Suntrust Mortgage Review 2019
Suntrust Bank is a major commercial bank and supplier of mortgages to the US housing market. It is in the top 20 US banks by total assets and market capitalization and actively participates in the mortgage lending market in all 50 states, through its branch system and online.
Suntrust is a major nationwide lender with a variety of loan options that can meet almost any customer’s needs. Its retail footprint being only in the southeastern United States means that if you want to meet your loan officer face-to-face, you need to live near one of its branches. However, what it lacks in retail presence, it makes up for in online (online application, chat) and on-the-phone service. You can apply from your phone, your iPad, any mobile device, as well as your computer and conduct the entire process online.
In addition to home purchases, Suntrust also refinances properties – you can get a “rate and term” (also known as no-cash out) refinance, or you can take equity out of your home with a cash-out refinance, with the exception of Texas, where they don’t do refinances in which cash is taken out.
- Suntrust is a proven leader in the mortgage lending arena and it has offerings for the entire spectrum of borrowers who meet the minimum credit score and have enough income to qualify
- The Suntrust web site is an excellent resource, which explains each program in easy-to-understand language and where one can easily find a phone number to call or instantly chat with a representative.
- Suntrust’s SmartApp allows prospective borrowers who are comfortable using technology to complete the loan application process on their smart phone or other device.
- Despite its size and volume, Suntrust offers a wide variety of programs and flexibility for those who lack significant down payment or have less-than-perfect credit.
- Current turnaround times are 45 days, which can be a challenge in certain high-volume, high demand areas, where the housing supply is short.
- Retail branch offices in only eleven states – a potential convenience factor for anyone who is not tech-savvy or who doesn’t want to give their information over the phone.
About Suntrust Mortgage
Founded in 1891 as the Trust Company of Georgia and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, merging with and acquiring banks and financial companies through the years. In 1985, the Trust company of Georgia and SunBanks, merged to form SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Its physical banking footprint is in the southeastern United States, where it has approximately 1,320 branches. It is a publicly traded company (Ticker NYSE: STI), and describes itself as “a purpose-driven company dedicated to Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being for the people, businesses and community it serves.”, according to its corporate profile.
The merger and acquisition activities continue to this day, resulting in one of the largest financial institutions and mortgage lenders in the country. Home lending is through their wholly-owned subsidiary, Suntrust Mortgage.
How Does Suntrust Mortgage Work?
You can obtain a mortgage from Suntrust in one of three ways.
- Visit a branch office – There are approximately 1,320 Suntrust branches in eleven states across the southeastern US – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,
- You can call 1-877-907-1012 and talk with a loan officer.
- You can apply online at suntrust.com/home-mortgages
If you need help at any time, you may online chat with a Suntrust representative, who will get you to where you need to be.
Suntrust Mortgage Products, Fees, and Conditions
Suntrust has a full complement of mortgage products, offering nine standard mortgage products and three types of specialty mortgages. Suntrust does not offer loans for people with alternative credit or income that is challenging to document.
Suntrust’s fees are $725 for all loans, which includes processing appraisal and credit report fees. They quote rates with no origination fee, but for certain loans, such as FHA, VA and USDA, there may be an up-front insurance premium or guarantee fee, which are charged by the respective agencies. In addition, there are other closing costs that are not charged by Suntrust and which vary by the location of the property.
Suntrust’s turnaround times average 45 days, which may be too long in tight real estate markets, where there are multiple bids for every property and there are multiple offers.
Following is a brief description of the twelve products you can find at Suntrust.
- Agency 30-year fixed rate – no changes and no surprises with these loans. They are made to agency standards, with the maximum loan $453,100 – $679,750, depending on location of the property. The minimum credit score is 620.
- Agency 15-year fixed rate – again, no changes to the terms (interest rate, payment, etc.) for the duration of the loan. The same maximum loan amounts apply as for the 30-year fixed rate. The minimum credit score is 620.
- Jumbo 30-year fixed rate – no changes to the rate or payments for the life of the loan. These loans start with amounts that are $1 higher than the agency conforming limit – at $453,101, up to $769,751, depending on the location of the property. The maximum jumbo loan is $1,500,000 and a 20% minimum down payment is required. Suntrust’s jumbo loans also have significant reserve requirements. This means that, in addition to proving the availability of the down payment and closing costs, the borrower must have six or months of monthly payments (Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance) in assets that can be liquidated in an emergency. The minimum credit score is 720.
- Agency 5/1 ARM (30-year amortization and term) – these loans are fixed for the first five years and then adjust annually. In other words, these loans have interest rates which are subject to change during their life. The minimum credit score is 620.
- Agency 7/1 ARM (30-year amortization and term) – these loans are fixed for the first seven years and then adjust annually. Again, interest rates are subject to change during the lifetime of the loan. The minimum credit score is 620.
- FHA 30-year fixed rate – As with the agency loans, there are no changes to the rate or payments. However, these loans are well-suited to those who have limited funds for a down payment or whose credit history is not pristine. Where most agency loans prefer that you have a 720 credit score, FHA loans allow for 660 or lower and down payments as low as 3.5%. The maximum loan, depending on the location of the property, is $679,750. The minimum credit score is 620.
- VA 30-year fixed rate – eligible veterans can obtain 100% financing using their VA eligibility, to a maximum loan of $679,750, depending on the location of the property. No down payment required. 30-year fixed rate loans are the most commonly used VA mortgage program. The minimum credit score is 620.
