Caliber Home Loans Review – Caliber Mortgage Guide for 2020
Caliber Home Loans are ideal for first-time home buyers, veterans and those who may have credit challenges to overcome. The company website provides digital tools that can speed up the mortgage process. Unfortunately, borrowers can’t shop mortgage rates online. Caliber’s webpage does not display mortgage rates.
- Down Payment Assistance – Participates in some state down payment assistance programs.
- Educational Resources for Military – Offers educational resources for military borrowers.
- Digital Tools – Provides digital tools for a streamlined application process.
- HomeOne Program – A first-time homebuyer program called HomeOne. It only requires a 3% down payment and borrowers may qualify with a minimum 620 credit score.
- Government-insured loans including Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs, and United States Department of Agriculture programs are available.
- No mortgage rates displayed online.
- Must work with a loan officer for pre-qualification and preapproval.
- No home equity loans
- No other financial services
Caliber Home Loans Review
Caliber Home Loans is a high-volume, online mortgage lender. It’s not a bank. Caliber offers home loan services through a network of consultants, as well as independent mortgage brokers and loan officers. The lender utilizes digital mortgage technology with the goal of providing an easy application process and fast closing times.
Caliber Home Loans – Mortgage Products
The company offers a broad selection of home purchase loans, including fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and jumbo mortgages. Caliber does not offer home equity loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOC). However, it has several refinancing options. Caliber provides low down payment conventional loan options like HomeReady, Home Possible loans, and the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage. They also offer government assisted loans from the Department of Veterans Amortgage ffairs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Housing Administration, including 203(k) renovation loans. Mortgages insured or guaranteed by these government agencies generally allow for lower credit scores, down payments and income. Conventional and government-backed mortgage programs, including:
- Conventional loans
- Adjustable-rate loans
- Mortgage refinance loans
- FHA loans
- VA loans
- USDA loans
“In fact, Caliber appears to place special emphasis on serving military members through its VA home loans. On a separate website, CaliberMilitaryLending.com, it provides extensive details about VA loan options and eligibility requirements. The lender also claims to have created a “specialized, in-house educational curriculum” to help its loan consultants and branch managers meet the needs of military borrowers. Caliber’s portfolio lending programs provide options for homeowners who don’t qualify for traditional financing. The Homeowner’s Access and Fresh Start programs are aimed at those who’ve had past financial difficulties, while the Elite and Premier Access programs are designed for borrowers who are buying or refinancing a high-value property.”
“The company also offers up to $2 million in financing for investment properties. Portfolio mortgages are serviced by the original lender rather than being bundled and sold to government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When lenders keep loans on their own books, they’re often more flexible when it comes to loan amounts, debt-to-income ratios and loan-to-value ratios.” (Source: nerdwallet.com)
What Kind of Mortgage Can I Get With Caliber Home Loans?
When you’ve finished crunching numbers and considering your monthly home budget, it’s time to decide which mortgage option is best for you. Caliber Home Loans offers several home loan options, including:
Caliber Home Loans – Conventional Loans
Fixed-rate and ARM loans are considered conventional loans, which means they are not insured or guaranteed by a government agency. Homebuyers with high credit scores and solid employment histories are the best fit for this type of low interest mortgage.
- Fixed-rate mortgage: The interest rate is set with this type of mortgage, meaning your monthly payment will remain consistent through the full loan period, unless you decide to refinance. Loan periods for fixed-rate mortgages are typically between 15 and 30 years. If you plan to stay in the home for this length of time and want a consistent payment, a fixed-rate loan might be a good option for you.
- Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): Adjustable-rate mortgages feature a lower interest rate during the first one, three, five, seven or 10 years of the loan. After that time, the interest rate can increase or decrease, though it generally goes up. It is worth noting that the interest rate cannot rise above a certain level that is specified in the loan’s terms. ARMs are typically less predictable than fixed-rate loans because they can change with market fluctuations. Because interest rates are lower initially with this type of loan, borrowers who don’t necessarily plan to own their home on a long-term basis might choose an adjustable-rate mortgage instead of a fixed rate mortgage.
This low-down payment loan program only requires a 3% down payment, making this type of mortgage much more accessible than most. The minimum FICO credit score is 620, which is also fairly forgiving. There are no income or geographic restrictions of any kind, and loans come in 30- and 15-year fixed-rate variations.
