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AMC Sees More Growth Ahead

Growth at a fast-growing appraisal management company has been ongoing and looks likely to continue. A new product suite from the firm promises to help lenders do a better job reviewing their appraisal reports. The president of the company says today’s automated valuations still fall far short of valuations determined by an appraiser.

In July 2011, staffing at StreetLinks Lender Solutions stood at 400 employees. Headcount had grown from just 200 at the beginning of 2010.

The number of employees has since jumped again, reaching 604 as of Sept. 30.

By the end of this year, staffing is expected to reach 616, while next year is expected to finish with 701 StreetLinks’ employees.

Recruitment might be even heavier if it weren’t for technology, StreetLinks President Tom Hurst said in a telephone interview. He said that technology, low employee turnover and a “maturation of staff” has raised productivity without compromising service and quality.

Hurst also discussed the Indianapolis-based company’s ValueComp offering that is part of its quality examination products, or QX. StreetLinks has already invested nearly $5 million bringing QX to market.

While the QX suite of products is highly automated and requires limited staff, Hurst speculates that wide adoption of the new offering could drive staffing needs higher.

He explained that ValueComp is a tool for lenders to use to review an appraisal report. It was built to replicate a review appraiser’s work using XML code from the appraisal.

“Lenders order some type of traditional AVM,” Hurst explained. “They don’t know what the AVM’s giving them. They don’t understand the information. They don’t understand what’s behind it.

“A lot of that information, they then go back to an appraiser and ask them to reconcile information that isn’t truly comparable information.”

Hurst hopes that ValueComp will eliminate a lot of the back and forth between lenders and appraisers today because of sub-standard products being used by lenders.

He said that development of ValueComp was preceded by a three-year review of existing automated valuation models on the market.

“The examination piece is a proprietary, dynamic QC review engine, or rules engine, like nothing that’s ever been produced before,” Hurst said.

Hurst talked about the deficiencies that plague AVMs and says that the technology just doesn’t exist to replace an appraiser.

“We are so far, as an industry, from being able to replace an appraiser … Technology is light years from replacing what an actual field appraiser — with the knowledge of the market, with the knowledge of the information — light years away from replacing that,” Hurst emphasized.

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