Senso Uses Artificial Intelligence To Help Lenders Identify Homebuyers

If mortgage lenders could figure out when their existing customers were thinking about moving, they could offer to help them find their next home — and prequalify them for a loan.

That’s the thinking behind two complementary services offered to mortgage lenders by Senso, a Toronto-based fintech analytics startup. Senso Insights employs artificial intelligence to evaluate a lender’s existing pool of borrowers to identify those who are actively looking to buy their next home.

After calculating each homebuyer’s purchasing power, Senso Engage provides them with personalized listings prioritized by neighborhood and affordability, along with access to loan pre-approval. This automated lead-nurturing campaign can help keep borrowers from defecting to another lender.

“When borrowers dream of their next home, they usually start by engaging a Realtor who requires them to get pre-qualified before showing them homes,” said Senso co-founder and CEO Saroop Bharwani, in a statement. “We flip that dynamic on its head by enabling banks to proactively identify homebuyers within their existing portfolio, qualify their buying power, and surface up engaging insights which guide them through the discovery process.”

Saroop Bharwani discusses how Senso uses machine learning with Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Sara Fleiss.

As the Federal Reserve withdraws its support for mortgage markets, interest rates are expected to rise next year, putting an end to a refinancing boom that’s generated big profits for lenders. But Fannie Mae economists expect mortgage lenders to boost purchase loan volume by 7 percent, to roughly $2 trillion.

Toronto-based Senso says it’s been refining its AI and machine-learning technology since 2018, working with banks to provide predictive scores that can identify active borrowers “months in advance of their next home purchase or refinance.”

Senso declined to reveal the source of the listing data it provides to would-be homebuyers, or what markets are covered.

“We are not in a position to disclose our data partner until 2022, but we work with the top data aggregators in this sector to ensure any prospective homebuyer is provided with transparency that allows them to find their next home faster,” Bharwani said in a written statement.

Founded in 2017, Senso announced a $3 million (in U.S. dollars) financing round in July, 2020, led by Boston-based Mendoza Ventures and San Francisco-based Breakaway Growth. Also participating were Toronto-based Luge Capital, iNovia Capital and BDC; and San Francisco-based Rising Tide.

That round was preceded by a $1.5 million (in Canadian dollars) seed funding round announced in May, 2019 that was led by BreakawayGrowth, alongside NEXT Canada and Techstars.

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