Amazon employees get 'Better' option for home financing
Mortgage provider Better unveiled Equity Unlocker, which allows Amazon employees to pledge company stock toward a home purchase.
- Instead of selling stock, vested Amazon employees will have the option to pledge their equity toward a down payment.
- Better CEO and founder Vishal Garg said it’s a useful option as companies increasingly offer equity compensation to employees.
- The mortgage provider plans to expand the program to other companies nationwide.
Some current and former Amazon employees will now have a better chance of financing the purchase of a home.
The online mortgage company Better has partnered with the retail giant to launch its Equity Unlocker program. The new financial product allows vested Amazon employees in select states the ability to finance their homes without cashing in their stock.
Instead of selling stock — which can incur costs like capital gains taxes — or taking out a high-interest-rate margin loan, Amazon employees can instead pledge their equity in Amazon, allowing them to buy a home while still letting their equity grow.
The product is available to thousands of employees in Florida, New York and Washington state, and the company plans to offer it in other states. While the program is only being offered to Amazon employees at launch, Better intends to expand Equity Unlocker to both public and private companies nationwide.
Better CEO & founder Vishal Garg said in a news release that this new product is a way to adapt in a challenging housing market where pay structure is much different, especially in the tech sector, with many companies using equity as a significant part of their compensation package.
"Even though equity is a valuable asset, it is considered ineligible by most banks and financial institutions when calculating the necessary down payment on a home," Garg said. "For young professionals burdened with student debt and lack of savings, we know how hard it is to buy a home."
Better said the online pre-approval process takes just a few minutes to complete. Employees can toggle between pledged equity and a cash down payment, allowing them to easily understand how much home they can afford and how much equity they will need to pledge.
According to the company, Amazon stock will be valued at the time of the home appraisal, at which point the rate and term can be locked.
Better has been a customer of Amazon Web Services (AWS) since their launch in 2015.
"Better collaborated with AWS and Amazon leaders to find new ways to engage customers in the home-buying journey," said Chandan Sharma, a managing director at Amazon Web Services. "Equity Unlocker was built on AWS to help Better reach more customers, and extend their buying power."
Better plans to make Equity Unlocker available nationwide to employees of other public and private companies, giving them the flexibility to leverage their vested stock to fund a portion of their home purchase.