These four buyers beat the odds to get a home. Here is their advice number 1

ByRichard C. Sloan

Apr 9, 2022

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2022 is shaping up to be another tough year for buying a home. But with the right information and advice, the dream is always within reach.

“You want to come in with your eyes wide open,” says Farnoosh Torabi, CNET Money editor and host of the award-winning So Money podcast. “It’s not buying a sweater on sale at Target,” she says. “It’s going to be a very big investment.”

Low inventory and low interest rates have driven up prices and competition, Torabi says. Therefore, you should expect the best service, care and attention from your lender.

We spoke with four buyers who successfully beat the odds and bought a home that suited their needs and budget. Here’s how they did it, along with their tips for homebuyers.

1. Get recommendations from friends and family

First home buyers Tessa Sliwa and her fiancé Benjamin were ready to stop renting and buy a house big enough for their growing family. But they lead busy lives, and traditional lenders continued to require in-person meetings and lengthy phone calls to approve them for a mortgage, the couple said.

380Tessa Sliwa and her fiancé Benjamin

A personal recommendation led them to Better Mortgage. “We had several friends who had bought houses around the same time and said very good things about Better,” says Sliwa.

Better Mortgage made the whole process easy to understand right from the start, says Sliwa, especially with the checklist provided to guide them through each step of the process. And while the online application process got things done quickly, the couple say they never felt rushed or pressured. Sliwa said she was also impressed with the Best price guaranteedwhich matches any competitor’s loan estimate.

Busy homebuyers should value efficiency, the couple say. We have the technology for automated approval processes that can be done entirely online, so why bother with fax machines or regular mail?

2. Be clear about your goals

After losing her home to a wildfire, Teresa Hanni and her husband had nowhere to go – and lots of insurance paperwork to settle. Fortunately, Hanni had another house, but it was rented to a tenant and the mortgage payments were starting to seem too high.

Teresa Hanni and her husband

Tight in a tiny borrowed trailer, Hanni and her husband had to line up on goals. For them, that meant fast refinancing with good customer service. The couple contacted various loan companies to find a better deal on Hanni’s original mortgage and quickly narrowed down a list of three companies they thought could help them.

The couple ultimately opted for Better Mortgage because it offered fast and efficient service – and given their dire circumstances, working quickly was of the highest priority.

The bank Hanni already used for his checking and savings accounts couldn’t provide the couple with the efficient service they needed: “It took them five weeks to call me back,” says Hanni. “That’s not customer service, and I certainly didn’t have to do that with Better Mortgage.”

When you know, you know – and you rarely have time to wait. Better Mortgage can pre-approve borrowers in minutes and charges no origination fees. The online lender also offers additional incentives for using both Better Real Estate and Better Mortgage, as well as a closure guarantee offering a $2,000 payment if Better Mortgage does not close the loan on time.

3. Plan ahead and set a home buying budget

Life is notorious for surprises, and Dr. Taisha Johnson experienced that after simultaneously experiencing the death of her father and the end of her marriage in the summer of 2019.

Dr. Taisha Johnson and her son

Amid the loss and grief, Dr. Johnson was able to come up with a long-term plan. She left her five-bedroom, 3,500 square foot home and moved into a 1,100 square foot apartment with her three children.

Dr. Johnson, a school psychologist and adjunct teacher, has made it his goal to use the time spent in the apartment as an opportunity to advance financially. The plan was to improve her credit rating, save money and shop for a permanent home that she and her children could move into once they come out on the other side of their difficult transition.

“Me and the kids just kept an eye on the prize,” Johnson said. After a period of saving, researching and budgeting, Johnson was ready to start working with lenders. Traditional lenders saw issues with his medical school student debt, which came as a surprise. His student loans hadn’t been a problem in the past. Yet Johnson decided to improve his credit rating nonetheless.

4. Choose an online lender

Fred Miller, a 79-year-old Michigan native, was looking forward to spending more time in his suburban Detroit home with his wife of 35 years. But just as the global COVID-19 pandemic began and stay-at-home orders were issued, Miller’s wife died.

Fred Miller

“I miss her,” Miller says. “She was one hell of a lady.”

With new plans for what her ideal retirement home would look like, Miller stumbled upon the perfect place while browsing the web with her daughter. The house was the smallest house in a good neighborhood, perfect for a single retiree.

There was only one question: Could Miller finance a house at his age? What would happen if he asked a traditional lender for a 30-year mortgage?

But Miller’s family informed him that he could take an alternative route and put all his necessary personal information on the website.

Miller was quickly pre-approved for a $300,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage through Better Mortgage with a competitive rate after confirming his asset accounts, work history and credit report on the mortgage portal. online application from

“It was really an easy process,” Miller said.

In just 30 days, Miller closed a $400,000 home. Better Mortgage also helped align its home insurance through Better coverage, the company’s affiliate home insurance business. The process was “quick and efficient,” Miller said.

“We did everything you normally would when getting a mortgage anywhere, and we did it all online,” Miller said.


Buying a home is a big commitment, and it makes a big difference to feel like you’re working with a lender who understands your situation and is part of your team.

“If there’s one thing that remains – no matter how many changes we’re seeing in the market right now – it’s that buying a home for most people is the biggest financial decision in life. their lives,” says Torabi.

Buyers should never feel like they’ve been rushed through the process or haven’t gotten all their questions answered. Don’t rush, give in to fear, or take extreme measures like foregoing inspections or major contingencies, advises Torabi.

And when you have questions, need advice, or just want to discuss your options, choose a lender who lets you learn about their expertise.

“Don’t try to change who you are, your temperament and your comfort level, because that’s what the market is dictating right now,” says Torabi.