I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
7 Best Immigrant Friendly Mortgage Lenders
Disclosure: Stilt is a lending company. Nonetheless, we are committed to recommending the best loan products to our readers when their needs are outside Stilt’s loan offerings.
When you are an immigrant, the best thing you can generally hope for is a well-priced rent. When you don’t even have your citizenship, and banks expect you to go back home at any given minute, it might be fairly difficult to find a lender that actually trusts you when you say “I want to permanently live here.”
That being said, owning your own place holds more satisfaction compared to endlessly paying rent. Sure, you may pay for the mortgage – but at least when you do so, you know the house will be yours in the end. Finding a lender is not easy – but it’s not impossible either. You just need to know where to look for it.
7 Best Immigrant Friendly Mortgage Lenders
Mortgage lenders that are immigrant-friendly can easily be found in a variety of places; however, you just need to know where to look for them. Some lenders offer better rates compared to others, which is why you might want to do some proper research beforehand. Here are some lenders where you can find some immigrant-friendly mortgages.
|Lender||Best For||Minimum Credit Score||Minimum Down Payment|
|Alterra Home Loans||immigrants with ITIN||620||3.00%|
|Rocket Mortgage||Spanish-speaking immigrants||620||3.00%|
|New American Funding||self employed immigrants||620||3.00%|
|Better.com||self employed immigrants||620||3.00%|
|Bank of America||immigrants with high credit scores||620||3.00%|
|Navy Federal||veteran immigrants||620||3.00%|
Mortgages from Credit Unions
As an immigrant, you may have better luck finding a loan as an immigrant from a credit union than you might have from a traditional bank. While banks might be more reticent in giving you a loan due to your likely nonexistent credit situation, credit unions are not actually that strict.
Granted, the rates might be higher when you compare it to a traditional loan. However, at least you will receive the loan. As an immigrant, you should be aware that big loans like this are hard to come by. You may find out more about how credit unions work by following this link.
Mortgages from Online Lenders
Online lenders are also a fairly convenient solution, as they tend to make things more readily available. Not only can you request for the loan from the comfort of your own home, but they are also not as strict when it comes to your credit situation. If you are an immigrant with no credit, this might actually be very convenient for you.
Stilt considers a wholistic range of features when considering personal loan lenders, including, but not limited to: accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education, flexible payment options, related fees, soft credit checks, and transparency of loan rates and terms. We also review consider the complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Stilt is not compensated in any way for our reviews and recommendations.
Recap: 7 Best Immigrant Friendly Mortgage Lenders
- Alterra Home Loans – Best mortgage lender for immigrants with ITIN
- SunTrust – Best mortgage lender for Spanish-speaking immigrants
- Rocket Mortgage – Best mortgage lender for Spanish-speaking immigrants
- New American Funding – Best mortgage lender for self-employed immigrants
- Better.com – Best mortgage lender for self-employed immigrants
- Bank of America – Best mortgage lender for immigrants with high credit scores
- Navy Federal – Best mortgage lender for veteran immigrants
How to Buy a Home as an Immigrant
The process of buying a house as an immigrant with an L1, F1, or J1 visa mortgage should not be more complicated compared to a full-fledged citizen buying a house. The whole differentiating factor here should be the lender that you choose – but the right lender should not care whether you are there on a green card or not. If you don’t have your green card yet or require more information, you may want to check this link.
That being said, getting a loan on a green card can be slightly more difficult. This is generally caused by social discrimination in regards to mortgage-lending, as immigrants tend to face more distrust and higher rates compared to those that are citizens of the United States. Here is a good source for you to find out more about the social structure of mortgage discrimination.
All things considered, when you find a good lender, the entire process should be quite straightforward.
Determine Your Budget
First things first, not everyone can afford the same house. If you are on a low income, for instance, you might have some troubles along the way if you go for a big, very expensive looking house.
Unlike Americans that are fairly comfortable with high-level debt, many immigrants prefer to save up and go with the cash-down version – borrowing as little money as they possibly can. This might take quite a lot of time, as the average home nowadays in the U.S. is around $230,000.
This is why you need to see precisely how much your lender is willing to give you before you start looking up houses. Figure out how much the institution is going to lend you, but also how much you are willing to spend.
The last thing you want to do on a DACA visa, for example, is to strap yourself to a DACA home loan that you cannot afford. Think about it this way: aside from the fees that you will have to pay on the loan, you will also have to pay for food, transportation, bills, as well as other living costs. And since the mortgage will be dragging on for several years, you need to buy a home that you know you’ll be able to pay.
As a rule of thumb, it has been discovered that a buyer may afford a property that costs 2 to 2.5 times their yearly income – as long as they take at least a 15-year TN visa mortgage, for instance. For instance, if a person on a visa earns around $100,000 every year, they may afford a mortgage going from $200,000 to $250,000.