- VA 15-year fixed rate – again, these are for eligible veterans and may equal 100% of the purchase price or value of a home, to a maximum loan of $679,750, depending on property location. The minimum credit score is 620.
- VA 5/1 ARM (30-year amortization) – these loans are fixed for five years and then adjust annually for the remaining 25 years of the loan. Interest rates are subject to change during the lifetime of the loan. The maximum loan, based on the location of the property, is $679,750. For eligible veterans only, up to 100% of the purchase price of value of the property. The minimum credit score is 620.
Special Loan Programs
Specialty loan programs offered by Suntrust include:
- The Fannie Mae HomeReady and Freddie Mac Home Affordable programs, which help homebuyers who qualify to purchase a home with a lower down payment, lower interest rates, and reduced mortgage insurance cost. These are available in true conforming (up to $453,100 or in the agency high-balance programs, for which the maximum loan varies by county, with a high of $679,750. The minimum credit score is usually 640.
- The USDA Rural Development program, which allows qualified buyers purchasing a home in certain rural areas to purchase a home with 100% financing – in other words, no money down. Income limits apply – the borrower has to earn 115% of the US median income or less, to qualify. Currently, the US median income is approximately $59,000 annually, so 115%, or $67,850, the maximum one can earn to qualify for a USDA loan. The loan amount may be increased to include the financing of some closing costs if the home appraises higher than the purchase price. This is the only program in the industry to do so. The minimum credit score is 620.
- A program to help doctors, medical residents, interns, dentists, podiatrists and osteopaths achieve homeownership. Often, these professionals are bogged down in student loan debt. They earn good money but are challenged to save for a down payment. Suntrust will make a 100% loan (no down payment) up to $750,000 to these professionals. The minimum credit score is 720.
- Jumbo Loan Solution. A borrower can achieve jumbo loan amounts using Suntrust’s Jumbo Loan Solution, a combination 1 + 2nd up to $1,025,500, using a conforming, $453,100 first mortgage and a maximum second mortgage of $572,400. This avoids the significant reserve requirements and high minimum credit score requirement of jumbo financing
You can use our extensive set of calculators determine which of the loans are better for you, whether to get a 15 or 30-year loan, whether to refinance, how much home you can afford, whether to make extra payments and more.
Suntrust Mortgage Process
Suntrust’s website offers a downloadable document that describes all the steps to consider when purchasing a home and getting a home loan to finance it. A partial list includes:
- 1. Get organized – track down your income documentation, bank statements and other legal documentation that will be needed during the process.
- 2. Think about your budget – start with your salary, self-employment or other income, multiplying it by 29%. The goal is that your total housing expense would not exceed 29% of your gross income. In fact, the agencies and Suntrust will approve loans with housing expense greater than 29% of your monthly gross income, but that is a good place to start. At this point, engage the services of a professional loan officer, who can help guide you through income qualifying.
- 3. Apply for a mortgage and get pre-approved. It will tell the seller you are serious and will assure the seller that you will be able to close on the agreed terms.
- 4. Prepare for the appraisal, processing, and underwriting of your loan. Most of this work is done by Suntrust, with you supplying documentation as it is requested.
- 5. Your loan goes for final approval and if approved, you will sign the final closing documents and then you close.
Suntrust Mortgage: The Advantages
Suntrust is a proven leader in the mortgage lending arena and it has offerings a couple of great advantages: for the entire spectrum of borrowers who meet the minimum credit score and have enough income to qualify, including:
- Many options for borrowers – Available for an entire spectrum of borrowers who meet the minimum credit score and have enough income to qualify, including conventional agency fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), Government guaranteed/insured fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages (FHA, VA and USDA) ,conventional non-conforming (Jumbo) fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgages and “Combo” 1st and 2nd mortgages, to address reserve and other issues,
- Flexibility – Despite its size and volume, Suntrust offers a wide variety of programs and flexibility for those who lack significant down payment or have less-than-perfect credit.
- Communication – Ease of communications in the manner you prefer – phone, e-mail, online chat.
- Knowledge Source – The Suntrust web site is an excellent resource, which explains each program in easy-to-understand language and where one can easily find a phone number to call or instantly chat with a representative.
- Advanced mobile app – Suntrust’s SmartApp allows prospective borrowers who are comfortable using technology to complete the loan application process on their smartphone or another device.
Suntrust Mortgage: The Disadvantages
- Turnaround times – Current turnaround times are 45 days, which can be a challenge in certain high-volume, high demand areas, where the housing supply is short.
- Geographic presence – Retail branch offices in only eleven states – a potential convenience factor for anyone who is not tech-savvy or who doesn’t want to give their information over the phone.
Summary: Suntrust Mortgage
While Suntrust doesn’t have the highest customer satisfaction ratings on the major rating sites, such as J.D. Power and Bankrate.com, they were very responsive to our requests for information.
You do not have to have the highest credit scores or significant cash down payment for their loans. Suntrust has a solution for most borrowers, including some that require no cash down and a workaround for jumbo borrowers who cannot meet the reserve requirements.
Suntrust is best suited for the borrower who can deal with technology (if not located in the Southeastern United States) and who meets reasonable standards for credit score (620 – 850), can qualify based on their income and demonstrate down payment and reserve requirements for Suntrust’s programs.