Features

Max Moio – Better Holdco Inc.

Better legal leader helps bring working-class borrowers home

Things are looking better at Better, which is soon to become Better Home and Finance Holding Co. while continuing its mission as a digital mortgage originator using a proprietary platform that helps customers get home loans in a user-friendly manner.

Like so many companies in the mortgage industry, Better has endured a rollercoaster ride in the past several years. The company soared during the housing boom that immediately followed the COVID-19 outbreak, then dipped during the market retraction caused by increasing interest rates.

Layoffs followed at Better—but so has an IPO and a partnership with SoftBank that brings $550 million in investment that stabilizes the company and funds future growth, says Max Moio.

For Moio, the deputy to the chief administrative officer and assistant general counsel who grew up in a working class family in Pittsburgh—his family continues to own and operate Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop—providing the legal management and counsel to help Better rebound from tougher days resonates deeply.

“I have found my feet here because I use my legal skills to help build a community,” Moio says. “I love helping more working Americans buy the home they want to buy.”

Digital disruptors

Better was founded in 2014 by CEO Vishal Garg. In 2016, it developed algorithms to match borrowers with mortgage products offered by 10 institutional investors. The company then funded the first mortgage made without a single phone call as it also gained $30 million in Series A investment funding. In 2017, the company introduced a one-day verified pre-approval letter for borrowers and reached $1 billion in funded loans in 2018.

Moio says Better’s Tinman Marketplace platform, launched in August 2022 in a partnership with digital operating systems builder Palantir, is an industry disruptor. It enables borrowers to gather, store and submit the necessary documentation including pay stubs, bank statements, tax forms, rental information and more through a user-friendly interface.

The platform walks borrowers through the application process and how to submit documents. The process can be completed without meeting with a mortgage officer—although they’re available, too. According to a company press release, Tinman automates about 70 percent of the process for getting a mortgage.

“The Tinman process changes some traditions on buying homes and makes it less belabored,” Moio says. “Anyone who has tried to fund a mortgage knows all about providing papers and forms to a loan officer—it may be weeks before an offer is made.”

Tinman also improves productivity for the loan originators receiving the documentation and administering the applications because the platform also walks them through the process while eliminating manual tasks. That also makes it easier to attract new talent to the company, Moio says, because the automated processing helps them learn about originating mortgages quickly.

IPO funds the future

He’s also supported the process for Better to go public, which was completed in August, more than two years after the creation of Aurora Acquisition Corp., which is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, created to bring investment. The IPO was delayed because of the difficulties in the housing market, but as it progressed this year, Moio assisted in compiling documentation on Better’s finances, compensation and equity structure for the S-4 registration form required by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission.

As the SPAC, Aurora Acquisitions has drawn as much as $750 million in new investments, with the majority from SoftBank—making Better the third-most capitalized mortgage originator in the U.S., Moio says.

As the new investment flows in, Moio and Chief Administrative Officer Nicholas Calamari are creating more structure in HR. Over the past two years, Better reduced its workforce from 10,000 to about 1,000 employees. While Moio says a market upturn could lead to new hires, he says it’s crucial to create a culture where “well-performing employees feel safe and comfortable coming through the door every day.”

There to help

Moio, who’s the first person in his family to attend college, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2010 but says he didn’t really have a career plan after graduating. He spent some time working at the pastry shop and assisting local and national media relations for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

However, he also had a close friend who was attending law school and told Moio he’d enjoy it because it required critical thinking, lots of reading and public speaking. Moio, who had acted in high school productions, was intrigued and moved across Pennsylvania to attend Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.

“It fits my inclinations and strengths,” Moio says. “I was also showing myself I could do the work.”

He earned his J.D. in 2016 and served in private practice and as a judicial law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.

In March 2021, Moio went in-house as assistant general counsel for One Zero Capital. He also took on his current roles at Better and assisted in litigation matters.

Moio is currently helping Better launch a program where the company can make the offer to buy a home on behalf of new homebuyers who lack the money and then sell the home to them at the purchase price. He’s been part of the process from its conception to execution, including managing contracts and helping the product comply with lending rules and regulations. His involvement is especially rewarding as it merges his legal skills with guiding business strategies.

“Going in-house allowed me to unlock my personal inclinations,” he says. “I love helping people around me achieve their goals. I take great pride in reading laws and statutes and distilling them into one or two sentences for someone to understand, too.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall III 2023 Edition here.

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