That being said, even if the borrower is willing to spend that much money, they will still have to find a lender willing to give them that money. This is why research is key here.
Know Your Rights
We have said it, and we will say it again: immigrants are highly discriminated against when it comes to getting a mortgage for a new home. Many complaints are addressed, even though the Fair Housing Act (FHA) clearly prohibits housing providers to refuse to rent or to sell a home to a person that is “different,” so to speak.
Therefore, even if you have a different color, race, religion, national origin, familial status, sex, or suffer from some form of disability, then you should still have every right to receive a home loan.
As the HUD mentions, “Housing discrimination is not only illegal; it contradicts in every way the principles of freedom and opportunity for all citizens.” In the end, everyone should be given the right to buy a house, regardless of where they are coming from, or how they are categorized as “different.”
The same thing applies to mortgages. Just as you cannot be refused in regards to buying a house based on your citizenship status, you also cannot be refused a request for a loan. Whether you get it or not may depend on different factors. For instance, if your credit is particularly bad, or if your income is not high enough, then there is a chance that your loan request might be refused.
However, it will not be because of your origin. If you suspect that this is the case, then you might want to contact the nearest HUD office and report the situation.
Find a Mortgage Loan
This is perhaps the lengthiest part of buying a house: shopping for the actual loan. Where mortgages are concerned, there are two types that you may come across: adjusted-rate, and fixed-rate mortgages.
Fixed-rate mortgages are the traditional type. Generally lasting between 15 and 30 years, the immigrant will have to pay the mortgage in full within the time that has already been decided upon. The interest rates will be fixed, and the borrower will have to pay the same sum every month – even if the market rates change.
However, if you go for an adjusted mortgage as a non-resident, the interest will be fixed throughout the initial term – but then, as the market adjusts, it will fluctuate according to the changing rates. This means that the interest rates will be quite unpredictable.
Typically, the interest rates will be at more or less 4%. Some loans will be more expensive, depending on the lender – and some will be much more affordable. This is why you might want to spend some quality time narrowing down your options before you settle down on one in particular.
Shop for a House
Now comes the second most time-consuming part: shopping for a house. Now that you know your budget, you may look up houses that you like and that you know you can afford. You may connect with local agents – but in most cases, you may find a variety of websites that are listing available houses.
Make an Offer
In the United States, offers for homes are generally negotiated. The buyer doesn’t always have to go for the listed price, just as the seller doesn’t have to always go for the initial price. This negotiation stage can go back and forth continuously until both parties come to a conclusion.
Get an Inspection
The last thing that you want is to pay a bunch of money for a house, only to later realize that there are a lot of issues with it. Reparations might cost more than what your budget allows – and if you get an inspection, you might actually be able to get a lower price on the house. Sure, it might cost anything between $300 and $600 – but think about the money that you might end up saving in the long run.
Buy Homeowners Insurance
Insurance is more important than you think, particularly if you want to have a safety net for the moments when things might go terribly wrong. Just in America, more than 90% of the homeowners have also applied for insurance, just to ensure that they won’t be left on the streets when disaster strikes.
Research the neighborhood and figure out exactly what kind of home insurance you need. Do you need protection against burglaries, or is your area more susceptible to natural disasters? Granted, you may go for an insurance policy that has a bigger coverage – but the more you add on it, the more expensive it will be. This is why you may want to go for an insurance policy that covers what you will most likely need.
Close on Your New House
With everything said and done, what you will have to do now is to close the deal for your new home. Once you sign the papers, you will be entitled to call that house your own.
Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible – and make sure to also bring a trusted advisor with you. This way, you won’t have any issues understanding the terminology – something which might be the case, particularly if you are not a native in the English language.
Getting a Personal Loan for Your Down Payment
Even if you are here on a work visa and have a fairly attractive salary, it may still be rather expensive for you to buy a house. A good way for you to reduce the costs in the long term is to provide a generous down payment.
As we have learned from The Balance, you have to follow the 20% rule when providing the down payment. This means that you need to provide 20% of your loan upfront so that you can reduce the overall costs. Ideally, you should make this payment in cash – but this should be done according to your possibilities.
However, not all of us have the means of coming up with this kind of money upfront – which is why getting a personal loan should seem like the next logical step here. Lenders will look at your monthly income, credit history, credit score, job history, and employment status before giving you the loan – but as long as you meet the criteria, there should not be any problems.
If you are an immigrant and have decided to buy a home, then you have already taken your first step. Now, all that is left for you to do is to equip yourself with the knowledge and find a good lender. Once the loan has been approved for you, you may begin looking for the house of your dreams so that you can finally say that you belong to the place.