PNC Mortgage Review

Kimberly has been a personal finance writer/editor, consumer credit expert, and financial literacy advocate since 2001. Tweet her @rotterwrites.

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PNC is a great fit for borrowers seeking a low down payment mortgage, including low- to moderate-income earners who might qualify for a PNC cash grant. Also, for all borrowers, PNC’s preapproval comes with a firm commitment to lend.

Since PNC is one of the largest banks in the U.S., it naturally offers home mortgages in all 50 states and Washington D.C. What's more, PNC offers wide array of fixed and variable-rate loans for both purchases and refinancing, plus a diverse suite of mortgage products, including conforming loans (loans that do not exceed federal loan limits), jumbo loans, home equity loans, and HELOCs.

In this PNC mortgage review we'll cover the lender in more depth to help you decide whether PNC is the best mortgage lender for you.

Ratings Methodology
PNC Bank Mortgage
Min. Credit Score

  • 580

Min. Down Payment

  • 3%

Key Features

  • 3% down no PMI offering
  • HELOC's
  • Home equity loans
  • Considers nontraditional credit history

Loan Types
  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA
  • Jumbo
  • Conventional
Fixed Rate Terms

  • 30 year, 20 year, 15 year, 10 year

Adjustable Rate Terms

  • 10/1, 7/1, 5/1, 3/1

Top perks

Wide selection of loan options: PNC offers a wide variety of loans likely to satisfy the needs of most borrowers. Among PNC's offerings are the most popular government-backed mortgages, including Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans. Jumbo loans are available for up to $5 million.

Low down payment options: PNC offers several loan programs to help borrowers attain homeownership without a large cash outlay.

  • 80-10-10 program: Qualified borrowers who want to make a lower down payment and avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) can take a first mortgage for 80% of the home's value and a home equity line of credit for 9.9% of the home value. The down payment requirement is then just 10.1%, and there is no private mortgage insurance added on.
  • FHA loans: These are loans made by the bank and guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) which require a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loans: These are loans made by the bank and guaranteed by the Veterans Administration. There is no down payment requirement. VA loans are for active-duty servicemembers, veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard, and some spouses. Check with the Veterans Administration to see if you qualify.
  • USDA loans: These are loans made by the bank and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for low- to moderate-income borrowers. The loan can only be used for a primary residence in an eligible rural location.
  • PNC community loan: This is a special loan program unique to PNC. The down payment requirement is 3% and there is no PMI.

Note that low down payment loans tend to come with a higher mortgage interest rate than conventional loans with a 20% down payment.

Medical Professionals mortgage: PNC offers a special mortgage to medical interns, residents, fellows, and doctors who have completed their residency in the last five years. The loan must be used for a primary residence, and the maximum loan amount is $1,000,000. There is no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Cash grants: If you qualify based on income limits or your location, you could get a $1,500 grant toward the down payment or to help pay closing costs.

Digital pre-approval: From the comfort of home (or just about anywhere else), from the device of your choice, you can provide basic information about yourself and the loan you want, plus electronically verify income, assets, and employment. PNC's pre-approval is a firm commitment to lend.

Online tools: PNC offers very good information, education, and online tools geared toward first-time homebuyers and anyone else who wants to learn more about home loans. For example, you can use these interactive calculators to figure out the loan size, the home price, and the monthly payment you can afford. PNC's Home Insight Planner helps you get ready to apply and to identify the right loan. Later, the Application Tracker helps you navigate the loan application and closing processes.

Home equity line of credit: PNC's Choice home equity line of credit (HELOC) could be a way to access equity at a lower cost than a typical refinance. Borrowers can choose either a fixed- or variable-rate option, both of which have pros and cons. The nice thing about a line of credit is that you only need to access (and make payments on) the dollar amount you need -- no less, no more.

What could be improved

Relationship discount: Many lenders offer a discount on the origination fee or the interest rate to customers who meet certain eligibility criteria. PNC does not advertise any kind of relationship discount on mortgages, although private banking clients do get a discount on auto loan interest rates.

The wow factor: JD Power ranks PNC No. 11 in the 2019 Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, with three out of 5 stars in every category ("about average"). This puts PNC squarely in the middle of the pack -- not amazing, not dismal. Crossing the threshold of your new-to-you home is a champagne-worthy occasion, but the mortgage process isn't an experience that makes most people dance and twirl with delight. In fact, it can be a frustrating and stressful time when we feel completely at the mercy of strangers who hold the key to our happy future. We all want to feel well cared-for during this time, so there is something to be said for seeking out a mortgage lender whose service stands out from the pack.

Fee transparency: PNC doesn't offer a way to accurately estimate closing costs without applying. That makes it hard to compare apples to apples when researching or shopping for loans. PNC estimates total costs to be 3%-5% of the loan amount, but can't narrow it down any more than that. There is a tool on the website for calculating closing costs, but it makes many assumptions that may or may not be correct. Your actual final cost will depend on your location and the type of loan you receive.

How to qualify

Applying for a mortgage from PNC is similar to the process at most banks. You'll need to provide basic information about who you are and where you work (or what your other sources of income are). You'll be asked to provide recent tax returns, pay stubs, and financial statements, as well as other information relevant to your particular situation. PNC provides a mortgage application checklist to help you.

PNC requires a credit score of at least 620 for most loan programs, or at least 580 for an FHA loan. Some loans have a higher credit score requirement.

Most borrowers should have a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 45% or less. That means that your total required monthly debt payments, including your new mortgage, should not exceed 45% of your net income. If your credit score is higher or you have more cash for a down payment, you may qualify with a higher DTI ratio.

Alternatives to consider

Quicken Loans is consistently popular with its customers. For the last 10 years, it has earned the No. 1 spot in JD Power's U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Customer Satisfaction study. That means people who get a mortgage from Quicken Loans report very high levels of satisfaction. Furthermore, Quicken Loans earned the No. 1 spot in JD Power's mortgage servicing customer satisfaction study for the last six years, indicating that the lender prioritizes customer service for the long haul.

Citi Mortgage gives mortgage fee discounts to all of its banking customers, not just those who are affluent (automatic mortgage payments from a Citi account are required). If you have just $1 on deposit with Citi, you're eligible for a $250 discount off closing costs. The financial benefits grow along with the customer's total balance (deposit, IRA, and investment accounts are eligible). Customers with a combined balance of $2 million or more get a 5/8% discount off their mortgage interest rate for the life of the loan.

PNC mortgage is right for you if:

If you are low on cash for the down payment or you are a low- or moderate-income earner, you may be an excellent fit for PNC in light of its special mortgage programs. In particular, the low down payment mortgage that has no PMI could be a long-term money saver.

PMI is a monthly cost that can add up significantly over time, so avoiding it is a boon no matter your income or the size of your loan. That's why doctors should also take a close look at PNC for its medical professional loan.

Lastly, take a look at PNC mortgages if you're a first-time homebuyer or repeat buyer who still feels a little bit flummoxed by the process. The well-designed educational tools could help you gain the knowledge you need.

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