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SunTrust Mortgage: BiggerPockets Review

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SunTrust is best for first-time homebuyers and those with limited down payments, although its geographical footprint is limited to the Southeast.


SunTrust Bank has a storied history that goes back over a century. The bank started as Sun Bank in 1911 and Trust Company of Georgia in 1891. In 1985, the two bans merged to create SunTrust, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, and employing 23,000 across 1,200 branches in the Southeast.

Today, that has changed—somewhat. 

In 2019, SunTrust merged with BB&T to create Truist Financial Corporation. The $28 billion all-stock deal—the biggest since the 2008 financial crisis—formed the sixth-largest commercial bank in the U.S., operating over 2,000 branches. However, customers may not notice a change: The SunTrust name will remain on its respective branches and the SunTrust.com website will remain. No near-term changes to the bank’s mortgages products or customer accounts are expected, as both banks will offer independent product lines. 

SunTrust has physical branches in 10 states and the Washington D.C. Customers can apply at any of these branches or apply online or via telephone if you’re in one of the other states. 

Here's a fun fact: SunTrust owned a hefty stake in Coca-Cola for nearly a century. The bank helped complete Coca-Cola’s initial public offering in 1919 and in return took shares of the company. The stake was valued at $100,000, which it held until 2012, where it sold the shares for nearly $2 billion. 

SunTrust has a long history and with it has come a wide suite of products. The bank has a number of government-insured mortgage offerings and is regarded for its home equity line of credit (HELOC). 


Quick facts

  • Despite the merger with BB&T, SunTrust will remain operating on its own with its own products.  
  • SunTrust’s mortgage rates are in-line with major competitors, with its fees also being comparable to other major banks. It offers all the key products you’d expect from a large bank, such as fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, as well as HELOCs.
  • The bank offers key products for first-time homebuyers and unique programs for medical professionals. Certain SunTrust loans offer down payments as low as three percent. 


PROS

  • SunTrust offers a robust suite of banking products in addition to mortgages, such as checking, saving and investing products, as well as credit cards and auto loans. 
  • The bank offers a wide variety of mortgage products more so than some of its major competitors. 
  • SunTrust offers low down payment options, which include Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and HomeReady loans. 

CONS

  • SunTrust’s physical locations and branches are limited to the Southeast. The bank operates physical locations in just 10 states and D.C. 
  • Certain SunTrust mortgage products aren’t available for buyers in Arkansas, Arizona, Hawaii, and Oregon. 
  • The bank's interest rates don’t offer any real advantages—you might be able to find better rates on certain products elsewhere. 


Mortgage rates

SunTrust’s mortgage rates are in line with national averages, although the actual interest rate will vary based on personal circumstances. As of May 2020, SunTrust’s interest rate on its 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.42 percent, while the national average comes in at 3.37 percent. The 15-year fixed rate is 3.3 percent, with the national average coming in at 2.9 percent. The national average for a jumbo 30-year fixed-rate loan is 3.42 percent, while SunTrust’s average rate is 3.51 percent.

As well, with the 15- and 30-year fixed rate refinancing loans, SunTrust has slightly above average rates. SunTrust’s 15- and 30-year refi rates are 3.3 percent and 4.14 percent, respectively. The national averages are 3.64 percent and 3.05 percent, respectively. For fixed-rate loans, SunTrust is relatively in-line with competitors, although slightly above.  

This is true of its ARMs, too. SunTrust’s 5/1 ARM has an average rate of 3.32 percent, with the national average at 3.11 percent. Meanwhile, its government-insured loans offer a true advantage. The average for SunTrust’s FHA loan is 4.24 percent and its VA loan is 3.33 percent—slightly below the national average. SunTrust clocks in on the high-end for fixed-rate and ARM loans, but is competitive with its FHA and VA loans. 


Loan products

CONVENTIONAL LOANS
SunTrust offers a variety of loan products, including fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), as well as jumbos. Borrowers can get a 15- or 30-year fixed loan or 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 ARMs. 

GOVERNMENT-BACKED LOANS
SunTrust also offers government-insured loans, including FHA, Veterans Affairs (VA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans. SunTrust also offers a doctor loan program designed specifically for medical professionals. 

FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER PROGRAMS
For first-time home buyers and those with limited down payments, SunTrust offers its Agency Affordable Financing. These loans are offered via the HomeReady and Home Possible programs run by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and allow buyers to put down just three percent for a home. 

MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL LOANS
Then there’s SunTrust’s medical professional loan program, called the Doctor Loan Program. Medical professionals can get low down payment loans—up to 95 percent financing—for $1 million. Bonus: No mortgage insurance payments are required. This program is available to doctors, dentists, and other licensed medical professionals. 

HELOCS
SunTrust doesn’t offer home equity loans, but does offer home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), with amounts varying between $10,000 to $500,000. The draw period—or the amount of time you can borrow money from the HELOC before starting repayment—is 10 years. Bank customers can get a 0.25 percent reduction in their HELOC rate, too. 

CASH-OUT REFINANCING
Other real estate-related SunTrust loan products include cash-out refinancings. How much homeowners can cash-out depends on loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and personal credit. But there's another option for accessing cash for home improvements: SunTrust's unsecured LightStream loan, which allows you to borrow between $5,000 and $100,000. This loan doesn’t require putting your home up for collateral and offers same-day access to funds. The current interest rate is as low as five percent and offers repayment periods of between two and 12 years. 


SunTrust Mortgage and real estate investors

SunTrust does offer investment property loans, although they look for at least 20 percent down. The bank is very competitive with its HELOCs. However, their HELOCs, generally, cannot be used for investment properties. 

SunTrust will lend up to 90 percent of LTV and pay many of the related costs. In particular, Seth M. Jones, Florida rental property investor, said “Suntrust Bank will go up to 90 percent LTV for qualified customers, and pay closing costs as long as there is an initial draw ... they have very competitive HELOC's.” SunTrust tends to offer HELOCs with “all expenses paid including appraisal,” added South Carolina’s Craig Johnson


Application process

SunTrust does offer an online application, where the borrower can complete a profile and upload necessary documents online. You'll need to provide much of the same information as many major banks, like your name, social security number and addresses. They ask for the type of property you’re looking at buying and the purchase price, as well as how much of a down payment you have. 

The bank will also look for information on assets and income, including all financial obligations and the ability to repay the loan. The application also asks for all other real estate owned. In terms of documents, you can upload verification information, as well as tax returns and employment documents online within the application. 

SunTrust also has a mobile app, called the SunTrust SmartGUIDE. This allows you to fill out applications via mobile devices. 



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