Amazon lets employees use their inventory to finance home purchases and even second homes

by Ana Lopez

Amazon has struck a deal with controversial online mortgage lender Better.com to offer employees a new benefit.

Better.com is launched Equity unlocker, a program that allows employees to use their acquired wealth as collateral for a down payment when buying homes. Amazon employees in Florida, New York and Washington state will be the first to try out the tool. What’s unique about the program, according to Better.com, is that employees have the option to finance their home without actually selling their stock.

According to Better.com, even former Amazon employees with acquired equity can use the service, and there are many after Amazon’s layoffs across the company. Current and former employees can also use the mortgage tool for secondary recreational homes or investment properties. Closing costs, when the loan is secured, vary between 2% and 5% of the loan, Better said on its website. However, there is a catch. If previously reported today by the WSJ: “To protect itself against a continued fall in Amazon’s stock price, Better.com will charge a higher rate on the mortgages of employees who pledge stock – between 0.25 and 2, 5 percentage points above the market rate, depending on how the drop payment is structured.”

Brad Glasser, an Amazon spokesperson, told businessupdates.org via email that the company is “always looking for opportunities” to improve its benefits offerings “and better support the mental, physical and financial well-being of employees.”

He added: “As part of that, we offer a wide range of financial benefits, including resource savings, tools to increase financial literacy and programs that help employees feel financially healthy. Eligible employees can access these benefits from their first day of employment with us, regardless of job title or location.”

While this new service from Better is specifically aimed at the home buying process, the philosophy behind the program, the company says, is to provide support for the “whole employee.”

“Financial well-being, mental well-being and physical well-being are all essential facets of employee health, and they all influence each other,” said Glasser. “For financial well-being, that means providing benefits that help with both short-term and long-term financial success, for employee time at Amazon and beyond.”

It is a creative, but also surprising collaboration. Better has been an Amazon Web Services customer since 2015, and its loan origination system is powered entirely by the software, according to a statement. Still, Better has been through its fair share of struggles that have cast doubt on its future. Last May, businessupdates.org reported on a filing showing that Better.com had moved to a loss of more than $300 million in 2021 after a rapid drop in revenue, largely driven by a slowdown in the housing market and a sharp rise in mortgage rates. prices.

The company’s reputation also received a huge blow from the way it enacted numerous mass layoffs, which also resulted in an exodus of executives. Better.com also made headlines last July when it seemed like it was still making headway on its SPAC application, despite the lackluster performance of debut blank check combinations. (On the same day of the updated SPAC filing, the WSJ reported that the SEC is investigating whether Better.com violated federal securities laws, according to a company disclosure.)

While Amazon may be the guinea pig, Better aims to make Equity Unlocker available nationwide to employees of public and private companies.

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