PROS / Because this service is a broker, you receive multiple loan offers and can find the one that best fits your borrowing needs.
CONS / This lender has a high minimum loan amount, which may be more than you wish to borrow.
VERDICT / Because it connects you with lenders offering competitive loans, LendingTree provides more loan options than other companies, making it the best choice for a home equity loan or HELOC.
If you are looking for a home equity loan, LendingTree is a good place to start. While other companies can make you an offer directly, LendingTree connects you with banks from its network of more than 300 lenders. This extensive selection means you can shop through multiple offers and choose the one that best fits your financial situation.
In addition, some of LendingTree's banks accept subprime borrowers, so even if you have less-than-perfect credit, you may still qualify for a home equity loan. Because Lending Tree helps connect you with multiple loan offers, all of which have quality rates and terms, it wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for home equity loans.
Rates & Fees
Home equity loan rates can vary depending a wide range of factors, including your credit score, income and employment history. Because LendingTree acts as a broker, you can shop through multiple offers, so you don't feel pressured or locked into having to accept a loan with a higher interest rate or fees than what you're comfortable with.
In the best-case scenario, you can also find lenders that have minimal fees as well. Many of LendingTree's lenders do not charge application or closing fees, which can save you a lot during the loan process. The best home equity loans do not charge maintenance fees, but some lenders may. And if you wish to pay off your loan early, there will likely be no fee. However, because each lender works differently, you will want to understand what, if any fees, will be associated with your loan.
There are many factors involved that determine the loan amount you qualify for. Having a broker like LendingTree do the legwork and find companies you qualify for can save you valuable time. It has lenders that accept a FICO score as low as 580, the minimum credit score needed to get a mortgage and which is a significantly lower score than what most banks advertise they are willing to accept. In situations like the above, LendingTree's process can save hours of time and frustration.
Loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is a consideration companies look at, and most companies prefer an LTV of 80 percent or lower, which is in line with what LendingTree prefers, though some of its lenders may accept a higher percentage. Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is another factor lenders consider, and 36 percent is generally the maximum at which most companies feel comfortable approving a loan. Like with LTV, LendingTree likely has lenders who might accept a higher ratio depending on other factors.
When choosing an equity loan, you have the choice of a traditional loan where you receive a lump sum or a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which you can withdraw from over a period of time. LendingTree has lenders who offer both types of equity loans.
The maximum loan term is 30 years, which is the average length of time for a typical first mortgage. Depending on your loan requirements, you may have a 15-year or even a five-year loan. Your HELOC draw period – the time during which you can freely withdraw against your line of credit – ranges between five and 10 years and depends on the lender you choose.
When we contacted LendingTree, we spoke with representatives who were able to answer questions about its borrowing process and the information needed to process an application. Because so much information depends specifically on the lender, representatives could not provide us with exact numbers for loan amounts and rates and fees, so you may not have some of your most basic questions answered. The representatives we spoke with were friendly and willing to answer the questions they could.
The loan process with LendingTree takes you through the pre-qualification process. It gathers your basic information, including your income and assets as well as your existing debts, and then connects you with multiple loan offers. The underwriting time frame varies, but most companies take between three and five weeks to complete a loan request. Again, the time it takes the lender to process your loan varies depending on whom you choose. There are no local branches where you can physically speak with a representative, but LendingTree has lenders in all 50 states and in Washington, DC.
As a broker, LendingTree gives you more options than if you were to seek out and compare loan offers from standard lenders yourself. In addition, you have a better chance of pre-qualifying because lending requirements vary depending on the provider. Although your final interest rate depends on a number of factors, LendingTree features companies with some of the lowest rates and fees in the industry. In the end, more choices mean you are more likely to receive a loan with rates and terms you can handle and that you're satisfied with, making LendingTree one of the best choices for a home equity loan or HELOC.