HomeStyle® Renovation loan:
These loans offer assistance to those in need of home upgrades or repairs. HomeStyle renovation loans fund renovations equaling up to half of the home’s post-renovation value. Caliber Home Loans offers fixed-rate or adjustable-rate HomeStyle renovation loans.
Caliber Home Loans – Jumbo Loans
These mortgages are meant for high-priced homes. Jumbo loans provide funding for properties priced above the conforming loan limit in a particular county. In most areas, the conforming loan limit is $510,400, meaning if you take out a home loan over this amount, you will have a jumbo loan. However some areas with higher real estate prices will have conforming limits of up to $765,600. In these counties, you will have a little more leeway before your mortgage is considered a jumbo loan. Caliber Home Loans provides jumbo loans in both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options for up to $2.5 million. Down payments begin at 5%, depending on the home’s purchase price.
Jumbo interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM):
Caliber Home Loans’ jumbo interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage has a lower monthly payment during the first five to 10 years of ownership. The buyer will only pay the interest during this period. This is ideal if you prefer a lower monthly payment in the first years of the mortgage. It’s also beneficial if you plan to sell the property after a few years. Like other jumbo loans, jumbo interest-only ARMs offer funding for homes priced at up to $2.5 million. The minimum credit score is 700 for this type of loan.
Caliber Home Loans – Government Assisted Loans
The Federal Housing Administration insures FHA loans. These mortgages reduce the risk lenders face when lending to those with lower credit scores or limited financial resources. Caliber Home Loans offers FHA loans in fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options with down payments of 3.5%. For fixed rate FHA loans, Caliber only asks for a 580 credit score.
FHA 203(k) Fixed-Rate Rehab:
This type of loan provides additional funding before move-in to allow you to buy a home that needs repairs or renovations. There are two options: “standard,” for remodeling and repairs, and “limited,” which is for minor remodels and non-structural repairs. A minimum credit score of 620 is allowed for FHA 203(k) Fixed Rate Rehab. You will need to finance at least $5,000 of the renovation work.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) backs this type of loan. USDA mortgages offer borrowers in rural or underdeveloped areas a low down payment option (as low as 0% in some cases). You may be eligible for a USDA loan if the property is in a designated rural area and you do not qualify for a conventional loan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides backing for VA loans. VA loans are not subject to a minimum down payment and come with a number of other favorable loan conditions. If you’re a veteran, military or National Guard member or a surviving spouse, you may find that a VA loan is the best option for you. Caliber Home Loans offers both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate VA loans with varying credit score requirements. Those with credit scores ranging from 580 to 619 are eligible for fixed-rate financing but may face more strict terms and conditions, while those with a credit score of 620 or above are eligible for an adjustable-rate VA loan.
Home Possible® loan:
This Freddie Mac loan program helps borrowers with credit scores as low as 620 obtain a mortgage. Down payments can be as little as 3%, and homebuyer education is mandatory for first-time buyers. This type of loan comes with the possibility of an “Affordable Second.” This is a secondary loan from a state or county agency, or a nonprofit.
This is a Fannie Mae program for buyers with limited incomes. Down payments can be as low as 3% and can be paid by gift funds or your employer, if that’s an option for you. Even properties in high-cost areas may qualify for this type of loan.
Whether you want to refinance for a lower interest rate, or you need cash to pay off other debt, Caliber Home Loans offers a wide variety of options. Choose between: conventional, FHA streamline or cash out, VA streamline or cash out or USDA streamline. Caliber Home Loans offers information on each type as well as loan officers to assist you in your choices. Homeowners used to have access to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), but the Federal Housing Finance Agency ended the program in 2018.
Caliber Home Loans – Portfolio Lending Program
The following mortgage options are not government standard loans or conventional. Caliber Home Loans calls the following options its “Portfolio Lending Program.” The options are unique to Caliber, while most of the other loan options above can be found at a variety of lending institutions.
Elite Access loan:
This program is for homebuyers who are looking to purchase an expensive home, but do not have the credit score to get approved for a jumbo loan. More specifically, the minimum FICO score for this type of loan is 700. There are both ARM and fixed-rate options, with loans being capped at $3 million.
Premier Access loan:
If you’re trying to buy or refinance a high-value property and don’t qualify for a jumbo loan, this may be your best option. Down payments can be as low as 10% with no additional mortgage interest requirement. Credit scores of 660 and above qualify.
Homeowner’s Access loan:
If your lending history disqualifies you for most loans, this is one of your alternatives. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, late mortgage payments and short sales don’t preclude you from this loan. A minimum credit score of 620 is required and your debt-to-income ratio can be up to 60% with compensating factors.
Fresh Start Program:
Similar to the Homeowner’s Access loan, this option is for those with troubled lending history. You can have a foreclosed home, short sale, deed-in-lieu or bankruptcy in your past and still qualify for a loan. Your credit score needs to be 580 or above, and the loan can be for $100,000 to $1 million. Down payments start at 15%.
Investor Access loan:
If you’re looking to get into the real estate investment game, but you don’t have enough cash to buy expensive properties, this program can help. Loan amounts vary from $100,000 up to $1 million, with a minimum FICO score of 720 being required for approval.
With this option, you can purchase an unlimited number of investment properties. You need a credit score of 620 or higher, and a down payment of 30%. Investment loans offers both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.
Caliber Home Loans – Mortgage Process
Prior to starting the application process, you can research your options on the company’s website. This will provide an idea of all the potential loan offerings. There’s also a page that explains the home buying process from start to finish, so you can get an idea of the necessary steps.
Caliber website suggests contacting a loan consultant to discuss your income, debts and credit history. This will help to see if you are qualified for the mortgage you had in mind. Use the green “Find a Loan Consultant” tab at the top of the homepage to get started. If you like what you find, you can pursue full preapproval online. This will require you to fill out an online application. Then, complete with document uploads and electronic employment verification. You can also just continue the application process by continuing to work with your Caliber loan consultant.
Caliber also offers a mobile app for Android and iPhone. The app lets you find a loan consultant, view the status of your loan application, and even manage mortgage payments using a mobile device. You can still choose to chat with a Caliber loan officer over the phone. Additionally, there are hundreds of branch locations across the country where you can deal face-to-face with a loan officer.
Process for Getting a Mortgage With Caliber Home Loans
“Prior to starting the application process, you can research your options on the company’s website, so you have an idea of potential loan offerings. There’s also a page that explains the home buying process from start to finish, so you can get an idea of the necessary steps. To start the application process with Caliber Home Loans, you need to find a loan consultant in your area, fill out an online contact form or call the central phone number. After you find a home to purchase, a loan officer reviews your financial situation. Some of the documents you may have to provide include pay stubs, tax returns and recent bank account statements. After analyzing your financials, the loan consultant will tell you which loan products you qualify for and can help you decide which is the best fit.”
“Next Caliber will have your house professionally appraised and then you can move to the final step: closing. Your loan consultant will give you a closing disclosure that states your home’s financing, what money you owe at closing and other loan conditions. During the closing process, you’ll spend about an hour signing paperwork. You may have a closing agent present as well as a title company representative, the seller, your real estate agent and sometimes an attorney. The closing agent should be able to answer any questions or concerns you have during your review of the documents, but it’s always helpful to do your research beforehand.” Source: smartassets.com
Different loan programs have different standards and minimum requirements. For example, You need a credit score of at least 580 to qualify for a Caliber FHA loan. Certain loan programs will have higher minimum score requirements. In some cases, you may qualify for a loan of up to $3 million with a debt-to-income ratio of up to 50%. Down payment requirements will also vary depending on the type of loan. For example, Caliber’s HomeReady program for homebuyers with limited incomes offers low down payments starting at 3%. Government assisted USDA loans require no down payment at all.
What it Takes to Qualify
With Caliber’s wide variety of loan options, you stand a good chance at qualifying for a loan with this company.
Caliber Home Loans looks at a number of factors when determining if you qualify for a loan. One of the first considerations is your credit score. A “good” credit score generally falls near 700 and increases your chances for a conventional loan. Anything near 600 or below, in the “fair” range, will likely need a government-backed loan, such as an FHA, or one of Caliber’s other options, such as the Fresh Start program.
Credit score isn’t the only financial factor that Caliber Home Loans will consider. Your income, debt levels and down payment savings will also affect your ability to obtain a loan. Generally speaking, a down payment of 20% of the cost of the home is required for a conventional loan. You can put less money down if you’re willing to pay mortgage insurance. For conventional loans, you need private mortgage insurance (PMI). FHA loans, which require only a 3.5% down payment, come with mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). The MIP is set by the government and help insures the loan for the lender.
