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Wells Fargo Mortgage and Home Equity Review

Wells Fargo offers a wide range of competitive mortgages. It also offers home equity lines of credit for those wanting to release equity from their homes.

Our Verdict

Wells Fargo is one of the biggest banks there is and as such has a fantastic array of mortgages and home equity lines of credit to choose from. It tends to accommodate those with a lower credit score than most other lenders and has plenty of local branches if you value the personal touch. However, Wells Fargo has been mired in controversy over the past decade. It appears to be working hard to clean itself up, but customer trust has been damaged.


  • Wide array of products
  • Good for low credit and small down payment
  • Many local branches


  • Poor reputation
  • Refinancing and loan modifications difficult

Wells Fargo is a mortgage lender that offers conventional fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages for purchases and refinancing. It also offers jumbo mortgages for purchases and refinancing at both adjustable and fixed rates, and it provides FHA and VA loans. If you’re a member of a participating union, you may be eligible for Wells Fargo's Union Plus Mortgage, which offers award cards for purchase or refinance loans. Click to read our round up of the best mortgage refinance lenders in the US.

Wells Fargo also has a construction mortgage option that lets borrowers lock their interest rate while their home is being built. Current homeowners can apply for home improvement loans and home equity lines of credit.

Related: Best Mortgage Lenders

Wells Fargo Mortgage website

(Image credit: Wells Fargo)

With the lender’s yourFirst mortgage, eligible borrowers can purchase a home with as little as 3 percent down, and they can qualify for a discounted interest rate by going through a homebuyer education class. The program is designed for first-time buyers, but the bank states that some who aren’t first-timers may be eligible as well.

Wells Fargo doesn't offer home equity loans, but does have a range of home equity lines of credit, also know as a HELOC, which we cover later in the review. 

There are a few differences between a home equity loan and a HELOC. The primary difference is that with a loan you get a lump sum and have to pay interest on the full amount from the get-go. A line of credit allows you the freedom to withdraw the money you need as you need it, and only pay interest on that. However, home equity loans come with a fixed interest rate so you know exactly how much you'll be paying back. A HELOC comes with a variable rate, which can go up as well as down. 

Wells Fargo Mortgage rates

(Image credit: Wells Fargo)

Wells Fargo Mortgages Rates and Fees

Wells Fargo’s interest rates were comparable to those of other large banks and higher than the smaller mortgage lenders’ rates at time of publication. 

Wells Fargo has a daily rates tracker for purchase and refinance mortgage rates which are based on a good credit score of 740 and 0.5 discount points. At the time of writing a Wells Fargo mortgage with 30-year fixed rate was a shade under 4% APR. This will fluctuate day to day and depending on the market.

The difference between its advertised interest rates and annual percentage rates is small, meaning it has lower closing costs and fees than some competitors. There is no fee for applications, but you may have to pay an origination fee depending on your credit and your location. 

Borrowers who put 20 percent or more down will not have to pay for private mortgage insurance.

If interest rates go down while a borrower is in the rate-lock period before closing, they can have their rate lowered once. Wells Fargo does not charge a penalty for making extra payments on a mortgage to shorten the life of the loan.

For its conventional loans, Wells prefers at least a 620 credit rating and a 43 percent debt-to-income ratio, but its loan officers have some flexibility for individual clients. 

For yourFirst mortgages, the lender considers factors beyond traditional credit scores (utility payment history, for example), to qualify borrowers that might otherwise be rejected.

Wells Fargo Mortgage Application Process

(Image credit: Wells Fargo)

Wells Fargo mortgage application process

While there is a wealth of information about Wells Fargo’s products on its website, to apply for a mortgage, you will have to speak to someone in person or on the phone. 

Once the process is under way, you can complete most of the application online through the secure yourLoan Tracker website, just make sure you remember the name of the mortgage adviser who started the mortgage application for you.

Wells Fargo's online mortgage portal allows you to upload documents and sign them electronically from a computer or smartphone, making it quite a simple process overall.

It comes with a handy to-do list so you know what you need to do and what the bank is working on during the mortgage process. 

If you don't like the idea of doing all of this online then you can visit a local office. There are more than 1000 of them in all states except Vermont. You can still apply online if you live in Vermont.

Wells Fargo Home Equity Line of Credit HELOC

(Image credit: Wells Fargo)

Wells Fargo home equity line of credit

While getting connected to an equity loan offer was problematic, the officers themselves were knowledgeable and willing to help. The online resources help prepare you for applying and for knowing how much you may qualify for before you go through the process. It's a clear choice to consider when looking for a home equity line of credit.

Our reviewers evaluated each lender on the rates and fees they offer for their home equity loans and HELOCs. Wells Fargo score is below average, in part because it does not offer a traditional fixed rate loan unlike TD Bank and Key Bank.

Wells Fargo’s LTV was about average with other lenders. The LTV, or loan-to-value ratio, is the amount of money you owe on your home divided by its current value. You can find a calculator on the website to help you determine this. One advantage to Wells Fargo not found with all lenders is that it allows a second home or investment property as collateral. Of course, the LTV of that property will be the one they look for.

Wells Fargo stopped offering home equity loans as of August 2015, but it does offer home equity lines of credit with fixed or variable interest rates. As with most HELOCs, you pay interest during the draw period and only on the amount you borrow. After the draw, you a set number of years to pay off the loan, which you can negotiate with your loan officer when you apply.

The online application was one of the best we tried. We appreciated that the application asks you to check your credit, LTV and debt-to-income ratio before applying. It can save folks a lot of time and prevent an unwelcome surprise. The website offers an LTV calculator, although there's no link to it from the application. You can also find an online checklist of the materials you'll need to apply.

Wells Fargo Mortgage and HELOC customer experience

Wells Fargo is one of the biggest institutions in our lineup, with over 6,000 branches in 49 states. It covers all aspects of banking, which can be an advantage but made for a frustrating time when calling. 

It took three transfers to get to the correct department both times we called. Either the operators are not especially familiar with home equity or it's not one of Wells Fargo's most popular programs. The mortgage and loan officers themselves knew their business and were willing to answer questions in full detail, even noting exceptions that might apply but we did not know about.

You can contact the bank via email, but expect that a loan officer will call you back rather than emailing, even if you request an email response. You can find calculators on the Wells Fargo website as well as an extensive list of articles and tips for all areas of banking and finance. We didn't see many that were specifically HELOC-focused, but there is a lot of mortgage information.

We'd be remiss for any Wells Fargo review to ignore its very public misdeeds: opening millions of new accounts for customers without their consent, improperly charging mortgage customers extra rate-lock fees, allegedly discriminating against minorities and signing up customers for auto insurance they didn’t want. 

While the company has promised the federal government and its customers that it has entered a new era of trustworthiness, go into any arrangement with your eyes wide open. That said, the company still gets lots of new business and has decent customer satisfaction rating with J.D. Power, and its individual loan officers receive glowing reviews.

Wells Fargo mortgage and home equity verdict

Wells Fargo offers over 6,000 branches where you can get personal support and a thorough but easy mortgage and line of credit process. While it does not offer home equity loans, it’s still a good institution to consider when looking for financing for home improvements or other high-ticket expenses and its mortgage rates are good. While it has had its fair share of reputation-damaging events, it does appear to be trying to rectify past issues.

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Sabrina Rojas Weiss

Sabrina is a digital editor with a portfolio of in-depth features and reviews on a broad range of subjects, including entertainment, health, fashion, parenting, finance and more.