Caliber Home Loans review for 2020

Caliber has a broad appeal, with flexible credit requirements and a wide range of mortgages. However, it focuses more on human interaction than online convenience.

Lending flexibility 4.5
Customer service 4.5
Ease of application 2.5
Online experience 4.0
Minimum down payment 3%
Minimum credit score 580
Loan Products Offered

Fixed-rate mortgage
Adjustable-rate mortgage
Jumbo mortgage
FHA, VA, USDA
Streamline refinancing
Renovation loans

Best Features

  • Wide variety of mortgage and refinance loans
  • Focuses on person-to-person service
  • Can close some loans in as little as 10 days
  • Branches in 44 states for in-person service

Drawbacks

  • Can't complete the full loan process online
  • Have to apply to see rates
  • Recently sanctioned by the government in MA

Overview

Texas-based Caliber Home Loans, Inc. was incorporated in 2013. However, it was formed by the merger of two companies and those go back as far as 1963.

It has 145 "corporate family members," which seems to suggest that it operates branch-based regional franchises. That means there's a good chance Caliber has one or more branches in your state.

This is one of America's bigger lenders and it operates in all 50 states. It offers a comprehensive range of types of mortgages, including some unique, proprietary ones.

Caliber Home Loans has a good reputation for helping those with spotty credit as well as first-time buyers and veterans.


Caliber Home Loans mortgage rates

Caliber’s mortgage rates are not especially low on average.

However, Caliber is willing to lend to borrowers with lower credit than some other lenders. This inevitably leads to higher rates when all loans are averaged together.

Buyers with excellent credit could stand to get a great deal from Caliber. The only way you can know how good a rate you qualify for is to request a quote.

 
Caliber Home Loans
Wells Fargo
Quicken Loans
Chase
Average 30-Year Interest Rate, 2019
4.15% 4.22% 4.16% 4.22%
Monthly P&I Payment*
$972 $980 $973 $980
Median Loan Costs, 2019
$4,771 $3,484 $5,075 $3,440
Median Origination Charges, 2019
$1,238 $1,199 $2,805 $1,279

Average rate and fee data sourced from public rate and fee records required by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).

According to public records, in 2019, Caliber customers had median loan costs of $4,771 of which the lender’s own origination fees accounted for $1,238.

*Monthly principal and interest payment based on a $250,000 home price, with 20% down, at Caliber’s average 30-year interest rate for 2019. Your own rate and monthly payment will vary.

Verify your new rate (Jun 2nd, 2020)

Caliber Home Loans review for 2020

So what are the pros and cons of using Caliber for a home loan or refinance? Here are some key ones:

Benefits of Caliber Home Loans

  1. The sheer breadth of Caliber’s portfolio of mortgages — Whatever type of loan you need, you’re likely to find it here
  2. Personal service — Great for those who like to deal with people
  3. Good technology — Under-the-hood IT means your loan can be processed quickly, sometimes within 10 business days
  4. Strong for first-time buyers (works with some down payment assistance programs), those who’ve served or are serving in the military, and those with less-than-perfect credit

Drawbacks of Caliber Home Loans

  1. You can’t get any idea of your likely rate or closing costs without applying
  2. Not appropriate for those who prefer a wholly online experience
  3. Caliber has been the object of government actions by the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Business Oversight of the State of California

You can see details of those government actions on the Better Business Bureau’s website.

But it’s worth noting that Caliber remains a BBB accredited business and that it scores a creditable “A” rating there. So these issues seem like an exception rather than the rule.

Working with Caliber Home Loans

Caliber’s personal touch is a strength or a weakness, depending on your preferences. This isn’t a good lender for those who want to work wholly online.

But everyone who likes dealing with real people may enjoy working with a Caliber loan consultant.

That person should guide you through the entire process, from selecting the best loan for your needs, through preapproval, the application process, and closing.

Your loan consultant should be able to work quickly because he or she is supported by some cutting-edge technologies that can speed up the loan process.

As Caliber’s website says, “This enables us to take eligible borrowers from application to closing in record time — as little as 10 business days*.”

However, that *asterisk is important. Because it leads to a warning that not all loans are appropriate for accelerated digital delivery. Says Caliber, “Processing and closing times vary depending on the nature and complexity of the transaction.”

Borrowers with a troubled credit history or self-employed income, for example, often require manual underwriting that can lengthen the processing time.

Still, many are appropriate for expedited closing, and that’s an impressive level of service.

Caliber Home Loans customer service reviews

Caliber didn’t do so well in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Mortgage Satisfaction Study. It’s a long way down the rankings and its score is below the industry average.

However, it’s worth noting that Caliber receives fewer official complaints than many of its competitors, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 
Mortgage Originations 2019
CFPB Complaints 2019
Complaints Per 1,000 Mortgages
2019 JD Power Rating
Caliber Home Loans
282,100 60 0.21 816/1,000
Wells Fargo
1,026,800 342 0.33 837/1,000
Quicken Loans
774,900 187 0.24 880/1,000
Chase
527,600 188 0.36 850/1,000

Online customer reviews vary wildly depending on the forum you visit.

One review platform gave it 4.1 stars out of five, while another gave it 1.25 stars.

