Millennials offered free avocado toast if they buy a home with S.F. firm’s mortgage

Six weeks after an Austrialian property tycoon sparked outrage, incredulity and knowing smirks worldwide after telling a TV network that millennials can’t afford houses because they spend too much money on avocado toast, a San Francisco financial-technology firm has stepped in to make sure new homeowners from that generation won’t lack for the trendy and often-pricey snack.

At least for a month, then they’re on their own.

“Pundits have unfairly besmirched avocado toast as the reason younger Americans aren’t buying homes. We know that’s wrong — it’s because the traditional mortgage product hasn’t evolved,” Joanne Bradford, chief of marketing at SoFi, said in a June 29 press release.

“In addition to offering a mortgage with 10 percent down and no borrower-paid private mortgage insurance required, we wanted to help people have their avocado toast and eat it too.”

For July only, anyone granted a SoFi mortgage for a home purchase will get a month’s supply of avocado toast, delivered to their door in three shipments, according to a SoFi blog post.

The online lender that got its start with student-loan refinancing also hit another millennial touchpoint: beneficiaries of the Great Avocado Toast Giveaway can have their choice of regular or gluten-free bread.

And while the generation in question has been branded, probably unfairly, as lazy, SoFi has faith that they have the gumption to take independent action to feed themselves with their beloved dish.

“Recipients will still need to toast the bread,” the press release said.

Sofi’s culinary gimmick aims directly at its main market — the firm has sought to align itself with priorities of millennials, CEO Mike Cagney told online magazine Quartz. Avocado toast delivered to a borrower’s home appears to fit one of those priorities, Cagney’s comments suggest.

“Millennials have a completely irrational sense of the value of their time,” he told Quartz, adding that members of that generation would decline to spend less than a half hour figuring out how to consolidate their student loans, even if that would save them thousands of dollars annually.

Of course, there are a couple of risks to this SoFi gambit. Millennials are infamous for short attention spans that have led the NBA to question the length of pro basketball games, and July could see an abrupt shift away from avocado toast toward a dish such as pork skewers with bacon jam, said to be a delicacy among foraging millennials.

And there’s perhaps a more insidious problem: free avocado toast would encourage daily use, which could be habit forming. If millennial borrowers become addicted to this food item, when SoFi cuts off the free supply at the end of a month the debtors will have to pay for it themselves — possibly out of the mortgage money.

SiliconBeat reached out to SoFi to ask whether its new initiative could unintentionally lead to avocado toast-related mortgage defaults, and it turns out that these people think of everything.

“We’ve done the science,” company spokesman Jim Prosser said, “and it turns out avocados are a non-habit forming substance.”


Photo: Avocado toast (Pixabay)


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