Lower: 2022 Home Equity Review

Simplicity and convenience are the objectives for this fintech lender startup.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Lower is a financial technology startup specializing in home loan products. Lower offers home financing, refinancing, home equity lines of credit and home insurance.

Lower operates solely online to help consumers find home financing solutions. It also has an app as a convenient way for consumers to get more info and apply for loans. As an online lender, Lower makes applying for a loan simple and convenient.

Lower: At a glance

Types of loans offered HELOC, plus a range of home financing loans
APR Starting at 7.25%
Loan amount $15,000 to $350,000
Credit score minimum Undisclosed for HELOC; varies by product, but the lowest starts at 580
Repayment terms Various terms ranging from 10 to 30 years
Average time for approval Preapproval typically within 1 business day; 21 days on average to closing

Lower offers an affordable experience with simple access to its applications and a user-friendly website and app. The customer service team is helpful and easy to reach during business hours. Additionally, Lower's website is easy to navigate but lacks details about the qualifications required for its loans and the range of rates and terms consumers can expect. 

The loan application process with Lower is simple. Lower's loans or HELOCs are great for anyone who wants to complete the process quickly, and the lender doesn't require in-person service. Lower will waive lender fees for any refinances if you already have a loan from the company. The company also matches consumers' savings for a home dollar-for-dollar up to $500 through their HomeFund program.

What we like

  • Access more of your home equity: Opening a HELOC with Lower means you are able to unlock up to 95% of your home's equity. Other lenders typically only allow access to up to 80% or 85% of your home's equity.
  • Flexible communication: Once you've been connected with an agent through Lower, you can talk to them whenever works best for your schedule.
  • Helpful visual tools: Lower's site is full of tools and calculators with visual aids to help you see what different options might look like for you. 
  • No refinance fees for life: You don't have to pay lending fees more than once on a refinance. Once you finance or open a HELOC with Lower, it pays the lender fees for any future refinances you make.

What we don't like

  • Not upfront with details: Lower doesn't list the specific requirements for a loan or details about loan types on its website. Instead, consumers must speak with an agent to get basic details about loan terms and requirements.
  • Not available in all states: Lower is only licensed in 45 states. It can't service people in Alaska, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island or Vermont.
  • Limited hours for customer service: While the Lower customer service team is easy to reach when available, it is only open during East Coast business hours and is not available on weekends.

Home equity loan product options

Lower focuses on three main types of products to help customers: home loans, refinances and HELOCs.

Lower's HELOC offers a unique option for borrowers: the ability to borrow up to 95% of a borrower's loan-to-value ratio, or LTV. Most lenders will only allow access to up to 80% or 85% of your home's equity.

HELOC loan amounts range from $15,000 to $350,000, and there's no annual fee. HELOC transactions are subject to a 1% transaction fee, however. Lower works to get you the lowest payment options for repaying your HELOC and has lower payments than the average lender for HELOCs. 

Here's a full list of loan types offered by Lower:

  • HELOC
  • Conventional loan
  • Jumbo loan
  • FHA loan
  • Combo loan
  • USDA loan
  • 5/5 ARM loan
  • VA loan

Fees

Lower HELOCs don't charge many fees, but there are still a few things you will have to cover. All of its HELOCs are subject to a 1% origination fee. However, there are no annual fees. You will also be responsible for all government taxes and fees if you decide to open a HELOC with Lower. 

Lower's lender fees are average for its other loan products, but you might not have to pay them. If you are a first-time customer with Lower, you can expect fees to be at least $1,500. But if you already have a loan with Lower, the company waives the lender fees on any refinance. So, if you take out a second loan through Lower, you won't have to pay any origination, underwriting, processing or administrative fees.

How to qualify

Lower looks at a lot of similar factors to other lenders to see if a consumer qualifies for a loan. Lower assesses factors including credit history, debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, employment status, any projected monthly payments you have on the property, your current income, the condition of the property and the LTV. 

Credit history and credit score requirements vary, but some products have credit score requirements as low as 580. Other home equity products have credit score requirements starting higher, with some requiring credit scores to be at least 780. 

Lower doesn't provide specific details about criteria it considers for applicants on the website, but you can get these details by talking with the customer service team about whatever loan product you are interested in.

Getting started

When you are ready to apply for a home equity loan with Lower, you can navigate to the "Get Started" button on its website, choose the loan product you want and then will fill out a form. 

The form will ask for basic information, like your name, contact info, location of your property and the length of your loan term. As you continue, you will be prompted for more information about your current loan and the property. Before you start the application, you may want to gather basic details about your current mortgage. If you have questions about any part of the application process, you can talk to an expert by calling 888-467-1359. 

If you want to do more research before you hit "apply," you have options, too. Lower has an "Advice" section on its site with helpful resources to get you the information you need before applying. You can run the numbers to get estimates on the cash you would pocket if you sold your home, refinanced or took cash out of your equity.

Customer service

Getting in touch with the team at Lower is easy. You can contact Lower by calling, texting or sending an email. Depending on the reason for getting in touch, there are a few phone numbers for the customer service team. To send a text, use 855-293-1776. If you need support with a current product, call 833-920-2273. Call 888-509-8301 for general help with getting started.

You can also send an email to care@lower.com. You can also get in touch with the customer service team by downloading the Lower app. The customer service team is available to help you Monday through Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET) and Friday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET).