SoFi reignites the politics of avocado and house prices

By David Tuckwell on Friday 30 June 2017

Alternative Lending

SoFi mortgage borrowers will be given a month of free smashed avocado

Making a political point, US fintech SoFi offers homebuyers a month's supply of avocado on toast.

Money lenders like giving homebuyers gifts. A hamper, champagne and movie tickets are gifts often used to help soften the blow for homeowners, newly chained to decades of debt.

US fintech lender SoFi has a novel twist on this old idea as part of its new mortgage offering.

This month, the marketplace lender will also give new homebuyers gifts – as is standard industry practice. But rather than Moet or Bollinger, SoFi is offering homebuyers a month's worth of avocado on toast delivered to their doors.

This may seem strange at first. Why avocado on toast? What on earth would new homebuyers want with this?

For the answer, turn to Australia.  

Japan put avocado in sushi and California put it into burgers. But it was Australia that famously put it on toast for breakfast.

And what does this have to do with SoFi, an American fintech?

Well, last year the soft green fruit was dragged into the politics of home ownership when it was blamed for young people being locked out of the housing market.

Murdoch media columnist Bernard Salt provoked outrage by arguing that whinging millennials could afford houses if only they wasted less money on avocado.

“I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family,” wrote Mr Salt.

“But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn't they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.”

Following the column’s publication, the internet exploded with outrage. “Just give up $22 a week and you'll have a deposit on a median priced house in Sydney in... 175 years,” went one reply. “Skipped smashed avocado for breakfast this morning. Excited to buy a house next week”, went another.

The debate was quickly picked up in the US and elsewhere.

Enter SoFi.

Like Mr Salt, SoFi is making a point about millennials and house prices. And like Mr Salt, the upstart fintech is staking out a political position on millennials’ grievances at intergenerational equality.

"Pundits have unfairly besmirched avocado toast as the reason younger Americans aren't buying homes,” said Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing Officer at SoFi.

“We know that's wrong… we wanted to help people have their avocado toast and eat it too.”

Once homebuyers complete their purchase with SoFi, they can then fill out a smashed avocado order form. They can even choose gluten-free bread. The ingredients will be delivered separate “to ensure freshness”, SoFi says. But homebuyers “will still need to toast the bread”.

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