How Many Mortgage Lenders Should I Apply To? | Bankrate (2024)

Portions of this article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was reviewed, fact-checked and edited by our editorial staff.

Key takeaways

  • Comparison-shop with at least three mortgage lenders. Candidates might include a bank or credit union or an online provider.
  • Get mortgage rate quotes within a 45-day window to minimize the impact to your credit score.
  • While it's best to shop around with multiple lenders, you only need one preapproval to make offers on homes, and only need to lock in your rate and apply with one lender.

How many lenders should I apply to for a mortgage?

When applying for a mortgage, it’s best to compare at least three lenders, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This can help you uncover the ideal combination of loan type, interest rate and fees that meets your needs.

Comparison-shopping pays off, as well. In fact, applying with multiple mortgage lenders helps you save money — as much as $1,200 a year, according to Freddie Mac research.

3 lenders

The ideal number of mortgage lenders to compare as you shop for a loan

How to apply for a mortgage with multiple lenders

Whether you’re buying a home or refinancing, there’s some prep work involved when it comes to applying for a mortgage with more than one lender. Follow these steps:

Step 1. Compare current mortgage rates

Do as much research as possible ahead of getting rate quotes or applying for a mortgage. There’s plenty of information out there about current mortgage rates and APRs. Compare rates from multiple lenders as well as for different mortgage types to get an idea of what might be the best option for you. By getting a feel for the financing landscape, you’ll know what to expect when you’re ready to get preapproved.

While your individual rate will largely be determined by your credit score, this step offers perspective on what interest rates are like today, and helps you compare fees between lenders without having to go through the application process.

Step 2. Choose your lenders

While there’s no right number of mortgage lenders to get quotes from, the CFPB suggests contacting at least three. Having done your research beforehand, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision as to which three (or more) you’d be comfortable working with.

Keep in mind: While it’s tempting to go with your current financial institution for your mortgage, there are many types of lenders, including banks, savings and loans associations, credit unions and online lenders.

“Find a mortgage originator you like and trust, and stick with them,” says Mike Carpenter, a senior mortgage loan originator at Kirkland, Washington-based Washington First Mortgage Loan Corp.

You can use Bankrate’s best mortgage lender guide to help you narrow down your choices.

Step 3. Understand all application costs

Some mortgage lenders charge an application fee when you apply for a loan, which can run up to several hundred dollars and is usually non-refundable. If your goal in applying for multiple mortgages is to save money, then it might not make sense to spend on applications with several lenders.

If a lender does have a fee and you’re set on applying for a loan, ask if it can be waived or reduced. The lender might be open to negotiating with you.

“While most lenders won’t tell you an application fee is negotiable, it does tend to be one of the few costs associated with obtaining a mortgage that can be flexible, or waived,” says Lauren Anastasio, a senior certified financial planner with Vanguard.

Note: The application fee might be called something other than “application fee.” Others might waive the application fee but impose a higher origination or underwriting fee.

Beware of “junk” fees, as well, which are added costs lenders might tack on. For example, you might find two line items on your loan estimate that cover the same thing, such as an “origination” and a “broker” fee. If you spot this, ask for clarification.

Here are a few other possible junk fees to watch for:

  • Processing fee
  • Document preparation fee
  • Administrative fee
  • Email fees
  • Miscellaneous fee

Of course, there are several legitimate costs commonly associated with getting a mortgage, including charges for an appraisal, credit check and title services. It’s important to understand all of these fees ahead of time so you know exactly how much the loan costs, and potentially have some leverage negotiating with lenders.

Step 4. Gather documents for your application

When you apply for a mortgage, you’ll provide the lender with information about your employment history, income and any assets and debt you have. Before you get quotes or apply for multiple loans, gather this paperwork, including pay stubs and W-2s. (Here’s a comprehensive list of documents needed for preapproval.) If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide documents related to your business, as well.

In addition, consider creating a separate email account. When you apply for multiple mortgages, you might get bombarded with sales pitches, follow-up emails, calls and texts. With a dedicated inbox, these communications can land there instead of your usual account.

Step 5. Get preapproved or prequalified

If you don’t want to pay application fees (or go through with your applications just yet), you can get preapproved or prequalified for loans instead, typically at no charge.

A mortgage prequalification is a basic assessment of your credit and finances and gives you an idea of what you might qualify for. A preapproval is a more thorough evaluation and involves submitting documentation about your finances. A preapproval letter allows you to make offers on homes; a prequalification does not.

Will multiple mortgage applications affect my credit score?

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender pulls your credit report to help in its decision to approve or deny your loan. This is considered a “hard” credit check, which can lower your credit score — temporarily, at least. Several hard inquiries within a short time frame might make a bigger dent in your score.

However, credit scoring models take mortgage rate-shopping into account and group multiple inquiries together as one if these checks all take place within a 45-day period. These credit pulls typically stay on your credit report for two years before dropping off.

“There will be a record of multiple credit inquiries if you do apply with multiple lenders, but there should be little to no impact on your credit score from those inquiries and it shouldn’t discourage you from speaking with multiple lenders until you find the right fit,” says Anastasio.

Advice for applying to multiple mortgage lenders

When considering multiple mortgage lenders, take your time and shop around. Applying to several lenders could save you a considerable amount over the life of your loan. You might also consider letting lenders know you’re comparing offers since this could encourage them to give you their best deal upfront. Ask lenders to provide you with loan estimates so you can easily compare offers and rates.

When comparing offers, evaluate the lender’s service and its offered rate; a slightly higher rate might be worth it if the lender can close on time and offers superior service. Finally, protect yourself against spam by being selective with your applications to lower the likelihood of your details being passed to other financial institutions.

