Better.com will allow Amazon employees to use their shares in the company toward a mortgage down payment with a product the digital lender aims to expand to more firms, it announced.
Current workers for the tech giant in Florida, New York and Washington beginning Tuesday can use Equity Unlocker to secure a home loan without selling their Amazon stock, according to Better. The product is not mark-to-market nor non-recourse, with mortgages locked with the share’s values at the time of a home appraisal.
“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,” said Vishal Garg, founder and CEO, in a press release Tuesday.
The new product isn’t a partnership between the companies, but Better has funded over $1 billion in mortgage volume with Amazon workers and noticed concern with equity compensation, it said. Better has also been an Amazon Web Services customer since it was founded in 2015, and the software powers its loan origination system, Tinman.
Pledged equity will be valued at 50% and can be combined with cash for a 20% down payment, Better said. Amazon closed at $93.76 per share Monday, and has fallen from a peak of $168 last March. The company is also in the midst of laying off approximately 18,000 employees from its 1.5 million workforce to rightsize after a hiring boom during the pandemic.
The interest rate with Equity Unlocker will be 0.25% to 2.50% higher than the daily Fannie Mae mortgage rate depending on terms of the loan, a rate the lender suggests is lower than the average rate for a margin loan.
Equity Unlocker can be used for a mortgage up to $3 million for a first or second home, or up to $2 million for an investment property. A borrower with the product won’t be able to sell their Amazon shares until the principal is paid in full, or they refinance. Employees with pledged equity can also sell their Amazon proceeds if it would pay down a percentage of the principal, according to terms and conditions.
“By building Equity Unlocker on AWS, Better is able to innovate continuously, and improve the user experience while continuing to provide best in class service to their customers,” said Chandan Sharma, managing director of worldwide business development, enterprise and industry verticals at AWS in a press release.
Better said it plans to roll out Equity Unlocker to other private and public company employees. The loan product is the lender’s latest ambitious rollout after unveiling a One Day Mortgage last month, which it said delivered a commitment letter to prospective borrowers in an average of 12 hours.
The moves come as Better also awaits a merger with a special purpose acquisition company to go public, a proposal almost two years in the making.
Aurora Acquisition Corp., the SPAC set to merge with Better, has a March 8 deadline to complete its merger, according to Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures. The company held a vote last week with shareholders to extend the deadline to September, and a spokesperson for Aurora Monday said the company would post an update this week.