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Better Review

Saturday, June 25th

2022 Home Loan Provider Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Better Review 5 Star Rating

Better

5 Star Rating
  • Fully online mortgage experience
  • No commissions or lender fees
  • 24/7 support
  • Available nationwide (except Nevada)
  • Lower-than-average interest rates
  • Can use service to make a cash offer with no fees
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Better is not your average home loan provider - and that's a good thing. Started in 2014, this company is able to fund mortgages 100% online, without a single phone call (though you'll still have to attend closing in person). Of course, if you want to talk to someone, no problem: Better has support representatives and loan experts available around the clock if you've got a question about your application or want a status update on your home loan. At the time of this review, Better offered home loans everywhere except Nevada, where they hope to add to their services soon.

See rates with no personal info required

We've always appreciated how transparent Better is with their rates and fees. On their main page, it's easy to personalize today's local rates by clicking on the big green button. Just put in your zip code and watch the rate chart shift. Or add details like your credit score range, property type, and preferred mortgage type and get even more specific - all without having to disclose your identity. We love it. But, if you want to check rates more than one or two times, Better will prompt you to enter your email address for unlimited (and free) rate quotes. Or, get even more specific and personalize your rate quote. You'll be asked for more personal data, like what stage of the buying process you're in, your anticipated timeframe and so forth.

Make a cash offer...

Let's pause for a second to talk about one question you might not understand as you're getting to your custom rate quote. In some real estate markets, it's almost impossible to be the winning bidder without a cash offer. So what can you do if you don't have that much on hand? Use Better to make the cash offer for you. Yes, you read that correctly. You'll apply for your mortgage first, securing the approval and going through underwriting to determine your budget. You'll then work with a Better real estate agent to help you find the right home and make the offer.

...with no service fees!

When you have an accepted offer, you'll pay a security deposit of 5% of the purchase price as earnest money, which will be applied towards your down payment at closing. And, you'll pay prorated daily rent from the time between the cash offer closing and the closing on your Better mortgage (which will be 30 days or less). But, beyond that, there are zero administrative fees for using this service. Just be aware that this cash offer program isn't available in all 50 states - yet.

Watch for glitches

If you click "yes" on the cash offer program during the personalization process, your rate quote process stops and you'll be asked to provide your name and phone number to continue. At this stage, we actually encountered a glitch where the "click to confirm you're not a robot" security feature stopped working, and then we got an error saying "account creation blocked" . Oops! If that happens to you, just reach out via Better's toll-free number to get it taken care of.

Verify identity for quotes

Otherwise, you'll indicate if you already have a real estate agent and THEN you'll be asked to create an account. We didn't have any problems at this step of the process. Just be aware that you'll have to verify your email address before you can see your account, so no fake email addresses if you want to see your loan quotes. Next, you'll enter enough information for Better to verify your credit report through a soft pull, like the last four digits of your SSN and your mobile phone number.

Answer a few further questions

If Better determines that you'll qualify for a loan (should you choose to take that step), you'll also be asked to indicate if you want your taxes and insurance to be held in escrow or if you're going to pay them directly: your choice may be impacted by your state/local laws in that regard. Whatever you indicate, it's not a final commitment; it's just used for the purpose of showing you what your monthly payments will be. You'll also see an estimated closing date.

Best Home Loans

Extremely transparent with available loan choices

Once you get your Better rate quotes, you're going to be impressed. You'll see every possible combination of rates, points and terms that Better offers, primarily focusing on 15-, 20-, and 30-year fixed mortgages (which is what 98% of home buyers choose). Make sure to tell your Better rep if you're looking for a different loan type, so that he or she can give you options for ARMs, FHA loans, and so forth.

Choose a loan you like

If you find a loan in your rates that sounds appealing, select it to add it to your Loan Estimate page. It's not a lock or a commitment, just a placeholder of sorts. It will then show up in the links on the left side of the dashboard. You'll also see a to-do list that you'll tackle if and when you decide to formally apply for a mortgage through Better, like documents that need to be uploaded to confirm your income or assets.

Phone help available if needed

Don't be afraid that applying for a mortgage online will leave you without help. As a matter of fact, we got a phone call after we entered our initial information, to see if we had any questions about the Better process. We were glad that the loan specialist was friendly and well-informed, but also that she didn't place any pressure on us to lock in a rate. There's also no worry about unsolicited emails and phone calls with Better: you can specify your contact preferences in your profile and opt to just get communications via whichever channel you prefer.

Don't worry about the BBB

You might be wondering why Better earns our first-place ranking, despite a "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau. The numbers tell the story: the BBB says that Better earned that grade for having 225 complaints filed against it over the last three years. But, when you look at our second- and third-place winners, those lenders have 911 and 1152, respectively. You can see why we're not letting our opinion of this mortgage lender be overly swayed by that "B" from the BBB.

Better keeps borrowers happy

Plus, when you look at the thousands of five-star reviews left by super-satisfied Better clients, that "B" starts to fade even more quickly. Across the board, Better clients describe the experience as smooth, transparent, and much faster than expected - for first-time buyers and experienced homeowners alike.

Obvious choice for home loans

That definitely lines up with our experience. Every step of the Better home loan process was easy to understand, very transparent, and best of all, gave us the best rates and terms we found anywhere. When you consider the extra bonus of being able to use a Better mortgage to make a cash offer in competitive real estate markets - for absolutely zero fees - it's obvious why Better earns our first-place ranking for home loans. Make this lender your first stop when searching for your home mortgage.

Where Can You Get the Best Home Loans?

