably know them best for their popular Zestimates, which are quick and dirty home value estimates.

Given their strong engagement with prospective home buyers and existing homeowners, they eventually decided to launch their own mortgage division.

The goal was to become “more of an end-to-end provider for housing-related services” like the many other companies out there trying to do it all.

For you as the customer, it’s yet another mortgage lender to consider when seeking financing. Read on to learn more about them.

Zillow Home Loans Fast Facts

  • Direct-to-consumer mortgage lender
  • Offers home purchase and refinance loans
  • Founded in 2019, headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas
  • Parent company is publicly-traded Zillow Group
  • Licensed to do business in 49 states and the District of Columbia
  • Funded about $1.5 billion in home loans last year
  • Most active in California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas

Zillow Home Loans, LLC is a subsidiary of Zillow Group (NYSE:Z).

The company was officially launched in April 2019 after acquiring Mortgage Lenders of America in the fourth quarter of 2018.

This gave them a quick in to the mortgage business, instead of having to start from the ground up.

They continue to operate out of Mortgage Lenders of America’s former headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. And also have offices in Irvine, CA and Seattle, WA.

Mortgage Lenders of America was founded in the year 2000 and had approximately 300 employees when Zillow bought them out.

It’s unclear how many remain and what the company’s workforce looks like now. But per the NMLS, they have about 230 licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs) on staff today.

The original plan was to streamline the home buying process for consumers who used their iBuying service known as Zillow Offers.

But that division was shuttered in November 2021 because they couldn’t accurately forecast future home prices.

They also operated a title insurance and settlement division called Zillow Closing Services, which was also shut down.

Despite this, they pivoted into a full-service mortgage lender that now offers both home purchase loans and refinances to consumers in 49 states and D.C. They are not licensed in New York state.

Last year, Zillow Home Loans funded roughly $1.5 billion in home loans, with a near-50/50 split between purchases and mortgage refinances.

They are most active in the state of California, along with Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Washington.

How to Apply with Zillow

To get started, you can visit their website and click on “Purchase a home” or “Refinance my home.”

The online forms appear to be a sales funnel that require your contact information at the end, so calling might be faster.

To skip the form, you can call the phone number listed to speak with one of their loan officers one-on-on.

Assuming you like what you hear and are ready to proceed, they say a pre-qual takes as little as 3 minutes online and won’t impact your credit score.

What’s nice is if you have an existing Zillow account, you don’t need to sign up a second time.

You can also generate a verified pre-approval letter if you complete a hard credit check and submit supporting documents.

Like many other lenders, they offer a digital mortgage application that allows you complete much of the process electronically.

This includes the application itself, linking bank accounts, uploading documents securely, and eSigning disclosures.

At the same time, they have a human lending team consisting of loan officers and loan processors that can guide you throughout the process.

Once your loan is submitted, you can visit the Dashboard to check on loan status, satisfying outstanding conditions, or message your loan officer 24/7.

Loan Programs Offered

  • Home purchase loans
  • Refinance loans: Rate and term, cash out, streamline
  • Conforming loans backed by Fannie/Freddie
  • FHA loans
  • VA loans
  • Jumbo loans
  • 1% down mortgages
  • Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options available

Zillow Home Loans offers a wide range of loan options to satisfy most home buyers and existing homeowners.

This includes both purchase loans and refinance loans, including rate and term refis, cash out refis, and streamline refis.

You can get a conforming loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or a jumbo loan that exceeds the conforming loan limits.

They offer both FHA loans and VA loans, but not offer USDA loans at this time.

However, you can get a 1% down mortgage in select areas, where they provide a grant for 2% of the purchase price.

Both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options are available, including the popular 30-year fixed, 20-year fixed, 15-year fixed, and 7/6 ARM.

Zillow Home Loans provides financing on single family homes, townhomes, and condominiums, including vacation homes and investment properties.

They do not lend on mobile or manufactured homes, investment property condominiums, construction/land, or co-ops.

Zillow Home Loans Rates and Fees

Unfortunately, Zillow Home Loans does not list their daily mortgage rates online, nor do they have a list of lender fees readily available.

As a result, it’s unclear how competitive they are compared to other banks, lenders, credit unions, mortgage brokers, and so on.

When you do speak with a loan officer, be sure to inquire about both the interest rate and any lender fees charged, such as an application fee or loan origination fee.

While you won’t see rates on their website, you might see them if you compare rates on the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, which also includes third-party lenders.

Either way, be sure to gather quotes from multiple lenders to ensure you don’t miss out on a better offer.

If you have other mortgage rate quotes in hand, you might also be able to better negotiate with Zillow.

My guess is their pricing is competitive with other online lenders, and perhaps cheaper than brick-and-mortar banks. But don’t make assumptions, get quotes.

Zillow Home Loans Reviews

On the Zillow website (yes, their parent company), they have a 4.82/5-star rating from about 8,000 customer reviews. That is an excellent score, especially given the very large sample size.

You can browse the many reviews there to see what past customers thought of the interest rates and closing costs. And whether they closed on time if it was a home purchase loan.

Over at LendingTree, they’ve got another solid 4.5/5 rating from more than 950 reviews, along with a 94% recommended score.

At Bankrate, they have a 4.8-star rating from nearly 100 reviews, and a 3.8/5 on Consumer Affairs from about 120 reviews.

They’ve got a better 4.8/5 rating on BestCompany and a lower 3.7/5 over at Trustpilot.

In addition, they have a 3.6/5 rating at their Overland Park headquarters from 117 Google reviews. So there is no shortage of reviews to read.

The company also has an ‘A+’ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website and a 3.53/5-star rating from about 32 customer reviews.

To sum things up, Zillow Home Loans offers the latest technology, has thousands of excellent reviews, and might even be able to get you to the closing table faster than other lenders.

They noted that the average lender took 43 days to close a home purchase loan between March 2023 – May 2023, per an ICE Mortgage Technology survey.

Meanwhile, their average closing time was just 31 days, 12 days or 28% faster than the industry average.

They also say they offer best-in-class service and total transparency, along with local market expertise.

The only question mark is pricing, as they don’t publicize their rates or fees. But if you find them to be competitive relative to other options, they could be a worthy consideration.

Zillow Home Loans Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Can apply for a home loan online
  • Offer a digital mortgage application
  • Close loans 12 days faster than the average lender
  • Lots of loan programs to choose from including 1% down option
  • Thousands of excellent customer reviews
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Free mortgage calculators and online guides

The Maybe Not

  • No branch locations
  • Do not offer USDA loans
  • Not licensed in the state of New York
  • Do not list rates or fees online

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