Lending is a new company providing technology-based approach to help
you obtain a new mortgage or refinance an existing loan in short
time, with no obstacles, and using less money.
About Clara Lending.
When there is time to make one of the most important decisions in your life about buying a home or refinancing a mortgage, it seems like everywhere you turn, the process is full of stress, delays, hidden costs and confusing jargon. Will this madness ever be finished?
Clara Lending is a new company founded in San Francisco that uses its advanced technology and dedicated support for making the home financing process less stressful, but more simple and transparent. Compared to traditional lenders that have lots of obstacles, Clara claims to reduce the time and money it takes you to get a loan.
You would ask, how? As the company states, most of the loan applications contain 1,600 and more data points that are collected, checked and re-checked manually and this takes, of course, a lot of time and man power. As an alternative, Clara Mortgage is using their software-based lending platform which coordinates the workflow, and as a result, reducing inefficiency and different errors. Among the benefits promised by the company are:
- Simpler loan application by phone or online; available expert support.
- Preliminary review of application and documents, so you can be more confident of a successful closing.
- Strictly determined costs and fees, with no hidden surprises.
Well, when buying a new home or looking to refinance and save on your monthly payments, no one wants this exciting time to turn into a drag. But can we really rely on Clara Lending’s services, or will it just burst your bubble? Now, we will try to make you maximum informed before taking any decisions.
Mini-Guide to Shopping for a Home Loan
No matter if this is your first loan or not, you probably understand that this process has a lot of aspects. Although, there are some pointers that can help make things easier, regardless of where you are in the process.
Shop All Around
First of all, do not stop on the first lender you contact to. According to the Federal Trade Commission it is recommended to obtain information from several different lending companies, so that you can make sure you are choosing the option with the best rate. If you are going through a broker that helps you find the best deal, be sure to also contact several ones. Also, be sure to get acquainted with the FTC’s Mortgage Shopping Worksheet .
Your Initial Rates Aren’t Guaranteed
Secondly, you must be ready to the result that the rate you are initially quoted may not be the same one you end up with. You would ask, why? Well, the pre-approval process is much less strict than after you officially apply. So, once the lending company receives all the information and numbers they need, some factors may emerge that can make your loan more or less risky.
Interest Rates Aren’t the Whole Picture
Thirdly, of course your interest rate is important but it shouldn’t be determinative factor when choosing a loan. For example, if you are considering a lower APR that is variable , it means it could change after a while and significantly increase your expenses.
Besides, there are some lending companies that may charge points, fees (underwriting, broker, closing, etc.), higher down payments, and other cost items that can influence your overall costs. Speaking of down payments, make sure you put at least 20% down, otherwise you will probably have to pay for private mortgage insurance , that will increase your monthly payment amount in future.
So, let’s take a closer look at Clara Lending company.
What Kinds of Loans Does Clara Lending Offer? And What Are Their Fees?
Nowadays Clara offers four types of loan: 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, 5-year ARM, and 7-year ARM. Note: At the time of our research, Clara loans were only available in California.
If you want to check real time rates on the Clara website, you have to enter the some data, including loan type (purchase or refinance), property type and its intended use; your credit score and zip code, estimated property value, and down payment amount.
Afterwards, you will be redirected to the page with a short overview of each product. To get more information, just click on the See Details button.
After clicking the See Details button, you will be able to see the important information about Clara’s products, including an in-depth breakdown of fees.
By changing some of these values, we learnt that most of Clara Mortgage’s interest rates vary between 3.187% and 3.906%, monthly payments - between $1,592 and $2,486, with closing costs - between $5,716 and $8,093.
Pro tip: the biggest impact on the numbers has zip code change, but only on closing costs.
If you need any help about the process or you have additional questions, please contact Clara’s expert customer service team at (844) 846-7948.
How do these fees compete on the market?
Is Clara Lending Unique?
The main motto of lending industry - “transparency through technology” became really its driving force, for example, such major players as Rocket Mortgage (a division of Quicken Loans ) and LendingHome also offer easier and more transparent processes by using technologies.
Nowadays we may admit much of these same things happen within the student loan refinancing space as well, involving such companies as SoFi, LendKey and Earnest. And such changes make sense, as the way we obtain and refinance mortgages has stayed almost the same for years, so a shakeup was pretty much reasonable.
The point is: according to our experience, all of the lenders offer relatively similar rates, they promise to provide a fantastic customer service and no hidden problems of doing business — and, basically, we have no reason to doubt them. So, very often it is their underwriting criteria making the biggest difference between one that might be perfect and another that falls short, based on your needs.
For example, Rocket Mortgage has tried to make its software perfect for years in order to make obtaining mortgages process as hands-off as possible, although it might not be the best choice for those who have a fluctuating income or launched a business within the last year or have poor credit history.
But again, the LendingHome company asserts that they close loans (sometimes) in less than a week after only a 5-minute application process, however they tend to use stringent underwriting criteria that are similar to traditional ones in banks. So, it might not be your best choice, if you need some wiggle room.
Speaking of underwriting criteria, Clara Lending provided no information on this part. After all, maybe except for their simple process (which is what everyone else is claiming, too), it is exactly what loads the dice toward them.
Well, this is just what we have learned during our research though. But what are the real Clara clients saying?
Do Clients Like Clara Mortgage?
Even considering the fact that Clara Lending was founded in 2014 by Lukasz Strozek and Jeff Foster, we haven’t found many customer feedbacks about the company, and, moreover, it was not listed with the Better Business Bureau.
We have only found some Clara feedback online on LendingTree, and 4 reviewers gave the lender a 4.8-star average rating, with 100% saying they would recommend the company. Common reviews underlined fast approval, excellent customer service and comparatively easy closing process. One complaint was about closing fees that frequently changed and ended up $2K higher than expected.
Important note: Several customers in the reviews referenced the name Expedite Lending, so Clara Lending may be operating under two different names.
Well, now it is time to make some conclusions.
Can You Consider Clara Lending the Best Choice for Your Home Loan?
No doubts that Clara Lending is an official lending company that is able to make obtaining or refinancing a home mortgage as easy and fast as possible. The point is that probably all the competitors make the same claims, although without at least some basic underwriting criteria (most others provide them) you can’t be sure how they really stack up without taking the time to apply.
Besides, during our research we had some technical issues on Clara’s website. When we pressed the Start Application button and entered a non-California zip code, the screen just kept resetting itself and it did not notify about what was happening. After that we looked through website and learned that the company only lends in state of California.
Also, the system stuck when we were entering data in calculator to obtain rates. Only after we refreshed the page, we could see the information in the fields.
Have you ever applied for a Clara loan? Share your experience by writing a review below!