Debt to Income Ratio
Another important factor is your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is calculated by taking your monthly liabilities, such as credit card, auto or student loan debts, and dividing them by your gross (pre-tax) monthly income. For example, let’s say your salary is $50,000 a year, which means you make $4,166 a month pre-tax. You have a car payment of $350, student loans totaling $550 and pay $425 for credit card debt. Your total debt per month is $1,325.
That figure, divided by your income, $4,166, equals 0.318 or roughly 32%. That percentage is your debt-to-income ratio. The number helps depict how much income you have available for monthly mortgage payments. Many mortgage lenders accept a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43%, but you’ll increase your chances for a conventional loan with a lower percentage. Caliber does offer programs, such as the Homeowner’s Access loan that allows borrowers to have up to 60% debt-to-income ratio. (Source: smartassets.com)
Caliber Home Loans – Caliber Mortgage Rates and Fees
Unfortunately, the website doesn’t disclose closing costs or fees for Caliber mortgages. General information and amounts for some mortgage fees can be found on the Caliber website under the Tools & Resources tab. Unfortunately, origination and other fees are not included. The website’s Closing Costs page also avoids getting into specifics. Mortgage interest rates, either general or customized, are missing from the website as well. The lack of information makes it difficult to compare Caliber Home Loans with other lenders when you’re mortgage shopping online.
Caliber Home Loans – Features for first-time home buyers
First-time home buyers often have lower credit scores. Also, they can get into trouble meeting traditional mortgage down payment requirements. To address these needs, Caliber offers several loans with flexible minimum credit scores. They also participate in some state-level down payment assistance programs. Check out Caliber’s website which includes a first-time homebuying guide. This guide describes each step of the process in detail.
Caliber Home Loans – Customer Service
This is a fast-growing company. It has only offered loans since 2009, and officially became the Caliber Home Loan brand in 2013. With the launch of a streamlined application process late 2016, Caliber demonstrates its commitment to offering the quickest loan process. The website boasts 10 days from application to close in eligible situations. That’s weeks ahead of many other lenders.
Caliber’s website lists a toll-free phone number and several mailing addresses. There’s also an option to submit questions online. According to J.D. Power Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, Caliber Home Loans earned just over three “Power Circles” out of five, or “about average,” for overall satisfaction. In 2019, the company earned just two out of five stars for customer satisfaction.
- Online – Click the green “Submit Questions” button, then select the “email us” tab on the following page.
- Face-to-Face – Caliber’s Branch Locator tool can help you find the address and phone number of a loan consultant in your state.
- Mobile App – It’s also possible to find a loan consultant and contact Caliber through the lender’s mobile app.
Caliber Home Loans Reviews
Caliber Home Loans has an A- Better Business Bureau rating. The company also rates 2 out of 5 in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. This is a below average rating. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 308 mortgage-related complaints in 2019 about Caliber Home Loans. Caliber Home Loans provided the CFPB with a timely response on 307 issues. The most common issues were related to:
- Having trouble during the payment process.
- Struggling to pay the mortgage.
- Closing on a mortgage.
Caliber Home Loans Reviews: 5-Star *****Ronald of Fort Lauderdale, FL
We completed a re-financing with Caliber in late December. We were extremely satisfied with the entire experience but particularly with two aspects. First, we received a preliminary approval within hours of our application, immediately following on-line submission of our proof-of-income (W-2’s and 1099R’s) documentation. Second, the entire documentation requirement was amazingly simple encompassing the income forms (not IRS returns), property tax as well as insurance information on our property. Both of these aspects stood in direct contrast to the original financing we did in August of 2015 with SunTrust.
