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PNC Mortgage Review: Great for First-Time Home Buyers, and More

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PNC Mortgage is a nationwide mortgage lender that offers many ways to get a mortgage with a low down payment. Some borrowers will even qualify for a nonrepayable home buyer grant. If cash is what you are looking for, PNC offers home equity products in addition to cash-out refinance options.

Our PNC Mortgage review will help you decide if this is the best mortgage lender for your next home loan.

PNC Bank Mortgage

Key Features

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

Loan Types

  • Conventional
  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA
  • Jumbo

Fixed Rate Terms

  • 30y, 25y, 20y, 15y, 10y

Adjustable Rate Terms

  • 10/1, 7/1, 5/1

Full PNC Mortgage review

This lender is a good fit for: Low- and moderate-income earners, jumbo loan borrowers, and medical professionals looking for a home loan with an affordable down payment and no private mortgage insurance. PNC Mortgage is also a great resource for anyone looking to increase their knowledge of the mortgage process.

Pros

  • Wide selection
  • Cash grants
  • Digital pre-approval
  • Flexible home equity loan options

Cons

  • Relationship discount
  • White glove service
  • Fee transparency

Top perks

Wide selection of loan options

PNC Mortgage offers a very wide variety of mortgage loans likely to satisfy the needs of most borrowers. Among PNC's offerings are the most popular government-backed mortgages, the standard conventional loan, low-down-payment mortgage options, and specialty loans. The variety is broader than the offerings of many other mortgage lenders.

Low down payment mortgage options

PNC Mortgage offers several home loan programs to help borrowers attain homeownership without a large cash outlay.

  • 80-10-10 piggyback loan: Qualified borrowers can get a 10% down payment mortgage with no PMI. The other 90% of the purchase price is covered by a first mortgage for 80%, plus a home equity line of credit for another 10%.
  • FHA loans: These are loans made by the bank and guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). They require a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loans: These are loans made by the bank and guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is no down payment requirement. VA loans are for active-duty service members, veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard, and some spouses. Check with Veterans Affairs 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. These loans can only be used for a primary residence in an eligible location, usually rural.
  • PNC community loan: This is a special home loan program unique to PNC. The down payment requirement is 3% and there is no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

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

Medical professionals mortgage

PNC offers a special mortgage to medical interns, residents, fellows, and doctors who have completed a residency in the last five years. The loan must be used for a primary residence, and the maximum loan amount is $1 million. There is no PMI.

Cash grants

Eligible borrowers who qualify based on income limits or location can get a $5,000 grant toward the down payment or to help pay closing costs.

Digital pre-approval

From the comfort of home (or just about anywhere else), using 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 Mortgage offers very good information, education, and online tools geared toward first-time home buyers and any other borrowers who want to learn more about home loans. It's always a good idea to use a mortgage calculator to see where you stand when you start your home-buying research. PNC offers its own set of interactive calculators on its website to help you figure out the loan size, the home price, and the monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Then you can use PNC's Home Insight Planner to identify the right loan and get ready to apply. PNC's Application Tracker helps you navigate the entire mortgage process, from application to closing. Mortgage rates are also easy to find on PNC's website.

Home equity line of credit

PNC's Choice home equity line of credit (HELOC) could help you access equity at a lower cost than a typical refinance. It's more flexible than a typical HELOC. At PNC, borrowers can lock in a fixed rate on any part of an outstanding balance. A fixed-rate option usually applies to a home equity loan for a set amount. Variable-rate options are typically associated with a line of credit, which gives you access to more cash whenever you need it, up to your limit. Fixed- and variable-rate loan options both have pros and cons, and it may be to your advantage to have this level of control.

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. Relationship discounts on mortgages "may" be available but we think most customers won't qualify for it. PNC Private Bank or Hawthorn customers who maintain at least $500,000 in balances can inquire about special pricing.

