How This Divorced Mom of 3 With Student Debt Bought a Home With Only 5% Down

Presented by Better
When Dr. Taisha Johnson needed to find a new home for her family, she worked with Better Mortgage to make it happen.
When Dr. Taisha Johnson needed to find a new home for her family, she worked with Better Mortgage to make it happen.
Better paid for the creation and placement of the content on this page. It does not necessarily reflect the editorial views of NextAdvisor or any of its affiliated entities.

Taisha Johnson thought she had it all. 

Johnson, a psychologist, lived with her husband and three children in what she considered their “forever home” in Camarillo, California. But in the summer of 2019, Dr. Johnson’s life took an unexpected turn: first when her father died and then when her husband told her he wanted a divorce.

Johnson and her three children moved from the family home into a 1,100-square foot apartment. She worked multiple jobs to rebuild her life as a single parent, all the while pursuing a new, more permanent home to move into with her children. 

“That was a very hard time because I was going backwards in life,” Johnson said. “That was very humbling because we were miserable. We spent a year, every single day, in a place that we didn’t want to be.”

It wasn’t clear at the time how they’d get back to a place they wanted to be. But then Johnson connected with Better Mortgage, an online lender that has funded nearly $31 billion in home loans since it went into business in 2016.

A Change of Plans

After the death of her father and the end of her marriage, Johnson had to leave her five-bedroom, 3,500 square-foot home and downsize to a smaller apartment with her three children. She set a goal to make sure the change was only temporary. 

A school psychologist and adjunct professor, Johnson worked and saved up as much money as she could with a clear goal in mind: return her family to a permanent home she felt they deserved.

“I just saved money and me and the kids just kept our eye on the prize,” Johnson said. “We kept saying this is temporary and we will get there, but we have to make the sacrifice.”

The Challenge

When she felt ready to become a homeowner again, Johnson started working with lenders. At one point, Johnson thought she found what she needed in a traditional lender, but issues with her student debt affected her credit score, which, in turn, hindered her ability to get a traditional mortgage loan. 

While her sizable student loan debt — medical school isn’t known for being cheap — hadn’t been an issue for her when buying a home in the past, Johnson resolved to improve her score. “Once my credit score went up, I said ‘OK, let’s go,’” Johnson said. 

As she searched for a lender, Johnson saw an advertisement for Better.com, which proved to be just what her family needed. “The ball started rolling,” Johnson said.

The Better Way 

Having previously experienced the lending process, Johnson said she expected a lengthy and time-consuming back-and-forth. She was pleasantly surprised to find out that wasn’t the case with Better Mortgage.

“It usually takes a month and they did it in two weeks,” Johnson said. “I already had spent two weeks with this other company, and Better knocked it out in two weeks.”

Johnson appreciated the constant step-by-step help and guidance she received, especially from Bethany, the Better Mortgage Home Advisor who worked with her to make getting the loan a smooth process. 

“I was stressing out but she maintained her composure,” Johnson said. “I had a lot riding on this home. I’m just amazed how the team just worked on my loan. Even on weekends, Bethany called me to ask if I was OK and to let me know they were still working on it. They valued me and my story and what I was trying to accomplish for my family.”

In November 2020, Johnson found the perfect home in Camarillo, California. She worked with Better to secure a competitive mortgage rate for the $640,000 home, after putting 5% down. Unlike with the previous lender, Johnson’s student loans didn’t cause a problem securing a loan. “I had a team fighting for me and my family,” Johnson said. “And look what I have. I have a beautiful home.”The home includes a spacious backyard, a personal office space for Johnson and bedrooms for each of her three children, ages 10, 8, and 5.

What’s Next for Dr. Johnson?

Johnson says she is thankful for Better Mortgage helping her reach her goal of owning a dream home for her family, and making her feel valued throughout the process.

With the perfect house and a loan she can comfortably afford, Johnson is finally in that better place, providing the home life she wants for her children. 

“It definitely made it very affordable for me to not only pay the mortgage, but to have a life,” Johnson said. “We’re going to create lifelong memories [in this home]. When we get older, we can say we did this and just created wonderful experiences.”

(Better Mortgage Corp. NMLS # 330511.)