Better.com IPO: Everything you need to know about Better.com

Better.com is developing into a major player in the digital mortgage space. Here’s the lowdown on the company in advance of the widely-discussed Better.com IPO.

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Better.com IPO: What do we know about the Better.com IPO?

The Better.com IPO will actually take the form of a SPAC transaction, where the business will merge with blank cheque company Aurora Acquisition Corp in a deal that could value the company at $7.7 billion.

  The date for the Better.com SPAC has not yet been announced, but interest is growing for the transaction.

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How to trade Better.com shares

When Better.com lists, you’ll be able to trade its shares in the same way you would any other publicly-traded company on the stock market.

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How much is Better.com worth?

Better.com is worth some $6 billion as of its latest April 2021 fundraising round, in which it raised $500 million. Prior to this mark, November 2020 saw the company achieve a valuation of around $3.8 billion following a Series D round of $200 million.

What is Better.com?

Better.com is a New York-based digital mortgage company, set up with the goal of revolutionising the mortgage process and making homeownership a simpler, more accessible and enjoyable experience for its US customers. The site offers users fast quotes and a speedy approval process without the intervention of mortgage brokers, allowing the company to pass on savings in the form of more competitive rates.

The company was started in 2014 by entrepreneur Vishal Garg, co-founder of erstwhile student loan provider MyRichUncle and former chairman of a range of financial institutions. The company raised a seed round for an undisclosed amount in 2014 through the Garg-founded 1/0 Capital, and Better.com quickly established itself as a prominent online player in the sector.

Better.com surpassed $1 billion in loans originated by 2016. Further details of fundraising prior to the seed round are not in the public domain.

Later in 2014, the company secured $30 million in Series A through Pine Brook, KCK Group, and IA Ventures, to facilitate its national expansion. After a Series B of $15 million in 2017, the company expanded to attract a more substantial round of $160 million via a Series C in 2019. These funds went towards technology and staff investment, as well as development of partnership channels. Another $200 million followed via a Series D in 2020, at which point the company had grown its funded loan volume over four times since the previous year.

By the 2021 Softbank investment of $500 million, Better.com had grown to a company of more than 6,000 employees, having extended a reported $25 billion in loans in 2020.

Who are Better.com’s competitors?

Better.com’s competitors include the likes of LoanDepot, Guaranteed Rate, and Rocket Mortgage. The latter is owned by Quicken Loans, which is among the largest retail lenders in the US. These providers broadly market themselves as offering fast and simple applications and closures for loans.

LoanDepot IPO’d in February 2021. The company had previously eyed a $6.2 billion valuation but only ended up raising $54 million at $14 per share, below the range of $19-21 and well short of the $362 million target it had sought. Separately, Rocket Companies, the parent company of Quicken Loans, was valued at around $36 billion as of its August 2020 IPO, although naturally the parent company has a variety of other companies under its banner.

How does Better.com make money?

Better.com is not a bank and does not seek to make money directly from homebuyers. Instead, it generates revenue by selling its mortgage loans to investors on the secondary market, such as such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, before it makes any interest on them. However, the company still acts as a guarantor for borrowers.

Homebuyers are attracted to this type of service rather than approaching a bank because of the low costs involved, a situation enabled by Better.com running a purely digital operation.

Additionally, Better.com brokers real estate agency and insurance services, allowing the company to accrue fees/commissions from such operators. It also runs an affiliate company that looks after title services (or conveyancing as known in the UK) – through which Better.com may also receive a percentage of fees.

What is Better.com's business strategy?

Better.com’s business strategy is focused on supplying faster, more accessible mortgages than incumbent rivals, while eliminating unnecessary costs and bureaucracy on the part of the homebuyer. The digital-first nature of the company allows it to function on reduced overheads compared to brick and mortar banks, which in turn enables the company to pass on better rates to its customers.

Given the focus on speedier, cheaper loans and an all-online approach, the service has answered the call to facilitate the homeowning aspirations of the millennial cohort, which is traditionally seen as less equipped to buy a home than the generations prior.

Better.com has made two strategic acquisitions, according to the company’s Crunchbase profile. The first was in July 2021 when it acquired UK-based mortgage and insurance broker Trussle in a bid to accelerate Better’s expansion into the UK market.

The second was the September 2021 purchase of Property Partner, also based in the UK, which facilitates the fractional ownership of buy-to-let properties for its users. The acquisition marks Better’s intention of diversifying its product offering, and allows it to explore the concept of fractional ownership back in the US. 

Is Better.com profitable?

Better.com is profitable as of its latest financial data, with the company reportedly generating $250 million in net profits for the 2020 period on a turnover of $850 million.

Who owns Better.com?

The ownership of Better.com is split between a range of individuals, such as founders Garg and Low, as well as investment institutions such as SoftBank, Fantail Ventures and Ariane Capital.

Key personnel of Better.com

Vishal Garg – Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Shawn Low – Co-founder, Head of Operations

Kevin Ryan – Chief Financial Officer

Diane Yu – Chief Technology Officer

Helen Min – Head of Marketing

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