Having raised well north of $150 million in capital this year alone, digital mortgage company Better.com is in full growth mode. According to details provided earlier this year by the company, Better has added more than 500 new employees in the last year and planned to hire at least 400 more this year.
But the company is not stopping there.
Better announced this week that it is planning a massive expansion in Charlotte and plans to hire 1,000 employees in its new North Carolina office over the next five years.
According to Better, the company plans to hire 100 new employees by the end of this year and will scale its operations in Charlotte from there.
The new office will serve as the hub for the partnership between Ally Financial and Better, which was announced earlier this year.
Back in April, Ally announced that it was turning to Better to power its direct-to-consumer mortgage offering called Ally Home. Specifically, the companies said they are launching a “new end-to-end digital experience for consumers looking for a mortgage loan from Ally,” which will be powered by Better.
And, according to Better, this new Charlotte office will be the “home base” for Ally Home and Better’s loan officers.
“Opening a new office in Charlotte will help us tap into the city’s incredibly talented workforce,” said Vishal Garg, CEO and founder of Better.com.
“As a rapidly growing startup, we see an entrepreneurial hunger and spirit in the city of Charlotte that is akin to what we used to see in places like downtown Manhattan in the 1980s and Silicon Valley in the 1990s,” Garg continued. “We’re thrilled to have chosen Charlotte as we enter the next stage of our company’s growth.”
The move to bring on 1,000 new employees, many of whom will be loan officers, is a reversal from how Better used to run its business.
As Garg explained earlier this year at HousingWire’s engage.marketing conference, conveniently held in Charlotte this year, initial goal of Better was to create a lender that functions basically like the E*Trade of the mortgage business, allowing a borrower to complete the mortgage process on their own without ever speaking to a person.
But as Garg noted, while that model works to a certain degree from refinances, when the company expanded into purchase mortgages in 2017, Better found that most borrowers aren’t truly ready for a fully digital experience.
“People aren’t ready for ETrade yet. They need Charles Schwab,” Garg said earlier this year. “They need a trusted advisor. Even up to last year, 85% of our locks had no human contact, but that’s probably only about 25% of the market. But people need hand-holding.”
And as a result, Better has shifted to a much more loan officer-focused business model, which will only be buoyed by the expansion in Charlotte.
As Garg referenced, Charlotte is quickly becoming one of the biggest centers of the financial services ecosystem in the U.S.
Charlotte is already home to Bank of America, Movement Mortgage, LendingTree, Cardinal Financial, Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing, Deephaven Mortgage, and Wyndham Capital Mortgage, just to name a few.
Charlotte is also about to be the home of Truist, the rebranded combination of BB&T and SunTrust Bank. Earlier this year, on the same day the companies revealed they had chosen Truist as their new name, BB&T and SunTrust announced they were planning to move their headquarters to a 550,000-square-foot office in Charlotte.
Add in Better’s pledge to hire 1,000 new employees in the next five years and the competition for financial services and technology talent in Charlotte is about to get fierce.
“Charlotte is a city built on innovation and commerce, with a strong educational foundation that provides optimal opportunities for fintech startups like Better.com,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. “We welcome Better.com and thank them for helping us to grow into the technology-based city we want to be.”
According to Better, the move to Charlotte was a “collaborative effort” between Better, the City of Charlotte, Ally Financial, and Carolina FinTech Hub.