Meet Our Team

Wally Nikowitz, Broker

Founder

Wally graduated with a Bachelor's in Accounting from Northern Illinois University, and went on to become a certified public accountant. Building upon a decade of career success with a national CPA firm, Wally merged his experience in finance, accounting, tax and business with his passion for helping family, friends and neighbors reach the best solutions for their mortgage, real estate and personal finance needs.

 

With nearly 30 years of exceptional experience serving San Dimas and the surrounding communities, Wally has established himself as the premier mortgage broker in the area.  Wally has also worked tirelessly to promote small business within the community through the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce, as well as volunteering countless hours throughout decades of service with the San Dimas Little League and San Dimas Rotary. 

 

In 1998, Wally was voted Citizen of the Year in San Dimas and was recognized by the United States Congress, and has continued to hold that same level of integrity and character.

Mike Wallace, CPA

President

Mike grew up locally in San Dimas, attending Gladstone Elementary School, Lone Hill Middle School, and San Dimas High School before heading north to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara, obtaining a bachelor's degree in Business Economics with an Accounting emphasis.  After a decade of success working in public accounting (including "Big 4" management experience) and as the Assistant Controller of a publicly traded company with annual revenues in excess of a billion dollars, Mike turned his career focus to the mortgage, real estate and personal finance fields. 

 

Bringing a wealth of economics, finance, business and accounting experience, Mike's knowledge, expertise and ability to communicate complex transactions in "plain English" provides excellent customer service to our clients.  In addition, Mike's education, CPA, and diverse high-finance and business consulting experience provide a unique set of problem solving skills that are rarely seen in the mortgage and real estate industry. 

 

Mike lives in San Dimas and is very active in the local community, including being the treasurer of the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce, the Past-President of the San Dimas Rotary, a board member of the San Dimas Sheriff's Booster Club, and participating as both a sponsor and volunteer at many San Dimas Little League and Bonita Unified School District events and fund raisers.  Mike explains his community contributions by saying "I attribute much of my success to the quality education I received in this community, as well as the supportive environment in which I was raised.  I consider it an honor to be in a position to give back to my community and to help others reach their goals."

Tracy Brady

Manager | Sr. Loan Processor

Tracy Brady grew up in the local area and is extremely knowledgeable about the loan process.  Tracy has been an important member of the Better Home Financial team for over 15 years. 

 

Throughout that time, Tracy has gathered a wealth of experience processing loans and being proactive in knowing what underwriters and lenders will ask for throughout the loan process, requesting items up-front that underwriters and funders will request toward the end of the loan.  This saves time in closing our loans, as well as our client's time in requesting everything we know we will need at the beginning of the loan.  

 

Tracy has a very strong work ethic and has consistently proven that she can always get the job done for our clients.  It is very common for Tracy to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure loans close on time, including working extra hours when needed and closely tracking the progress of each loan and constantly communicating with all parties involved to make sure everyone is updated timely.

Lauren Bustillos

Real Estate Agent | Loan Processor

Lauren is the newest member of the Team at Better Home Financial, and we've been very excited to have her since she arrived over a year ago! Lauren was born and raised in San Dimas, and also shares our passion for helping the community she grew up in. Lauren attained her Bachelor's in Business locally as well, graduating from the University of La Verne in 2015.

 

In her short time here, Lauren has become well known among our clients for her warm smile, her ability to laugh effortlessly, and her unwavering positive attitude in and out of the office. Fortunately for our clients, chances are when you call Better Home Financial you will be hearing her on the other end!

 

With a highly experienced team surrounding her, Lauren's knowledge of residential mortgage loans has grown exponentially in a short time, and she has become extremely knowledgeable about the intricacies of loan processing. 

 

Lauren has quickly become invaluable as a member of the team and a critical cog in our key operations here at Better Home Financial.

