What Is Better.com?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Apr 10, 2019

If you’re looking for a mortgage, you’ve entered the arena at a pretty good time in history.

Instead of doing hours of research online before making your first phone call to a lender, you can use a service like Better.com and get pre-approved for a purchase or refinance loan in a matter of minutes.

That’s a pretty big sigh of relief, especially considering the stress that comes with the money, responsibility and information of buying a home or refinancing.

Thankfully, Better.com and similar sites say, they’ve come up with a better way of getting you a loan based on your credit score, income, down payment and price of the home you want. But this nearly automated world of lending isn’t always what it seems.

For instance, a site like LendingTree.com provides you dozens of mortgage quotes in less than 15 minutes. But customers have complained that they have no control over who calls them, or, in some cases, who taints their credit score by running hard checks.

Does Better.com offer a “better” mortgage solution? How exactly does it work? Are there drawbacks?

We’re going to answer these questions in our review within the next few minutes.

How Does Better.com Work?

We did a test run on Better.com's site to get a feel for what the average consumer can expect. We entered a California zip code (92115), along with our credit score (740-759) and our down payment amount ($100,000 on a $500,000 house).

The results came in less than five seconds. We had several different options across six types of loans: 30-, 20-, and 15-year fixed rates and 10/1, 7/1 and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages. We found this refreshing, as most lending sites lure you in with low percentages for adjustable rate mortgages (ARM). ARM’s are usually a bad idea because you pay lower rates for a period of five, seven or 10 years, but after the higher rates kick in many homeowners have a hard time making their payments.

Let’s get back to the quotes: two of the three included points payments. What that means is that they calculated our monthly payment based on us paying a percentage point of our APR up front, rather than spreading it out over the life of the loan.

The reason that’s interesting to us is that buying points is a hotly debated topic and there’s no one answer as to whether or not it’s the right thing to do. To help you decide if paying points is right for you, Better.com created a video located on their homepage, to explain points.

Now, points aside, we appreciated how simple Better.com makes the rates page.

Better Mortgage Interest RatesAn example taken from Better.com's website of us trying to obtain interest rate quotes. Credit: better.com

The refinance option worked exactly the same way.

To get a pre-approval for a mortgage or refinance, you choose which offer you like the best and fill out additional information, including the address of the home you want to buy/refi.

Quick note: It’s common to confuse Better.com with a site like LendingTree.com who connects you to “direct lenders”.

However, the two aren’t the same. Lending Tree connects you with direct lenders. Better.com is a direct lender.

You’re basically cutting out the middleman (and a lot of annoying emails and phone calls…check our Lending Tree review for the details) by skipping Lending Tree-style sites and going directly to Better.com.

Where Do the Loans Come From?

As a direct lender, Better.com originates (processes) and funds your loan. Once your loan is finalized, you’ll be making payments to the final investor who services the loan until it’s paid off.

Here’s how the Better.com application process works:

  • Better.com analyzes your income, debt, credit history and the value of your home as compared to its price tag.
  • They come up with a loan amount and interest rate you get to see.
  • Meanwhile, Better.com finds investors who are willing to buy the loan and service it.

What Are The Fees?

When you secure a mortgage, you end up paying what’s known as “closing costs.” That’s cash out of your pocket, so to speak, that you need to pay up front. At Better.com, you can also roll it into your mortgage by accepting a higher interest rate in exchange for no closing costs.

According to Better.com, closing costs for 2015 typically ranged from $1,500 to $3,500.

We double checked these closing costs with Bankrate.com’s figures for California. They calculated the average closing costs on a $200,000 home to be about $2,225.

Even though you’re buying your home with money you secured through Better.com, you still have to pay third-party costs like appraisals, title changes and other fees common to the home buying experience.

You won’t have to pay an origination fee, though, which is basically a charge for processing your application. In most cases, that fee is 0.5 or 1% of your loan amount. In the example where we used ($400K), that would total out to between $2,000 and $4,000.

How Sure Are the Rates You’re Quoted?

Rates are a way for lending companies to lure you in. In many cases, they’ll plaster a landing page or home page with a low-interest rate. Come to find out, that rate is actually for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage and not the traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage (which typically has a higher percentage rate than ARMs).

Better.com, as we pointed out, doesn’t do that. They give you the 30-year fixed rate as the first result when you ask for a quote. And, according to their FAQs, that rate will remain the same if your answers are consistent.

Word to the wise: Be very straightforward about your credit score, income, and other related numbers. The more truthful you are, the better the chance that your final rate will be the same as, or close to, what you were first quoted.

Better.com will do a basic credit check and income verification, so fudging the numbers won’t help you.

In What States does Better.com Offer Mortgages and Refinancing?

Better.com's purchase and refinance mortgages are available in 31 states:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District Of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Better.com Consumer Reviews

Better.com receives good reviews from borrowers.

As of 4/10/19, the company had an average rating of 3.8 from 72 HighYa reviewers. The best reviews noted how easy and fluid the process was, while negative reviews focused on the funding process taking too long.

From our perspective, the reviews are indicative of the type of reviews you get with mortgage lenders. The good reviews laud the process while the bad reviews lampoon it.

What’s most important for you to know is that Better.com's reviews on HighYa are pretty solid and indicate that there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy your experience.

Reviews of the company are great on other sites as well, with most consumers giving Better.com high praise.

In terms of how often the initial quoted rate for your mortgage matches the rate you actually get, Bankrate says borrowers had a 95% success rate.

Is Better.com a Good Choice?

Based on the research we’ve done on Better.com, we think the site offers some advantages you won’t find on a bigger site like LendingTree.

For example, LendingTree connects you with a bunch of companies who lend. Better.com is actually one of those lenders, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of picking one lender out of many.

Another factor which works to the consumer’s advantage, in our opinion, is that Better.com does research to understand exactly what kind of borrower you are. So, when they give you a rate quote, you most likely won’t see a big rate jump.

It’s kind of like how car companies say they’re selling cars with 0% APR, but when you read the fine print there are certain requirements you must meet to get that amazing interest rate.

From what we’ve seen in our research, Better.com doesn’t do that. In fact, when you go to their site, you aren’t hit with ARM rates that try to lure you in.

What we’ve read and heard says that Better.com is a reliable site, and it appears that customers are overall happy with the company according to positive reviews on websites around the web.

Also, at this time, Better.com only offers loans and refi’s in 31 states (Including District of Columbia) – since first writing about Better.com, this state of states has been gradually increasing.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of Better.com:
  • 82 Customer Reviews
  • 65% Recommend This Company
3.6 out of 5
5 star: 59% 4 star: 4% 3 star: 2% 2 star: 1% 1 star: 31%

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We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

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  • Don't waste your time

    • By Mary Davis,
    • Van Nuys, CA,
    • Jul 13, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Please don't jump through all the hoops as I did. This has been my worst refinancing experience. Even when all the documentation is provided, there is another form that must be filled out. I ended up pulling the plug on the loan even after I had paid for an appraisal.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Sep 20, 2016

      Company Response from

      Hi Mary,

      I'm so sorry to hear that you had a frustrating experience working with us. We're working every day to make the mortgage process simpler for all Americans, so feedback like yours is very valuable as we constantly improve our process. We would love to hear more about your experience so that we can explore how we can improve in the future. Please reach out to hello@better.com if you'd like to discuss your experience with a representative from our team.

      Sincerely,

      The Better Team


  • Horrible Waste of Time

    • By Matt,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Sep 26, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Waste of time and money. Better Mortgage approved me right out of the gate and strung me along for a month making me jump all sorts of hoops and provide crazy documentation, which I supplied all of.

    I had to remove inaccuracies in my credit report also which was a huge pain. After a month of them saying “just do this one more thing and we will be good”, they denied my loan and set my project back at least 30-60 days.

    Better Mortgage is not better and I suggest you stay away.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Nov 11, 2016

      Company Response from

      Hi Matt,

      I'm so sorry that you didn't have a good experience working with us. I completely understand how frustrating that experience must have been, and I do wish that we had been able to help you out. If you'd like to discuss your situation further, please reach out to our team at hello@better.com.

      Sincerely,

      The Better Team


  • Terrible

    With the help of my daughter, we applied online to refinance my investment property and my personal residence. Everything changed continually with them in one day. There were three changes in the amount of money that it was going to be for the mortgage and they needed documents constantly (the same documents many times). Every time my daughter dealt with them, it was insanely aggravating.

    I went to another mortgage company, and in less than two weeks I had refinanced both loans, signed on them and closed, and I gave them fewer documents than I gave Better Mortgage; it was half the hassle. The place they sent me for an appraisal (I had to get an appraisal at my new mortgage company) and one of my house is appraised $30,000 higher at the new place. I even got into an argument with them when they decided that the address of my house was not the address of my house, and they wanted to call it a different street name, even though I took pictures of the street sign. I showed them insurance papers and sent them mortgage documents, but it was constantly aggravating.

    I finally walked away from it. I'm so much happier with my rate (my rate is 4% on one loan and 4.75% on the other). For an investment that is great.

    This company gave me nothing but a headache and aggravation for over five weeks, and every time I dealt with them my blood pressure went through the roof. I would not recommend this place for anyone to do a mortgage with; they don't listen to what you have to say and they don't listen to the documents. Keep looking, you will find a better company to deal with. When we started with the loan, we gave them all the information they would need, all of the problems that we've had in the past, every piece of document they would need, and it still wasn't enough. With the new company, I gave them the same information and they were ready to go immediately. In fact, they told me I gave them too many documents.

    So please, go elsewhere, unless you want aggravation and a headache.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Better Mortgage is trying to cheat customers out of their $500 deposit

    • By J W,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Jun 15, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Better.com and Alex are cheats. They consistently reassured me throughout the initial refinancing process that I would receive the full $500 appraisal deposit refund if the appraisal did not take place and I decided to go with another lender.

    Well, I never met with their appraiser, nor did their appraiser ever come to my residence or enter my home to perform the appraisal. When I contacted Better.com to notify them that I was going with another lender, I was told that I would only receive a $300 refund, and that I would be charged $200 for a "Desktop Review Property Inspection Report," which is essentially a Google search of property facts easily found on Zillow, etc. I never requested to have this "report" performed, nor was I ever asked about it. In fact, this "Desktop Review Property Inspection Report" was never once mentioned on the loan estimate, nor was it ever mentioned the numerous times I had asked various Better.com representatives whether I needed to worry about not receiving my full $500 refund if I did not have an appraisal performed and did not follow through on the refinancing process through Better.com.

    It's obviously some imaginary, made-up report which the company uses as a vehicle by which to scam potential customers out of a portion of their appraisal deposit refunds and to make an extra profit. Clearly.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jun 15, 2017

      Company Response from

      Thanks for your candid feedback. I am very sorry for the difficulty you faced receiving the full refund of your $500 appraisal deposit. As I communicated to you via email, we refunded you the additional $200 on June 13, which is the same day this issue was brought to my attention.

      Our experience can only improve if we understand where we've failed. It's clear we should have informed you of the inspection fee prior to ordering the Desktop Underwriter® Property Inspection Report that was required to complete a refi given the location of your home. Even though we followed regulatory guidelines for a legitimate inspection, we could have avoided this confusion by speaking with you first.

      I am grateful that you raised the issue. It gave us visibility into a way we can improve our practices. Should you have any additional feedback, please feel free to email me directly at kconnnor@better.com.


  • They need help. The process is painful and they don't know what they are doing.

    • By B R,
    • Connecticut,
    • Sep 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    The pre-screening to determine whether you might be eligible is not serious and not useful. This part should be done with care so that the lender and borrower do not waste their time. However, at Better they don't spend enough time here to determine whether a borrower has a real chance of being approved. So they end up wasting a lot of the borrower's time when a little easy work up front could prevent this

    The website they use for underwriting your loan is full of problems. Links and uploads don't work in certain areas. They don't update your progress. The progress bar is always at "lock you rate" which is the very beginning. The communication through the website is very unclear. There is almost no interaction verbally which causes great misunderstanding when they have questions about your financial picture.

    They conclude things about a person's financial situation that don't make sense and don't follow mortgage industry convention.

    Unless your loan is pure plain vanilla and you can't find a rate as low as what they are offering, I would stay away from Better. I should have read reviews before I started with them because many reviews make similar points.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Oct 4, 2017

      Company Response from

      Hi,

      Thanks for your thorough feedback. While we cannot speak publicly about the specifics of your situation, I am sorry we were not able to meet your expectations. We tried very hard to find a solution, but I understand how from your perspective it was inefficient. We'll keep working to improve the process, as well as the interface, and our communication.

      Sincerely, Kristen Connor


  • Bait and switch, too good to be true, too bad so sad

    • By Ofelia Chavez,
    • San Diego, CA,
    • Nov 30, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Don’t believe the “better” experience they market. My husband and I applied for a loan and went through the verified qualification process BEFORE we put a bid on a property. We committed to this property and the seller based on their underwritten qualification letter and promises. A bunch of nonsense.

    At first, communication was good with Holly and Sathi. Once we locked our rate (at a very good interest and lender credits), we got dumped with a “loan ranger” and all communication seized. We were diligent about uploading all documents they requested, waking up at 4 AM PST to check status and refreshing status every few hours. We never once got a call to discuss our loan progress, if we ever got a live person it was when we would worriedly call them for updates, and were reassured there was no red flags and everything looked fine.

    We paid the deposit, did the home inspection, bought the homeowners insurance, signed disclosures, paid our earnest money and opened escrow, and in the absolute last hour, they send an email saying no to our loan. As my husband tried to get clear answers as to why, stress filled our Thanksgiving holiday and sent me to the doctor to ensure the health of me and baby.

    We know, no one gives loans out on sympathy. But if you want human touch, reassurance, and communication, you will not get it with Better. They’ll sweet talk you, tell you what you want to hear, and not live up to their hyped expectations. They caused us our family’s stability with our first child on the way. The loan ranger was unable to ever provide concrete answers to our denial and convoluted the process with misinformation. Even when we attempted to speak to a supervisor, her attitude was “too bad so sad.”

    I’m sure the reasons why we were denied are not discriminatory or because they simply did not want to meet their loan terms with interest rate and credits. Hopefully, we will soon find out, here we are still waiting for a written response why our loan was not approved. Waiting on the DU to understand all their convoluted excuses. Waiting to see their DTI calculations and underwriting reasonings.

    Save yourself the trouble. This lender makes themselves out to be better, but it is all too good to be true, better move on to another lender.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Dec 4, 2017

      Company Response from

      Hi Ofelia, I’m sorry to hear you were unhappy with your experience and that your loan didn’t work out. I reviewed the communication you received, and my colleague Megan Bellingham (Head of Mortgage Operations) informed you of the reasons for our decision. If you still have open questions, you are welcome to contact either Megan (meganb@better.com) or me (kristenc@better.com) directly.

      Sincerely, Kristen Connor (Chief Experience Officer)


  • Do not trust them, you will lose your home because of them

    • By Ray Li,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Jan 18, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Better's "verified approval" means nothing. We had been fully underwritten, chose them as the lender, signed a contract, and said no to other lenders. We were feeling pretty good because the initial experience was great. We had read the bad reviews here and asked our Loan Officer "hey what's up with these reviews?" They said not to worry, that they've improved their processes.

    Then two days into closing, they said that our loan no longer passed underwriting. Now they are saying that they're not sure if they can approve it, and they sent a long list of questions, all of which should have been part of the verification process.

    At this point, we had said no to two other lenders we had fully underwritten. We are scrambling to talk with the other lenders and go back into the process, WHILE IN ESCROW.

    This is super amateur and horrible. Better is not "better," Better is the worst. Do not trust them with your home; they will make you lose it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Jan 23, 2018

      Company Response from Better.com

      Hi Ray, I’m very sorry about the difficulty you faced during your experience with us. Because I cannot speak publicly about the specifics of your loan situation, a Better Mortgage team member has already contacted you directly. If you'd like to further discuss your experience, feel free to reach out to Megan Bellingham, Better's Head of Mortgage Operations, at megan@better.com.

      Sincerely, John Moffatt (Head of Loan Origination)


  • A version of “blue whale” game

    • By ST,
    • San Jose, CA,
    • Feb 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I applied for a $150k loan for a home appraised for $217k. I have a credit score of 805, and $260k in annual income. This “lender” assigned me 61 tasks, and I have completed all of the 61 tasks, which took me more than 20 hours. The loan is still not approved. I am not sure they are in lending business at all. I have enough assets to close the purchase and most likely do that.

    If you apply with better.com be ready to spend 20+ hours, daily assignments of 2-5 tasks for 30 days and zero guarantees that a loan will be closed. Have a plan B. I seriously doubt the folks who work there have any experience in the lending business.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Feb 9, 2018

      Company Response from Better.com

      Hi, I'm sorry to hear you are unhappy with your Better experience. I'd really like to learn more to see how I can help. Since I have no contact information for you, please feel free to contact me directly at jmoffatt@better.com.

      Sincerely, John Moffatt (Head of Loan Origination)


  • Total waste of time!

    I was really excited at first. Then after spending three days tracking down all sorts of paperwork, filling out forms, scanning, signing and rescanning forms, I get an email from them stating they do not offer financing for manufactured homes!

    Here's a thought, how about you put that in BIG BOLD WRITING someplace before you subject someone to hours and hours of work only to have there hopes crushed at the end!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Feb 14, 2018

      Company Response from Better.com

      Hi Steven, I’m very sorry to hear you were unhappy with your experience with us. Better’s online platform does notify our borrowers that we do not offer loans for manufactured mobile homes, but I'm glad that we were able to resolve your issue privately. If you have any remaining concerns, feel free to reach out to me at jmoffatt@better.com.

      Sincerely, John Moffatt (Head of Loan Origination)


  • Awful customer service.

    After a Facebook advertisement about Better Mortgage, I engaged the website. Later I got an email asking me to contact a specialist. His schedule was booked for over a week. Also was included a strange message that my request must be over $0. Later I get an email that my request was denied when I never followed through or requested anything. Avoid this computer generated email company. They are not better at anything.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 3, 2018

      Company Response from Better.com

      Hi Robert, I'm sorry to hear you were unhappy with your Better Morgage experience. We are looking into the issue you reported, in the meantime, feel free to contact me directly at jmoffatt@better.com.

      Sincerely, John Moffatt (Head of Loan Origination)


  • Horrible!

    • By Joann Mercer,
    • Denver, CO,
    • Apr 29, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    This company is a joke for a mortgage company. We got all the way to the week of closing to find out they were missing some information and were falling way behind on processing. You can never get a hold of your loan processor and when you do call it sounds like you are calling a loud call center. Luckily I had a local lender who was able to help clean up their mess, but not without costing me an extra $1,000.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

    • May 1, 2018

      Company Response from Better.com

      Hi Joann. I'm sorry to hear you are unhappy with your Better experience, and I'd really like to learn more. Since I have no contact information for you, please feel free to contact me directly at jmoffatt@better.com.

      Sincerely, John Moffatt (Head of Loan Origination)


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