FAQ about applying for a mortgage

  • While you can technically lock your rate in with multiple lenders, doing so implies you’re committing to the loan application process with that lender. Locking your rate could also trigger a credit check and sometimes other fees, which you might still be responsible for even if you decide to work with another lender. For these reasons, it’s best to shop for rates with multiple lenders, but only lock your rate with the one waving the most compelling offer.

  • While it’s a good idea to rate-shop with at least three lenders, you only need one preapproval letter to make an offer on a home.

  • You’ll apply for an actual mortgage once a seller accepts your offer for their home. Before you begin searching for homes and making offers, you’ll need to obtain a mortgage preapproval. The preapproval process is very similar to the application process, and much of the information you provide for a preapproval transfers to your formal mortgage application when the time comes. You get preapproved when you’re ready to search for homes. Typically, a preapproval remains valid anywhere from 30 days to 90 days. If you haven’t found a home by that time, you might need to ask your lender to issue a new preapproval letter.

How Many Mortgage Lenders Should I Apply To? | Bankrate (2024)


How Many Mortgage Lenders Should I Apply To? | Bankrate? ›

While it's a good idea to rate-shop with at least three lenders, you only need one preapproval letter to make an offer on a home.

Will different mortgage lenders approve you for different amounts? ›

Different lenders may approve you for different amounts, give you different interest rates, or charge different fees. It's in your best interest to do your homework. Research the best lenders in your area, get pre-approved by a handful of them, and compare the rates they give you.

Should you apply to multiple mortgage lenders? ›

Applying to multiple mortgage lenders allows you to compare rates and fees to find the best deal. Having multiple offers in hand provides leverage when negotiating with individual lenders.

Is it OK to get preapproved by multiple lenders? ›

The answer is yes. You can have multiple pre-approvals at the same time, and in fact, it's often a smart move done by savvy first-time home buyers and real estate investors. There is technically no limit on the number of pre-approvals you can get which makes shopping around with different lenders a no-brainer.

How many mortgage brokers should you talk to? ›

Contact at least three lenders on your list. Don't stop with just one lender! By exploring your options with multiple lenders, you get more information about your options and get a sense for which loan officers you might feel most comfortable working with.

Should you talk to multiple lenders? ›

“There will be a record of multiple credit inquiries if you do apply with multiple lenders, but there should be little to no impact on your credit score from those inquiries and it shouldn't discourage you from speaking with multiple lenders until you find the right fit,” says Anastasio.

Do multiple loan applications hurt your credit? ›

However, applying for two different types of loans, for example, a student loan and a car loan within a two-week period can count as two separate hard inquiries. Applying for more loans after the timeframe of 14 to 45 days can negatively impact your credit score.

How many lenders should I get pre approved with? ›

In fact, you can — and should — get preapproved with multiple lenders. Many experts recommend getting at least three preapproval letters from three different lenders. Each mortgage lender will give you a unique offer with its own interest rates, loan amounts, origination fees, and other upfront closing costs.

Does getting pre approved hurt your credit? ›

No—they may involve a soft inquiry, which won't affect your credit score. If you are pre-approved for a specific card you will receive an offer. The offer itself doesn't generate a hard inquiry, so don't worry—just because you have the offer doesn't mean you've hurt your score.

How long are pre approvals good for? ›

Most lenders will provide a mortgage preapproval letter that expires within 60 to 90 days. Not only can interest rates change during the preapproval window, but so can your financial situation. Either can affect your maximum borrowing potential, which is why lenders don't want to take on the risk beyond 90 days.

How far in advance should I get pre approved for a mortgage? ›

Some mortgage lenders recommend reaching out for preapproval as early as 12 months before you plan to buy a home to get a head start on addressing any issues that might come up.

How many preapprovals is too many? ›

You can have multiple pre-approvals at the same time, in fact it's often a smart move. There is technically no limit on the number of pre-approvals you can get which makes shopping around with different lenders a no-brainer.

Can I lock rates with multiple lenders? ›

There isn't anything stopping home buyers who want to lock-in rates with multiple lenders. But if you go this route, the fees related with two or more loan applications can easily negate the money saved with a lower rate.

What not to say to a mortgage broker? ›

10 Things Not To Say To Your Mortgage Broker | Loan Approval
  • 1) Anything untruthful.
  • 2) What's the most I can borrow?
  • 3) I forgot to pay that bill again.
  • 4) Check out my new credit cards.
  • 5) Which credit card ISN'T maxed out?
  • 6) Changing jobs annually is my specialty.
Mar 10, 2023

Is it best to talk to mortgage broker or bank? ›

a Bank. A mortgage broker can offer a wider array of options and streamline the mortgage process, but working directly with a bank gives you more control and costs less. Kate Wood joined NerdWallet in 2019 as a writer on the homes and mortgages team.

Is it worth trying more than one mortgage broker? ›

The answer to this question is yes you can use multiple brokers to act on your behalf, but the problem is, it might not help you get the mortgage you want and, in some cases, can prevent you from getting a mortgage altogether.

Can you get denied by one lender and approved by another? ›

You should request an explanation from your lender as to why your application was denied. The lender is required to provide you this explanation in writing if you request it, and must to give you copies of the credit score upon which the denial was based. Don't be discouraged. Another lender may approve you for a loan.

Can you get additional borrowing from a different lender? ›

You could also switch to another mortgage lender and increase how much you borrow. But this is only suitable if you can save more than you'll have to pay out in application fees to the new lender and early repayment charges for leaving your existing lender.

Can you have 2 mortgage loans at the same time? ›

You can have up to 10 conventionally financed properties at a time if you can get approved. If you're planning to finance multiple properties, expect more stringent approval requirements than getting approved for a mortgage on a primary residence.


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