Jia Finance, an online residential mortgage platform for foreign investors, is now scaling its offering in the U.S. for international buyers and announcing its $5 million seed round of funding.
The fintech startup uses the latest data analysis technology as well as AI and identity verification to quickly make underwriting decisions and fund mortgages for international investors. The platform cuts the entire real estate transaction period from a typical 90 days down to 30 and replaces what has been, until now, a low tech, offline and cumbersome application process.
The funding round was led by venture capital investor TTV Capital, one of the longest active VC firms investing exclusively in fintech and known for early fintech investments in Bill.com, Green Dot, and Cardlytics. Other investors include Stanford Angels, the co-founder of SoFi as well as the founder of U.K. top investment app, Nutmeg.
Jia Finance is addressing what is a major stumbling block for international real estate buyers: the lack of a U.S. credit score as well as a lack of much of the general paperwork U.S. banks typically request during the mortgage application process. This causes major challenges for prospective buyers, and can slow approvals to 90 days or longer and deter buyers who prefer to finance their investment.
According to data from the National Association of Realtors, foreign investors in the U.S. residential real estate market make up a 2.8% slice of the $1.96 trillion spent on existing homes from April 2020 to March 2021. Investors from the Asia-Pacific region represented 22% of all foreign buyers during that same period (investors from Latin America represent 19% of the market and Europe 11%). Asian investors see U.S. real estate as a safe haven given its recent strong performance since the beginning of the pandemic at a time when many other real estate markets failed to demonstrate similar resilience.
“Jia Finance is creating global mortgages, starting with buyers from Asia, where our platform is dramatically improving the process for these international investors to gain access to U.S. real estate. Using our platform, clients can now close purchases quickly as we underwrite, price, and fund loans, in a system that delivers speed and ease — all in about 30 days,” said Sufian Creui, co-founder and CEO, Jia Finance. “Our broader mission is to use technology in order to help cross-border real estate investors access opportunities globally. Traditional banks have been disinterested in helping international borrowers and have failed to tailor products to this segment of the mortgage market.”
Jia Finance leverages AI technology to verify customer identity using real-time biometric verification as well as data analysis to assess credit eligibility. The company is sourcing international mortgage applications from its overseas network and is able to close transactions remotely. Typical customers are middle-class investors based in Asia looking to invest in single-family homes or condos as rental properties, and are active primarily in California, Florida, Texas and Washington.
“We are giving international investors enhanced exposure to a highly sought-after asset class through an easier, smoother digital process for obtaining residential mortgages,” Creui continued.
“We at TTV Capital are impressed with the Jia Finance approach which is tailored to the particular needs of the international real estate investor. Jia’s high-touch customer experience makes the investment process faster and easier and empowers investors to manage transactions from abroad. TTV is thrilled to partner with Sufian and his team as they address this massive market opportunity,” said Mike Hurst, Venture Partner, TTV Capital.
Jia Finance is headquartered in Washington, D.C. where it oversees its mortgage operations. Software and business development teams operate out of its offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai.