Better Mortgage Review 2017

Finding the Right Mortgage, Mortgages
You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.

There’s no lack of trying when it comes to simplifying the home-buying process. It seems a new startup aiming to “disrupt the mortgage loan industry” comes on the scene almost weekly.

Better Mortgage (found at has been working to simplify mortgage loans for more than two years. Here’s how it stacks up.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Hal M. Bundrick, CFP


  • Offers purchase and refinance loans up to $2 million.
  • Available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington, D.C.
  • Minimum credit score: 680.

Compare Better Mortgage with other lenders.

A ‘digital mortgage experience’

Vishal Garg is the founder of Better Mortgage, and like so many of us was frustrated by the difficulty of getting a home loan.

“I went through the mortgage process to buy an apartment, and it was a disaster; it took forever,” Garg tells NerdWallet. “It took Citibank three weeks to get me a basic preapproval.” He launched in an effort to create a “fast, transparent digital mortgage experience.”

“[With Better] you can get approved in under three minutes,” Garg says. “We’ve done this year on something like $300 million in loans — every one of those loans has closed with an interest rate within 25 basis points [0.25%] of the interest rate they were quoted at minute 3 of the process.”

Better Mortgage handles purchase and refinance loans. Borrowers tend to be affluent; Garg says the typical Better Mortgage borrower has a 780 credit score, an annual income of $190,000 and is between age 32 and 55, with an average loan of $465,000. That borrower has a debt-to-income ratio of 30%, and the loan typically equals 60% of the home’s market value.

How Better Mortgage works

The process begins online with an interest rate quote. Click on the “Get a Rate Quote” link, and, like most mortgage rate tools, asks for your ZIP code, state, a credit score range, home value and loan amount.

Within seconds, a screen of different rates and terms appears. These are the rate quotes that Garg says have been within 0.25% of the actual rates Better customers have received with loans issued this year.

Garg credits the tool’s ability to match accurate interest rates with potential borrowers to machine learning technology similar to what Spotify uses to match music to users. Better’s Chief Technology Officer Erik Bernhardsson worked at Spotify for over six years and led the engineering team that developed the algorithms that power the music service’s recommendation features.

Armed with a mortgage rate you like, you can proceed to the preliminary approval process. Here, you enter fresh info or confirm pre-populated data, including:

  • Property information.
  • Borrower information (and co-borrower, if applicable).
  • Current mortgages, if the user is applying for a refinance.
  • Cash-out details, if that’s what you’re looking for.

With that, the system verifies the information and delivers a decision.

After what Better says is a three-minute process, you are shown a menu of the loan products you’ve qualified for, with an estimated monthly payment and annual percentage rate, as well as the fees or credits available with each option. Garg says there is no set origination fee.

“And then you can lock that loan in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. And you can do this without ever speaking to a human being, 24/7, online, all the time,” he says.

And Garg says Better Mortgage’s online self-service model isn’t just an option; it’s the rule.

“If you pick up the phone and call us and say, ‘Can you tell me my rate?’ my loan officers will tell you, ‘Please go to the website.’” He says licensed loan officers aren’t paid commissions on loans and are available to “provide support, not sales.”

Completing the loan application is a “dynamic Q&A” process that adjusts with the information you provide, asking for additional info relevant to your particular situation. It feels a lot like using TurboTax to file your taxes.

What Better Mortgage does best

  • Users access a single platform through the entire mortgage loan process, from making an application to uploading documents and monitoring their loan’s status.
  • Users can choose from various options in their loan pricing, adjusting fees and discount points for different interest rates.
  • Better is well-suited for the do-it-yourselfer doing it whenever they want: after the kids are asleep, before the morning rush or on their lunch hour.

Where Better Mortgage falls short

  • It’s available only in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington, D.C.
  • Better doesn’t offer home equity loans or lines of credit.
  • Better doesn’t handle FHA, VA or USDA loans.

Overall, Better is a worthy competitor in the mortgage lending space. The site is clean, easy to navigate and built for the borrower who doesn’t want or need a bunch of hand-holding.

Let the disruption continue.

More from NerdWallet
Compare mortgage rates
Get a mortgage preapproval
Find a mortgage broker

Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick

Home Buyer Newsletter

Forty-nine percent of home buyers wish they’d done something differently.
Arm yourself with in-depth tips and insights with our biweekly newsletter.
  • Should be Empty:

NerdWallet’s star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The six key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, online capabilities, online mortgage rate information, customer service and the number of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a percentage of loans issued. We also awarded lenders up to one bonus star for a unique program or borrower focus that set them apart from other lenders. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.