Buying the dream

It’s not easy to buy a house. But with extra help from Adobe’s employee stock purchase plan, it’s a whole lot easier.

Before the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2007, buying a house was a piece of cake. No money down? No problem. But after the subprime mortgage crisis set in, buying a house was nearly impossible, even if you had a 20 percent down payment. The situation has improved, but becoming a homeowner still requires a lot of cash in most places around the world—often the kind of cash that people don’t have readily available.

At Adobe, employees have a rare opportunity to participate in an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) that lets them buy company stock at a rate 15 percent lower than the market rate. Then, as stock prices rise, they watch their returns rack up. In fact, 72 percent of Adobe employees participate in the ESPP. And after helping build the company into what it is today, several employees have cashed out that equity and used their earnings to finally have the home of their dreams.

Jennifer H., Maidenhead

Solutions Consultant

When Jennifer H. joined Adobe in 2012, she hadn’t been out of university for long. She had never participated in an ESPP—or had the opportunity—but she took advice from friends and started contributing.

“I was cautious at first because I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Jennifer says. “I sacrificed a small amount of my paycheck, but once I saw the returns, I started contributing more.”

At that time, a house wasn’t even on her radar. None of her friends were buying real estate. It would have been nice to live in a house where she could paint the walls blue or green or any color she wanted, but the UK housing market was tight and getting tighter.

Then she saw her nest egg growing and realized a house wasn’t just a pipe dream. Two years later, she was picking up the keys to her new home.

“Without the ESPP, it probably would have taken me five years instead of two years to save up enough money,” Jennifer says. “The ESPP is an amazing benefit that can enable you to do so much.”

The best thing about being a homeowner, Jennifer says, is that it looks like her house. It feels like her house. It’s full of her finishings and her style and is even home to a little cat named Biscuit whom Jennifer and her partner could not have adopted in a rental property.

“I couldn’t sleep the night before I got the keys, and when I walked in, it was even better than I had envisioned,” Jennifer says. “I sat in the middle of my giant empty living room and said, ‘Yes! It’s mine.’”

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Heather P.

Senior Manager of Digital Media Customer Success Management Strategy

When Heather P. was growing up, she lived in Price’s Fork, Virginia—the same place her family had lived for generations. Her cousin lived in an old, run-down house near an old, run-down general store, both properties that had belonged to Heather’s great-great-uncle William Byrd Price. In college, a course on preservation piqued her interest, and that’s when the seed of an idea took hold: If she could restore the buildings, she could keep something special alive.

“In this area, when the community sees a dilapidated structure, somebody will always want to purchase the land and tear down the old structure,” Heather says. “We’ve lost several buildings that way. But this is the heart of the community I grew up in, and it was very special to me.”

Heather wasn’t in a financial position to follow through on her dream—until several years after she began working at Adobe when she realized she could cash in some stock she had acquired through the ESPP. In 2013, she purchased the land. One year later, she and her restoration team got to work.

Byrd’s Nest opened to Airbnb renters in 2015, and today it frequently hosts families visiting students at nearby Virginia Tech.

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Heather says none of it would have been possible without the ESPP.

“Adobe provides benefits that make you want to stay with them forever,” Heather says. “The ESPP is a huge benefit above and beyond what most companies offer. It has made a dream that I had for the last 20 years come true, and it’s nice to know that it didn’t take until I was retired to make it happen.”

Heather’s next project is to restore the general store and turn it into a functioning business in the spirit of its original use: penny candies, local news, specialty desserts. She wants it to be a place that makes the people of the area feel connected to each other—and to their past.

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“There’s a front porch swing and that’s where my cousin used to sit and watch the traffic go by and wave to neighbors,” Heather says. “I was sitting there with my mom and thought, wow, I’m doing what my family has done for generations. It’s an amazing thing to show the community that you can bring something back to life.”

Kate S., Sydney

Manager for Talent Selection

Five years ago, Kate Smith moved from the UK to Sydney, Australia, for a new life. She joined Adobe, started her new role, and moved to her dream suburb, Manly. Manly is a typical Australian seaside town, with amazing beaches, markets, restaurants, and beautiful views.

A couple of years ago, Kate started hearing from some Adobe colleagues about the benefits of the Adobe ESPP and the opportunity to invest in the company she worked for.

“Everybody talked about how they had used it as a deposit toward a house,” Kate says. “When you’re young, you don’t know all of the things you have to do to prepare for life as an adult. So after speaking with them some more, I signed up, and I just knew it would be a good investment.”

And it was. Within a couple of years, Kate had enough money to round out the rest of a down payment on a house with her partner. Then the search began.

The Sydney housing market was tough, with properties selling as quickly as they were listed. Luckily, a real estate agent who happened to be a friend gave Kate gave a tip on a house before it went on the market, and she found the perfect home.

“It was spacious and had two large bedrooms, a north facing balcony, dedicated car parking, and most important was a few minutes’ walk from the beach,” Kate says. “I viewed it on a Friday and signed the contract the following Friday.”

After renting for four years, Kate says it has been great to pay money toward her own mortgage rather than someone else’s. And living in her own space has been the piece of domestic bliss she hoped it would be.

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“Adobe has allowed me to be an investor but also provided a benefit that helped me achieve my personal goals,” Kate says. “We’re really happy in our new home. Just this weekend, we made a really nice brunch and sat on the balcony enjoying our sweetcorn fritters and fresh juice. We look out over a valley and the views are amazing. We love to surf and it’s just a hop skip down the road to the beach. “