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Appraisal News | AMC Directory
Appraisal industry news coverage, including stories about independence requirements, AVMs and appraiser fraud.

Appraisal Services, Technology Expanded

Recent product enhancements and additions at appraisal service providers

Sept. 11, 2012


Appraisal service providers have been busy expanding products, adding new applications and recruiting staff to meet the increased needs of lenders and help with growing regulatory requirements. The program enhancements also address market demand for improved technologies to ease and speed appraisals.

The antiquated and redundant appraisal process can slow the mortgage cycle and increase costs for both lenders and borrowers, according to CoesterVMS Chief Executive Officer Brian Coester.

"There's no reason lenders should have to add days or even a week to the mortgage cycle just to schedule an appraisal or make sure it's compliant and up to standard," he said.

The Rockville, Md.-based appraisal management company recently changed its name from Coester Appraisal Group
to better brand the company's new, expanded line of valuation management services, which includes the industry's first-ever "assisted self-service" option, in which CoesterVMS provides appraisal management services in addition to managing the lender's appraiser panel. He claims that it is the industry's first and only hybrid service that allows lenders to use an AMC while also having CoesterVMS manage the lender's appraisal panel.

In addition to self-service option,
two other distinct options for managing the appraisal process include full-service appraisal management and in-house appraisal management.

CoesterVMS is one of several companies that have launched new applications of existing technologies, in this case integrating its Cloud Control appraisal management technology into the Ellie Mae Encompass360 mortgage management system. The integration allows users to automatically schedule appraisal appointments and process check payments through an integrated e-check tool.

With Coester's Cloud Control now integrated with Encompass360, the user provides the borrower's credit card information and availability. The Cloud Control system auto-populates the appropriate fields in the appraisal report using information from Encompass360, then automatically finds and schedules a qualified, experienced, licensed appraiser who is available to complete the appraisal.

Spokane, Washington-based SharperLending LLC continues to enhance its appraisal firewall platform, a secure, web-based technology that enables lenders to manage their own appraisal processes and comply with all appraisal regulations.

One enhancement makes it easier for integration partners and other providers to access real estate appraisal data, lender-managed appraiser panels and appraisal compliance solutions with the creation of a new technology layer specifically for integrations to reduce cost, time and risk. Lenders, says SharperLending President and CEO Dave Black, now can perform more origination and processing work in their loan origination systems to maintain efficiency. At the same time, LOS providers and other technology partners can capture more of their existing clients' business.

Another enhancement adds new data visualization management tools that give lenders more control over their appraisal process. The life cycle of every real estate appraisal is illuminated with a new dashboard on which orders are grouped, summarized, displayed, and organized into filterable graphs that enable lenders to easily get to any group of orders. Lenders can create customized watch lists of their appraisal orders to better manage rushes, orders with special criteria or other one-offs that need attention.

SharperLending's latest enhancement of its appraisal firewall platform provides new management tools that give lenders better control over their appraisers through an interactive map of the county that enables them to quickly identify those appraisers' coverage areas and to research metrics on other appraisers that they may want to add to their service areas. Lenders can also use the map display to view AMCs they can utilize for out-of-area service. An exportable appraiser list that can be saved into an Excel spreadsheet also is available.

A new valuation product, Statistically Tested Appraisal Technology Solution -- or STATS -- is being developed for Sugar Land, Texas-based Valuation Partner. STATS uses a universal platform that provides a quick and easy way for appraisers to incorporate regression analysis into an appraisal report to further support the value conclusion, explains ACI President Dave Roberts.

Additionally, STATS incorporates the CollateralVP regression component, which automates the calculation of sales grid adjustments, enabling the appraiser to complete assignments faster while supplying statistically supported, superior assignment results, he says. As a result, STATS, which leverages appraisal and mapping technologies for data integration, is an appraisal report alternative to broker price opinions and automated valuation models.

MountainSeed Appraisal Management LLC, a full-service residential and commercial appraisal-management firm, has launched a new program that makes it easier for licensed and certified appraisers to offer commercial evaluations to community and regional lenders. The program gives banks that may have been forced to rely on less-skilled employees or analysts the ability to draw on the deep expertise of the appraisal community. The program educates appraisers on how to perform what banks refer to as an evaluation in an appraisal format. The Atlanta-based firm will also be educating commercial lenders on the product.

MountainSeed also is now offering a free compliance checklist to help banks and lenders remain compliant with Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regulations. Currently, says CEO Carl Streck, banks are expected to keep up with numerous and changing regulations associated with appraisals, a very time-consuming endeavor. But many banks don't have the resources to keep current, leaving themselves open to fines and regulatory scrutiny.

The compliance checklist includes important legislative developments, key interagency guidelines, the Truth-in-Lending Act final rule requirements, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Appraisal Independence Requirements. By checking boxes next to each item, banks and appraisers ensure they are aware of the various regulatory requirements under all categories.

