If you want to buy a new home in Denver, you’re going to need to follow a key strategy: act fast. Homes in Denver are only on the market for an average of six days, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Those sellers aren’t just taking the first offer they receive, either: Many homes get multiple offers.
While that insane level of competition can be frustrating in your search for a home in The Mile High City, the fall and winter can be a better time to enter the market. Before you start shopping for a home, though, shop around and get preapproved for a mortgage. Here are some of the best mortgage lenders to consider.
To determine the best mortgage lenders by city, Bankrate evaluated lenders based on several criteria, including affordability (APR and fees); expediency (approval and closing times); and experience (including customer service support). In general, the best mortgage lenders have a high Bankrate Score and high ratings from borrowers.
Best mortgage lenders in Denver
- Good if: You’re putting 20 percent down
If you have a solid credit score (700 or above) and you’re planning to make a 20 percent down payment, Better.com might be better than just about any other choice for a mortgage in Denver. Among the perks: There are no lender fees, you can lock in a low interest rate, and if you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks to pay for discount points upfront, you’ll be able to save even more. Better.com’s borrowing experience is also built for tech-savvy homebuyers, so you’ll do everything online, and you can text, call or email to talk with customer service at any time, day or night.
- No lender commissions or fees
- 24/7 customer service
- Also a great pick if you’re refinancing your mortgage in Denver
- Higher credit score requirements
- No VA or USDA loans
First Midwest Bank
- Good if: You’re making a small down payment
Don’t let the name fool you. While First Midwest Bank is based in the middle of the country, the lender helps homebuyers across the nation, including in Colorado. The bank has programs specifically designed for first-time homebuyers and those in need of assistance with the down payment and closing costs. If you qualify as a low-income, low-credit score borrower (you still need a 620), you can put just 3 percent down as long as you complete an education course.
- Down payment and closing cost assistance programs
- Special no-down payment offerings for doctors, medical residents and dentists
- Charges a $750 processing and underwriting fee
- Mortgage rates aren’t advertised on website
AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation
- Good if: You’re looking for an FHA loan
The “save” in AmeriSave’s name rings true, particularly if you’re searching for an FHA loan. The Atlanta-based mortgage lender offers a range of options to pay points upfront in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you’re looking to avoid that big chunk of cash on closing day, you’re in luck, too: You can opt for a higher interest rate and simply pay the lender’s $500 application fee. AmeriSave requires a 600 minimum credit score for an FHA loan, but if you’re looking to borrow more than $700,000, you’ll need at least a 640.
- Transparent $500 fee structure
- A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
- Doesn’t offer a specific first-time homebuyer program
- Need to share personal info to get an idea of mortgage rates that apply to you
First Mortgage Direct
- Good if: You’re in the market for an investment property
Want to cash in on the continuing Denver population boom? Instead of getting a mortgage to live there, maybe you want to get a mortgage to rent it out to monthly tenants or out-of-town visitors looking to experience the city’s buzz. If so, you could benefit from working with First Mortgage Direct, which offers investment property loans. You’ll need solid credit (likely a 700 credit score or higher) and the ability to make a sizable down payment of at least 15 percent, but your money now will pay dividends long into the future.
- No lender fees
- Don’t have to make a 20 percent down payment
- Doesn’t advertise rates on website, and website is fairly limited in terms of functionality
Local Denver mortgage lenders
Sometimes it feels good to step away from the screen and speak with an actual human face-to-face. If you want to find a mortgage lender with an office you can visit in The Mile High City, consider these three great options.
- Good if: You want to build a new home
Housing supply is limited in Denver, which might get you thinking about building a new place instead of buying an existing one. FirstBank, which is headquartered in Lakewood and has branches across the Denver metro area, offers a wide range of loans to help you break ground on your dream home, including to land loans, interest-only construction loans and construction-to-permanent loans so you can avoid paying two sets of closing costs. You can also feel good about working with a bank that’s making a difference in Denver: It has helped raise more than $217 million for Colorado non-profits.
Front Range Mortgage
- Good if: You qualify for a VA loan
Front Range Mortgage is a mortgage broker, which means it can help you compare multiple options from lenders based on your credit criteria and needs. It has access to loads of loan programs, but this is an especially good pick if you’re a veteran, current service member or eligible family member who can secure a VA loan: Approximately 75 percent of Front Range’s customers are VA homebuyers.
Elevations Credit Union
- Good if: You want to avoid paying mortgage insurance or closing costs
Headquartered in Boulder, Elevations Credit Union offers a wide range of mortgage programs for more than 170,000 members. The most notable options include a no-closing-cost option (you’ll pay a higher interest rate, but the upfront expenses will feel more manageable) and 80/10/10 combination loans that help you bypass mortgage insurance with just 10 percent down.
What to know when getting a mortgage in Denver
How much will you need to borrow to buy a home in Denver? The median sales price was $550,000 as of August 2021, according to Redfin, but each neighborhood is different, and Denver has made big strides in expanding its light-rail service to help commuters in recent years. In general, it’s best to balance where you need to be on a regular basis (an office or near a school for your children, for example) with where you can afford to live.
Additionally, think ahead to how your property is expected to appreciate in the coming years. The September 2021 market report from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) cited key spots for growth in the next 10 years: Regis, Chaffee Park, Sunnyside and West Colfax. Now might be the time to be an early mover to the next hot spot in town.
If you feel overwhelmed by seeing the properties you want get all-cash offers or disappear from the market as soon as they’re listed, broaden your search to some of the homes and condos that don’t fall into the “hot” category. Consider this advice from Andrew Abrams, a real estate agent in Denver and the chair of the DMAR’s Market Trends Committee: “If you are a buyer in a unique situation, whether you have less money to put down or are needing a longer close,” Abrams said in the DMAR report, “you may want to look at properties that have been on the market longer than a week.”
Before you start looking, though, make sure you get preapproved for a mortgage to give your offer the credibility it needs in this seller’s market, and follow these tips to make your offer stand out.