Your first thought might be to visit your local bank or broker, but think again. Why? You're not likely to get the very best rates and terms there. True, you might get a promo or slightly lower interest rate for being a current customer, but will your financial institution shop around to find you the ideal loan for your situation?

More than likely, they'll fit you with whichever mortgage is convenient (or profitable) instead of working to get you a home loan with the best possible terms. With interest rates constantly fluctuating, it's never a bad time to start looking into your financing options if homeownership is your goal. Even if you're just curious to see how much you can ultimately afford when the time comes, that will help you start budgeting and saving to have enough to secure your new home when you're ready.

The Best Home Loan Providers Compare Home Loan Providers Compare Home Loan Provider Reviews What are the best Home Loan Providers Best Home Loan Provider Reviews

Home Loan Provider FAQ

Yes, a home loan is the same thing as a mortgage: borrowing money to purchase a home. Home loans are different from home equity loans or home equity lines of credit: the former represents the funds you use to buy your home, while the latter two are used to borrow money against any equity you've built up in the property.
Lenders use many factors to determine your eligibility to take out a mortgage. One of the biggest is your credit history: your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio (i.e. how much you owe on credit cards and any other loans vs. how much you earn), any missing or late payments, and so forth. Other factors include the amount of your down payment, how long you've had steady employment, and the purchase price of the home you want to buy.
It's commonly said that you can afford to buy a home that costs anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times your yearly gross income, but there's a lot more to consider. How much will you pay for property taxes and insurance? Do you have any other debts, like car payments or student loans? How much money will you put down at closing? There are plenty of sites that offer tools to help you calculate how much you can afford to borrow when buying a home; these tools take into account many of these components to give you a more accurate picture of your borrowing power.
Prequalifying for a home loan means that you've taken an informal look at your finances to determine how much you can afford and whether you meet the minimum requirements to take out a mortgage. This can be done without going too deeply into your financial information. On the other hand, a preapproval is given when you complete a full mortgage application: the lender accesses your full credit report and gives you a written offer for a loan at a specific interest rate, subject to your finding a home to buy and completing the underwriting process. Having a prequalification or preapproval letter can make you a more compelling candidate to buy a home and may put you ahead of other parties making an offer.
Yes, especially if you're a first-time home buyer. There are VA loans with no down payment required if you have a military connection, USDA loans with 100% financing on rural properties, FHA loans for buyers with less-than-stellar credit, and many more. While those programs are all federal, there are additional home-buying programs offered by individual states that may also help you get a loan.
An escrow account holds money in reserve to pay your homeowner's insurance, property taxes, and PMI (if required). Your lender collects that money with your monthly mortgage payments, and then disburses the funds to your insurance company and local tax collector by the due date. Some home loans require you to have an escrow account, while others may allow you to pay your taxes and insurance on your own. (But you'll have to make sure to set aside the money, since it won't be collected automatically each month.)
PMI stands for "private mortgage insurance" . It's a fee you may have to pay each month if you're not going to make a down payment of at least 20% of the total loan amount. This third-party insurance coverage protects your lender if you default on your mortgage. You can usually request to have those payments removed once you've reached an equity level of at least 22%; that can be accomplished by making your regular monthly payments over time, by making additional payments towards the principal balance, or by submitting an appraisal showing that your home would currently sell for an amount that would give you the necessary equity (i.e. if home values have increased significantly since the date of purchase).
Absolutely. Some of today's most competitive rates are offered by online-only mortgage lenders with thousands of satisfied customers and a strong reputation for integrity, efficiency and affordability. Of course, it's always a wise idea to check out the background of any home loan provider you're considering prior to offering sensitive financial information or documentation. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource to determine a company's history, as well as current customer reviews.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Some mortgage terms stipulate that the funds can't come from a last-minute gift or contribution from a well-meaning family member, so plan ahead!

The easiest way to know how much you can borrow is by shopping for a home loan online. While some lenders require you to enter your personal information to show you their rates, others post sample rates online or let you choose your credit score range and other details to preview a more personalized quote. Be mindful that there's a difference between a "soft pull" on your credit - usually used to prequalify you, and only uses your address and phone number to verify your identity - and a "hard pull" that will impact your credit history.

The latter usually happens only when you've got a home under contract and you're ready to secure a mortgage, but pay attention to the fine print when you're checking out a lender's rates. You don't want to be "just browsing" and find out that your credit score took a nosedive with an unintentional hard inquiry on your report!

With many lenders interested in your business, how can you decide which one to use for your mortgage? Here are a few factors to look at before you complete a loan application:

  • Loan types. Most people choose a conventional fixed mortgage of 15 or 30 years, and the majority of lenders offer that. If you're looking for something different, like an FHA loan or an ARM, you might need to shop around a bit more.
  • Transparency. How easy is it to see the lender's current rates and fees? Can you get an idea on their main site or do you have to create an account first?
  • Closing costs. The best home loan providers will tell you what to expect well in advance. Some include that information in the disclosures in the fine print at the bottom of the site, even before you give them any of your personal details. Others provide it when you've given them enough info to verify your identity but before filling out a formal application. Some closing costs are negotiable, so don't be afraid to ask any lender to make you an offer.
  • Reputation. What do borrowers say about their experience with the financial institution? It's one thing to have great loan rates, but if the lender drops the ball during the purchasing process or if their customer service after closing is a nightmare, it's not worth the money you might save. Consider the lender's rating with the Better Business Bureau to start, but also look at recent customer comments to get a snapshot of how well the home loan provider is doing across the entire lifecycle of the mortgage (from pre-application to post-closing servicing).

To help you finance the home of your dreams, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular mortgage lenders. We're confident that this information will be useful on your journey to home ownership. Congratulations!

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