Bradford Technologies Inc. has released CVR 2.0, the next generation of its collateral valuation report, which introduced statistical analysis into the appraisal process, a system many valuation experts consider to be one of the most advanced, if not the most advanced, on the market.

The new CVR 2.0 report format provides greater clarity and transparency of the appraiser's valuation process through greater use of charts to convey information and statistics, thus enhancing the reliability and accuracy of the valuation, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based provider of valuation analysis software,. To arrive at a reconciled value conclusion, the report combines four analyses: market analysis, regression analysis, the sales comparison approach and the listing comparison approach. CVR 2.0 also now incorporates identity theft and appraisal fraud prevention technology.

To expand the use of the new CVR 2.0, Bradford Technologies has entered into a partnership with Overland Park, Kansas-based United States Appraisals, a Mortgage Daily advertiser and national AMC that provides a comprehensive suite of residential valuation products, now including CVR 2.0. This, says James Regnere, vice president of business development for Bradford Technologies, will allow United States Appraisals to serve their clients' need for a cost-effective alternative to a full appraisal with a higher degree of accuracy, while maintaining appraiser input and keeping the work within the appraiser community.

In another user expansion, Veros Real Estate Solutions announced that Lenders Compliance Group will be utilizing its collateral integrity analysis product for pre-funding and post-closing audits, early payment defaults and high default due diligence, as well as warehouse bank and portfolio reviews, says David Rasmussen, senior vice president of operations for Santa Ana, Calif.-based Veros.

The product utilizes the latest technology to analyze, detect and accurately identify high-risk transactions while minimizing costly false positives, Rasmussen explains. And to provide the necessary information to evaluate risk exposure in a single easy-to-read and easy-to-use report, the offering aggregates multiple data sets from an extensive range of vendors.

ISGN Corp. has launched a new smartphone application for its Gators browser-based settlement services and vendor management system, which is designed to assist appraisers, title abstractors and closing agents out in the field, reports Ankush Dham, director of technology solutions for the Melbourne, Fla.-based company. The application soon will be available for the iPhone at the Apple Store where it can be downloaded. ISGN also plans to support apps for the Android phone, the Blackberry and other smartphone platforms.

The smartphone application replaces multiple manual tools for appraisers, such as note pads, voice recorders and cameras, he explains. The application guides the appraiser through the necessary process required to complete a home inspection by organizing the information and photos of the interior and exterior of the home. In addition, the app also can organize the information and photos needed for the three comparable homes required for an appraisal.

Another Mortgage Daily advertiser,
Nationwide Appraisal & Settlement Network, has created a mobile website for clients and vendors on the go that eliminates waiting for the appraiser client to get to a computer or to find the time to call and update files. Another benefit for clients-on-the-go is instant communication with the NASN team by either logging on or by sending a message right through the mobile site.

The goal behind the creation and launch of the mobile site, says Joni Pilgrim, director of sales and marketing at the Oldsmar, Fla.-based firm, is to keep the lines of communication open between clients, appraisers, and the appraisal management company without having to worry about time delays and work pile up.

Nationwide also has upgraded its vendor payroll process so that appraisers now receive payment for completed orders on a rolling 21-day pay period.

Appraisers can expect Nationwide to process appraisal payments for completed files, says CEO Cari Burris, within 21 days of completion and have their checks in hand at least seven days sooner than the previous pay schedule. This change, he explained, has been put in to place to create confidence and continue to build upon relationships with the AMC's appraisers throughout the nation.

The sales and marketing team at
First Valuation is expanding in response to robust growth during the first half of this year. And industry veteran, Mark Noonan, has joined the Westminster, Colo.-based company as a national sales executive and will lead the management of several of its strategic accounts.

First Valuation continues to grow its brand after nearly a decade of doing business as Recent growth at First Valuation can be attributed to a combination of enhancing such current product offerings as BPO Plus with Data Advantage and the introduction of such new products as Retrospective Value Review. These new and enhanced products have been well received in the mortgage banking community allowing First Valuation to add Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and top-10 mortgage lenders to their client base, says Chris McLain, vice president of sales and marketing.

Meanwhile the American Guild of Appraisers continue to grow with the recent decision of the Coalition of Arizona Appraisers to affiliate with the group, which seeks to represent the interests of appraisers by developing a strong presence before Congress and each of the state legislatures. By working closely and exchanging dialog with other like-minded organizations, the AGA says it works to educate consumers about the appraisers' unbiased, independent role in the value process, while ensuring the accountability of both the appraisal profession and the financial institutions to whom appraisers provide services.

"The government and financial industry groups have been attempting to dictate the appraisers' collective future," said Coalition of Arizona Appraisers President Ann Susko. "It is time to adjust our strategy and reassert ourselves collectively to meet these challenges. This affiliation provides us with better access to the 'decision makers' and more clout to fight damaging consequences to appraisers."

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Jerry DeMuth is an award winning journalist who has been reporting for four decades.

e-mail Jerry at [email protected]
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