Joanne Hritz

Real Estate Agent | Notary Public

A real Estate professional for more than 25 years, Joanne Hritz is known for integrity, diplomacy and sincerity in every client interaction. She has first and foremost strived to be someone in whom her clientele and colleagues can put their trust, and their faith. Ten years ago, Joanne moved her license to Better Home Financial Inc.

Joanne got into the real estate business after she bought a house using a real estate agent herself. She came to realize that many agents, including hers, lacked the skills and ethics needed by a truly professional agent who looks out for their client’s best interests, and decided to fill that void herself.

 

Joanne has sold homes as far west as Thousand Oaks and as far east as San Bernardino, giving her an understanding of the market most don’t. She is an agent that goes above and beyond the average agent to make sure that her client’s transactions are smooth and that their interests are number one. Joanne prides herself on her reputation of working with clients as if they are part of her family or a close friend. With her experience comes exceptional negotiating aptitude and strong communication skills, allowing her to consistently bring her clients the results they’re looking for.

 

If you are looking for an agent that has your interest as her first priority, then you can trust Joanne! Call (909) 917-2810

Josh Cohn

Intern

As a recent California Polytechnic Pomona graduate with a Bachelor's in Finance, Real Estate, and Law, Josh is excited to be developing his career at Better Home Financial. After growing up nearby in Upland, Josh attended Damien High School in La Verne, where he played varsity soccer and roller hockey. Josh's love of a good challenge and thinking creatively spurred him to learn to play several instruments at a high level; including guitar, bass, and drums.

 

After attending Loyola Marymount University for part of his collegiate career, Josh decided to finish school locally, and graduated from Cal Poly. Shortly after a summer-long trip through Europe, Josh joined the Better Home Financial team as intern.

 

His first project was to overhaul Better Home Financial's website, and entirely created the website you see today. He has since been responsible for creating digital content and assisting our President, Mike Wallace, directly.

Bert McKee

Loan Originator | Real Estate Agent

Bert grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, playing various sports and leading a very active life.  He played football and rugby at U.C. Berkeley (Cal) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history. After Cal,  Bert and his wife moved back to beautiful San Dimas to raise their family, where they've been active in various community organizations.

Bert McKee has been involved in construction and real estate since 1985 when he joined Valley Lumber Company, working to install and supply residential, commercial, and industrial construction projects with the highest level of service and building supplies. His level of aptitude and business acumen eventually led him to become President of the company.

 

During this time he also led the way in installed sales by attaining a General B contractors license (CSLB#962365), further attesting to his affinity for hard work and providing value to those he works with.

He continues this level of service now as a licensed California salesperson (BRE 01924424) and with his Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System license (1072459).   Bert continues to be an asset and a great part of our mortgage team of real estate professionals at Better Home Financial.

Bob Cates

Retirement Planner | Loan Originator

Bob attended college locally at Azusa Pacific University receiving a Masters Degree in Education. Serving as a math teacher for over 25 years, Bob became exceptional at taking seemingly complicated concepts and distilling them into easily digestible parts, as well as mastering how to help many different types of people succeed and achieve their goals.

 

These skills have enabled him to be very successful as a retirement planner for Lincoln Investment, as he predominantly helps his fellow teachers and non profit workers in what he refers to as  "life-stage planning", a more personal, long-term, and comprehensive approach than simply portfolio management. 

After meeting Wally, Bob joined the Better Home Financial mortgage team as a Loan Originator as he found many of his clients could benefit from our expertise in providing the lowest rate refinances and our experience in helping people through the process of attaining their first mortgage and buying their first home! His professionalism and likability only add to the many reasons we're lucky to have Bob on the team!

Michelle Wilson

Real Estate Agent | Loan   Originator | Notary Public

Michelle was raised in San Dimas, and attended the Pomona Catholic Girls High School. From there she graduated from University of La Verne with a BA in Business Administration. Michelle is one of our original team members, joining Better Home Financial in 1990 as Office Manager. In 1991 she became a certified Notary Public, and in 1994 became a licensed real estate agent.