Besides the bureaucratic and timely process we then encountered, the extent of required documentation is all-but overwhelming. I am extremely organized and maintain electronic versions of every document that is required which probably totaled were in excess of two dozen items. Caliber was previously our mortgage company on another property and our recent experience was consistent with that financing. In short, we are highly satisfied clients and extremely pleased with our entire re-financing experience with Caliber! (Consumer Affairs – Original review: Feb. 16, 2020, Verified Reviewer/Verified Buyer)
Caliber Home Loans Reviews: 2-Star ** GUILLERMO of Fountain, CO
Bait and switch technique. I do have a mortgage with Caliber Home Loans. Late summer last year, I received few offers about “no closing cost” refinance with Caliber Home Loans. The initial quote was rather attractive; although, there were always closing costs (about $3,600) such a title fees and so on. The offer was documented as preliminary. Once pre-approval was over, I received a document from underwriter with about 15 different conditions or stipulations that required me to sign and agree. The document listed over $6,000 in closing fees. The offer was good for 60 days and I was not too concerned about the conditions they imposed, but rather about the increased in closing cost. I did not sign the document. (Consumer Affairs – Original review: April 21, 2020, Verified Reviewer)
Caliber Home Loans Reviews: 1-Star * Amber of Windsor, CO
We are currently dealing with a Pandemic known as COVID-19, therefore a lot of people are unemployed and I am one of those people. I work in the restaurant industry and have unwillingly been laid off for more than a month now with unforeseeable return. Given these circumstances, I decided to reach out to Caliber Homes to enter the Forbearance Plan since I obviously cannot afford my month mortgage payments in which I was accepted for a 3-month deference. HOWEVER, I READ THE FINE PRINT. Their policy is that once the 3-month deference period ended I IMMEDIATELY have to pay back the 3-months mortgage. Please tell me how this makes sense!
I was not looking to never make these payments. What I need for this plan to be helpful is a mortgage term adjustment, to add an extra 3 months to the term. I was told that was not possible and that I do not get to choose when I get to pay this amount back. I know plenty of other mortgage companies who have agreed to this because it is the only logical thing to do in a time like this. This company only cares about money and has zero regard for their customers who are truly suffering from this Pandemic. So, please think twice before deciding to use this mortgage company because not even a Pandemic will convince them to help you with your mortgage. What horrible morals and ethics! (Consumer Affairs – Original review: April 14, 2020, Verified Reviewer)
What Features Does Caliber Home Loans Offer
Caliber Home Loans allows prospective borrowers to apply online. It also has a mobile app to help you find a loan consultant, view your application status, upload documents, make payments, and connect with customer service. You can find a wealth of information on Caliber Home Loans’ website.
- Homebuying Guides – There are step-by-step guides to the home buying process
- Glossary of terms
- Explanation of fees
- Loan disclosure – information for every type of loan offered by the company, as well as market commentary.
- FAQ section – Most common questions you may have about the process probably have an answer in the Caliber Home Loans’ FAQ section.
- Branch Locator – You can find the closest loan consultant by clicking a map feature or by inputting your information in a contact form. If there are no loan consultants in your state, you’ll be matched with a centralized loan consultant who is licensed for your state.
- Tracking and Payments – Once you actually have a loan from Caliber Home Loans, you can use the site to make payments and track your loan balance.
Unfortunately, you can’t initiate the loan application process through the site. And you won’t be able to register for an online login until you have an actual loan number. However, Caliber Home Loans does offer what it calls – The Ultimate Home Buying Experience. After initiating the application by calling or visiting a loan consultant, you can authorize Caliber to electronically verify necessary financial information. This includes income, bank statements and employment and property information. Caliber Home Loans prides itself on a fast path to closing, sometimes even as fast as 10 days after applying.
- Borrowers who qualify for one of the lender’s loan programs.
- Those who have at least a 580 credit score.
- Borrowers who want several loan options.
How Caliber Home Loans Stacks Up
Caliber Home Loans originates loans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which makes the company widely available. Most states include multiple loan officers so you can talk to a consultant in person, rather than only over the phone. However, one downside is that the company only offers loans, no other banking or financial services. If you like to bundle services, you won’t have that option with this company. Additionally, the online options don’t stack up with some competitors. Caliber doesn’t offer an app for easy phone access for payments and processing. You also can’t prequalify for a loan or start the application process online. You have to initiate the loan process directly with a loan consultant. While Caliber does offer an online account, it’s not available for customer use until you have a loan number.
One of Caliber Home Loans best features is a wide variety of loan options. It’s one of the most comprehensive companies in that regard. Offerings include multiple types of refinances and mortgages for all different qualities of borrowers. Those who have bad credit, bankruptcy or other financial mishaps in their past may find themselves eligible for a loan with this company. Rather than offering only government-backed options, Caliber has its own suite of lending for unique borrower requirements. (Source: smartassets.com)