But be wary of those forums. People are much more likely to post on them if they’re aggrieved than if they’re happy, which is why few big lenders look good on them.

Mortgage loan products at Caliber

Caliber has an exceptionally broad range of both conventional and government-backed mortgage products:

Conventional loans and refinances

  • Conventional loans — Not backed by the federal government and often best for those with strong finances and good credit (620+)
  • Freddie Mac’s Home Possible — Minimum 3% down payment
  • Fannie Mae’s HomeReady — Also as little as 3% down
  • Homestyle Renovation — When you need financial flexibility to buy and build or refurbish a home
  • Jumbo loan — When you want to borrow more than most: up to $2.5 million
  • Jumbo interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage — Again, borrow up to $2.5 million but have ultralow monthly payments from the start. But you won’t be reducing the amount you owe every month
  • Relief Refinance — Refinance to a lower rate or monthly payment

Government-backed loans and refinances

  • FHA loans — Down payments as low as 3.5% and opportunities for borrowers with credit starting at just 580
  • FHA 203(k) rehab loan — One loan that covers both the purchase and renovation of a home
  • VA loans — As little as $0 down. But only for eligible groups, including veterans and servicemembers
  • USDA loans — Also can have a zero down payment. The home has to be in a USDA-designated rural or suburban area and the borrower must have a low or median income for the area
  • FHA streamline refinance — No cash-out but allows you to refinance with minimum fuss, perhaps without even an appraisal. You must be current with your mortgage payments
  • VA streamline refinance (IRRRL) — Like the FHA streamline but for VA loans

Not many lenders offer such a variety of types of mortgages.

Caliber Home Loans FAQ 

Is Caliber Home Loans legit? 

Absolutely! It has 6,000 employees and originated more than a quarter of a million mortgages in 2019. And it has an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau. We see zero reason toCaliber Home Loans’ legitimacy

Is Caliber Home Loans a bank?

Caliber is not technically a bank. And it doesn’t provide banking services beyond mortgages. In fact, Caliber Home Loans is what the mortgage industry calls a non-bank lender. That means it offers loans but doesn’t accept deposits.

Is Caliber Home Loans a mortgage broker? 

Caliber is a lender, not a broker. Mortgage brokers act as intermediaries, offering loans from other companies. Lenders offer only their own products. Indeed, if you use a broker it might even recommend a Caliber loan.

What credit score does Caliber Home Loans use? 

That will vary depending on the mortgage product you choose. For example, its website quotes a minimum credit score of 580 for VA and FHA loans. But 620 for conventional loans.

But your score isn’t the only factor that will decide whether your application’s approved. And, as with all borrowing, the higher your credit score, the lower the mortgage rate you’re likely to pay.

Does Caliber Home Loans sell their loans?

Yes, at least some of them. Nearly all lenders sell the mortgages they originate soon after closing. That gives them the money to lend to new borrowers.

Caliber says that it tries to remain the “servicer” (the company that manages the account and collects payments) on the mortgages that it originates. That allows it to retain and build its relationships with its customers.

Where can I get a Caliber mortgage?

You can begin your mortgage application process online. But very soon you’ll be talking to a loan officer, or “loan consultant,” as Caliber calls them.

You can also call to begin that process or to schedule a face-to-face meeting with someone in a branch.

According to NMLS, Caliber Home Loans currently has brick-and-mortar branches in 44 states — only excluding Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.

That said, homeowners in those states without branches are still welcome to use Caliber, as it’s licensed in all 50 states. They’ll just need to apply online or over the phone instead of in-person.

That shouldn’t be too much trouble, as Caliber’s technology is reputedly as advanced as many end-to-end online lenders.

Is Caliber the best mortgage lender for you?

Caliber Home Loans is a strong mortgage lender in many regards. It offers every major type of home loan. And it’s flexible in helping borrowers qualify with credit scores as low as 580 and down payments starting at 3%.

However, many lenders offer similar benefits. So be sure to compare mortgage rates from more than one company before settling on the lender you’ll use.

Verify your new rate (Jun 2nd, 2020)

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  1. Interest Rate: The rate you pay in interest per year based on the current loan balance.
  2. APR: The total cost of getting the loan including the interest rate and closing costs.
  3. Discount Points: Mortgage points, also known as discount points, are fees paid directly to the lender at closing in exchange for a reduced interest rate. - Read More
  4. Mortgage Originations: The number of mortgages this lender closed. The most recent data available is from the 2017 Mortgage Market Activity and Trends, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), published May 2018.
  5. CFPB Complaints: The number of mortgage origination or closing related complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2018. We ignore complaints about issues that don't concern mortgage applications and closings, such as loan servicing, since some lenders don't service loans and therefore would have an unfair advantage in complaint numbers.
  6. Complaints per 1000 mortgages: The number of mortgage-related complaints compared to this lender's total mortgages originated. Due to data availability, we're comparing 2017 originations with 2018 complaints to arrive at the number of complaints per 1000 mortgages originated.
  7. JD Power Rating: On a 1,000 point scale, consumer insight company JD Power scores large banks across six factors: channel interactions, deposit accounts, credit accounts, investment accounts, convenience, and problem resolution.