 

After being happily married with 2 children, Michelle decided to take the path of being an agent allowing her to work outside the office and give her the flexibility to work around her children’s schedule. If she isn’t working, Michelle would rather be reading, camping, or off traveling on a new adventure.

Michelle excels in real estate today for many reasons, one of them being that she follows a prior professor’s wise words: “The best real estate agents are the ones who try not to sell.” You see, Michelle wasn’t sure she wanted to be a salesperson, but because she is such a natural people-person she realized that she could be a high quality agent by just being herself; honest, fair, and trustworthy. For Michelle, there is nothing more rewarding than handing the keys to a friend once you have helped them by a new home.

“My time at Better Home Financial has proven to be the best decision I have ever made” she says. And we here at BHF feel just as lucky to have her on our team!

Jennifer Seymour

Real Estate Agent

Jennifer's childhood was spent in Glendora, developing a strong sense of kinship with this area. After graduating from Glendora High School, Jennifer enrolled in Mt. San Antonio College, and thereafter entered the banking industry for seven years, gaining valuable experience in the practical application of finance and gaining insight on how lenders operate. She then decided she needed a change from the banking environment to one that was smaller and more connected to the community she serves, and thus began her tenure at Better Home Financial as a loan processor in 1999.

In order to diversify her skills, Jennifer obtained her real estate license in 2000. When asked to describe her feeling when she became licensed, she says “I was excited, I really enjoy helping others, and now I could help people in my community through the difficult task of selling their home, or using my knowledge to help them find the home of their dreams.”  Jennifer strives every day to give her clients the best service, and part of this includes her knack for organization and an affinity for being detail oriented, all very important traits for her line of work. As part of the Better Home Financial Team she has been nothing short of exceptional to work with.

Jennifer has thoroughly enjoyed working for Better Home Financial, and continues to “love helping our clients get the best possible experience and satisfy all their real estate needs”.

Jerome Drossel

Real Estate Agent

With over 17 years of experience in conducting real estate transactions in Southern California and the Central Coast, Jerome Drossel understands the decision making process with buying and selling property as being one of the most important decisions anyone will make.

 

Jerome is known for establishing a comfortable rapport with clients, listening to their needs, and providing guidance in every step of the transaction process in order to exceed his client’s goals and expectations. In addition, his sharp negotiating skills resolve any of his client’s difficulties during the real estate transaction.

 

Jerome specializes in residential properties, including single-family homes, condominiums, and even units/income properties. We feel privileged to have him as part of our real estate team here at Better Home Financial.

His contact # is (626) 833-2741, and he's always looking forward to a new client's call!

Jeannie Openshaw

Real Estate Agent

Jeannie Openshaw Wright has worked in the real estate business since 1997, selling residential homes and land in the San Gabriel Valley throughout her career.  She was born and raised in Covina and attended Royal Oak High School before studying locally at Mt. San Antonio College and Cal State University Fullerton.

 

Jeannie raised her family in the San Dimas area for many years and has since moved to the Temecula Valley in 2010 . The Temecula Valley is home to  Southern California's beautiful wine country and boasts over 60 wineries.

Jeannie specializes in helping clients find the perfect house with the perfect lifestyle. Whether you desire to find your first home or a cozy retirement home, a weekend get away home, a golf course home or an income producing investment property, Jeannie can help you find exactly what you are looking for in Southern California.

 

The Temecula Valley is only an hour away from Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.  Specializing in Temecula Wine Country Homes, please visit Wine Country Home SoCal on Facebook to find the vast array of homes and properties available to make living in "Wine Country" a reality, as it has been for her!

Better Home Financial continues to enjoy Jeannie as an integral part of our real estate professional team for Southern California residences.

© 2018-2019 Joshua Cohn | Better Home Financial, Inc.

Wally Nikowitz, Broker

CA DRE #01041498

NMLS #235334

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