The wow factor

J.D. Power ranks PNC ninth in the 2020 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study, with a score below the industry average. To be fair, PNC moved two places higher than in the previous year. Even so, PNC is 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 with delight. In fact, it can be a frustrating and stressful time when you feel somewhat at the mercy of strangers who hold the key to your 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.

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 at 3% to 5% of the loan amount, but doesn't narrow it down more than that. There is a tool on the website for calculating closing costs, but it makes many assumptions that may not apply to your situation. Your actual final cost also depends on your location and your loan type.

Alternatives to consider

Quicken Loans is consistently popular with its customers. For the last 11 years, it has earned the top spot in J.D. Power's U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. People who get a mortgage from Quicken Loans report very high levels of satisfaction. Furthermore, Quicken Loans earned the top spot in J.D. Power's U.S. Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study for the last eight years, indicating that the lender prioritizes customer service for the long haul.

Citi Mortgage gives mortgage fee discounts to its banking customers, not just those who are affluent (you must set up an automatic monthly payment from a Citi account). If you have just $1 on deposit with Citi, you're eligible for a $500 discount off closing costs. The financial benefits grow along with your total balance (deposit, IRA, and investment accounts are eligible).

How to qualify

The documents required for a mortgage from PNC are similar to what you need at most banks. You provide basic information about who you are and where you work (or what your other sources of income are). You're asked for recent tax returns, pay stubs, and financial account statements, as well as other information relevant to your 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. The best mortgage rates at PNC require a score of at least 740.

You'll have an easier time qualifying for a mortgage if you have a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 45% or less. That means your total required monthly debt payments, including your new mortgage payment, should not exceed 45% of your gross (before taxes) income. If your DTI is higher, don't give up. Many mortgage loan programs allow a higher DTI. The higher your credit score and the more cash you have for a down payment, the more flexible the lender can be with your DTI ratio.

How are PNC's refinance rates?

You can expect PNC's mortgage refinance rates to be very competitive, since it's one of the biggest mortgage lenders in the nation. PNC's refinance rates, like those of many other lenders, are a little higher than purchase loan rates.

How are PNC Mortgage's rates compared to the national average?

PNC Bank's mortgage rates trend about the same as the national average. Keep in mind that to get the best advertised mortgage rate, you'll need a good or excellent credit score. You'll also need to meet the lender's other requirements. And you may need to pay for mortgage discount points. Not everyone will get the lowest rate.

PNC Mortgage is right for you if:

You're low on cash for the down payment or you are a low- or moderate-income earner. The special mortgage programs offer a wide variety of options to fit many home buyers' needs. In particular, the low down payment mortgage with no PMI could be a long-term money saver.

You're a medical professional. PNC's medical professional loan has no PMI. It's available for eligible medical interns, residents, fellows, and doctors who have completed a residency in the last five years. 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.

You're a first-time home buyer or repeat buyer who still feels a little flummoxed by the process. The well-designed educational tools could help you gain the knowledge you need.

FAQs

  • PNC's rates are right in line with the national average.

  • Yes. PNC Bank is a solid national lender that offers competitive rates and terms. Also, PNC offers a few nice perks like digital pre-approval (with a firm commitment to lend) for all applicants, and cash grants and low down payment options for eligible borrowers.

  • Yes. PNC offers low costs and borrower-friendly terms on its refinance loans as well as purchase loans.

  • You'll need a credit score of 620 for a conventional loan from PNC, or a 580 for an FHA loan. The lender will also look at your current debt, the amount of your down payment, and the amount of cash you have on hand to determine which loan program is right for you. You can qualify for a VA loan or a USDA loan with zero down.

    Your debt-to-income ratio can be as high as 45% for some loans, but for the VA loan, PNC recommends 41% or lower.

  • PNC Bank offers different types of mortgage loans, including:

    • Fixed-rate mortgage
    • Adjustable-rate mortgage
    • Jumbo loan
    • FHA loan
    • VA loan
    • VA IRRRL
    • Refinance loan
    • Cash-out refinance loan
    • Piggyback loan
    • 3% down payment loan with no PMI
    • Medical professional loan

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